Developing cultural awareness and embracing cultural diversity is at the heart of language learning at St Faith’s Prep school. We are proud to be a multi-cultural educational setting with pupils from all over the world, representing many different languages including Thai, Hebrew, Czech, Gujrati, Tamil, German, Hindi, Russian, Arabic and many more. Language lessons therefore focus not only on perfecting language learning skills, but also include learning about the customs and traditions of the people whose language we are learning.
In Year 5, pupils learn German in the Autumn term and in Year 6 they are studying a whole year of French, to enable them to make significant progress in one language and to prepare them for what is expected at secondary school. Both language courses are interweaved with cultural learning. For example, in Year 5 we look at how Christmas and der Nikolaus Tag, St Nicholas’ day is celebrated by children of their own age and more recently how the festival of Hallowe’en has become a part of the German tradition.
This term in Year 6 we have learnt about the food and lifestyle in Montpellier and Normandy alongside our deep dive into French phonics and letter sounds. The focus on cultural awareness continues through the year with pupils learning about mardi gras, le poisson d’avril and French Easter celebrations and the religious and historical background to these customs. The mardi gras celebration gives us a wonderful opportunity for cross-curricular work with geography, looking at the French island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.
Pupils at St Faith’s understand that the languages they are learning, are not just spoken by the European people in the countries of origin but by people all over the world and through making historical connections, they also understand why. This brings languages alive and develops a curiosity that cannot be solely developed by learning the language itself. Pupils in Year 6 also correspond with Albertine, a young girl from Cameroon, who is sponsored by the school and they engage in activities to promote her wellbeing such as delivering assemblies to the school and participating in fund raising events.
This all takes place amidst the specialist teaching of phonics, grammar and communication and at St Faith’s we make great use of modern technology to heighten this experience. ICT packages such as Linguascope and Languagesonline are engaging for pupils of all ages and provide great opportunities for differentiated challenge.