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Blog Posts
Language Learning in Primary School

Language Learning in Primary School
Tuesday 26, 2017

Does Compulsory Language Learning in Primary School Work?

For the last couple of years, learning a foreign language has been compulsory in primary schools with all children aged between 7 and 11 years learning a second language. But is it worth the effort and does it really work?

Benefits of Speaking Another Language

There is an obvious practical benefit to being able to communicate in a different language, however the benefits of learning a second language go far beyond this. People who are able to speak more than one language enjoy cognitive benefits such as being better at problem solving, having more flexible thought processes and quicker mental processing.

Improves Communication Skills

When you learn another language you become more aware of language processes and patterns. Having a heightened awareness of the ways in which languages and communication works helps students with their communication skills in their first language as well.

Is Primary School the Right Time?

The primary years are known as a critical period in language learning, when young minds are still able to take on the language systems and patterns and sounds of a foreign language easily. Children who learn a new language at this age have a very good chance of developing native or near native accent and ability.

Making it Work at Primary School

One of the most effective ways that schools are teaching a foreign language is to tie to the broader curriculum. Instead of just having a stand alone subject that is taught separately to the other subjects, the language is used to learn with other thematic units and subjects. In doing this, students have authentic reasons to use and apply the language they are learning and this leads to much better acquisition and retention over the long term. There are some people who are skeptical about how well languages can be taught at a primary level. However, the schools that are linking language learning to the broader curriculum are providing potent evidence that it can be a success story.

Where to From Here?

While there are genuine successes where schools are producing students with strong language skills and global mindsets, there are also still many schools where language learning is low on the priority list. Another challenge for schools is that there are sometimes difficulties recruiting teachers who have the foreign language teaching skills required to implement a challenging curriculum that makes use of a second language. There is a powerful change that has begun in primary schools with regard to foreign languages, now the challenge is to harness the momentum and help it to grow.

Recognising and Rewarding Achievement for Languages

So let's start by recognising and rewarding languages in school with some of our language badges... 

Click HERE to see our complete language badge collection.

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