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What do you think about primary languages?

(52 Posts)
Hoxmama Sat 30-May-09 21:23:39

Now that all schools have to teach a modern language at KS2, something has had to give way in the curriculum to make time for it.

In dd's school, the required hour's been taken half from literacy and half from numeracy.

Any thoughts?

stillenacht Sat 30-May-09 21:26:03

Please get them to read and write in English first smile. Its an irony as its no longer compulsory i think at KS4 for GCSE (mainly due to fact results were shocking countrywide and less and less kids were able to do it)Myself i have A levels in 2 MFL and studied German at Uni (alongside music) and did French, German, Latin, Italian GCSE and love languages but am worried about curriculum time for this.

BonsoirAnna Sat 30-May-09 21:28:46

I think that it is fabulous to learn an MFL in primary school providing it is from a mother-tongue teacher. The main benefit of learning a language young is to get a real ear for the language and to learn accurate pronunciation.

Learning an MFL in primary school is very different to learning an MFL for the first time in secondary school, where languages are acquired largely via literacy.

stillenacht Sat 30-May-09 21:30:40

but due to time constrictions and of course money i think primary MFL will end up like secondary - set phrases and odd words here and there - a very tokenistic gesture.

Portofino Sat 30-May-09 21:30:42

Hmmm. KS2 is what 7? I wopuld say that half an hour doesn't make THAT much difference over a week.. I maybe come at this from a different angle, as an expat with dd in french speaking school. She will start to be taught dutch aged 8. And english at 12. By the time she leaves school at 18 she will be expected to be fluent in all 3. And maybe learn Spanish or German as well.

It is GOOD for them. And the earlier the better! The learning language switch in our brains switches off at acertain age. The earlier they learn a 2nd language the better.

stillenacht Sat 30-May-09 21:32:15

I agree Portofino - half an hour a week is merely a gesture to the language...is that good enough? If a jobs worth doing etc.....

BonsoirAnna Sat 30-May-09 21:36:09

I don't think that it is at all easy for children to learn MFLs in large monolingual countries, with important world languages as their mother-tongue (eg England, France, Germany). It is much easier in multilingual countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland etc).

I suppose that I don't really believe that English or French children can learn MFLs at school. But I do believe that schools can introduce children to MFLs in a useful way, giving them a basis from which to work on themselves through activities outside school and trips etc to the country. Learning to understand and pronounce an MFL is a useful goal for primary children;

blametheparents Sat 30-May-09 21:43:09

The trouble is that many primary schools just do not have the skill base to ensure that children are taught a MFL effectivelt. They are struggling with the requirement.
I think that many primary schools (and my DS's is included in this) have 'chosen' French, not as a positive choice, but because a few of the teachers have got some knowledge of it from learning it at school. My preference would be Spanish I guess. I get cross with the idea that the MFL is seen to be French as a default choice.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 30-May-09 21:50:47

I find my DC have fab accents because they parrot exactly what they hear from their (mother tongue) teachers. They don't try to anglicise the prononciation, because they learn by listening and not reading and writing, unlike in secondary school. They are also very confident in speaking when we are in France, because they are understood. It think it's a marvellous thing. We are lucky though in that we do have mother tongue French and Spanish teachers. It's done in PPA time.

morocco Sat 30-May-09 21:55:13

it's a fantastic opportunity. I'd like to see a whole range of languages as 'taster courses' from nursery upwards so they can learn a few phrases in arabic, urdu, french, spanish etc. then start them learning one or two more indepth as they get older. I teach French in nurseries and primaries and it's great fun. Some children have a real natural ability that it's amazing to see. We have a lot of children with English as a second or even third language and they often seem particularly talented

ScummyMummy Sat 30-May-09 21:58:15

I think it's a great idea but have to say the teaching my children have received has been completely useless in terms of outcome, despite the teacher assuring me that they are diligent in her class. They can't understand even the very basics, afaics.

Portofino Sat 30-May-09 22:00:45

Anna, totally as an aside, today we did a boot fair at the British School. I saw a French woman, impeccably dressed, exuding class and style and with a dd ditto, and I thought - that is what BA looks like grin!

Then I went to the book stall and found the Toxic Parent book and thought of MN again....

stillenacht Sat 30-May-09 22:04:12

agree in part with blametheparents and scummymummy ...its all very well romanticising primary aged children speaking a MFL but the realities...hmm

TheFallenMadonna Sat 30-May-09 22:04:51

What do you mean by basics? At my DC's age I'm more interested in them learning that they can go to another country and speak to people and make themselves understood than in any grammar. My DS (7) can manage a simple menu and order himself some food. He was solely responsible for every ice cream order on holiday last year. He can answer questions about his age, where he lives and what he likes to do. And he is pretty confident in doing so. His defauly setting in France is not to speak English loudly, but to assume he will need to speak French. That has to be good, no?

TheFallenMadonna Sat 30-May-09 22:06:58

default setting

ScummyMummy Sat 30-May-09 22:07:04

That sounds good, tfm. I would be very surprised if my 10 year olds could do the same, sadly.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 30-May-09 22:09:46

I do think we are particularly fortunate in our teachers. Without them...

stillenacht Sat 30-May-09 22:12:13

Can just imagine it in inner city primaries where 10 different languages are already spoken in class..

ThingOne Sat 30-May-09 22:32:52

I think mfl at primary level are a fab idea. My DS1 has regular French in reception and it has opened his mind to a keen interest in language. He often asks me when we are out what the word for something is in French. Teaching that it is normal, easy and straightforward to speak more than one language is great in my book.

I had a couple of terms of weekly French lessons when I was in "reception" myself (a great, incomplete early seventies experiment). We picked up lessons properly later at 8 or 9 and by secondary level those who had done the primary french were streets ahead of their peers of similar ability.

notanidea Sat 30-May-09 22:44:06

Our dds new school will be offering french and possibly later on spanish. She will be going to year 4 in september and the other children have already been doing these lang.
W e dont speak any other language other than english( I learnt french and german in secondary school but that is of no use now.It is a shame as I was very good at picking up languages but did not do it for A level and did not have any exposure to these lang apart from the school)
What can I do to help DD - dont want the same thing happening in her case. Any tips to make sure that she continues to develop interest.

Reallytired Sat 30-May-09 22:44:41

Primary school children are more enthusasic about learning a language. They are less worried about making a fool of themselves and its easier to learn a language at 5 years old than 11 years old.

My son goes to a French club once a week during lunch time at school. He has been going for about a year and can now count to 20, knows the days of a the week, can answer questions about himself, knows colours and loads of other vocabulary.

I think its more than just learning a language its also about learning a culture. However I think it will cause chaos when the kids go to secondary school if one school learns spanish and another school does German. I think it would be nice to have a taste of several languages. Prehaps there could be perpepitic teachers who could go and teach say spanish to year 3 children at several schools and maybe someone else different to teach Urdu in year 4.

ellingwoman Sat 30-May-09 22:51:01

I'm still amazed at French always being the first language offered at primary level. Is it because it's easier than Spanish or because that's what the teachers first learnt themselves? In my neck of the woods more children drop French than Spanish at GCSE so I would have thought Spanish would be the language of choice at primary. Or is that not true countrywide?

ThingOne Sat 30-May-09 22:53:50

French is offered because the teachers are available. Spanish teachers are not. It's an endless cycle.

morocco Sat 30-May-09 22:54:13

stillenacht - those schools where lots of different languages are spoken are full of natural language learners who have an inbuilt advantage because they are already becoming bi or tri lingual. it's such a common reaction for people to worry about such children (and I'm talking about teachers I've spoken to here) but the young children from non english speaking backgrounds always seem to thrive in french class unlike some of their monolingual peers who can take a while to warm up to the idea of an object having 2 different names.

I'd love to see it integrated more so the register is done in another language, PE instructions done in French etc. Am so pash about mfl in primary grin

ellingwoman Sat 30-May-09 22:57:43

We do the register in another language in Reception grin Bonos Dios or something. We have a Portuguese child in the class and we check with her about our pronunciations!

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