Parlons-nous francais?

20th October 2000 at 01:00
A study of two ways of teaching foreign languages in primary school concludes that a lot of planning and training is required.

Two education authorities were observed. One LEA, where languages were compulsory, hired peripatetic specialist teachers to teach French one or two hours a week. The other relied on generalist teachers to teach French a half-hour a week. The specialist teachers were stronger in terms of knowledge, structuring the lessons and assessment, but had difficulties as they were outsiders. Because they weren't familiar with the class, their sessions were sometimes disrupted by bad behaviour and they had troble communicating with the teachers.

Although the classroom teachers lacked confidence and knowledge of the subject, they created a more comfortable atmosphere, but were constrained by their limited vocabulary.

Teachers with language expertise bring greater depth, but they need a range of teaching techniques to draw from. Generalist teachers, despite their enthusiasm, are hampered by their limited of knowledge of the language.

Teaching Modern Foreign Languages in Primary School: A Question of Expertise by Patricia Driscoll, Canterbury Christ Church University


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