The Linguist

The Linguist 55,2

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 35

16 The Linguist Vol/55 No/2 2016 FEATURES In UK primary schools, languages are often taught by non-specialist teachers. Amanda Barton suggests some strategies to support this challenging task S ince 2014, it has been compulsory for primary schools to incorporate some language teaching in their curriculum for Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11). Of the primaries that responded to the annual 'Language Trends' survey in 2014, 99% were teaching a language, and 12% had introduced provision that year. 1 However, the survey reveals the significant challenges facing schools: finding sufficient curriculum time, boosting the confidence of staff to teach languages, and increasing the linguistic competence of staff. The challenges are greatest for non- specialist teachers who may have only limited knowledge of both the language they are teaching and effective language teaching strategies. Yet as the teacher provides the main model of spoken language, it is crucial that their language use and pronunciation is accurate. There are a number of resources and strategies that they can use to overcome their lack of experience and knowledge. Setting the context In the early stages of teaching a language it is important to set the context for learning by creating a foreign language environment. This can be achieved by introducing routine classroom phrases which are used regularly by the teacher. At this stage, the focus is on attuning pupils to the sounds of the other language and preparing them to respond to basic classroom instructions, rather than being required to speak. A teacher of French might introduce key phrases orally, accompanying them with an action for the class to copy: silence (fingers on lips); en anglais? (hands in a querying gesture); écoutez (hands cupping ears); asseyez-vous (sitting down); très bien (thumbs up). After repeating this exercise several times, pupils can perform the actions independently, followed by a game of Jacques a dit ('Simon says') in which pupils who perform the action when Jacques a dit does not precede the instruction are out of the game. Introducing vocabulary A wide variety of games can be used to introduce new vocabulary, either with realia, flashcards or images on the whiteboard. By sequencing these carefully, using the 'PPP' rule (presentation, practice, production), teachers can gradually reduce the amount of support they give pupils. In the initial games pupils simply imitate what the teacher says in various ways; middle section games practise their understanding of the new vocabulary; and more advanced games require pupils to produce the words with little or no support. The following sequence of games could be used to introduce pets, for instance: Flashcards. The class is shown one flashcard and asked to repeat; a second flashcard is added; the first flashcard is shown again; a third is added; repeat and continue. Repetition. Pupils repeat words in different ways. For example, the teacher shows a picture of a hamster, says "fort" and the pupils shout "un hamster"; "doucement" and they say it quietly; "lentement", slowly and "vite", quickly. Look who's teaching

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 55,2