Learning another language reinforces essential literacy and oracy skills. All children have a lesson every week, starting with German as soon as they join the school in Year 3, and then moving on to French in Year 5.
We teach languages at Henleaze Junior School to excite and inspire our children. We want them to be curious and open to new cultures and international experiences. We want to develop tolerance by talking about and celebrating other ways of life. We want to give our children the confidence to speak up in a different language, embrace the challenge it entails and create a solid foundation for continued learning.
By delivering languages in a fun, safe and inclusive way for all, we want to make the transition to secondary school a positive one where children are prepared for the languages classroom and motivated to develop their language skills further.
The National Curriculum states that at KS2 children should:
- understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
- speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
- can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
- discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied.
At Henleaze we strive to provide opportunity to:
- enjoy speaking different languages
- learn the basic structures of two different major European languages which have influenced the English language
- recognise links between the languages they learn and the English language
- feel confident about using correct pronounciation
- apply their knowledge of languages to help them understand and make themselves understood
Planning and delivery
The languages curriculum at HJS is designed for effective KS2–KS3 transition. We place an emphasis on Language Learning Stategies (LLS) and Knowledge About Language (KAL). Because of the very generous time allocation for language learning at HJS, Children learn 2 languages; German in lower KS2 and French in upper KS2.
Classes have one Language lesson per week with a rotational set-up for year groups (Year groups have either 4 or 5 terms of language learning per year). Lesson activities are based on the ‘3 pillars of progression’; phonics, vocabulary and grammar, and always cover the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Lessons at HJS are delivered by a language specialist and follow a scheme of work devised specifically for the HJS school context and the children who learn here. Schemes of learning are designed to complement and prepare for KS3 learning rather than duplicate it. When children move to learning French in Year 5 they have already built up a toolkit of strategies to help them learn a language and so learning takes place that bit quicker. Children are more resilient, more engaged and take more risks due to their transferrable skills from learning German in years 3 and 4. They have a clear picture of how to approach learning a language..
Cross-curricular links and extra-curricular opportunities
Language learning lends itself to cross-curricular links and some of the termly projects are designed with this in mind. Literacy skills are developed through projects based around foreign language stories, Year 6 classes complete a music project in French as well as a geography research project about French speaking countries. Numeracy skills are used when learning numbers for the first time in a foreign language and we use money in a Year 4 and 5 project about buying things in a café and at a market respectively. In Year 5, we also look at a small part of French History with the 1789 Revolution.
We encourage language learning outside of the classroom and, to date, we have had a German club, Language Ambassador’s club (devising mini lessons to teach in the Infants school), a German themed Easter egg hunt, European Day of Languages events, themed lunches, languages quiz questions on ‘Teams’ and displays around school in French and German. We are now looking to develop links with secondary schools and invite children in to deliver mini language lessons to our children.
Equal opportunities and inclusion
We have an ambition for all of our children, regardless of their background, individual needs and early experiences. Classrooms are inclusive and the aim is to provide a learning environment that takes into account the needs of all. We build on Cultural Capital for those children with little or no knowledge of the languages/cultures studied. Progress of PP children and those with SEND is carefully monitored as well as their levels of motivation during lessons. Work can be differentiated to enable access or to challenge pupils further. Learning Support Assistants work with individuals in class to tailor activities to their precise need.
Children with English as an additional language may use MFL lesson time to improve their English (if they join the school with no English knowledge) until they are at a stage where they can embark on learning a further language. We often have children in each year group with a very high level of fluency in either French or German and there is now a strong consensus that ‘routes of learning’ can vary between children. We discuss with our children which route is right for them. It is often a case of trial and error before we settle on one route or a mixture of several.