What is it?
The 1 + 2 Approach is a Scottish based policy which aims for all children to leave primary school having learnt two languages alongside their mother tongue. An additional language will be introduced in Primary 1 and a second additional language will be introduced in Primary 5. Often, French is the first additional language and Spanish/German is the second. However, other languages may be taught.
– expands horizons and allows pupils to explore the world;
– The need to learn languages is increasing with more global interactions thus learning languages helps young people to improve their employability;
– in an interview with BBC Radio 5, Antonella Sorace explains that learning another language facilitates an understanding of how all languages work including their mother tongue (Stephen Nolan Show, 2018) i.e. learning another language helps children to understand their L1 better;
– helps them to learn and understand other cultures and people better. This helps to develop a better understanding of the world around them and the idea of diversity (Stephen Nolan Show, 2018);
– at a younger age, our brains can process languages better therefore the earlier language learning starts, the better;
– communication skills. Languages help pupils cognitive development.
– other countries know English whereas we don’t know their languages- it can be easy for us to just be lazy and let them speak English instead of challenging ourselves;
– confidence to travel to other countries and help those who come to our country if we can speak their language;
– helps communication with immigrants;
-more chances to do language at secondary level;
– development of teacher confidence.
– cross curricular- use the language in other subjects e.g. do some calculations in French;
– bring languages into routines too e.g. register, dinners;
– vary lesson time and make sure that lessons are not too long- little and often;
– get a native speaker to come in- this may help children to perfect their accent;
– various activities to teach the language- games, songs;
– explore the culture e.g. food tasting, geography research;
– start off simply with games and fun activities;
– partner up with a school in the other country to create a link- could do pen pals;
– contact with the secondary schools (language pedagogy and pupil transition);
– whole school approach (greetings, participation);
– choice of L2 and L3- choose languages that come from the same linguistic family so that one language helps the other e.g. French and Spanish.
Potential gaps and issues/problems that might appear
– interference with learning English as they are basically learning two languages at once- no interference however there could still be confusion for children;
– children learning at different paces and some may grasp concepts a lot quicker than others;
– teachers lacking in confidence and lack of knowledge in language skills or in language pedagogy;
– timetabling issues- languages would be the first thing to go- this is why it is so important to incorporate languages into other subject areas;
– introduction of a third language in P5 may be too much for some children e.g. for Polish immigrant who needs to learn English anyway. Decreased quality of language if too many are taught?;
– resources for modern languages- adding another subject=less funding and then teaching 2 languages requires more resources;
– assessment may prove difficult as you don’t want to put pressure on the children and can’t really do oral presentations;
– continuity between primary and secondary- we start two languages at primary languages with no digital resources and set timings, they start secondary and go back to the basics. Secondary teachers are unaware of children’s level of language. Kids start language from beginning and hate it because it is boring and repetitive or they start a completely new language;
no assessment- so that kids and teachers know where they are at in the language;
– no progression;
– different experiences in each school- if in primary school, they were keen for languages you get lots of input, if not, no language experience before secondary school and may find it harder when they enter secondary school;
– no guidelines- no e’s and o’s for early or first level;
– social stigma- other subjects seen as more important, people aren’t well informed, a lot of myths regarding modern languages, attitude of English being a lingua franca- why do we need other languages?, parents and adults around them cause a preconception of what languages are like- same with mathematics;
– training opportunities- need to be free for teachers;
– idea of getting away from learning vocab lists and learning how to actually communicate with other speakers;
– Issue of what languages do we teach!? How do we as teachers decide which languages are best to learn and would provide the most benefits.
Reflections on the policy
I think the policy is a great idea. The younger children are the more sponge like their brain is and this learning of modern languages aids cognitive development. As someone who did A level Spanish, I believe that the learning of languages aids understanding of your mother tongue. By teaching languages, we can help open doors and provide opportunities for children to explore the world around them and the various cultures within the world. An understanding and appreciation for other cultures can be developed through the implementation of modern languages and this helps children to understand the concept of diversity. As the number of immigrants increases, I believe it is important that they feel included; by teaching modern languages this could be a key to making them feel accepted and welcomed into their new society. I think that by integrating languages into other subjects, we can make learning fun and often children do not realise they are learning when languages are linked into routines and other subjects. However, I do agree that there are many challenges to this policy, one of which is the lack of knowledge and skills that teachers have. There is a clear lack of knowledge and confidence in teachers as they did not all study languages at school. Additionally, funding for modern languages is currently insufficient. I do, however, believe that these issues can be overcome with time and effort. I believe that we as teachers need to be open minded and willing to take on the challenges that teaching modern languages will present as ultimately I think the outcomes will outweigh the difficulties. I think by implementing this strategy, we can move forward in language learning towards a more equipped and socially accepting society.
Stephen Nolan Show (2018), BBC Radio 5, 17 August. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bf4rnv (Accessed: 19 September 2018).