Learning languages from a young age should be fun and exciting and brings many benefits to children in terms of building confidence and helping with general literacy and reading skills. It also introduces them to different cultures. Young children are excellent mimics and can make rapid progress.
The vast majority of private prep schools in England teach French from the time children start school right through to Common Entrance at 13+, giving them a very secure grounding in language learning. Schools often offer additional modern foreign languages in the upper years, especially Spanish and German. Some also teach Mandarin, Italian or Japanese or offer these as extra-curricular activities. Many schools will focus on the language, history and culture of a different country each year, the idea being to develop global understanding and expose children to a range of opportunities from which to choose from at senior level. Schools preparing children for Common Entrance also teach Latin and/or Greek, often to the equivalent of GCSE level by the end of Year 8!
If your child is already fluent in another language because it is spoken at home or you have lived abroad you should find out if provision can be made for this at the school so that your child does not lose this valuable skill.
The following questions are a good starting point when asking schools about their modern language provision:
- Which languages are taught and when are they introduced?
- Are languages taught by specialist language teachers?
- Can ALL children learn a second language or is this restricted to ‘top’ sets?
- When is Latin (or Greek) introduced and what level are children expected to reach?
- Are there any opportunities for learning additional languages, such as Mandarin or Japanese?
- What international opportunities are available to children? (exchanges and links with schools in other countries, trips abroad, international themed days etc)
If you are keen for your child to continue being taught in their native language in the UK please ask us about bi-lingual schools. There are a small number of bi-lingual schools in England, mostly in London, where the British curriculum is offered in two languages. There are also schools that follow the entire curriculum of another country, taught purely in that language.
For further information and advice on choosing a school with specialist provision for languages please call us on +44 (0)1622 813870 or complete the Enquiry Form.