The world is shrinking! Budget travel and advances in technology present our pupils with exciting opportunities to experience different languages and cultures.
A growing number of pupils already speak or understand another language in addition to English. It is our aim at Eton End to foster a love of language learning in our children, which will remain with them throughout their lives, and an interest in France, Germany and Spain and the associated cultures of these countries.
At Eton End we start the pupils’ journey in Reception with specialist teaching in French and Spanish and this continues in Year 1 and 2. The teachers encourage children to engage actively with the language using games, action songs, rhymes, stories, role play, audio CDs, DVDs and YouTube. They use puppets, soft toys and mime to demonstrate and present the language. Pupils will happily hold a conversation in French with Philippe le Perroquet and Petit Lapin Blanc! They try and catch out the magician as she performs magic with French numbers. In Spanish they find out what naughty Teddy has been doing during the week and chat with Blanco the Rabbit and Carlos the Crow. A multi-sensory and kinesthetic approach to teaching is used as this helps to reinforce memory. Praise for all attempts to communicate is crucial in building confidence. The emphasis is on listening and responding in songs, rhymes and simple classroom language.
Parents enjoy listening to their children sing carols and songs, such as Mon Bonhomme de Neige and Feliz Navidad in French and Spanish in the Pre-Prep Christmas Play.
As the pupils progress through the school they increase their time allocation and develop their skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. These are complemented by activities which explore intercultural understanding, knowledge about language and language learning skills. They use the entertaining interactive French program, ‘Rigolo’, which offers them individual practice in all skill areas.
They interact with the cartoon characters in the château Rigolo such as Jake, Polly, Didier, Natalie and the friendly dragon Bof. The pupils use the computers in the ICT suite in a similar way to a language laboratory, listening to the language, modelling and recording it. A French theatre company visits the school each year and entertains the pupils with a performance written specifically for their age range.
Titles have included ‘The World’s Gone French’, ‘Shipwrecked’ and ‘Écris-Moi’.
Pupils in Years 3 – 6 take part in the annual French Verse Speaking Competition at St. Mary’s School, Gerrard’s Cross. In 2012 Eton End won a prize in every category.
The girls in Year 6 attend the annual film event at the BFI in London where they watch foreign films and take part in a variety of activities.
Pupils start studying German in Year 4. They have one lesson timetabled each week and the approach taken is principally oral. By the end of the three years of study the pupils are able to converse in basic German on a variety of topics and have an understanding of some of the culture of the German speaking world. Links with the Goethe Institut in London have furthered this and the school has enjoyed visits from a German writer of children’s literature and a traditional storyteller. This year the school is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the printing of Grimms Fairy Tales by hosting an exhibition of posters and by those who are learning German going to see a film of ‘Der Froschkönig’.
The Year 6 girls look forward immensely to their language and adventure week in France towards the end of their final year at the school. They stay at a gîte in Normandy and are immersed in the French language during the week. Their activities include buying themselves the items for their picnic lunch at a local market, visiting the ‘Maison de la Mer’ where they are introduced in French to the local area and its wealth of natural features, crossing the Bay of Mont St. Michel with a local guide and visits to the Bayeux Tapestry, the floating harbour at Arromanches and the Normandy Landing beaches.
We are proud that our pupils leave the school with the confidence and skills to continue their study of languages.