Skip to main content

What now for primary MFL?

Looks like the new government is putting on hold revisions to the primary curriculum. Will there be a continued push with primary languages? It's true that coverage of MFL is still very patchy, although 92% of primary schools are apparently offering something. I've always been on the sceptical side of the primary MFL argument, but if it is eventually decided that primary schools will be able to choose their own curriculum to a greater extent I can easily foresee the MFL strategy collapsing.

If that were the case we would be back to where we were in the 1960's with a minority of more able and socially advantaged children having access to modern language learning after 14 and some limited coverage at primary level. Less able students will still have access at KS3.

Here is what Teachers' TV reported:

"Since December 2002 when the national languages strategy was put in place, language has taken on a new importance in primary schools. 92 per cent of them now teach a modern foreign language. But that could all change depending on new Government policy. The National Centre for Languages (CILT) believes the subject is vital at primary level and the benefits are wide ranging. It would like to see languages become a compulsory part of primary education. "Apart from giving children the opportunity to learn a new language" says Teresa Tinsley from the centre, "the subject can also aid pupils' literacy and development in their own language. In an international world it is also important to open up pupils' eyes to different cultures and for teachers it means an opportunity to link the subject up with others, like history or numeracy".
But the implementation of languages at key stage 1 and 2 is still at an early stage of its development and CILT wants reassurance from the new Department for Education that the momentum created over the last few years will continue.
It especially wants to see the training for teachers continued and more specifically support for linguistic development.
The Department for Education says it hasn't got into the details yet of which subjects are to be made compulsory at primary level. Schools minister Nick Gibb says the Government wants to ensure "a relentless focus on the basics" and give teachers "more flexibility".
But, whether languages are considered by the government to be a core part of the curriculum for years 1 to 6 remains to be seen. There's likely to be an announcement soon, but any decisions made probably won't come into effect until 2012 or later."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

Making words memorable

Most teachers and researchers would agree that knowing words is even more important than knowing grammar if you wish to be proficient in a language. As linguist David Wilkins wrote in 1972: "Without grammar little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed."One of the frustrations for teachers is pupils' inability to retain vocabulary for productive use. A good deal of research has been done over the years into how pupils might better keep words in memory. Two concepts which have come to the fore are spacing and interleaving.

Spaced practice

A 2003 review of the literature by P.Y. Gu reported that most studies show that students frequently forget words after learning them just once.  Anderson and Jordan (1928) discovered that after initial learning, then one week, three weeks and eight weeks thereafter, the recall success was 66%, 48%, 39% and 37% respectively. Other studies have produced similar results. Unsurprisingly, these researchers recommend, space…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…