Our French A-Level students recently visited Phoenix Primary School. Here is a report of this visit written by Suhana Limbu Y12, our Languages Correspondent.
"On the 20th of January, the Towers school’s French A-level class went to visit the Phoenix Primary School to spread the culture and vibrancy of the French language. With a Y4 group, we went through basic phonics (which links with their prior learning), helping them to improve their pronunciation of ‘au’, ‘ai’, ‘ie’. Teaching these basics builds a foundation that will help them confidently produce fluent sentences.
Since 50% of primary schools teach a modern language for less than 45 minutes a week (britishcouncil.org), I recognised how valuable an experience this was both ways: I was able to improve my French skills and these students would benefit from seeing how being a linguist is something to aspire to. I have always felt as though teaching modern languages, especially at a young age, has not been considered a priority, when there are many benefits: strengthened memory, advanced problem solving skills, improved verbal communication and, most importantly, gaining an understanding from a young age of other cultures. I feel, as someone who has moved here from another country, that the root learning of other languages and cultures has often been overlooked, misplaced and has unintentionally caused a degree of xenophobia.
Before the trip began, I found myself intimidated by the thought of interacting with younger children and subsequently being responsible for their learning. I envisioned children screaming, running around and having no patience to listen to me while I struggled to introduce the tasks. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong; as I started talking to them, I realised the students at the table I was responsible for were all so bright and perceptive and some were already able to introduce themselves in French. Throughout the lesson, they were able to repeat different pronunciations as soon as I said them and stayed on track, even as I was still juggling my amateur teaching skills. The children were able to recognise the French alphabet and differentiate between different sounds. By the end of the session, I was enthralled by their distinct personalities and they left me with quickly-written goodbye notes and drawings. I think it’s a common misconception that primary school students are difficult to teach, that they don’t soak in anything they’re being told or that the ‘real’ learning happens in secondary school.
This experience was wonderful and, as we continue our visits, it will help all of us at A Level to build some fantastic experiences into our Sixth Form study."