Immerse your class in modern foreign languages

It is the European Day of Languages on the 26th of September and I want to share my experiences and advice on introducing different languages to pupils from early years onwards. I went to an international secondary school where I loved learning French and German. Whenever I go on holiday, I make the effort to learn at least a few phrases (hello, please, thank you, goodbye), to be friendly and respectful to the locals. Learning another language and about other cultures is a very enriching experience which all children deserve to have. It is a national curriculum requirement from Year 3 onwards but I think languages can be incorporated into many lessons and daily routines in Key Stage 1 as well!

Primary school class activities to learn modern foreign languages

Registration

Each week choose a different language to say hello in. If you have any EAL pupils, use languages you and they are proficient in first before exploring others. Show the class a map of where the language is from. On Fridays, they could answer the register with any of the languages they know. Last year, my year 2 class remembered so many ways to say hello from around the world including Slovakian, Japanese and Greek.

Festivals and Celebrations

One Christmas, I taught a Year 5 class about German Christmas traditions and played Christmas Bingo of all the German words they had learned associated with the season. I also brought in some Lebkuchen for them to taste. There are so many interesting cultural traditions in each country around the world that would engage your class in learning another language. For example, Valentines' Day in Hungary - boys knock on girls' doors and throw water over them and (gently) whip them with a stick. They do this to wish them beauty and fertility.

german language christmas lesson for beginners
German Christmas Vocabulary


eTwinning - British Council

The British Council has plenty of resources for teachers to support cultural relations and educational opportunities. Their eTwinning resource helps connect schools around the world for different projects, you may want your class to twin with a class in Cambodia and send a letter to each other, or to skype a school in Finland and each sing a traditional nursery rhyme. It's definitely a resource worth looking into!

Sing!

Singing songs in foreign languages is a great way to help them remember keywords and phrases. You could sing heads, shoulders, knees, and toes in French or a greetings song in Spanish or Italian to help them learn 'Hello, how are you? I'm good thank you, Goodbye'

PE lessons

A great way to improve their listening and memory skills is through giving instructions. So why not give instructions in another language? Start with three words or phrases in another language such as, run, dance, sit. Once they seem confident with those, add a few more! You could use this activity as a warm-up in PE lessons every now and again help revise their knowledge. If you're learning certain words/pictures or colours, put them around the hall or playground. When you say the word, they need to find it!

These are just a few ways to engage your class with MFL. No matter what age, never underestimate what they will remember! Even if you aren't the most confident language speaker, there are so many online resources including videos and you can learn alongside your class.

Check out my TES shop for great lesson plans, ActivInspire flip charts, and worksheets.

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