The progress we are making,an account from the teachers.

We are drawing toward the end of another busy year for our network .It’s time to review progress and see how our children are developing as young language learners. Of the 90 school within the network 32 of the schools are supported by either a visiting teacher or a language assistant teaching from our SOW . It seems pertinent to ask these colleagues what progress looks like to them in their schools across both key stages.

 I have the great pleasure of working with these enthusiastic, passionate and highly committed colleagues every academic week of the year.I asked some of my colleagues to write several sentences on progression they have seen this year ,all with a specific focus across three languages (French, German and Spanish

We meet on a very regular basis to discuss and practise language activities and as a unit of colleagues we have established a sharing and networking community....often pushing each other on!

What is very important here is that the progress described is a true simple reflection of what the children are demonstrating and achieving  at different learning stages.The comments are those of  practitioners who take ideas and put them in to primary practice.

We are certain that many of you will be able to say and identify very similar points.That’s reassuring isn’t it? 

What I identify as I read these comments is that we have gone past simple words and repetition and the learners are becoming interested young linguists,confident that they can listen, speak read and write and therefore communicate in another language! Hurrah! 

Key Stage One Learners: Spanish

Ana (Native Spanish speaker, QTS Primary with Early Years’ specialism). Here's her end of year report on the  specific noticeable progress she sees in KS1 this year. Ana teachers KS1 in 5 of the 6 schools where she also teachers KS2)

Greetings in Reception

In KS1 the main progress I can see is in the children, who  have learned Spanish for a couple of years- so Year 1 and 2 .
  • They are confident.
  • They link and use previous knowledge in new topics.
  • Their minds are open and receptive, they enjoy and don’t feel shy to try.
  • Some of my children in Reception after doing Spanish previously in nursery, can independently say their names, how they feel ,their favourite colour, the weather, days of the week, animals, numbers up to 20, body parts and follow a lesson where I mostly only speak Spanish.
  • These children show how important is to start teaching a foreign language in early years as their little minds are more than ready! 

Year 3 Spanish Beginners 

Joanne (PGCE QTS Primary Teacher with a primary language specialism ,teaches both Spanish and French) Joanne considered  the specific  progress she has seen in her Spanish Year 3 beginner class .She teaches from Year 1 to Year 6 in a local school. This is her end of year report.

Year 3 Superheroes Autumn Display

The Year 3s are just a joy to teach and the progress they have made this year has been impressive.
In their first year of learning Spanish, “my little Language Detectives “have wholeheartedly thrown themselves into their Language learning and have had lots of fun trying out new sound patterns and words.  
They respond to mimes and gestures and they amaze me with the amount of vocabulary they retain and recall and the inquisitive questions they ask. ('If Spanish has an upside down question mark at the start of a question and an upside down exclamation mark at the start, does all punctuation go upside down?' I ran with a flurry to grab a handful of Spanish stories and books so we could put our Detective sombreros on and investigate.)

Silly songs are immensely popular with my Year 3s (particular the fruit song) and the children even ask me for links so they can practice the songs at home. They have been known to come in the following week with an accompanying full on dance routine!

Year 4 Moving on on German

Barbara Foerster ,Year 4 German (native speaker German , TA and language assistant) Barbara works in a local school as a class TA and also as the teacher of German across KS1 and KS2. Barbara’s focus is upon Year 4 children who are moving on from being “beginner” learners.

My current Year 4 class are really good at German. They are very interested in the language and pick up new phrases very easily. 
I am very pleased with the progress they have made over the last few months - moving from simple sentences, e.g. my name is ... I am feeling good, to more complex sentences and phrases, recalling already known language fairly easily.
They are now able to have a  simple conversation and tell the other person about themselves and also ask questions.

Some of the things they are able to say are: their favourite colour,( and what I really like is that using the same phrase for “my favourite” ... they can translate that knowledge to say other favourite things, e.g. favourite pop group, singer, football star or number), where they live, when their birthday is and how old they are.
My aim for next year is to make them become even more independent !

Progress across LKS2 and UKS2 

Catherine (PGCE QTS Primary teacher with a languages specialism).She teaches four schools, French in two schools and Spanish in two schools. I asked her to suggest one specific noticeable skill step forward in each year group from Year 3 to Year 6  in both languages. This is what she has identified:

Across Key Stage 2, I have seen children become more independent learners. 

  • In Y3, children have progressed from repeating words and phrases to holding a conversation with questions and answers. 
  • In Y4, I have seen children become able and confident to write simple sentences in the target language.
  • In Y5, children are becoming confident in using bilingual dictionaries. 
  • In Y6, children have progressed from being able to read sentences in the target language to reading full scripts in the language. 
In general, I have seen children become more engaged and proactive in their own language learning.

What does UKS2 look like this year?

Emilie (native speaker QTS Secondary and Primary French Teacher). She works in 6 schools and across both Key Stages. Emilie was asked to consider the type of progress she is seeing in UKS2 as a platform that can be built upon into Year 7.Here is her report on progress in Years 5/6:

  • In Years 5 and 6 children are beginning to understand and read longer sentences/paragraphs made up of familiar language.
  • They are producing in writing and speaking longer sentences using simple connectives.
  • They have acquired language learning skills such as looking for cognates and strategies to work out new language (i.e using clues, context, etc.)
  • They are familiar with a range of structures including talking about likes, dislikes and preferences.
  • They are becoming more and more confident in speaking and have become very fluent in talking about themselves (name, age, where they live, etc.)

A view from the bridge between Year 6 and Year 7 

Jayne (Secondary and Primary French teacher) teaching French and Spanish in 6 different schools from KS1 to Year 6.Jayne has considered Year 6 children she teaches now and what they can do that she feels does now need to be acknowledged as they enter Year 7

  • Year 6 can remember so much of what they have done before!
  • They are keen to reapply knowledge and show what they can do.
  • In Year 6 they are beginning to extend their knowledge of sentence structure and  are keen to know more about language and grammar and how to use this to communicate.
  • Even in a new context it’s amazing what they can describe and how much new language they can add to their descriptions accurately.
  • They want to plan, prepare and use dictionaries to find what they really want to say!
  • In Year 7 maybe we should n’t hold the children back but let them explore language more independently and apply their language skills even if it’s in a new language rather than spending a long time re-explaining what they have done or what they can learn quite quickly .

So now we are ready to move on to next year and to enjoy working with our schools and young learners and to see where we get to next year ....??!