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As part of our Modern Foreign Languages provision at Birkdale Prep School, both Spanish and French are taught by a specialist teacher in a designated language classroom. Pupils begin learning Spanish in Pre-Prep 1 with 1 x 35 minute lesson per week which continues throughout Pre-Prep 2 and 3. French is introduced in Prep 1 and both languages are studied for 1 x 30 minute lesson per week per language before increasing to 3 x 30 minute lessons per week in total in Prep 3 and 4.
The Modern Foreign Languages department is resourced with a wide range of resources including authentic materials from French and Spanish-speaking countries. The boys are encouraged to develop a love for not only France and Spain, but the French and Spanish-speaking worlds as lessons feature materials and information about a variety of different countries in which the target language is spoken. The materials within the department are adapted to suit the age of the pupils with a focus on providing challenging and engaging tasks for the boys to take part in. The curriculum has been written at the start of the current academic year (2015/16) in line with the new KS2 Framework for Languages, introduced in 2014, which provides a solid foundation for further progress at both KS3 and GCSE. The topics studied have been chosen to engage the boys and provide them with an exciting stimulus through which to look at both French and Spanish language.
The lessons focus upon the four main skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing with a particular emphasis on speaking and listening. Classes are conducted in either French or Spanish, unless in exceptional circumstances, and pupils are rewarded for using the ‘working walls’ in the classroom which provide a reference for many classroom interactions. These ‘working walls’ are updated to aid the pupils in their lessons and help them grow in confidence in the language. A particular emphasis is placed upon phonics which are taught in a kinaesthetic manner with accompanying actions to help the pupils improve their pronunciation and understand how to spell words.
In addition to providing the boys with a solid grounding in phonics and developing confidence in the language, pupils are given opportunities to find out about the wider French and Spanish-speaking worlds as well cultural opportunities to further consolidate a love for language learning. A weekly language club is on offer to any budding linguists who want to gain some extra practice and play some language games whilst pupils in P3 and P4 have the opportunity to work with one of our two language assistants on a series of speaking activities and games. Whenever suitable productions are available, Prep School pupils attend theatre performances in French by touring drama groups who specialise in interactive productions for primary age pupils. We celebrate the European Day of Language annually giving the boys the chance to try out another new language (Greek, Portuguese and Swedish were on offer this year).
The culmination of the pupils’ learning comes towards the end of Prep 4 with the end of Prep school annual trip which currently is a visit to northern France.
Please note that currently boys in PP3-P4 and PP1/PP2 are following a similar Spanish course due to the language having been introduced in September 2015.