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St Andrew's College Dublin St Andrew's College Dublin


Learning a Modern Foreign Language in St Andrew’s Junior School

At St Andrew’s Junior School, we believe that language learning should be a meaningful and enjoyable experience from an early age.  We teach languages placing a great emphasis on communicative competence, involving our pupils in communicating for ‘‘real’’ purposes.  We strive to use authentic source materials as much as possible and our passionate and competent teachers deliver engaging, enriching and inspirational lessons.

The other two principal elements of our approach to teaching and learning are language awareness and cultural awareness.  By language awareness, we mean teaching our pupils an awareness of how languages are structured and how they operate.  Cultural awareness ensures that the language is learnt in the context of the culture of the countries where the language is spoken.

Why Teach a Modern Foreign Language in Primary School?

We believe that there are many advantages associated with the introduction of a modern language at primary level and hence we provide ample time to language learning from K2 and up.  We offer a choice of two modern languages at St Andrew's Junior School, French or Spanish, and children choose one of these languages. Currently each child receives two lessons a week and each lesson lasts for 40 minutes. Benefits of early language learning include:

  • Young children are naturally enthusiastic about learning a language and the earlier a child begins, the greater the opportunity for developing confidence is in speaking and mastering good pronunciation habits.
  • Learning another language helps children to understand how language works and also provides them with language learning skills. When the language learning experience is positive and children are actively engaged in the process, they are able to transfer these skills to further language learning activities at post-primary level, whether in the same language or another language.
  • Language learning can contribute to the development of a child’s cognitive abilities. It can help to focus a child’s thinking on how language works. The child is encouraged to think about the language and how it is used, to learn that there are certain conventions attached to the use of language and that these conventions differ between languages.
  • Language learning promotes inclusion. Introducing another language at primary level can help equip children in their understanding and tolerance of others. Our children need to be prepared to welcome others into their communities and to be given the skills with which to communicate with peers from other countries and cultures. It is important that children are assisted in respecting cultural differences. Learning another language at primary level can also contribute to the promotion of respect for other cultures and peoples.
  • An enjoyable and positive language learning experience can develop and build a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem

Key Language Skills and Objectives

From K2 to P2 these include:

  • Enjoying listening to and speaking in the language.
  • Listening and responding to familiar spoken words, phrases and sentences.
  • Communicating with others using simple words and phrases and short sentences.
  • Using correct pronunciation in spoken work.
  • Communicating by asking and answering a wider range of questions.
  • Memorising and presenting a short text.
  • Reading and understanding familiar written phrases.
  • Following a short text while listening and reading, saying some of the text.
  • Reading a wider range of words, phrases and sentences aloud.
  • Writing some familiar words and phrases without help.

From P3 to P4 these include:

  • Picking out some of the detail from short spoken passages
  • Enjoying interacting even when the language is unfamiliar
  • Joining in a short conversation
  • Make a short presentation using a model.
  • Reading and understanding some of the main points from a text
  • Understanding how a simple sentence is written
  • Writing words, phrases and sentences using a model.
  • Enjoying listening and speaking confidently.

From P5 to P6 these include:

  • Reading aloud with confidence, enjoyment and expression.
  • Asking questions in a role play situation.
  • Telling a simple story.
  • Reading and understanding the main points and some detail from a short written passage.
  • Writing several sentences from memory.
  • Developing a short text using a model.
  • Writing a short letter, invitation or message.