At Witnesham, French is introduced informally in KS1 through story-telling units and songs, and then taught formally in KS2 each week by a visiting specialist teacher. The Early Start and Rigolo schemes form a basis for teaching, alongside the use of French story book and writing units, which incorporate games, stories, puppets and songs. French is spoken throughout most of the lesson, in order to model the target language and help sensitize the children to the sounds, widening their understanding of vocabulary, instructions and pronunciation. Children progress through the units of work over four years, gradually widening their vocabulary and learning how to use verbs and create their own sentences. Story writing units allow children to be creative with the language, fostering curiosity and developing confidence.
Pupils love singing the ‘French song of the term’ in weekly singing assembly as well as taking turns to be ‘band members’, playing instruments to accompany the song. Class ambassadors from each of the KS2 classes lead the singing and actions in assemblies, as well as leading regular class French calendar and vocabulary practice.
Pupils enjoy sharing their knowledge of French with each other and regularly hold book-sharing sessions, where they read to each other the story books they have made during their story writing units. This provides pupils with the opportunity to develop the confidence to read aloud in French as well as enjoy listening to stories in the language.
We look for cross-curricular opportunities to learn about new languages and cultures. For example, pupils in Years 1 and 2 learned how to sing Happy Birthday in German & Danish from native speakers at the school, and at New Year, pupils in Years 3-6 made a French La Galette des Rois cake eaten in France to celebrate Epiphany. It was delicious! Reception children learned about Chinese New Year, making Chinese lanterns, looking at Chinese writing and learning Chinese greetings which are incorporated into the daily register sessions.
There are also whole school activities, such as for World Languages Day, where the whole school spent a day learning about a country from each continent. Pupils from Reception to Year 6 took part in a Brazilian Samba drumming workshop, made Dutch appelflappen, created Japanese paintings, learned Indian dances and looked at artefacts from Gambia.
Our school was delighted to achieve the Bronze Linguamarque language accreditation in September 2016, followed by the Silver in July 2017.