Supporting a multi-lingual approach: 2014 onwards

 Does the new KS2 curriculum framework allow for a multi-lingual approach?

 The 2014 KS2 curriculum is purposefully only providing an outline of core knowledge around which teachers can develop exciting and stimulating lessons to promote the development of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills as part of the wider school curriculum.’ National Curriculum KS2 Framework: DfE Sept 2013: section 3.2

The national curriculum document is, however, specific about the coverage of the relatively small amount of subject content given for foundation subjects (including languages): ‘Schools are free to choose how they organise their school day, as long as the content of national curriculum programmes of study is taught to all pupils.’ As above, section 3.4

The following quotations from the Purpose of study, Aims and Subject content pages for the KS2 Languages programmes of study, show how a Discovering Language approach can maximise many of the new curriculum’s aims.

 Languages programmes of study: key stage 2: Purpose of Study

 ‘A high quality languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity…’

  • A multilingual approach gives pupils an opportunity to ‘discover’ about languages by themselves through a unique opportunity to compare and contrast languages

Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages … equipping pupils to study and work in other countries…’

  • Schools can feel confident that a multi-lingual approach in KS2 will provide a very firm foundation for learning further languages, which is more effective than a mono-lingual approach.
  • When studying several languages in succession, schools need to  plan for appropriate opportunities to discover and understand grammar and vocabulary links between the current and past languages studied (as well as English).
  • See separate page on ‘ resources’ to support a multi-lingual approach
  • Discovering Language research has shown that KS2 pupils who follow a multi-lingual approach have a strong interest in learning several languages in KS3/4.
  • As we do not know which world languages our pupils will wish to learn in the future, a multi-lingual approach will give them an insight into how to learn any language and what questions to ask eg. does this language have articles, gender, a phonically regular written script etc.

Languages programmes of study: key stage 2: Aims

‘The national curriculum for languages aims to ensure that all pupils … speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity … continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation’

  • As young pupils encounter more languages, their confidence is seen to increase as they make links, compare and contrast languages. In particular they become intrigued with different ways to pronounce different languages at an age when their vocal skills are still very flexible and they are still prepared to ‘have a go’ and make unusual sounds!

 Languages programmes of study: key stage 2: Subject content

‘Teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language and should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one language’

  • This statement does not preclude the study of more than one language. It has not been made clear what ‘substantial progress’ means but, as most KS2 classes will be taught by non-specialists, it cannot be expected for the average Y6 to progress beyond NC level 3 or 4
  • A multi-lingual approach can still result in ‘substantial progress’ (up to NC levels 4 to 5) in one language, especially if this is taught in upper KS2 , after a foundation has been built up in one or more languages in lower KS2.
  • Schools following a multi-lingual approach have found that older KS2 pupils, studying their 2nd, 3rd of 4th language, move rapidly through the word and phrase stages to the longer phrase and sentence expectations of NC levels 4-5.

It should enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings …using their knowledge of phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary.

  • As pupils learn more languages and are encouraged to compare and contrast between these languages and English, their capacity to understand phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary links, such as cognates, will grow with each language encountered.

‘The focus of study in modern languages will be on practical communication. If an ancient language is chosen, the focus will be to provide a linguistic foundation (which) may support the study of modern languages at key stage 3.

  • A focus on practical communication will not be lost in a multi-lingual approach. Pupils will have the opportunity to communicate (through spoken or written language) in each language studied.
  • A well planned and progressive programme will provide a rigorous linguistic foundation for KS3 and further language study in a similar way to the study of an ancient language.

 ‘Pupils should be taught to … understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms …and key features and patterns of the language and how these differ from, or are similar to English

  • When pupils only learn one new language, they are not aware that they are learning frequently recurring ‘patterns of language’. For example, masculine, feminine and neuter gender articles for inanimate objects are often  seen as unusual, even ridiculous in the first foreign language, because  ‘genderless’ English is seen as the ‘norm’. Once a second or third language is encountered, pupils begin to see the pattern that , in fact, it is English that is the odd one out and most foreign languages give genders to all nouns.
  • If pupils have an opportunity to learn both a Romance and a Germanic language in KS2, their understanding of the origins of  English and our wide choice of both simple and complex vocabulary can be enhanced at a crucial stage of learning and literacy.

‘Pupils should be taught to… listen …explore …develop …engage… appreciate …describe …broaden …adapt …express…understand…seek clarification…create…’

  • All these teaching and learning expectations are possible and necessary in a DL approach.
  • In particular, a mulit-lingual approach actively encourages the exploration and appreciation of language links, key features and patterns, which in turn leads to increased engagement and a broadening of pupils’ understanding and love of language learning.

For further ideas on resources to use and approaches to take, see Discovering Language

Please contact me with any queries:

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