June 11, 2024

By Elena Laneri, Head of MFL Learning Foreign Languages

The MFL Department believes that learning modern foreign languages at a young age improves linguistic skills, enhances cross-cultural friendships and offers better insights into other cultures. Learning languages provides an understanding of cultural traditions and helps children see the world through different eyes. It also supplies the ability to consider multiple viewpoints increasing problem solving.

At Edge Grove, pupils are very fortunate and begin their MFL journey in Reception; they are exposed to both French and Spanish from year 1 to year 5, and in order to reach a good proficiency they choose one language from year 6 to year 8. We value friendship and connections between languages and cultures, so we spend time talking about festivals, traditions and heritage. We believe that not only learning languages improves communication, but also provides a great deal of cultural insight that can help children to better appreciate the perspective of a multicultural community. As Goethe said “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”

Research shows that there is a ‘critical period’ for language acquisition. If children are exposed to a second language at a very young age they are more able to hear and pronounce foreign sounds. Through the age of 7 and 8, children can learn to speak a second language with fluent grammar and without an accent. After this critical period the ability to master a foreign language gradually declines. At Edge Grove we are strong believers in these studies, so we offer our young pupils the opportunity to learn both Spanish and French through songs, rhymes, stories and interactive activities. After the age of 10 years old, our pupils consolidate their knowledge and begin to express themselves with greater confidence. They tackle more complex grammar concepts, engage in dialogues and work on reading and writing exercises. Once they reach our Senior department, pupils are encouraged to refine their speaking, listening, writing and comprehension skills through discussions, presentations, and more advanced coursework. By this stage, many pupils achieve a commendable level of fluency, setting the stage for continued language development in secondary education.

As Modern Foreign Languages teachers, we always remind pupils and parents that languages are very important for travelling; being able to speak the language of the country we are visiting unlocks the possibility of deeper connections and understanding. We all recognise that language education is critical for the workforce of the future and being bilingual can broaden career options. We also appreciate that speaking more than one language can boost your brain flexibility and can help attention focusing and thinking skills. So what better reasons can we have than to continue learning languages, embrace other cultures and celebrate diversity!

It’s a small world…after all!

Elena Laneri
Head of Modern Foreign Languages