There is no statutory requirement to teach a modern foreign language at Key Stages 1 and 2. The following guidelines are non-statutory and aimed at those primary schools that are teaching or planning to teach a modern foreign language.
The guidelines are designed for use with pupils in Years 5 and 6. They may be adapted for use with other year groups in primary schools.
While much of the programme of study for modern foreign languages at Key Stages 3 and 4 can be applied in primary schools, the following aspects are particularly relevant and have been suitably adapted.
Knowledge, skills and understanding
Understanding and using the foreign language
1. In the early stages of language learning pupils might be taught:
a. how to use and respond to the foreign language
b. how to listen carefully in order to discriminate sounds, identify meaning and develop auditory awareness
c. correct pronunciation and intonation
d. how to ask and answer questions
e. techniques for memorising words, phrases and short extracts
f. how to use context and clues to interpret meaning
g. how to make use of their knowledge of English or another language in learning the foreign language.
2. Pupils can be taught about other countries and cultures by:
a. working with authentic materials including some from ICT-based sources
b. considering their own culture and comparing it with others
c. considering the experiences of other people.
3. In order to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding further, pupils might also be taught:
a. the interrelationship of sounds and writing
b. simple aspects of grammar and how to apply them
c. how to initiate conversations
d. how to use dictionaries and other reference materials
e. how to communicate with each other in the foreign language in pairs
and groups and with their teacher
f. how to use their knowledge of the language creatively and imaginatively
g. how to use the foreign language for real purposes.
Explanatory notes and cross-curriculum references
Learning another language presents opportunities for the reinforcement of knowledge, skills and understanding developed in other curriculum areas.
These opportunities can be exploited through:
- aspects of English such as speaking and listening skills, knowledge and understanding of grammatical structures and sentence construction
- aspects of mathematics such as counting, calculations, money, the time and the date
- songs, alphabet, poems, rhymes and stories in other languages
- international or multi-cultural work, for example celebration of festivals, storytelling
- using ICT, for example e-mail with schools abroad, materials from the internet and satellite television
- geographical and historical work relating to other countries.
When planning to introduce a modern foreign language, schools need to consider:
- the aims and objectives for teaching a modern foreign language
- the choice of modern foreign language
- the age at which the language is to be introduced
- the availability of suitably trained teachers
- the amount and frequency of teaching time, including the number of weeks taught in the school year
- continuity and progression from class to class and from primary to secondary school.
Modern foreign languages (MFL): Attainment target level descriptions
There are four attainment targets for modern foreign languages:
- Listening and responding
- Reading and responding
Modern foreign languages (MFL): Listening and responding
Pupils show that they understand simple classroom commands, short statements and questions. They understand speech spoken clearly, face-to-face or from a good-quality recording, with no background noise or interference. They may need a lot of help, such as repetition and gesture.
Pupils show that they understand a range of familiar statements and questions [for example, everyday classroom language and instructions for setting tasks]. They respond to a clear model of standard language, but may need items to be repeated.
Pupils show that they understand short passages made up of familiar language that is spoken at near normal speed without interference. These passages include instructions, messages and dialogues. Pupils identify and note main points and personal responses [for example, likes, dislikes and feelings], but may need short sections to be repeated.
Pupils show that they understand longer passages, made up of familiar language in simple sentences, that are spoken at near normal speed with little interference. They identify and note main points and some details, but may need some items to be repeated.
Modern foreign languages (MFL): Speaking
Pupils respond briefly, with single words or short phrases, to what they see and hear. Their pronunciation may be approximate, and they may need considerable support from a spoken model and from visual cues.
Pupils give short, simple responses to what they see and hear. They name and describe people, places and objects. They use set phrases [for example, to ask for help and permission]. Their pronunciation may still be approximate and the delivery hesitant, but their meaning is clear.
Pupils take part in brief prepared tasks of at least two or three exchanges, using visual or other cues to help them initiate and respond. They use short phrases to express personal responses [for example, likes, dislikes and feelings]. Although they use mainly memorised language, they occasionally substitute items of vocabulary to vary questions or statements.
Pupils take part in simple structured conversations of at least three or four exchanges, supported by visual or other cues. They are beginning to use their knowledge of grammar to adapt and substitute single words and phrases. Their pronunciation is generally accurate and they show some consistency in their intonation.
Modern foreign languages (MFL): Reading and responding
Pupils show that they understand single words presented in clear script in a familiar context. They may need visual cues.
Pupils show that they understand short phrases presented in a familiar context. They match sound to print by reading aloud single familiar words and phrases. They use books or glossaries to find out the meanings of new words.
Pupils show that they understand short texts and dialogues, made up of familiar language, printed in books or word-processed. They identify and note main points and personal responses [for example, likes, dislikes and feelings]. They are beginning to read independently, selecting simple texts and using a bilingual dictionary or glossary to look up new words.
Pupils show that they understand short stories and factual texts, printed or clearly handwritten. They identify and note main points and some details. When reading on their own, as well as using a bilingual dictionary or glossary, they are beginning to use context to work out what unfamiliar words mean.
Modern foreign languages (MFL): Writing
Pupils copy single familiar words correctly. They label items and select appropriate words to complete short phrases or sentences.
Pupils copy familiar short phrases correctly. They write or word-process items [for example, simple signs and instructions] and set phrases used regularly in class. When they write familiar words from memory their spelling may be approximate.
Pupils write two or three short sentences on familiar topics, using aids [for example, textbooks, wallcharts and their own written work]. They express personal responses [for example, likes, dislikes and feelings]. They write short phrases from memory and their spelling is readily understandable.
Pupils write individual paragraphs of about three or four simple sentences, drawing largely on memorised language. They are beginning to use their knowledge of grammar to adapt and substitute individual words and set phrases. They are beginning to use dictionaries or glossaries to check words they have learnt.