In my school, there were a few children who had recently moved to the area from abroad. Specifically, in the the CE2 class I was working in there were two young boys who had recently moved to France from countries in North Africa. The teacher of the class explained to me that both these boys had a very poor level of French when they had first arrived and this was a challenge for both the children and the teachers when they had to communicate with one another.
Due to the pupils’ ages, as upper school pupils, when their classmates studied French Literacy and Grammar, these two boys would work from textbooks aimed at the earlier stages. This level of differentiation seemed quite difficult for the teacher to manage as the boys needed a lot of her attention. I also wondered whether this language barrier ever made the boys feel secluded from the rest of the class. However, due to the teacher’s inability to split her time between her and the class the whole day, the boys took part in other lessons with the whole class in other curricular subjects. This meant that even over the short period that I was in the class, I noticed how much more they had integrated into the classroom environment and were now managing to communicate with their classmates much more confidently.
Immigration is becoming more of a recurring them across Europe and so I feel as though witnessing firsthand how children from other countries with language difficulties are accommodated for was valuable for me in the future. It was also nice to see how the current political climate regarding immigration in France, which is met with some hostility, did not seem to filter into the school and that these children were not hindered by their cultural differences.
Throughout my time on placement, I have learnt a lot about language teaching, specifically teaching a foreign language. Whilst observing lessons, the teachers advocated using only English in their English lessons, which required some degree of self confidence from them in their abilities. I think that self confidence is the key limitation for me when I speak French, as I lack the confidence to practice my speaking skills aloud. Continuing with my own self-study of French using different resources and building on my vocabulary will help me develop more confidence so that I can execute some of the teaching techniques I observed from the teachers on placement. I am also taking part in the Modern Languages module next year, which when partnered with further reading, will help me develop a more academic and theoretical knowledge of the techniques I saw.
From a personal and professional perspective, I also feel as though this placement has helped me to become more communicative, as the language barrier between me and the teachers meant that I received little guidance from them regarding lesson plans, resources, assessment etc and work a lot harder to express myself and my ideas. This was very different from the one on one support I received from my teacher in first year and so I had trust in my own teaching ability a lot more, relying a lot less on constant reassurance. I think this was an important step for me to have taken, as by the end of my placement, I was communicating with all the staff and sharing my ideas with them rather than waiting for them to approach me. I would like to continue to develop, as I think it will make me a more valuable and integrated member of a team when in school. During lectures, I am often a person who lacks the confidence to share their thoughts and ideas with the group, therefore, if I work on being a more contributive member in a group of my peers, it will help me build upon the skills and traits I have began to engage with during this placement.