Straight-talking education students at Kingston University are bidding au revoir to their mother tongue as they master the finer points of teaching a foreign language. Almost 15 students on the one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education course have signed up for a new primary level French option, launched in September. It has been introduced in response to Government moves to incorporate foreign languages in the national curriculum for primary schools.
Many schools in Kingston have already trialled teaching French to children as young as five. Course director Jean Ashfield said primary school age was the perfect time for children to begin learning French. “They are very receptive to another language because they are still developing their English vocabulary,” Ms Ashfield said. “Learning a different language also helps them with other subjects such as geography because they develop a greater understanding of the world.”
In March, a group of students from the university’s school of education will spend four weeks on placements at primary schools in the town of Besancon, near Dijon. They are hoping to find out more about the French education system and broaden their knowledge of culture and language. The placements would give the students an opportunity to teach a range of subjects in French and also to look at ways of improving their own methods of teaching, Ms Ashfield said. “French is already offered by many primary schools in Kingston and the surrounding area and our students are more likely to find employment if they have specialist skills in this subject.”