At Mosspits Lane, we believe in the importance of all pupils learning a foreign language from the earliest opportunity in school. Beyond giving pupils the ability to understand and use French, learning a language broadens the cultural awareness of all pupils. It helps to develop communication skills and extends knowledge of how language works – supporting the learning of Reading and Writing. Foreign language learning provides excitement, enjoyment and challenge; it also helps to create enthusiastic learners and to develop positive attitudes to language learning throughout life.
Our provision for learning in languages starts from EYFS, going beyond the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum, where this specifies KS2 only. Our chosen language across our school is French.
The teaching of French aims to be fun and exciting, to motivate pupils. We know from research that it is this motivation that has a significant impact on effective language learning and pupil attitudes. We aim to build self-belief in our pupils in learning French, by ensuring that they practise regularly, in ways that ensure they experience success by having a secure grasp of the language’s building blocks and how to make progress.
The three pillars of progression which underpin language learning and are vital to ensure progress in learning French are phonics, vocabulary and grammar.
The school uses the School Improvement Liverpool programme of learning for MFL: French. This is a carefully sequenced plan for ensuring that pupils practise the knowledge and skills needed until language acquisition is automatic. Each unit of work regularly teaches and reviews pupils’ phonic knowledge, teaching the differences between English and French language pronunciation.
Careful consideration has been given to the vocabulary progression in this scheme, with words chosen to be taught that will be most useful to learners and that can be used in a number of different grammatical contexts.
Progression in grammar is also carefully planned across the school’s scheme of work so that pupils move to learn more complex structures and concepts as they move through the school. Once learned, they are given opportunities to practise so that they can embed it in their long-term memory. The curriculum is sequenced so that the initial stages of language learning mean pupils engage in regular, rigorous practice in the basics before more demanding content is introduced. The goal of each step of learning should be the acquisition of automaticity. In particular, new vocabulary is introduced incrementally across a number of weeks to ensure that pupils’ working memory is not overloaded.
We intend that pupils build towards language comprehension, starting with decoding what they hear and read. This requires sustained practice over time with pupils expected to apply higher order skills to reading and listening over time.
French is explicitly taught on a weekly basis as a discrete lesson (varying from 15-30 minutes, depending on the age/phase of pupils). Research shows that explicit instruction is more effective for beginner learners, particularly in a primary setting. Each half-term, School Improvement Liverpool provide an expert French language assistant who teaches a unit across two year groups. Teaching staff stay in to watch this modelled language teaching; this provides high quality training and support for when they deliver their own French language units on a rolling programme so that all staff benefit. This continually improves teachers' proficiency, expertise and confidence in teaching French.
To further embed this, we also use daily incidental French so that throughout the day children hear and use this language in class and around the school and further practise what they’ve learned. Examples of this are class registers in French and daily classroom instructions as well as implementing many of the taught aspects of the programme of learning such as telling the time, describing the weather, asking daily questions such as, ‘How are you?’ etc. The school environment is rich with a range of bilingual labels and classrooms have key questions and instructions.
A variety of approaches and activities are used to challenge, motivate and sustain interest. Lessons are interactive, engaging and fun with an emphasis on practising spoken language, supported by reading and writing in French. We use proven techniques such as language games and learning songs, rhymes and stories.
During the Autumn term, we celebrate European Day of Languages where the whole school immerses in French language and culture, exploring famous French people, cities, landmarks, cuisine and art.