Research shows that when learning a foreign language, the earlier children begin learning, the better. Young children are intrinsically better language learners and will therefore become more proficient, more quickly. Early learners tend to be more intuitive, less anxious and better at acquiring the sounds and rhythms of new languages. Additionally, we live in an increasingly globalised world in which intercultural competence is essential. Learning a foreign language not only develops a child’s language skills in another language, it also awakens children’s interests in other people and cultures helping them to become well-rounded, respectful and topen-minded individuals.
At Tidemill Academy, we learn Spanish. The children love having the opportunity to learn a new language and explore the culture of Spanish speaking countries around the world. From Years 3-6, learning an additional language is compulsory and children have a Spanish lesson every week. Children build upon their language skills on a weekly basis and gain confidence and a love for learning languages, skills that support them in their secondary education. Within our school community, we are extremely fortunate to have native speakers who regularly help put on immersive half-termly workshops. These workshops enable children to apply their language learning to real life contexts.
Primary language teaching methodology goes hand in hand with primary teaching pedagogy and the primary curriculum provides many opportunities to support language learning, and opportunities for rich, cross-curricular links. For example, linking Language learning to Tidemill’s IPC learning and promoting Spanish language texts during world book week.
As part of their Language learning, children have the opportunity to apply to become a Spanish leader. If awarded the position, the children help the Spanish teacher to raise the profile of Spanish across the school. This includes language learning activities at playtime, supporting with special Language events and teaching rhymes and songs to the younger children in KS1 each week.
The teaching of Languages is planned by following the national curriculum and a Tidemill Academy skills progression document, which form part of our current policy. This ensures progression of knowledge and skills across and within each key stage. Pupils are exposed to literature in the target language and real life contexts to apply their language skills. National curriculum outcomes are taught using clear learning objectives and success criteria, differentiated activities and opportunities for assessment. All learners are given what they need to succeed thus creating equity across all learners.
Children begin by learning the sounds of the Spanish language and become familiar with the alphabet. This provides a solid foundation to be able to begin to write simple words and then progress on to longer phrases and sentences in Spanish. Children learn to develop their verb and noun agreement skills which develops both their oracy and written language skills. As with all subjects at Tidemill, high quality vocabulary teaching is at the core of everything that we do. Within Spanish, vocabulary is mapped across the year and ensures that the Languages curriculum is both sequential and progressive. Most importantly, children love learning Spanish at Tidemill and identify themselves as ‘Spanish speakers’.