Together with numeracy and literacy, languages are at the heart of the curriculum at Our Lady’s.
Today’s children will grow up in an increasingly multicultural society and the ability to communicate in some of the most commonly spoken languages will become more relevant.
Young minds are able to soak up the challenge of learning a new language surprisingly quickly. Therefore we start teaching even our youngest pupils the basic concepts of languages, from the age of 3 months, right up until they leave Our Lady’s at 11 years of age.
Weekly classes with specialist teachers
We teach three languages; French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. For our youngest pupils, the emphasis is on having fun whilst learning and building their confidence in ‘having a go’. In practice, this means children often work together in pairs or a small group, practising pronunciation and using short phrases, without the fear of making mistakes. Basic grammatical concepts are also taught providing a strong foundation for future study.
French and Spanish
We teach French and Spanish from Nursery onwards. As children progress, we introduce topics and skills based on the MFL Framework, the Department of Education’s requirements for languages.
For example, from Reception to Infant II, children learn aspects of other subjects such as Geography or History in French or Spanish. Children start with simple phrases before progressing to more complex sentences as they get older and more proficient. In addition, older children are challenged with more complex grammar and in particular the differences to English.
Mandarin is introduced to children at Our Lady’s from the moment they enter Nursery. It is taught throughout the Nursery in a very informal and fun way, for example through games, dance and drama. In Infant I and II, Pre-Prep and Prep, lessons are taught in a more formal, structured manner but still packed with fun activities.
Mandarin is taught using material from the Mandarin curriculum, designed by Goldsmiths University, as well as the teacher’s own resources. This helps provide a variety of resources based on the age and level of attainment for each child. One of our most used reference books is ‘My First Chinese Words’.
Most of all, we ensure the process of learning languages is enjoyable. Singing songs, reading books and for older children, poems, all helps them to learn a language in context and to find pleasure in the process.