Yesterday the government in the UK put out a draft National Curriculum consultation. One of the programmes of study included is Foreign Languages at KS2 and 3.
Here is a brief summary of what is says please do join the consultation and let them know as teachers what you think.
Consultation – draft National Curriculum programmes of study:
Draft 2014 National Curriculum by subject
Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides and opening into other cultures. A high quality language education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world.
Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages equipping pupils to study and work in other countries.
Teaching should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one of the following languages French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin or Ancient Greek. (No mention of sign language)
Teaching should provide a balance of written and spoken and lay the foundations for further foreign language teaching. It should enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings in speech and writing, focused on familiar and routine matters, using their knowledge of phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary.
The focus of study in Modern languages (ML) will be on practical communication whilst the focus in Latin or ancient Greek will be to provide a linguistic foundation for learning modern languages and for reading comprehension.
I think I have blogged before that I learnt French at LLantarnam school but what I probably haven’t said before was that I studied French from yr 7 to 11, German yr 8-9 and Latin yr 9-11. All from a ‘bog standard Comprehensive’. This built on my bilingual assemblies, signage and occasional lesson in primary school in Welsh.
I don’t think without my expectation for another language to always be present that I would have taken up the languages so easily in my secondary years. Without the teacher enthusiasm of taking myself and a few friends who sung at a French singing competition where we competed against A level students I would have been disinterested.
What is also abundantly clear to me now is that the Latin that I learnt has probably been the thing that I fall back on and use the most. It is this linguistic background that I can work out words in other languages and have confidence to try. NB I find that in my work with so many languages on a daily basis it is actually Italian that I wish now I had learnt as every time I look at it I feel comfortable and it seems natural. Yet as a teenager I would never have even thought of learning it.
So for me these changes are welcome as long as we always remember there are children at the end of any policy/strategy that we deliver to teachers and pupils. A teacher interested in a language is far more motivating and inspiring than one who wishes they could teach Spanish yet are teaching French because of the outdated belief that well if you know one language you must be able to do this as they are only children. I think the tide is turning on this one and its nice to also see a recognition that currently Chinese is the largest language in the world so that to equip our youngsters for the world of work it gives them a real chance to be a global citizen.