Fitting in first French

4th July 2003 at 01:00
Gill Maynard tries out resources designed to integrate language learning into key stages 1 and 2

As primary school languages expand, publishers are responding with a wealth of new materials. This survey is designed to give teachers an idea of the variety of resources available for primary French and to help them choose the most suitable ones for their school. For more ideas, I recommend the Centre for Information on Language Teaching's Early Language Learning website, www.nacell.org.uk, which offers a comprehensive list of published materials and has its own quality control system, with the "ELL-badge" awarded to good-quality resources.

Language teaching varies from one primary school to another, and in evaluating new resources for your classes here are key questions to consider: * What age range are the materials most appropriate for? Key stage 1 learners have very different needs from those in KS2.

* Are good reading skills required? Worksheets and activities based on written French are likely to be more appropriate for older and more able pupils, while listening and speaking activities based on pictures can be accessible for a wider range of ages and abilities.

* Is the material most appropriate for whole-class teaching, for small groups or for individual study? However good it is, it may not be suitable for your particular pupil grouping.

* Is the resource designed for teaching new language or for consolidation and extension? If the latter, how much prior knowledge do pupils need to benefit from it? An attractive-looking game can prove frustrating if it requires an extensive and specialised vocabulary.

* How easy is the resource for teachers to use? What support is there for non-specialist teachers of French in terms of language and teaching strategies?

lHow easy is the resource for pupils to use? Do they enjoy using the materials? What will they learn from them?

My colleague Elspeth Corrie and I tried out the resources with different groups of children in KS1 and 2 at six primary schools and in French clubs.

This is what we found.

Gill Maynard is languages development officer at the Anglo-European School, Ingatestone. She teaches languages at Chelmsford County High School and is an advanced skills teacher for primary languages Email: maynardg@angloeuropean.essex.sch.uk

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