Lead institution: Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
A LinkedUp project led by Solihull Council has been engaging primary pupils not only in improving their foreign language skills but also their literacy. Titled ‘Literacy-led Modern Language Learning’, the project involved three Solihull primary schools – Mill Lodge Primary, St Antony's Catholic Primary and Yew Tree Junior and Infants – as well as literacy consultant Simon Rowe. It worked across the age groups, with two Year 3 Spanish classes and one Year 3 French class plus a Year 5 French group, totalling 120 pupils.
“We wanted to show that language learning contributes to literacy”
The aim of the project, which was led by Suzanne Webster, consultant for primary modern languages at Solihull Council, was to develop literacy- led language learning units that both focussed on, and directly supported, the learning outcomes and content of literacy for pupils, including those that are less able or disengaged. Suzanne said: "It grew from a previous project I had worked on with another school around integrated learning. I was interested not just in integrating links with literacy but in developing a cohesive, phased teaching approach which could impact on both their cognitive learning and their language learning. We wanted to show that learning a language directly contributes to their overall literacy and also improves their writing.”
The project, which ran up to November 2010, began with a dedicated modern language phase where pupils used adjectives in French which represent more advanced language in English. “For example, we did a jungle animal story and used words such as 'ferocious' which might not be a word a Year 3 pupil would use in English,” explained Suzanne. “The pupils then made up a story, and at the end of a period of between 6 and 8 weeks, were able to read it in French or Spanish." The project was expanded for Year 5 pupils who used a helpdesk scenario which helped them to acquire technical vocabulary and create instructions in French.
Suzanne was amazed by the impact on pupils’ language and literacy, especially in Year 3: "We just gave them an animal and said 'write as many sentences as you can' and they were able to write a number of sentences in French that started with certain introductory words such as 'I play' and 'He is'. The impact on the pupils' literacy was clear, with the children having gone from five or six lines to being able to write full pages in English. But the main benefit, which all the teachers have reported, is that the pupils are more engaged.”
Article from linksintolanguages, 2010