At St William of York Catholic Primary School, we place great value upon the importance of early language learning. Our intent is to provide broad linguistic and cultural experiences for our pupils that enable them to foster a love of languages and to develop their communication skills in the four key areas of language learning: speaking, listening, reading and writing. We endeavour to broaden the cultural awareness of our pupils, to create linguists who enjoy learning languages and who can express themselves confidently in our target language of Spanish.
Language lies at the heart of ideas about individual identity and community. We believe that learning a language, in our case Spanish, supports and celebrates the international dimension, liberates children from insularity, fosters pupils’ curiosity and deepens their understanding of the world. Children learn that our world is made up of people from different cultures and start to develop tolerance and respect for others. Thus, Spanish at St William of York promotes the concept of positive citizenship and community cohesion with other communities on both a local to global scale.
At St William of York we follow the Scheme of Work for Spanish from School Improvement Liverpool which demonstrates clear progression across Years 3-6. All pupils in Key Stage 2 are taught Spanish by a Foreign Language Tutor (FLT). The FLT represents a valuable source of cultural and linguistic capital that enriches the language learning experience of the children. FLTs can stimulate genuine communication, increase motivation for language-learning and encourage cross-cultural understanding.
Children in Key Stage 2 receive one thirty-minute session with our FLT each week. Our aims are to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum for languages; providing a broad and balanced curriculum that provides excitement, enjoyment and challenge for children, helping to create enthusiastic learners and to develop positive attitudes to language learning throughout life.
To meet the aims of the National Curriculum for languages, we employ an exciting and effective range of teaching methods and materials to build enthusiasm and motivation in our young, language learners. A great deal of emphasis is placed initially on listening and speaking skills and pupils are given the opportunity to learn vocabulary through games, rhymes, chant and song. Our Spanish teaching also provides regular opportunities to develop reading and writing skills.
Planning ensures full coverage of the National Curriculum objectives for this subject. Spanish at St William of York is taught through six topics that are developed and expanded upon each year.
These six topics are:
- Self, family and friends
- School Life
- The world around us
- Animals and home environment
The learning of a foreign language should be enjoyable and relevant for all pupils and a variety of approaches and activities are therefore used to challenge, motivate and sustain interest. All Spanish lessons are interactive and provide a balance of spoken and written language, as appropriate to the age-group. By its nature, the teaching of Spanish involves lots of interaction with visual, auditory and kinaesthetic prompts and the focus of each lesson is on practical communication. During Spanish sessions, children are given the opportunity to work as a class, as individuals and as part of a group. Lessons enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings in speech and writing.
Approaches and activities for language learning include:
- Almost exclusive use of the Spanish language during lessons
- Providing opportunities in each lesson for pupils to use and practise what they have learned
- Language games to enhance motivation, contextualise learning and heighten enjoyment
- Learning vocabulary through rhymes, songs and stories
- Focus on grammatical structures and phonology
- Opportunities for individual, pair and group work
- Use of authentic materials
- Use of ICT where relevant and appropriate
- Written activities to reinforce learning
All pupils are equally valued, including those who need extra support for a range of educational needs and more able pupils. To ensure that all pupils recognise and fulfil their potential, the following strategies for differentiation in language learning are employed:
- Use of visual aids
- Chorus and individual repetition
- Physical responses to questions
- Open and closed questions
- Multiple choice questions
- Tasks with small, clearly identified steps
- Practical activities
- Higher achievers encouraged to lead specific language tasks
- Use of Foreign Language Tutor, classroom assistant or classroom teacher to support learners
The impact of our Spanish curriculum is measured through a range of different strategies.
Staff use the school assessment system to monitor children’s progress and attainment in Spanish against the objectives for each year group. At the end of a term, teachers make a judgement as to whether the child has met, exceeded or is working towards the year group expectations. These judgements also enable the teacher to make an annual assessment of progress for each child, as part of the child’s annual report to parents. This information is passed on to the next teacher at the end of each year.
The assessment of children’s work is on-going to ensure that understanding is being achieved and that progress is being made. Book scrutiny, lesson observations and on-going teacher assessment during lessons allows for children’s learning and progress to be assessed.
The ultimate impact and measure of the Spanish curriculum at St William of York is to embed a love of languages and other cultures that will lay the foundations for further language learning at Key Stage 3 and for life as an adult in the wider world