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Modern Foreign Languages are an integral part of the boys’ learning at Birkdale, with specialist teaching in both French and Spanish, and weekly oral lessons for P3 and P4 boys with native Foreign Languages assistants.
The MFL classroom provides a specialist room with visual prompts and plenty of props and resources for the boys to enjoy language learning in a supportive environment. The emphasis is on enjoyment: in order to flourish in a language, the boys must be confident to try, and making mistakes is all part of experimenting with new sounds and unfamiliar words!
Each language lesson comprises the four essential components of successful language learning: speaking, reading, writing and listening. The focus for younger boys is on speaking and listening, and in P3 and P4 there is equal focus on all four skills. Homework is set for P3 and P4, and we encourage all boys to supplement their learning outside school by using Linguascope, an interactive languages website.
Boys in Pre-Prep learn Spanish in a weekly lesson, which includes plenty of games, role-play and songs to excite them about languages from an early age. The boys begin to learn phonics in order to be able to pronounce and read Spanish effectively, and do some written work in a Spanish workbook with pictures to aid their comprehension.
French is introduced in Prep, alongside Spanish. Boys in P1 and P2 have one lesson of each language per week, and boys in P3 and P4 have two lessons of French, and one of Spanish, in order to ensure the boys have a similar level of competency in both languages come the end of P4. The older boys also benefit from a weekly lesson with the Foreign Language Assistant, which helps prepare them for the higher level of speaking required at Key Stage 3.
The curriculum is written with practical situations in mind. Therefore, as well as learning the basics, the boys enjoy topics including: myself and family, the body, pets, food and drink, in a restaurant, in a French/Spanish town, sports, weather and music. Special topics complement events happening around the world, such as the World Cup or the Olympics. They also learn the importance of speaking a foreign language by doing their own research on a French or Spanish speaking country around the world.
Outside the classroom there is a weekly language club open to all Prep boys, and an opportunity to watch a touring theatre company perform a production in French. European Languages Day is also an exciting event on the MFL calendar; this year we celebrated all things Italian, next year we’ll be going Greek! And for the Prep 4 boys leaving us, there is the hugely popular trip to northern France in the summer term, where they sample authentic French cuisine, and more importantly put all their French learning to the test!