The Purpose of Study sets out clearly why learning a foreign language is important. The message that language learning is an antidote to insularity and deepens our understanding of the world is, whilst not new, one we can endorse wholeheartedly as languages teachers. We can also welcome the reference to real communication for practical purposes within the opening statement.
The four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) are clearly represented in the aims of the National Curriculum section. I welcome in particular the statement about speaking, with its emphasis on spontaneity and enabling learners to communicate `what they want to say' and the reference to `discussion and asking questions'.
Primary languages will be compulsory at KS2.
The steer is for one language to be taught at primary over the 4 x years.
It should be one of the 7 languages listed (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Latin and Ancient Greek).
KS2 teaching will focus on listening, speaking, reading and writing, with a skills focus on sound-writing links (phonics) sentence-building and memorisation.
Although not a surprise, we can welcome the firm proposal to add foreign languages to the primary national curriculum for the four years of KS2. Also positive is the clear commitment to providing a continuous schema of language learning from 7 - 14, whereby the importance of developing an understanding of how language works at the earliest stage lays the foundation for language learning throughout education and for later life. I view particularly positively the focus on sound-writing links (through phonics) and the emphasis on acquiring a secure vocabulary (including key verb structures) to aid independent sentence-building, both orally and in writing.
I am less convinced by the prominent inclusion of Latin and Ancient Greek alongside the five languages still spoken in today's world. Whilst I would in no way wish to discourage schools from offering ancient languages in addition to a foreign language, I cannot see the purpose behind the suggestion that one might offer either Latin or Ancient Greek instead of a modern foreign language. As is clear from the wording in the documentation and the clumsy "*", the purpose of learning is not the same for ancient and modern languages, such that they sit uncomfortably in the same list. I would much prefer that the two were presented separately, and that the strong encouragement to include either Latin or Ancient Greek were made in addition to the requirement to teach a modern language. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that there are any schools that offer Ancient Greek without offering Latin, which makes the list more anomalous.
Language learning at KS3 should:
build on KS2
develop grammatical knowledge and vocabulary
teach listening (for information and for accurate transcription)
develop speaking (spontaneously too) and with accurate pronunciationintonation
enable reading for understanding (and some authentic texts, including literary texts) and for culturalunderstandingappreciation
include translation into English
include translation into the foreign language
teach learners to write creatively (ie, from memory)