Thursday, 18 May 2017

Enriching English vocabulary

Our curriculum for Languages in Key Stage 2 says that through learning a new language, children should:

  • broaden their vocabulary
  • know how (key features and patterns) differ from English
I don't know about you, but I find it very difficult to teach new words in French or Spanish without (a) linking them to English cognates and (b) thinking of English words that are linked to the new words that aren't necessarily cognate.

For example, last week I was working on the -er sound with Year 5.  Our picture was a chevalier and so when we heard the -er sound, we held up our lance.  I asked the children if they knew an English word that sounded a bit like chevalier and described a knight perfectly.  I was alluding to 'chivalrous', and it wasn't a word they had come across.  We discussed the meaning, and I suggested they used it in their next piece of English writing when instead of 'courteous' or 'polite'.

I do this a lot.  We use the new words that we are learning to enrich our English vocabulary.  We are building bridges between the new language and English (all the time talking about why they are often similar) and using knowledge of one to help the other.  This is another weapon in our arsenal for those headteachers who do not value language learning in their primary schools.

I have started to make a list of the links like this that we can make with French and Spanish.

These are open Google documents.  Please feel free to add any words that you mention to your classes!

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