Lesson ideas

6th May 2005 at 01:00
Britain's multicultural society is a rich resource that teachers can use to develop children's love of languages, with activities in multilingual and monolingual classrooms.

Teachers can't be expected to have knowledge of all the language and language varieties that are present in the classroom. It's important, therefore, that they inform themselves about languages, as well as ways of team teaching and planning with bilingual adults who could help them bring linguistic diversity into their classrooms.

Where teaching assistants are bilingual, they can be an invaluable linguistic resource for work with children. Children learn about languages through sharing and observing language behaviours all around them in our multicultural society, even if they are speakers of only one language.

Monolingual teachers - working together with bilingual teachers or adults, or on their own - through activities such as those outlined here, can provide meaningful language learning experiences for the children in their classes. Language learning tasks should be interactive and based on children's shared interests and experiences. Tasks should be constructed in such a way that students take responsibility for learning and moving on, to broaden their personal boundaries.


During circle time in the primary classroom pupils can focus on different languages by bringing in personal artefacts or photographs (including holiday pictures) relating to different languages and cultures. This provides opportunities for talking about speakers and sounds of these languages, and for exploring and sharing what the children understand about them.


Games provide a useful way of learning another language as they allow for taking turns and the use of repetitive words, phrases or sentences. They encourage friendly competition and collaboration in effective language use.

Children feel comfortable with the rituals of familiar games and can transfer these to new games in new languages.


Teachers could invite parents into the classroom for discussion about language. For example, a parent could bring in a storybook, poster or newspaper in another language and read it aloud.


The teacher tells, reads and enacts a story in English using story props, intonation, gestures and expression to support the meaning of the story. A parent or other adult - for example, a student teacher, support teacher or teaching assistant - can retell the story in another language, preferably a community language represented in the class or neighbourhood using the same non-verbal strategies. The story can then be discussed by the class, guided by teacher questions.

* These concepts and activities are quoted from A World of Languages (Young Pathfinder 10) by Manjula Datta and Cathy Pomphrey, CILT pound;10. www.cilt.org.ukpublicationsypf10.htm

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today