Modern Languages - Spanish by accident

Heather Martin

What the lesson is about

At St Faith's School in Cambridge, our second language is Spanish. It is part of the timetabled curriculum. But what matters most is that we aim to use it just as we use our first language: to communicate everyday things, from casual conversations to moral principles, in and out of the classroom, writes Heather Martin.

Spanish by design for children aged 4-13 takes place in the modern languages classroom. Elsewhere, teachers across the subject range create space for Spanish to arise spontaneously, as if by accident.

Nowadays we want children to lead the way, and the shift of culture at St Faith's was inspired by an adventurous group of Year 4 (P4) pupils choosing to use Spanish in the design and technology workshop.

These days they expect to learn number bonds or read Creation stories in both Spanish and English. You are as likely to hear Hola as "Hello" in the morning; likewise Hasta manana or Nos vemos el lunes at the end of the day.

Spanish appears in displays and on information screens, and features in services and assemblies.

I think of what we do as learning in the round, simulating the conditions of natural language acquisition, where children learn by imitating others and the pathways are laid down by proximity and shared experience. Native speakers among staff and pupils are ideal role models: our children grow up hearing Spanish spoken.

Learning by happy accident is fun: it's what human beings do.

What else?

For some inspiring geography resources in French check out the Links into Languages project. Help pupils to understand their school environment in English and Spanish, with classroom display cards from squiggle7.

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Heather Martin

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