This short blog post is all about our young language learners and the importance of that first ever language learning lesson.
First a couple of things as primary foreign language practitioners we have learnt along the way and try to remember:
- We can not presume that children have any prior knowledge of places beyodn their own locality
- We must remember that some children have vast experience of other countries and cultures too that will be a treasure chest of experience we can hopefully delve in to and use as we develop our language learning.
- As primary practitioners we would always set the scene and lead in to new learning so we must do the same with primary foreign languages.
Here is a "first ever language learning lesson" for young learners (works well with Y1/Y2 or LKS2)..................................
- Start by finding out how much children know about the World beyond their own road etc. You will probably have children who have limited exposure to other places and you may have children that have already lived in the country or a target language speaking country or have relatives in these countries.
- Perhaps show them local pictures and ask do they recognise the places.
- Show them some large "postcards" of the target language country. (You could make your own and add enlarged pictures of target language stamps).
- Explain that today you are all going on an "explorers' journey" to the target language country.
- Ask the children to share with partners what they hope to see/ find out /hear etc. (You coould write an explorers' wishlist...)
- If you can go on Google Maps and "fly" to Spain/France/Germany/China.Count the children on to the pretend play and say hello to the class.Can the class respond with the greeting?
- On your pretend flight why not have realia-- touchy feely objects linked to target language country that are relevant to the children and perhaps show them a target language big book. You could have an inflight video of a target language song or cartoon too!
- To start your "language journey" as you step off your imaginary plane - practise greetings and actions with the children and then play a game of Simon says with greetings and the actions
- Ask the children to greet others around the classroom and imagine it is just as if they have just arrived in the country.
- Finish with a simple song to listen to and that you plan to develop over the next few lessons so that children can join in with and sing independently.
- Give all children a passport stamp in their brand new language record books /folders etc - to say "welcome" to a brand new learning adventure.