“Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom” Roger Bacon
Children learning to read in two languages that share a writing system (e.g. English and French) show accelerated progress in learning to read; Early second language acquisition has been show to increase performance in children’s’ native language, rather than hinder it as misconceptions suggest. The pathways built in the brain when learning a foreign language at an early age can also make it easier for learning even more languages later in life and open them up to a world of opportunities. Research has demonstrated that children exposed to more than one language reap multiple cognitive benefits, such as problem-solving and communication ability as well as creativity and cultural awareness. (Bialystok E 2006 York University, Canada)
At Harlowbury we celebrate the school community’s cultural capital by encouraging children to explore the similarities between their home language, English and the Primary Languages target language (French). We aim to develop young linguist who ask questions about vocabulary and its location within a sentence while working through the first 3 stages of language acquisition (Preproduction, Early Production and Speech Emergence)
New vocabulary is introduced via storytelling, rhymes and song, teachers apply the same variety of skills and pedagogy traditionally applied solely to English lessons; this gives Harlowbury children an enhanced opportunity to make to clarify grammar and spelling as well as sentence structure. Making links to similarities and differences between all language structures experienced within the class where discussion and dialogue is encouraged to support depth of understanding which will, in turn have a positive effect on their ability to acquire any language they may engage with during their life.
Where a child has English as an additional language, they are encouraged to share their expertise with peers; through this, the whole class is able to enrich their cultural language learning experience within a variety of real-life contexts.
Storytelling within Primary Languages progresses from orally rehearsing while developing reading skills within the target language towards children translating unfamiliar text applying written and phonological cognates, leading to independently writing their own innovated story using class resources such as target language dictionaries.
A rich and broad curriculum ensures that teaching and learning fosters core skills:
- Attentively listening to spoken language
- Phonological awareness
- Making links between known and unfamiliar language
- Asking questions
- Sharing & acting upon peer feedback
- Appreciation of cultural similarities and differences