July 23, 2008

Inspirational Teacher Points the Way Ahead for Primary School Languages

IN TWO years' time the Government wants all primary schools to be teaching pupils a foreign language from the age of seven.

But a teacher at one Yorkshire primary school is already helping to lead the way having spent five years giving French and Spanish lessons to children as young as four.

And Nicola Davies is so good at her job that her efforts have seen her reach the national final of a new language teaching competition and be given Leading Teacher status. It means she will to go into other schools to show how she gets pupils interested in languages.

For the majority of her working week Miss Davies is a primary school class teacher with a class of seven, eight and nine-year- olds at Green Lane Primary School in Garforth but for one day a week she specialises in languages with pupils of all ages.

She told the Yorkshire Post that for young children in primary schools teaching French and Spanish was not about textbook translations but about bringing the languages to life.

Miss Davies said: "We do a lot of role play, we give the children gifts in French and Spanish and they do a lot of fun and games.

"The children are very enthusiastic about it. I also do adult learner classes where people can be inhibited but children will just have a go."

Her work has been so successful that children as young as five are able to have conversations in Spanish and secondary school teachers have said Green Lane pupils are performing well in languages once they leave.

Miss Davies also believes that teaching children languages from a young age can help make children more aware of different customs and ways of life.

She added: "We don't just look at the language, they learn about the culture as well. For example the children could not believe that Spanish children do not get their Christmas presents until January 6, they found that fascinating."

Miss Davies is one of four finalists shortlisted for the primary language teacher award which was launched this year by foreign language teaching experts La Jolie Ronde and publisher Scholastic. The teacher, from Middlesbrough, will travel to London in October for the awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament.

She has also been made a Primary National Strategy Leading Teacher in modern foreign languages which means she will share her ideas and teaching techniques with other schools in Leeds.

Miss Davies was nominated f by Green Lane Primary School's assistant headteacher Caroline Bean.

She said: "Nicola brings something fresh and innovative to her teaching."

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