Advanced search

News today says our children are bottom in Europe for languages ...

(93 Posts)
azulita Sat 16-Feb-13 19:38:05

I'd like to know who, if anybody, sees the value of introducing sounds in French or Spanish to pre-schoolers. French songs for kids, Spanish songs for kids - would you/do you have any at home?

creameggs Tue 02-Apr-13 13:42:16

The comments about English children arriving at nursery with poor English do tie in with ideas about learning a foreign language, AND with the question about what parents are 'happy to do at home'.

If only every newborn baby could have one to one love and attention from somebody well-educated and emotionally intelligent who would talk to them, play with them, sing to them, look and smile at them ...

I have great admiration for those trying to help deprived children, but for many people, giving up on language learning right from the start is very defeatist.

Listening/singing to a few foreign language songs at home with a young child is not much more challenging to the child than songs in English - which are also really worthwhile in so many ways. It's about the parent/carer making the effort to find a cd and being willing to have a go AND not making a big deal about it - maybe putting it on in the background and singing along when the tune appeals for example.

I agree with all the cultural points above too!

LittleAbruzzenBear Tue 02-Apr-13 14:12:04

I have an i-pad app for Italian, which DS1 views as a game and that helps enormously.

notamomtokids Tue 02-Apr-13 15:38:11

gabsid I think you may have resurrected this thread!!!!

I personally believe that children should start as soon as possible. I have a class of students some of whom have just celebrated their 2nd birthdays and others their 3rd. We have been working together for six months and it amazes me what they pick up. The better 'learners' in the group are the students that I see Mon-Fri and already they show signs of being bilingual. In fact there is one child who can identifiy things in English, but yet has to learn what they are in Spanish.

In Spain there is a huge emphasis on language learning, in particular English, but when it comes to French, I think the same issue exists here as it does in Britain; it's not taken seriously and it is learnt in order to pass an exam and little more.

I also personally think, and this is from experience and looking into the issue for the last 6 years, that language learning for the majority cannot be learnt in the school environment alone. It has to be done in the home too, possibly more in the home than at school and I believe parents should take control of this and not rely on the language teachers to teach their child a new language.

notamomtokids Tue 02-Apr-13 15:41:26

That last message was not meant to be controversial but I say it because a few hours a week is not enough. I have other students who were attending a bilingual school and had at least 12 hours of English p/w. Their English is very good, but not the level I want it to be; I want them to speak English like I do and not like a Spaniard that has learnt English.

DieWilde13 Tue 02-Apr-13 15:54:00

It would help if language learning was seen as a serious subject!

I don't have any experience with secondary school yet, but our primary has so far switched from teaching French to teaching Spanish and back to teaching French.

DCs teachers are not qualified to teach either language. Dd's teacher last year (when they did Spanish) even admitted that she only did French to GCSE level, and her Spanish was "non-existant, just enough to teach Y3". Hmmm.

notamomtokids Tue 02-Apr-13 15:59:06

I'm posting smallish messages otherwise my one message will read like a dissertation!!!

I read a thread the other day about someone who had a grade 5 in piano and wanted to see if they were good enough to be employed, thus asked the question on the forum and a lot of people said, 'no.' Many people stated that they would want someone who is grade 8 and beyond.

I imagine the same will apply to language learning. I cannot speak for teachers in Britain, but I am not happy with the level of English that Spanish-English teachers have. Some are very good, but others are below average. Bearing in mind I have not met EVERY Spanish teacher that teaches English.

Also, a lot of English learning is done outside the classroom in 'English academies' like mine. I substitute the parent with the extra curricular English learning. The only reason the parents don't do it is because they do not know it. This works and I cannot say I know many people here who have learnt another language just from school learning, although there will be some.

notamomtokids Tue 02-Apr-13 16:03:05


I totally agree with you. I think this attitude needs to change before anything else.

gabsid Tue 02-Apr-13 17:57:13

DS started Junior School last September and they were meant to learn Spanish. When I asked DS's teacher, she admitted to not speaking Spanish and not liking to teach it, the same I have heard from other teachers at the school - this annoys and upsets me as we are a bilingual family (German, English) and I am have taught my DS some Spanish basics and DS used his Spanish when in Spain. And the message that school gives is that MFL is pointless and boring - I feel like complaining.

LittleAbruzzenBear Wed 03-Apr-13 18:16:35

Well the Government want us all out at work and competitive so it has to start with education improvement in state schools and languages being taken seriously. I think the teachers should come from the country of the language being taught, I mean we are in the EU so it makes sense. Languages should start at Reception (French or Spanish). Whilst most MP's children attend private schools I cannot see things improving though. They want the plebs kept in all the shitty jobs. In the meantime, I am going to help my children to the best of my ability.

gabsid Wed 03-Apr-13 19:39:38

Why just French or Spanish? Germany is the strongest economy in Europe.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 19:52:35

German doesn't make it into the top ten of world's most spoken languages, French sneaks in at number ten whereas Spanish comes fourth

gabsid Wed 03-Apr-13 20:00:16

Oh, so why not learn no 1 and 2? Or learn one of the languages that are geographically closer or have economic importance. One could argue.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 20:32:28

Number 1 is Mandarin which given China's rise as a global economic player would make sense and number 2 ............. is English

Charleyandviola Wed 03-Apr-13 21:43:09

Hi, I'm thinking of starting an Italian parent and baby group in South East London, and wondered if there would be much interest in such a class? It would initially be aimed at 0-18 months, with lots of fun songs and activities to improve or start learning Italian. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

HolaBonjour Wed 03-Apr-13 22:56:23

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

charlotteviola Thu 04-Apr-13 09:24:36

Hi, I'm thinking of starting an Italian parent and baby group in South East London, and wondered if there would be much interest in such a class?

It would initially be aimed at 0-18 months, with lots of fun songs and activities to improve or start learning Italian.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Apr-13 09:39:55

DD's school teach French and German before they teach reading and writing, and there is a native Spanish teacher who teaches songs, etc. to provide a foundation in that language. The older children get the opportunity to go to Germany for a school term to help embed the language skills. The older children do have good language skills, helped by having teachers who are teaching their mother-tongue.

Conversley my granddaughter's "learned" French at school, and though she was in the top set, her pronunciation was so bad that it was unintelligible. That is the downside of having English teachers teaching a foreign language.

We need more language teachers who are teaching their mother tongue - as happens abroad where children learn English from English ex-pats, and via music/TV programmes.

LittleAbruzzenBear Thu 04-Apr-13 10:00:03

gabsid or German or Italian are good too!

charlotte that is something I would go to if we had any such thing locally. I'm sure in London it would do well. I live in the East of England where it is hard to find good language lessons for adults, let alone children.

gabsid Thu 04-Apr-13 10:17:34

worldgonecrazy - it seem your DD's school sees the value in learning a language and the DC will have a skill they can use, build on and appreciate.

On the other hand, I think English teachers (those who have an mfl degree and studied a year in another country) have a good standard of the language. Not necessarily perfect and probably with a bit of an accent but I think that's fine as long as they can pass on their enthusiasm and skill. For A-level and beyond a native speaker would be best though.

I even felt that my DS's Y1 teacher was very good and trying her best. She studied Spanish over the summer and then taught DC to count, say hello and some basic things. DS pronounced it well and enjoyed the sessions.

worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Apr-13 11:25:19

Let's hope they also learn the correct use of apostrophes! oops!

Whatalotofpiffle Thu 04-Apr-13 11:31:03

I would like to start using languages at home and at the same time improve my own basic knowledge. Nothing but the odd French greeting and a little Spanish due to a friends bilingual children at the moment. My 2.3 loves mandarin on the lingo show

RealityQuake Thu 04-Apr-13 13:38:51

I think a major problem with the UK mindset with learning languages is perfectionism which ruins the really good (often better).

We make sets of rules even when the myths have been dispelled and these rules are making it harder - we set it up that it has to be done very very early when research has shown than in many cases adults can learn other languages better than kids which sends the message to students learning at older ages that it is meant to be more hard for them and that they are too late, hundred times fold for teens and adults. We ignore what has shown to work over these rules and ruin the attitude which is the main important part of learning languages.

We can't seem to decide why we want to learn languages other than it's something we should and with no reason which languages. The arguments for larger languages neglect that the larger the language, most often it has more dialects that are not always understandable by each other. We seem to ignore that languages are to communicate and go for mostly grammar and the most impressive languages instead.

There are a lot of online games, online language exchanges, and tons of resources for learning languages. There are tons of ways to access native speakers these days. We Skype grandmothers in classrooms around the world to speak English, yet it's so often overlooked that we could learn the same way even as adults.

DieWilde13 Thu 04-Apr-13 16:38:56

I am German, too, and most Germans of my generation, in their late thirties, speak English to a decent level. None of us started learning English before secondary school (age 10/11). None of the English teachers who taught me at school were native speakers.

By year 9 English lessons were taught in English and we started reading novels and watching films.

I think as long as language learning is a key part of the curriculum and taught by qualified teachers you can start at any age!

gabsid Thu 04-Apr-13 17:15:35

DieWilde13 - I agree, but there were about 4 hours of English or so per week if I remember right.

worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Apr-13 17:39:54

diewilde do you think it helps that a lot of popular music is in English so a lot of youngsters are immersed in the language from a young age without realising it? I think a few people only know what "Voulez vous couchez avec moi?" meant due to the Lady Marmalade song.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now