Modern Languages - Spanish by accident

22nd June 2012 at 01:00

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.

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,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today