Modern language teaching has become a very important aspect of education today. This is particularly seen in the Curriculum for Excellence’s 1+2 approach to modern language teaching in todays classrooms. This approach allows for schools to teach a variety of languages from German and Spanish to Chinese and Gaelic, depending on their resources and teacher availability.
I feel this is a great opportunity for teaching children an additional language at a young age. Although like anything there are potential problems with any scheme. Some of these problems occur through the variety of schools, through size and location, which Scotland has. For example, as highlighted in the video below, one school in the centre of Edinburgh had one teacher who could come into school to provide one hour a week of language teaching whereas in the rural school in Aberdeen the teacher was able to manipulate her timetable as she wished to provide more hours of languages.
Throughout my personal education I haven grown to love languages and can not wait to be able to pass on this passion to my pupils. I was first introduced to foreign languages in primary school however I did not particularly enjoy the teaching methods of my teacher and in fact she made me quite scared to try and speak in the foreign language. This has influenced me to not create this similar environment in my own classroom and instead foster an atmosphere which encourages pupils to enjoy their learning of a foreign language.
Last week we had our first input in modern language teaching, I specifically went to the Spanish input, where we discussed methods of enhancing talking and listening skills in the classroom. This was supported through my reading of Teaching Foreign Languages in the Primary School by Kirsch (2008). This reading supported the input through the methods we can use to create a confidence in our learners to speak and listen in a foreign language. The main methods we discussed were presenting, practising, drilling and finally producing the target language.
One of the main aspects that I took away from this input was that a teacher should not introduced the visual word to the pupils until they are able to confidently reproduce this word. This is because when the pupils see the word for the first time they try and apply British pronunciation of the sounds to the word.
Finally, through my reading and the discussions in the input I have learnt ways to present the target language, but also to allow the pupils to practice it in confidence. This will help the pupils to build their confidence of using the target language pronunciation methods as if they make a mistake they are the only ones who know. Some of these methods are using a puppet or introducing the vocabulary through a familiar story or song.
From this experience I am looking forward to further inputs on modern languages.
Kirsch, C, (2008), Teaching Foreign Languages in the Primary School, London, Continuum International Pub