Sue Cave

TT MFL Consultant

  • Experienced consultant and trainer
  • Specialises in Primary MFL teaching

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Some advice and ideas about foreign language teaching in primary schools

It is no secret that the UK is amongst, if not the weakest in Europe for Second Language Acquisition and with the 2014 statutory introduction of Foreign Languages into the National Curriculum, it has been refreshing to see a staggering rise in the number of UK primary schools teaching languages cross curriculum (with reference to recent British Council & CFBT Trust Language Trends Survey). However, language learning is still a low priority for many schools out there and with limited training and support available to Primary School teachers, introducing a Foreign Language in the classroom can be a daunting prospect, especially on top of an already substantial workload. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding teaching foreign languages, and my answers to them:

Q: Why is it important to introduce a Foreign Language in Primary Schools?

A:  Although it is now a compulsory part of the statutory curriculum and has been for two years now, it is really good to start language learning early for a number of reasons. Introducing children to foreign language learning from a young age is great for exposure to not only different cultures, but also different language frameworks. The links and comparisons which can be made to patterns in the English language are also extremely beneficial for the development of their general literacy skills and knowledge. Children gain confidence, knowledge and transferrable skills about language learning to take with them to KS3 and help them progress with languages in their further education. We live in a global economy that depends on languages for our future prosperity and it is paramount that we encourage children to learn a Foreign Language from an early age.

Q: Tell us more about the courses you deliver for TT Education and why they are different? 

A: I deliver two core language courses, Teaching a Foreign Language in Primary Schools and the more recent addition, French for Primary Teachers . Teaching a Foreign Language in Primary Schools provides a good insight into what and how a language can be taught progressively over the four years in Key Stage 2. It relates specifically to the Programme of Study for Languages in KS2. It is a very interactive course, with lots of practical activities and valuable tips to implement straight away. Teachers that have attended the course have particularly liked the fact that I am speaking from recent first hand experience and can relate to any problems they are facing. The course ‘French for Primary Teachers’ is particularly suited to teachers in primary school who are complete beginners as well as those who studied French in the past but lack confidence in their pronunciation and understanding of the language. This engaging and interactive course is delivered in a supportive environment and is designed to ensure that you return to the classroom feeling much more confident about your French linguistic ability.

Q: How have you made sure that content is in line with the new programme of study for Languages within the National Curriculum?

A: The content is very much in line with the requirements of the National Curriculum. I have broken down the attainment targets in the Programme of Study into four stages and designed a statement for each stage for each target. The four stages roughly equate to the four years in KS2. I hope that his will help teachers interpret the new Programme of Study. Activities will be demonstrated which relate to each statement.

Q: What do the courses aim to help with?

A: Teaching A Foreign Language in Primary School is particularly, but not exclusively, aimed at anyone responsible for leading the subject within their primary school or preparing to do so. Teachers will be able to self-assess the implementation of foreign language teaching in their school and identify the next steps. Advice and guidance will be given about selecting a scheme of work so as to ensure progressive content in line with the Programme of Study. In addition, a tried-and-tested method of teacher assessment to use in the classroom alongside the teaching activities will be provided to adapt and use as they wish. French for Primary Teachers aims to refresh and reassure teachers of their French skills and knowledge using the innovative and kinaesthetic method ‘Physical French Phonics’ to build their confidence. The remark often heard at the end of the day course is ‘if only I had learnt French at school like this’.

Q: What is your background in Foreign Languages?

A: I have a wide range of experience in teaching Foreign Languages, both with children and adults. I have spent 20 years teaching French in primary schools and still do so, as well as 5 years as a Primary Modern Foreign Languages Local Authority Advisor and  3 years as a Primary MFL Language College outreach consultant. I am also the author of Primary Languages resource books and am invited to speak frequently at national language conferences. My company ‘Cave Languages’ has recently partnered with TT Education to deliver Foreign Language courses to promote further CPD training for teachers across the country and to support primary teachers in the delivery of language lessons.

Q: Why should teachers attend?

A:  These courses are invaluable for teachers delivering Foreign Language lessons. They complement current knowledge as well as expanding and applying it to the new Programme of Study. The courses provide practical support for the implementation of this new subject in the primary curriculum allowing schools to benefit from the experience and knowledge of a specialist language consultant and formulate a plan of how to implement or develop the language teaching in their school.

So, if you were thinking about receiving further CPD training in teaching Foreign Languages in Primary School or fancy a refresher of your French for the classroom please see the website for details of our upcoming courses.