Grade 5 and Grade 6 enjoying Spanish lessons
Focus on Primary School Languages
by Señora Rateau
How are modern foreign languages taught in primary schools in Provo? Our blog this week looks at the importance of learning languages in primary school and the recent changes at the International School.
What languages should we teach in our primary schools in Provo?
Our modern foreign language programme has traditionally offered French lessons to our students. We have a French, French teacher and this has always been a popular choice, especially with our Canadian parents. In fact many parents say they register for our primary school for this very reason.
Two years ago, we switched to Spanish for Grade 6. This year we have brought the introduction of Spanish to Grade 5. These decisions were made in order to prepare our children for their secondary schools.
What a great experience for our primary school children to be immersed not only by new languages but also to be in such a truly international school in Provo! We have over 113 children currently from 21 different countries!
There is also a great deal of debate around this subject in the UK educational arena and in the media. Faced with a new national curriculum of compulsory language teaching in primary education in the UK, teachers must find a way to motivate pupils in what’s often a brand new topic for them.
Also according to The Guardian’s recent language study it says that primary and secondary schools need a consistent approach to learning a language. It quotes, “The new curriculum makes it clear that students need to make substantial progress over seven years in one language. The only way of ensuring that this happens is for schools to take a cohesive approach to teaching languages. Why invest all of this time and resource into teaching students a language when they then have to drop it at 11?”
We also offer a French Immersion programme – 3 hours a week – for children who are ESL or EAL with French as their/one of their additional languages. French currently remains as the modern foreign language on offer for children in JK – Grade 4. See our latest language blogs
What do you want?
We recently canvassed our primary school community about our language curriculum and how we could provide the best possible programmes to suit the needs.
The consensus is that many parents would like us to remain as we are with French as our main language and quite a number would like us to switch to Spanish. In addition there were many who would like that we offer both languages.
Taking into account time tabling constraints we feel we have developed a suitable solution with minimal compromise.
Our new Language Programme:
- Continue to offer 2 lessons a week of French for Grades JK – 4
- Continue to offer 2 lessons a week of Spanish for Grades 5 & 6, in order that children are prepared for High school
- Continue to offer 3 French Immersion Classes a week for our Native French speakers
- Introduce 4 hours of Spanish to our after school club program. This will be, to offer 2 sessions a week for children from Grades 1 – 2 and 2 sessions a week for children from Grade 3 – 4
We feel that it is essential that if we are teaching a language the children are having at least 2 lessons a week in order for them to successfully make progress. Two hours of two languages simply takes too much curriculum time.
By extending the languages program into the after school club program we are able to offer two hours of both languages to those parents who want it for their children.
This began after the Easter break 2015:
Grades 1 – 2 is on Monday and Thursday
Grades 3 – 4 is on Tuesday and Friday
What’s the latest in Grade 5 and 6?
This year, both Grade 5 and Grade 6 learn Spanish instead of French. We are learning words, verbs, adjectives, prepositions and other useful words so we can speak, read and write in Spanish. The children say that they find reading Spanish easier than reading French.
This second term we studied the body and we described people (physical appearance and personality). Then we learned about pets and said which ones we prefer.
Finally we studied the vocabulary of a tropical island. We will continue next term with a tropical garden (plants and animals). We will also learn about food, clothes, and a house (rooms and furniture).
We will also learn how to say the time so we can talk about a daily timetable at home.
Need extra help with languages?
For further reading look at BBC Language Programme