One notable omission from the new Programme of Study for KS2 Languages is the amount of time that primary schools should be allocating to the teaching of a language. The children need to make "substantial progress" by the end of Year 6, so how much time will they need, ideally, to enable them to reach such a point?
The DfE says:
The Key Stage 2 Framework for Languages, still such a useful document, makes this recommendation, which is the same as the recommendation made by CILT pre-2010:
The conclusion we can draw, therefore, is that children in KS2 should have access to language teaching for an hour a week. It may be possible to timetable an hour's block, for example if the children are taught by a visiting teacher as part of the PPA arrangements. For many schools, however, the school day is already jam-packed, and finding that amount of time is difficult. An alternative would be to timetable a 30 to 40 minute lesson each week, and then to make up the hour with shorter sessions on the other days of the week.
Children can spend 5 or 10 minutes of timetabled time each day practising and reinforcing the language to which they were introduced in their language lesson. They could also learn new language which ties in with other curriculum subjects. This gives schools the opportunity to make the new language part of the everyday life of the school and not just something that happens within the confines of the languages classroom. Children and their teachers can use the language in different contexts and reinforce their understanding and skills.
Here are some suggestions for using that short space of time each day:
- Use registration to practise the language. Children could answer their names with a greeting in the new language, answer with a new word or phrase that they have learned, or answer a question that their teacher asks.
- Children play playground and skipping games and do clapping rhymes from the target-language country or countries. Older children can also engage younger ones in short conversations with the support of colleagues.
- Begin or end a session with some question and answer speaking work.
- Start maths lessons with a mental maths starter in the new language, some counting in 10s or some number fan work.
- Start PE lessons with a warm-up in the new language. Lots of ideas here and here. Don't forget the brilliance of Take 10.
- Use Art to introduce colours and artists from the target-language speaking countries.
- Learn a song in the new language for performance in class or assembly, or practise a song that the children have been learning in their language lessons. There are lots more ideas for music here.
- Practise basic questions in pairs or with puppets.
- Learn the words in the new language for things you have been doing in other subjects. For example, this work on mini-beasts.
- Show and discuss video clips about the country or countries where the language is spoken. Many opportunities for intercultural understanding will present themselves throughout the week. I recommend the Intercultural Understanding strand of the KS2 Framework for loads of ideas.