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Modern Languages


1. Rationale

  • The curriculum is enhanced by awareness of different cultures and an introduction to a foreign language is an effective starting point for this.
  • There is good evidence that an early start in learning a foreign language means deeper and more lasting learning. Early learning means that teenage inhibitions are avoided, and that the ‘babyish’ conversations and activities are done at an appropriate age. It is our vision to begin the programme with Years 6 and 7 pupils and upon further guidelines from DENI eventually feed the programme into all classes.
  • An effective method of learning a language is through linking it with the curriculum as a whole and the trained primary classroom teacher is best placed to do this.
  • The development of foreign language skills in primary schools is part of a progressive line of development in language for pupils throughout their education.

2. Aims

The aims of foreign language teaching in Castlewellan Primary school are:

  • To teach pupils in Year 6 and 7 to use the foreign language for real purposes;
  • To encourage in the pupils the ability to communicate by means of the spoken and the written word within an appropriate and meaningful context;
  • To develop confidence by fostering in the pupils an attitude which makes them willing to experiment with language.
  • To develop in the pupils skills and strategies which will support their future language needs;
  • To develop an awareness of language processes and purposes (in English as well as in the foreign language);
  • To contribute to learning about ways of life in other countries in such a way that they will develop positive attitudes towards other countries and their customs;
  • To provide an enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding education experience.


In Castlewellan Primary School, Mrs Green teaches French to Year 6 on a Monday afternoon and Year 7 on a Tuesday afternoon.

Similarly, the Year 6s are also taught German alongside St Patrick’s Primary School, Burrenreagh by Ian McMillan (Head of German at Shimna Integrated College) We are now into our third year of this initiative. Classes are made to be fun and “hands on” and we use mime, drama and song to bring languages to life. Pupils are building up a language learning portfolio which can be found on the following website:  www.nacell.org.uk

Below are a number of guidelines which support our policy

  • The use of the foreign language has to be according to the level of the teacher’s confidence and skills.
  • Activities in the foreign language can be introduced to the whole class, a group, pairs or individuals as deemed appropriate by the class teacher. Teachers may find it more practical to present new material to the whole class.
  • The foreign language is be introduced through story telling, songs, games, drama, etc. to encourage active use and enjoyment of the language.
  • The main emphasis should be on oral/aural language supported by reading. Some writing is also appropriate in support, at the upper stages.
  • Where appropriate and practicable, teachers use the foreign language during the normal school day e.g. the use of simple language for organising or praising or discussing such topics as weather, days, dates and personal details. Repetition is valuable.
  • Some teachers may choose to relate the foreign language to other areas of the curriculum where there is a natural link.

Planning, recording, assessing and reporting should be in line with the school’s policy documents on the curriculum and Revised Northern Ireland Curriculum.

Assessment should be ongoing and informal.

Programme of Study

It is anticipated that by the end of P7, children will have covered the different elements listed below.

Appendix 1

Common Programme of Study – French and German

1. Curricular Areas (Basic Language)


1 – 100; the working week; months; birthdays; times.

Environmental Studies

Greetings; introducing ourselves; body; clothes; colour; the family; pets; rooms; wild animals; food and drink; meals; likes and dislikes; weather; shape; houses;

Expressive Arts

Festivals; story-telling; songs; finger-puppet making; physical movement.

Religious Education

Prayers; Christmas Carols.

2. Language Areas

Language for the classroom; coping; affective; socialising; transactional; personal; descriptive.

3. Language Functions

Greetings/taking leave; thanking; apologising; introducing someone; explaining relationships; responding to basic questions/stimuli in a group situation or on a one to one basis; acting on instructions/commands; expressing likes/dislikes/uncertainty; giving basic information; describing (topic area); asking about (topic area); asking for information/help.

4. Activity Types

Story; mime/gesture; role play; singing/clapping; music/movement; board games; dice/card games; computer tasks; question/answer; drawing/colouring; model making; matching; true/false; guessing games; copyrighting; physical response.

5. Class Organisation

Whole class; group; pair; individual.

6. Language Content

Vocabulary and structures associated with the curricular areas listed in 1. Above and providing language to guide pupils through an activity; language for comprehension and response; language for pupils’ production and use.

Appendix 2

French Programme of Study


  • Greetings: Bonjour! Au revoir!
  • Basic words/phrases: Merci, s’il vous plaît, oui, non, Comment tu t’appelles? Où habites-tu? Quel âge as-tu? Je m’appelle
  • Numbers 1 – 20
  • Colours
  • Revise all of above and extend, e.g. Ça va? etc.
  • Numbers: 1 31 (for calendar)
  • Calendar: – days / dates / months
  • Weather: Il fait du vent / Il ne fait pas de vent.
  • Colours: extend to questions.
  • Alphabet
  • Family ( basic, mother / father / brother / sister / granny / granddad if time
  • Time: o’clocks / half pasts permits
  • Parts of the body (colour of eyes, etc.)
  • Personal description (tall, short hair, etc.)
  • Animals: pets, descriptions.