Celebrating whole school success - learning Spanish at Canon Burrows CE, Tameside

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Canon Burrows CE Primary School - Tameside


It’s a delight to share with you our case study (and video) of the outstanding success in the teaching and learning of Spanish by both the staff and children at Canon Burrows CE - Tameside.


The whole school commitment to the teaching and learning of primary foreign languages is quite amazing!

Primary Languages Network first began to work with the school in 2013, when the school became Premium network members.

Presentation of the “Outstanding” Primary Languages Award to Canon Burrows CE

Presentation of the “Outstanding” Primary Languages Award to Canon Burrows CE

Canon Burrows CE received their well deserved “outstanding” Primary Languages Development Award in October 2018. The success of Spanish in the school is due to the commitment and hard work of; Elizabeth Adamson (Liz) the MFL Coordinator; the support and vision of SLT and the willingness of all the staff to engage with the teaching and learning of Spanish across KS2.

The school are supported by a Spanish language teacher and the key language teaching time in class is seen as teacher CPD and staff join in, learn with the class and then teach aspects of the learning themselves later in the week to their own pupils.


The staff, who are all non-specialists in Spanish, feel confident that they can deliver Spanish to their own classes. Liz has ensured that all staff work with the resources on the VLE, access the native speaker clips and sound files in the Ready Made SOW and receive regular updates and CPD to enable them to develop their understanding of the language and very importantly the pedagogy. Liz, herself, has accessed; 1 to 1 consultancy support each year, visited and observed other PLN member schools’ Spanish learning programmes and has organised staff CPD from Primary Languages Network and has attended the annual PLN conferences.

Each of these CPD components has ensured the progress and success the school can see in the teaching and learning of Spanish. Last year (2018) the staff wanted to focus on Spanish up-skilling and also on “making progress in MFL ” , a bespoke package of CPD delivered by our associate teacher trainers.

Susanne Wilson of Primary Languages Network delivering staff CPD at Canon Burrows CE

Susanne Wilson of Primary Languages Network delivering staff CPD at Canon Burrows CE

SLT explain to the children that they are all on a learning journey together, making the whole learning experience more positive across the wider school community too.

This shared learning journey has enabled the staff and the children to make great progress in their ability to communicate effectively across the four core skills with age and stage appropriate Spanish. These snapshots below are samples of evidence mapping progress across word to sentence to text level, from exploring carnival ,making masks and practising and recording simple questions and answers:

…..to learning how to use of bilingual dictionaries, record and remember new language:

…..to learning how to use of bilingual dictionaries, record and remember new language:

…….to writing postcards to describe famous Spanish cities they have explored:

…….to writing postcards to describe famous Spanish cities they have explored:

……to engaging with penfriends in a Spanish school and sending and receiving letters at different times throughout the year

……to engaging with penfriends in a Spanish school and sending and receiving letters at different times throughout the year

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Every year they celebrate the school celebrates their successful progress with language sharing assemblies, where each year group teaches the rest of the school something they have learnt.

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The school celebrates European Day of Languages each year which allows the whole school to; explore other cultures; make links across the curriculum for example DT and making recipes Art ,Dance ,History and to transfer language learning skills from one language to another:

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For Canon Burrows CE, the progress they have already made is outstanding. The combination of SLT vision and support, the incredible passion and commitment of the MFL coordinator and the engagement and enthusiasm of the whole staff contributes to this amazing progress. We look forward to seeing how much more the school progresses in its whole school language learning journey.

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Bring in the New Year!

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Bring in the New Year of language learning! Simple start of year lesson sequence below.

Quick and simple New Year’s language learning activity here with a touch of music and peformance too!

This video above is just a simple snap shot clip of a band marching in an “Epiphany” parade. It was filmed this weekend in Spain but can be used whatever the target language you teach, to celebrate the start of a new academic term at the start of 2019..

Here’s how we suggest you use the clip:

  • Set the scene and talk about celebrations in January and how people celebrate and bring in the new calendar year.

  • Revisit simple or core language taught or practised regularly last term. Think - greetings , numbers , colours, months. days of the week, feelings.

  • Play the clip of the band. Can the children recognise the tune being played?

  • Divide the class in to differentiated ability groups of 6 - 8 children .Give each “group” now working as a “marching and musical band” a core language focus - so one group focuses on numbers , one group focuses on months or colours etcetra.

  • Challenge the groups to put the core language to a familiar tune. We suggest this needs to a lively tune that they can then march to, like a band.

  • Ask the children to add performance and become a marching band, pretending to play imstruments and perform their core language marching songs and tunes.

  • Ask each group to present their performances to the class.

  • Join all the performances together and order the groups in a way that the class feels is the best fit both musically and in terms of types of core language.

  • Create a class performance and why not video it too!

PLN News Podcast #1- Jan 2019 // Mindfulness // ITT Training // Resources //Premium

Primary Languages News- January 2019

Firstly, Happy New Year to all! We hope you are having and are set to have your best year yet!

This is the brand new PLN news podcast in which we will update you with all things PLN on a monthly basis

In this news update, Will discusses the following topics:

  1. The effectiveness of using mindfulness in the classroom

  2. The benefits of the premium membership

  3. The success and details of our ITT training

  4. Last Year Primary Languages Development Award receivers

  5. Updates about the growth of PLN and our associates

  6. Resources to use in the new year

if you are interested in any of what is said here are links to:

Multilingual Happy New Year


Our classrooms within our growing Primary Languages Network schools have children with great skills - other language plus great curiosity about the World outside their own communities.Last year we created a New Year’s lesson to celebrate the “multi-lingual “ nature of our communities. Here is a very simple first lesson back to celebrate the New Year and to be able to explore with your children in your classes that all around the World people have started their own “new years” and wished each other all the best for ther new year too! .

Network members will find the complete lesson plan and resources plus this multi-lingual Happy New Year triarama in the Ready Made French,Spanish and German SOW in Year 5 Spring 1 .

Non-network members can download this triarama from the French ,Spanish and German Active Lingo shop on the Primary Languages Network website.

Here is a the direct link to access and download this for FREE.

International Happy New Year triarama in Active Lingo Shop to download.

Primary Languages podcast #2 --- Meet the team - Emilie Woodroffe


Episode #2

Meet the team - Emilie Woodroffe

Welcome to episode 2 of the primary languages podcast, where I sit down and have a conversation with Emilie Woodroffe. Emilie is now the associate coordinator at PLN, and has worked for nearly 10 years with Janet Lloyd. Tune in to this conversation about how she moved to England from France, and how she has ended up in a role tailor made for her abilities and interests. Relive her journey from British council languages assistant to associate teacher coordinator

New Year! New Start! Revist the familiar.


Such a brilliant way to start the new year of language learning , whatever the level of the learners and whatever content you want to use.We love this activity every year! Inspired by Epiphany European celebration cakes – galette de rois and roscón de reyes, a simple to make and play letters and sounds wheel/game to revisit and practise core basic language and/or identify key letter strings and sounds in target languages.

I first created it back in December 2014 and wrote a blog called “Pass the roscon de reyes or the galette des rois”. It allowed the schools within Primary Languages Network at the time to look at ways to practise sound spelling links in numbers and colours.You can find the sequence of activities for this in the blog post.

Since then colleagues have decided upon their own content for the game.Here is an example from a network schoo.Irt erevisits simple language and the children need to recall the target language for the words.

We have produced a letters and sounds game, an individual wheel for ach child, as a variation on the game, linked to the orignal purpose- sound spelling. It’s part of our Ready Made French, Spanish and German SOW. You can also download it here at the end of this blog post, if you are not a network member from our Active Lingo Shop.Here is a picture of it in action last January in a network classroom.


Festive FREEBIE Six

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Our festive FREEBIE number 6 is a Xmas PE lesson, linked to simple beginners French,German and Spanish too .Ideal to use with KS1 and Year 3 learners. All you need is a PE lesson,space, hoops and colours plus the lesson plan devised by our specialist PE teacher which includes words and sound files mto support non-specialists.

Help Santa and the elves sort the presents and get them to their correct destinations on time!

It’s a great lesson .Don’t take our word for it , take the recommendation hot of the press from Year 3 at St Bernhards Primary.

The lesson plans , sound files and pictures are in the Year 3 Ready Made SOW and we have also made them available as festiv FREEBIE to non Primary Languages Network/ members here in our Active Lingo Shop

French Xmas PE lesson to download

Spanish Xmas PE lesson to download

German Xmas PE lesson to download

Festive Freebie Five

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Festive FREEBIE number five is in French and Spanish. It’s an example letter to use as writing frame or reading comprehension plus downloadable Xmas style writing paper for your own class letters to Santa. Letters they can then post in the school letter box or take home and put under their Xmas trees.

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You can donwload the example letter and the writing paper here:

French: A letter to Santa

Spanish: A letter to Santa

Suggested activities:

  1. Explain to the class that you have received this letter in the post.Show the letter briefly on the screen. Ask the class to help you investigate the text and decide what type of letter it is and help you see what information is mentioned in the letter.

    On a board write the phrases: “Dear Father Christmas” and also “Thank you very much” (.You can find these on the target language letter examples).Ask the children in pairs to talk about what they think these phrases might mean. Give them a clue by showing them the blank letter template on the whiteboard. Take feedback .

  2. Show the example target language letter on the large class screen and look for the two phrases the children have discussed. Highlight these on the screen .Reinforce the fact that theses two phrases are used to write lots of letters and that you just replace the name of Father Christmas with another name if you are writing to someone else.

  3. Ask the children to decide who they think has written the letter. Encourage trhem to use the picture clues on the screen .(It’s a letter from one of our alien family characters- sister alien.You can see a picture of her on the right hand side of the letter .The alien family stories run right through out our Primary Languages Network Ready Made French and Spanish KS2 SOW so your classes may already be familiar with them or you may already have met them if you have used our “Guess Who?Xmas Jumper” resource from our Primary Languages Network Active Lingo Shop) .

  4. Has the class realised that this is Santa’s wish list letter? What nouns might they expect in a wish list of presents? Brainstorm in English and in the target language.

  5. Take a look through the list of items (nouns) in the letter.Can the children indentify some of these nouns because they look simlar to English? Use bilingual dictionaries to find unfamilar language.

  6. Play a memory game with the items- who can remember four items/ five items/ items in alphabetical order etcetra?

  7. Now solve the problem - what type of letter is this? It’s a wish list letter to Santa. Ask the children in the air with invisible pens to write in the target language what they think is the best gift from the list of items and send it by magic through the air to Santa.

  8. Ask the class to write on white boards their favourite item from the list.Ask children to add extra items using familiar nouns they already know.Encourage some children to extend this by adding u nfamiliar nouns after looking them up in bilingual dictionaries.

  9. Discuss what they think the first paragraph in the letter might mean in the letter.Get the children to think about what they might want to say in Engllish in a letter to Santa.Explain that the author of the letter is telling Santa that he/she has been very good this year.

  10. And now it’s time to have fun and write your own letters and keep our Primary Languages Network letter to Father Christmasr as a writing support on the big class screen.

Festive Freebie 4

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Just added a Festive FREEBIE in French and Spanish that some of the more musical Primary Languages Network associate teachers have always loved.I am not musical but I can comfortably deliver this lesson too!We have been using this activity in different forms just before Xmas over the last years and it’s always a hit!

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It's a lesson where the class practises and learns a very simple Xmas song in the target language to the tune of London's Burning .The power point includes the class activity step by step instructions and the bells with the target language words, that need to be cut out and given to individual pupils in the class.

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Festive Freebie 3

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Festive FREEBIE number 3 is a Xmas Jumper sentence description power point with native speaker sound files ….and a TWIST. In it’s simplest form, it’s a game of “Guess Who?” and being reading and listening language detectives.

Below are two sample slides,one French and one Spanish.

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It’s available now to download in both French and Spanish in the Primary Languages Network Active Lingo Shop.Here are the direct links to the resources, ready to download.

French “Mon pull de noel”

Spanish “Mi jersey de navidad”

The activities described below in this blog post will help you get the most out of the resource and are ideal for UKS2 and Year 7, although you can also use these with LKS2 too.

Plus they fit beautifully with the Save the Children Xmas Jumper Day on Friday 4 December

Suggested Sequence of Activities

1. Listen and read along with the native speaker sound files.
2. Go on a noun hunt/ spot familiar and unfamiliar nouns/ use bilingual dictionaries to find unfamiliar language, revisiting each slide one by one.
3. Go on a colour hunt/spot familiar and unfamiliar nouns/ use bilingual dictionaries to find unfamiliar language, revisiting each slide one by one.
4. Listen to the native speaker sound files and spot who is wearing the jumper described on each slide.
4.Listen again and try to remember the sound of key words and say in your most Christmassy voice.Sell the jumper.Invite volunteers to read aliud the sentence on the slide in their best sales persons’ voices.

5. Draft write a Xmas jumper sentence to read aloud to a partner,using the sentences on the slides as models or writing from memory, dependingb on level of learners.
6. Design your own jumper and write your own descriptive sentence. 
7. Colour in. and cut out the jumpers.
8. Hang up all jumpers on a class washing line or place on a display. Number the jumpers.Invite volunteers to say their own sentence . Can class link the jumper design to the child who says the sentence?  .

Festive Freebie 2

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So simple and so current.For KS1 and for Year 3 beginner target language learners in French ,Spanish and German in our Primary Languages Network Active Lingo Shop.

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Download the FESTIVE FREE template in your chosen target language from the Active Lingo Shop and use this week to celebrate St Nicholas Day.

And then you are ready for your St Nicholas Celebrations lesson on or around the 6 December.

At St Nicholas’ parties for children and grown ups forfeit games may be played .so let’s use this opportunity to practise and revisit some basic numbers and colours and learn a Xmas greeting.

Ideas for your St Nicholas Lesson:

  • Sing the numbers 0-5 in the target language to the tune of Jingle Bells.S

  • Sing the colours (red,white,blue,green.yellow and black) to the same refrain.

  • Divide your class in four and sing each song as a canon.

  • Practise saying the target language Xmas greeting from the bunting in your best St Nicholas voices- loud, jolly , silly , kind etcetra.

Now you are ready to try some simple forfeit game:

  • Create a lucky dip bag with a variety of multi link towers and focus pn 6 core colours (red,yellow,green,blue, white and black) and counting multi loiunk from zero to the number five. number 5.Ask a child to pop his/heer hand in to the bag and take out a multi link block .They need to count the number of cubes and say the colours they can see.Once they have completed the task then ask the class to call out in their best St Nicholas’ voices the Xmas greeting.

And then it’s time to make your St Nicholas bunting ,to either take home to decorate their own bedrooms or to display in class.

We hope you enjoy this secind festive freebie .

Watch out for more from Primary Languages Network this festive season!

Power of Primary Languages!


It was a delight to start the ALL NPLS 2018 conference in York on Saturday 1 December. My brief was to “enthuse” and “inspire” .

Everyday. I am enthused and inspired by the power of primary teachers and the work they do around primary languages ,shared with me as founder of Primary Languages Network.

I led the delegates through a series of steps to reflect upon the “super powers” of primary languages teaching and learning and how important it is in my opinion to harness these powers and to make sure the “primary” language learning voice is heard.

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Reaction from the delegates was really pleasing and I hope as you read and look at a brief resume of the speech that this blog post “enthuses “inspires” and “empowers” you too.

As teachers and educators,we all have the power to make a difference in the lives of young learners.The importance and power of helping young children in KS1 and KS2 to explore and have the confidence in learning languages even in later life can not be underestimated. During the presentation we considered:

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Firstly we considered our super powers.What we do,what we bring to our work and how powerful this can be.

I shared my own current super powers thanks to Primary Languages Network:

  • run a specialist primary languages’ traded service, supporting mainly state and but also several private schools.You can find out more about the team here.

  • currently 314 network members and schools

  • lead and employ a team of 20 associate language teachers, working in 49 primary schools.The eys and ears of the network and the support system for all 314 schools.

  • oversee a comprehensive service,centred around our online virtual learning environment “PLN VLE”

  • The VLE is the heart beat that allows us to reach all the classrooms and schools and support schools across a very broad spectrum and at their own point of need.

I invited the delegates to reflect upon their own “super powers” as PFL practitioners

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We took time out to explore the brand new PLN 21st Century resource , Bitesize Mindfulness resource in French, Spanish and French and joined in with the French native speaker and focused on our breathing and explored a brand new planet of colours and feelings.

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We considered how this simple activity is becoming an integral part of primary schools’ ‘Wellness” packages and that the use of a foreign language is not a barrier to this being used as just a normal part of everyday primary life. A very powerful 21st Century resource indeed.

Plus the primary languages’ power of this resource is also in the fact that teachers can use it over and again, can explore reading and listening skills, comprehension skills, preparation of texts and performance of own simple mindfulness activities , plus use this as a platform for creative writing in Literacy. What power!

Next I asked the delegates to consider the power of being able to discuss and share with colleagues that you feel comfortable with and respect.

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I explained about the PLN associate team’s Whats APP group and how imoortant this .That we can share snippets here, that may have issues within them that we want to discuss.For example a clip that shows the memory skills and use of correct structures but may contain some inaccuracy in pronunciation even though taught by a native speaker and how it helps to discuss and share and become empowered and understand it can happen in any classroom and with the most able of pupils too and that it’s okay to fail, reflect and try again both as pupil and teacher.

All the examples I shared are from the last couple of months and are a small part of the powerful evidence we are collecting to show the power of primary languages and how primary schools are empowered to “think out of the box” and be brave and be heard across the school and the wider school community.

From powerful messages in French posters during “Anti-bullying Week” written down on posters to convey the right reactions, feelings and responses to prevent or stop bullying.

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To commemorating the lives and personalities of soldiers from WW1 in Remembrance people pillar poems.

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To “Wellness” days for both children and staff.Here are the staff from Merton Bank CP, joining in with Irene,our native speaker QTS teacher also a yoga teacher,during her Spanish and Super Day activities with the whole school.

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We took a moment to think about possible first or next steps towards engaging the whole school and creating simple activities with powerful messages that resonate positively across school.SLT and the wider community.For example Art displays and MFL or target language roleplay areas are engaging and can be supported by all staff.

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Primary languages and the primary learning environment allows us the scope to fit in with the whole school calendar from EDOL on 26 September (here is our theme in 2018)

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And the video that one school made of all the languages spoken in their school , celebrating the diversity in school, using our EDOL song 2018 is in this blog post thatr rounds up ideas and activities individual schools created,using “Everyone smiles in the same language” as their starting point:

Plus in primary we really have wonderful opportunities to share all the special moments in young children’s lives.Thanks to a PLN conference speech by Therese Comfort in 2017 on the “tooth fairy~” and it’s importance in young children’s lives ,we created our own tooth fairy package.

This packs a punch every time a child loses a tooth in class and goes home to mum or carer and is a reminder that in our classrooms we learn other languages too and share similar life moments with all children around the World.Pretty powerful I think!

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At the end of every academic year we hold a conference in North West England.This is a power packed day of great CPD, provided by both national and local speakers.In 2018 , Paul Philips, DHT, at a school in Ellesmere Port shared how his school had set up and held a two day Spanosh and interactive community event.All the children had worked on Art and performance linked to the Ready Made Spanish SOW in our VLE.

From QR codes and press button speech bubbles to help feed the hungry giant (Year 3 Summer 1 focus) to an “outside in the grounds” performance of the PLN Year 4 Summer 1 “Walking in the Jungle” story with papier mache masks of jungle animals.

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You can watch the short video of the performance here: Andando por la selva

The thing is that these are often isolated moments in the whole school year and the real power of primary languages teaching and learning needs to continue to be effective, creative and well planned week on week activities. The VLE is the heart beat of our networking community but it is also so important that there is rigour and clarity in all that we do.The VLE helps teachers plan,focus on progression, revisit, consider learning skills , develop these skills and stage by stage enable children to become more confident in how across the four skills of listening,speaking ,reading and writing they can understand. manipulate and produce sentences in the target language.

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Celebrations, fairy dust and magical creative moments add the sparkle but we need to see this sparkle in our lessons throughout the year.If we are to be taken seriously we need established and effective practice that we are happy to share at any time with SLT, governors, parents and dare I say it …OfSted. We took some moments to consider how we are tackling this challenge and empowering teachers in the primary language learning classroom.

You can find out more here on our Primary Languages Network website and maybe reflect on your own practice and the ways you already feel empowered or wish to become more “empowered” in your practice. We are now offering Pedagogy CPD to network and non- network members too.

“Self efficacy” of both learners and teachers is in my opinion key to the power of continued,respected and sustainable primary languages and the key to keeping the essence of the learning “primary”.

I can’t achieve this on my own .

There is the “PLN team” behind me.I shared photos of Catherine, the Network Coordinator, first point of contact for all 314 schools and also Primary Languages Development Award mentor, and also some of the associates’ team who are now becoming CPD providers. Over the course of a term Emilie and Will also observe all the assoiate teachers and confer on what they see and how this need sto be shared with network schools.Powerful and positive1 The team are now the future power,momentum and sustainability of the success we achieve alongside the supportive network of schools. There is so much knowledge and experience amongst everyone mentioned that it needs to shared and heard.It’s a powerful voice .We have now set up a podcast programme to begin to share this voice and the voice of other powerful practitioners and experts too. I was the first guinea pig! You can subscribe here.

If yu are interested in working with us and helping us build this momentum then please contact us here. Contact us via the link here

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The system we have developed is powerful and reaches in deep in to schools. From 1 to 1 coordinator webinars, creative webinars and face to face CPD, local network meetings and events plus virtual VLE tours but there would be no positive power if schools did not engage.

I mentioned earlier that we are a traded service and just like teachers in the real classroom we are held to account at the end of every academic year or during and after inspections and governor reviews. We gather evidence and share and celebrate this. Here is my most recent compiation blog post of evidence of progresss in Autumn 2018.

Accountability means that there needs to be :

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So ,finally take a look at this case study of a school in St Helens where the whole school has embraced the power of primary languages and to their absolute credit is developing language learning fit for the 21st Century.

Queens Park CE/URC Case Study and Blogpost.

My message at the end of the presentation has to be “Please do not dismiss primary language learning but take away from what you have read here or seen in your school that there is so much power in primary languages when it is implemented well.It is and shlouod be an integral part of learning for young children and can have a powerful and positive impact across the curriculum. Primary language learningshould provide a clear and supported pathway to learning languages in secondary school and beyond.