“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
- Frank Smith
At Ursuline Catholic Primary School, we place great value upon the importance of early language learning and we believe that doing so will help to foster a respect and interest in other cultures, as well as an ability to communicate and understand those from other cultures. Our intent is to provide broad linguistic and cultural experiences for our pupils that enable them to foster a love of languages and to develop their communication skills in the four key areas of language learning: speaking, listening, reading and writing. We endeavour to ‘open doors’ by broadening the cultural awareness of our pupils, creating linguists who can express themselves confidently and with a keen interest in continuing their love of language learning in the future in our target language of Spanish.
We believe that learning a second language, Spanish at Ursuline, develops an open-minded attitude to the world, not only being open to communicating in a different language but also embracing other cultures. This starts in Early Years through our Understanding the World theme, where children are encouraged to learn about Spanish culture and compare that with life in the UK. Children then continue to develop their tolerance and respect for others as they progress through Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
At Ursuline, we follow a bespoke Scheme of Work for Spanish which begins in Reception and Key Stage 1 with conversational Spanish and opportunities to delve into Spanish culture, then continues into the statutory scheme of work which shows progression across Key Stage 2.
Children in Key Stage 2 receive one thirty-minute lesson each week. Our aims are to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum for languages; providing a broad and balanced curriculum that instils curiosity, enjoyment and confidence in our Ursuline linguists. We aim to foster a lifelong love of learning a language that will ‘open doors’ for many years to come.
The National Curriculum for languages aims to ensure that all pupils:
-Understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
-Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
-Can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
-Discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied
The National Curriculum states that pupils should be taught to:
-Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
-Explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
-Engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help
-Speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures § develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases
-Present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences
-Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
-Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
-Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
-Write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
-Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
-Understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English
To meet the aims of the National Curriculum for languages, we use a range of teaching methods and materials with retrieval of previously taught vocabulary at its core. Importance is placed initially on listening and speaking skills and pupils are given the opportunity to learn vocabulary through games, rhymes and song. Our Spanish teaching also provides regular opportunities to develop reading and writing skills.
At Ursuline, children are encouraged to incorporate Spanish into their daily life as much as possible through Spanish greetings, displays, counting, registration and ‘Child of the Day’ being referred to as ‘el niño/la niña del dia’.
Each year, we hold a ‘Spanish Day’ which enables the children to experience different aspects of Spanish culture such as flamenco dancing and making Spanish food. Children across the whole school take part in Spanish Day and activities are tailored to different year groups. Children are invited to wear red and yellow on this day and our school dinner has a Spanish theme. We have developed good links with local high schools who have supported us on Spanish Day and at other times. We hope that this too inspires our Ursuline linguists to continue their love of language learning into high school and beyond.
Different strategies measure the impact of our bespoke Ursuline Spanish curriculum.
Staff monitor children’s progress and attainment in Spanish against the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum objectives which have been split into year group objectives. At the end of a term, teachers make a judgement as to whether the child has met, exceeded or is working towards the year group expectations. These judgements also enable the teacher to make an annual assessment of progress for each child. This information is passed on to the next teacher at the end of each year.
The assessment of children’s Spanish work across the 4 skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing is continuous to ensure that understanding is being achieved and that progress is being made. Book scrutiny, learning walks where children and the MFL lead have conversations in Spanish and on-going teacher assessment during lessons allows for children’s learning and progress to be assessed.
At Ursuline, the main impact of our Spanish curriculum is to ignite a love and curiosity of languages, embracing the diversity of other cultures that will begin to inspire our pupils to continue their language learning in Key Stage 3 and beyond, thus ‘opening many doors’ in life.