Primary language barriers

MODERN languages in primary schools are being hampered by teachers' lack of time, training and subject knowledge, according to the interim evaluation of a Government project.

And where primaries are successful in introducing early languages some secondaries are failing to capitalise, an evaluation of 18 schemes has found.

The Good Practice Project was set up last September by the Department for Education and Employment to examine a variety of primary language projects which reflect the diversity of current provision and teaching models in England and Wales.

The schemes under investigation include the Sheffield multilingual city project which encourages primaries and early-years centres to teach additional languages, as well as initiatives in York, Surrey, Sandwell and Wrexham.

While much successful workhas been identified, common obstacles have also been found.

These include a shortage of time for languages in an already full curriculum and a lack of continuity and progression when children move from primary into secondary.

Teachers reported that they did not have enough time to plan work and attend training courses. Project evaluators also found that staffing difficulties - including poor language skills and rapid turnover - were limiting the schemes' success.

The Good Practice Project will run until March 2001 and is part of a DFEE initiative to develop and encourage early language learning being run by Cilt, the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research, an independent charitable trust supported by government grants.

The interim findings will be reported in September 2000.


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