It may be not be a surprise to learn that England had the worst language skills in Europe. Following a change in Government policy in England, it will be compulsory for primary school children aged seven and above to learn another language, from September 2014. As the responsibility for education is devolved to Scotland and Wales, this has also sparked debate there.
Given concern about the teaching of foreign languages, we have come up with a list of useful websites which provide great resources for those wishing to supplement what their children are learning at school, or for homeschoolers.
What follows are our top resources for Primary School Languages.
- Primary Languages: Spanish: This colourful site contains the very basics of Spanish vocabulary – children can learn to count, talk about their families and pronounce sounds which are not used in English. Typical sentences, such as ‘I am hungry’ or ‘I want a drink’, come with audio recordings, so children can learn to get their pronunciation just right. Similar sites are provided for French and Mandarin. In addition to important vocabulary, children will enjoy playing games and watching videos on vital aspects of language such as numbers and sounds. The Mandarin site explains aspects of the language children need to know from the word go, such as the use of Pinyin and characters.
- Class Clips – Languages: This resource comprises a host of videos which can be streamed in class or at home to aid with the study of Primary School languages. Each category is highly eclectic, featuring everything from songs to information on holidays, playground games and stories. If you click on Chinese, for instance, you will find a short cartoon featuring animated characters using key words in Mandarin (starting, of course, with ‘ni hao’). Likewise, there is another video of children singing Old Macdonald Had a Farm in Mandarin. The varied nature of the resources offered means that teachers and parents will need to surf a while before finding what they want. However, the time invested will definitely be worth it.
- Snapdragon: This animated site is designed to help children aged three to six learn Welsh. Parents will find notes that will guide them, while kids will enjoy the Learning Games, Just for Fun and Creative Activities parts of the site. The aim of this resource is for kids to learn simple Welsh words and phrases involving the use of numbers, colours, names of animals, etc.
- The Lingo Show: Children will forget that they are learning Primary School Languages as they concentrate solely on one vital task: preparing for ‘The Big Bug Show’ by learning words in different languages. The site will attract kids from the start, with a host of cute characters on the colourful homepage appealing to kids’ creative side. The choices seem easy enough: Games, Songs, Make & Colour, Story Time, Watch, Radio or Shows. One of the best things about this resource is its array of colourful characters such as Blodwen (the Welsh bug), Lieb (the German bug) or Queso (the Spanish bug). If you are travelling, be aware that many of the activities can only be played in the UK.
- YouTube: Video and audio resources are always vital when studying languages which are difficult to pronounce, or which contain a number of different tonalities. The series of videos, Mandarin Made Easy, uploaded by Fiona Tian, is an excellent example of how a well explained lesson can make it easy to understand the different tonalities in Mandarin Chinese. Fiona’s videos often have over 65,000 hits and they are popular with adults and children alike, above all because they are short, practical and amenable. Pinterest is another site which parents and teachers will find interesting, because of the host of material that can provide inspiration for everything from writing characters to celebrating the Chinese New Year with style.
We hope that you have found these resources useful. If you have resources websites that you would like to recommend then please let us know via the comments section below.