Our children are encouraged to celebrate difference and diversity and to develop into caring, respectful global citizens who actively participate in all areas of the local community, whilst developing an understanding of their contribution to the wider world. In a globalized world that is becoming increasingly connected, we place a high importance on learning additional languages from the age of 5 years, giving the children a head start in language acquisition and learning about other cultures within our world. We therefore start our MFL Curriculum in Year 1, not the statutory starting point of Year 3.
The teaching of languages to early learners is widely recognised as a significant contributory factor in improving literacy, and broadening cultural horizons. Language learning from a young age helps children to develop confidence and at WHA we believe that it allows children to explore and discover other ways of living, of thinking and of communicating. It can provide a boost to those children who have difficulties in other areas of the curriculum. Some children have previous experience of learning a modern foreign language and can apply the skills and strategies they have learnt.
French is the chosen MFL at Western House Academy and is delivered by a specialist teacher, with classes receiving a one hour session, of discreet learning per week. Teaching focuses initially on developing listening skills, closely followed by speaking skills (oracy skills), whilst establishing an understanding of basic French grammar. Whenever possible lessons are multi-sensory and a kinaesthetic approach to teaching is used, serving to reinforce memory, making learning enjoyable, vivid and real.
French is introduced informally in KS1 through singing traditional songs, finger rhymes and storytelling and a more formal approach is introduced in Year 3, where the teaching and learning of MFL relies heavily on games, role play, and conversation. Through Key Stage 2, a greater importance is placed on the progression of fundamental reading and writing skills (literacy skills) rooted in phonics and learning how to use a bilingual dictionary. The scheme in Year 5 and 6 includes a series of creative projects, designed to consolidate and review language learning in Years 1 to 4. By Year 6, the children have opportunities to utilize the language skills they have acquired to write poems, stories and letters, using writing frames creating sentences with nouns, adjectives, adverbs and conjunctions.
Most lessons incorporate elements of intercultural understanding, identifying countries where French is spoken or simply talking about the similarities and differences of social conventions between different cultures. We have a language based day each July, which generates many opportunities to celebrate intercultural understanding through, art, music, drama and in many other exciting ways.