Modern Foreign Languages teaching is great fun here at Berkhampstead, and regarded as being of the greatest importance, as we believe that teaching a foreign language to young children improves their literacy levels, builds their self-confidence and broadens their cultural horizons.
Our tiniest pupils in Kindergarten benefit from learning French in intimate groups of just 5 or 6, with sessions lasting 15 minutes; their lesson times increase during the school year, and groups increase in size, but are never larger than 12.
The children look forward to engaging weekly lessons singing songs with rhymes, actions and the help of Madame McCreanor’s popular family of soft toys, puppets and other imaginative props. Up until Year 2, topics covered include numbers, greetings, animals, parts of the body and colours, but the subject is always linked to the class topic too. For instance, recently the Kindergarten topic was ‘Places We Go,’ so French lessons involved planning a picnic, naming food items and asking for them, as well as thinking about what they might wear!
When the children enter the Prep School in Year 3, time devoted to written French is increased, but spoken French always fills the lessons too. The aim is to foster a love of languages, and for the children to have the confidence, when they leave us in Year 6, to build on the firm MFL foundation provided here in their Senior schools.
Each year, Year 4 - to link with their ‘Dans Ma Ville’ topic - visit a lovely French restaurant in town called L’Artisan. The trip enables the children to practise their conversational French in a real situation, and they choose a drink, and either crêpes au sucre, crêpes au chocolat or crêpes a la confiture de framboise. Elizabeth, the owner, speaks entirely in French, teaching them the vocabulary for the cutlery which they have to say correctly before being allowed to order their crêpes! It is always a lovely morning.
‘Fun Spanish’ is introduced to pupils in Years 3 and 4 as part of their carousel programme. The sessions focus on the basics including colours, numbers, animals and greetings through stories, games and songs. In Year 5, half a term is devoted to French, and the other half Spanish. This cycle repeats throughout the year. Some of our most enthusiastic Year 5 pupils are taken to Malvern St James School to participate in a language workshop where they have a test of various languages including Italian, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
Mandarin Club is for children in the Prep School. It is taught by Taiwanese teacher Mrs Thorn who brings Chinese to life for the children with lively games and even karaoke. The children have great fun! The club takes place after school on a Tuesday.
Do encourage your child to try some of these:
Linguascope - a wonderful resource for children to practise listening to play games and to acquire lots of language on the way. For login details please contact the school office.