With Wednesday being a half day I was aware that I would not have much to do in the classroom. This was the first day of the week that I had been with the normal class teacher. I was glad to see her as there were a few issues that I needed to discuss regarding my involvement. I explained that on the Monday I had witnessed two English lessons; however, I was not allowed to participate. The reason I am in the school is to be an English language assistant and I was becoming very worried that I was not being utilised and merely observed lessons. This was a major concern as I want to get the most out of my experience in France. The teacher was very understanding and decided it would be a good idea to make a timetable for Mondays to allow me to experience other stages and classes within the school.
Despite the change in plans for the coming Mondays, I was still conscious that it was the second week in and I had still not been given a proper teaching task to do. On numerous occasions I have explained my purpose for being in the school. This has been a worry of mine as the other students that are in France have been given a lot of teaching opportunities within the school. This made me think that I am not getting as much out of the experience as I should be. I spoke to the teacher about my concern and she explained that I will not have an opportunity to teach properly until the fourth week of placement due to week 3 being sports week. This was not the news I wanted to hear but there is nothing I could do about the school’s plans. I took the initiative to email my university placement provider to voice my concerns regarding my lack of involvement within the classroom. This was a very stressful day for me as I was worried about how everything would affect my final module outcome. Saying this I believe I took all of the necessary steps to address the issues I am having, and I am hopeful that voicing my concerns will turn things around.
The children were working on their radio project on this day. As part of the project I am answering interview questions in French, however, the teacher also thought it would be a good idea for me to ask two of the student’s questions in English to test their knowledge as well as mine. I was very excited about this because so far, I have only played sound games with the children. This allowed me to assess how competent the children are in conversational English. They were very enthusiastic about speaking and found the questions I asked very easy. Because of this I decided to add more questions, so each child had five to answer. This allowed me to realise the benefits of learning a second language from an early age.
If children in Scotland began learning a foreign language when they started school, we would live in a more culturally diverse society. I thought back to my Dundee university primary education interview where we had to do a presentation on the 1 + 2 language approach. This is something I was very passionate about and still am. I began learning French half way through my final year of primary school. This teaching consisted of one, half an hour lesson per week. This meant that we were never practicing or retaining the language. I believe this is due to the ignorance British people have in relation to languages. It is assumed that wherever we go in the world everyone will speak English. This is a major issue. I have found this having been in France for nearly two weeks now. Although most people can speak some level of English there is an obvious language barrier that affects communication. Despite studying French to higher level, I am unable to have a full conversation with someone in the language. I feel embarrassed when I have to tell people that I can’t speak French whilst doing a placement in a French primary school. The Scottish education system must adopt the attitude of our neighbouring countries and prioritise languages from an early level.