Modern languages - Amateur detectives

1st June 2012 at 01:00

What it's all about

"I enjoyed it because it was a challenge, but it was a challenge that was fun!" That was one 11-year-old's view of a 40-minute lesson from the Languages Bridge.

She and her Year 6 (P6) classmates, working in teams, had taken the role of a detective who received multilingual witness statements from fictional colleagues around Europe about the movements of Mr X, an international jewel thief. They had learned that Mr X was travelling through Italy, France and Spain and they knew where he was going, where he was staying and what he was doing. They learned these facts by interpreting cognates, images and phrases in three foreign languages, writes Josephine Cole.

But how did these primary children make sense of it all when they had yet to study a language? This is one of the purposes of Languages Bridge, a web-based programme of multilingual materials designed to teach pupils how languages work. Developed between 2004 and 2007 by the International Learning and Research Centre, it aims to help pupils focus on the similarities between languages and realise that learning another language can be easier than they expect.

The programme includes more than 20 hours of interactive material for children aged 7-14, focusing on listening and reading skills and word, sentence and text-level comprehension. Activities - using stories and active learning - involve comparisons of nine European languages, plus Mandarin and Japanese. For more details, visit

What else?

Inspire the linguists of tomorrow with quotes from celebrities from henriette. Or try slick's popular quiz to promote the importance of languages.

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