The government requires primary schools to teach a foreign language from Year 3 onwards, but at Belleville we think language learning is an important skill and children start learning French in Year 1. Children from Year 1 to Year 6 have a French lesson every week.
Language learning at Belleville aims to:
- Be fun and accessible for all
- Develop children’s communication skills in order to help them express what they want to say
- Develop children’s wider perspective of the world
How we teach and assess French
Children develop the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing in French through the use of curriculum linked topics, traditional stories, songs, games, rhymes, raps and role plays.
They develop their intercultural understanding by looking at authentic materials, studying life in different Francophone countries and immersing themselves in “real-life” situations where they can communicate with real French speakers.
They learn how to be “language detectives” and develop the techniques which enhance language acquisition.
Actions are used for all words and phrases to support memorisation and the learning focuses on being active, lively and engaging.
Belleville's curriculum has been created specifically for our school by our French specialist teacher. Topics have been developed to compliment the curriculum in each year group.
Our French specialist has created a scheme of assessment and clear level descriptors to track pupil progress. This is progressive for language teaching in Primary Schools and has been shared with other schools. It has also been used by the DfES working with CfBT for their school to school project work.
Bringing French to life, across the school
Language learning is celebrated across the school as a whole. Children develop their skills through French concerts and assemblies, role plays, drama and traditional playground games and songs. We celebrate Bastille Day with a themed French day of activities. Theatre companies and French musicians visit the school to support intercultural awareness and language learning.
Learning other languages
There are around 40 languages spoken by children at Belleville. The list is ever-changing but currently includes
Akan Albanian Amharic Arabic Bengali Bulgarian Catalan Cantonese Croatian Dutch/Flemish English Farsi French German Greek Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Italian Itsekiri Japanese Kurdish Lithuanian Norwegian Pashto Polish Portugese Romanian Russian Slovak Somali Spanish Swahili Swedish Thai Turkish Urdu Uzbek Wolof
Different languages are celebrated with displays and ‘Language of the Half Term’. This focuses on the children who speak another language and gives children the opportunity to learn simple phrases to practise around school.
Leading the way
As part of our work as a National Teaching School, Belleville's research on language learning has been published in partnership with CfBT in the 2013 work “A Quiet Revolution: Transformational Languages Research by Teaching School Alliances.” Our French specialist has also written a paper to help other schools use phonics to teach languages: Making the most effective use of gesture in primary MFL teaching (2013).