[lg policy] Breaking down language barriers

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 2 19:50:41 UTC 2013

Breaking down language barriers
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Tuesday, October 01, 2013
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Leicester Mercury<http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/people/Leicester%20Mercury/profile.html>

Pupils as young as four are getting the chance to learn new languages at
Uplands Infants.

With many different cultures at the school, staff believe it's never too
early to get started.

   1. [image: culture club: Ami Shirley with artwork created by pupils]

   culture club: Ami Shirley with artwork created by pupils

For the past week, children have been immersed in all things French.

Not only have they taken part in a simulated flight to Paris, they have
also been learning songs in French and enjoying some of its culinary
delights, as well as building their versions of the Eiffel Tower.
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Head teacher Michelle Orton said: "It's not just about learning a new
language, it's also about opening their minds to other cultures they might
not yet have come across and inspiring them.

"They need to know there's a big wide world out there and exploring it,
even from the classroom, can be fun. It's about learning through play and
it's been hugely successful."

With the coalition Government shifting its focus to languages in recent
months, there's no doubt that getting a head start at such a young age,
will be a bonus.

Mrs Orton said: "It's astounding how quickly they pick it up. At this age,
they're like little sponges and it's helped that we have a couple of
parents who speak fluent french. They have been popping in and helping,
which has been fantastic."

Youngsters have been learning the French for the days of the week, colours,
numbers and animals.

"Having this as a week-long activity really helps to create some excitement
around it, too," says Mrs Orton.

"There's been an amazing buzz about the school.

"But it won't just stop now the week's up. We'll build it into our lessons
and hope to embrace other languages soon.

"We have dozens of languages spoken in this school. That's why teaching our
children to be appreciative and curious about other cultures is vital."

Ami Shirley, head of year one, has helped lead the French week.

She said: "Uplands Infants is an inclusive school and this is just part of
the work that goes to show that.

"We make huge efforts to celebrate all cultures, from a traditional
Christmas nativity, to Diwali.

"Even our PE lessons over the past week have included learning the
different body parts in French. It certainly made it a bit different.

"The flight simulation was also lots of fun and it was great to see the
children suspending their disbelief to go on an exciting journey.

"This week has been cross-curricular, with children learning about famous
French artists and the story behind the Eiffel Tower as part of history.

"Counting numbers in French and English helps to remind them of their
sequences and eating new food might just mean they're happier to try new
dishes in the future.

"We hope that we've opened their minds to new experiences."

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