Building purposeful links with a school abroad

A week or two ago  I shared on Twitter the fact that Latchford Year 6 had gone on their annual visit to Malaga to meet their partner aged children in their link school.I wrote this blog about the school's preparations for the visit Year 6 on their way to meet their Spanish friends.

I received this email at the start of the half term from the Year 6 class teacher at Latchford St James CE Primary School and current Primary Languages Co-ordinator on her return from the school visit to their link school in Malaga. 

Hi Janet, just to let you know that we had a great trip again and our children made many new friends. They had the opportunity to visit the market in Malaga where they all bought things, using their Spanish, our food in the hotel was ordered entirely in Spanish and when two groups lost their room keys, they went to reception and asked for new ones, again in Spanish. The kiosk on the beach was a great hit and since the lady spoke no English the children had to use their Spanish. It was so nice to hear them with their new friends and we were complimented everywhere for their behaviour and use of language . A fantastic experience for them.  Tina 

What a brilliant start to my half term! It's the joined up thinking I really like. 

Why? Well Tina is supported and indeed was accompanied by the Spanish language assistant José on this visit .Thorough out the  year José and Tina have been organising language learning to prepare the children for the visit. The previous language coordinator also went on the visit to continue the teacher to teacher contacts between the schools and to support Tina.

The children have had opportunity this year to prepare for their visit.They worked with Tina and José on familiar routine language they might need on their school visit.They created their own Spanish market in their classroom.... 

...but what better way to consolidate this language and cultural understanding than to actually visit the market in Malaga! Tina tells me in her email that all the children had "the opportunity to visit the market in Malaga where they all bought things, using their Spanish".

In class they had skyped and emailed their Spanish friends to find out about what they liked to do as hobbies and pastimes.

but then they were able to spend time with their friends, speaking Spanish, supported by the teachers and of course José.Tina tells me in her email "It was so nice to hear them with their new friends and we were complimented everywhere for their behaviour and use of language."

And now they are back!

They have made new friends and have gained confidence in their ability to communicate in a foreign language! 

And in a week's time they will be able to share their world with their new Spanish friends,when they come to Warrington to visit Latchford CE for the week! Together the Spanish and English friends will explore the our local community, culture and school including the English seaside ....not sure it will be as warm and sunny as Malaga though!

The children have used their language learning to communicate.They have opened their minds to a new culture and way of life.They have been able to explore and celebrate their own knowledge of Spanish,which they have been learning  since KS1 at school and they have made new friends.

The teachers have real reason and purpose to engage  with Spanish language and culture and bring so much new knowledge and ideas back to school in England with them.

The children have participated in school life in Spain and they all went on shared excursions.They return to school with exciting stories for their younger friends at school about Spain, Spanish school and culture  and why it's so very important to be able to communicate in another language.

The school visit is a culmination of substantial progress in learning a target language over six years. It's inclusive and supportive and is an integral part of the annual calendar of both schools - an urban town centre primary school here in Warrington and a Spanish primary school by the seaside!