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Hola! Learning Spanish Adds Another Dimension to Learning

10th May 2013

At Wandsworth Prep, we believe that the learning of a foreign language provides a valuable educational, social and cultural experience for our children. In the Early Years, children develop communication and literacy skills that lay the foundation for future language learning. Learning another language raises awareness of the multilingual and multicultural world and introduces an international dimension to learning, giving an insight into one’s own culture and those of others. We took the decision to teach Spanish throughout the school as we felt that the sounds of Spanish are more accessible to young learners and also found that there is a wealth of material such as stories and songs to which young children are able to relate, thus facilitating language learning. We use a variety of techniques to encourage the children to have an active engagement in the Spanish language such as games, role-play and songs, particularly action song. We often use puppets and soft toys to demonstrate new language, notably our Spanish speaking doll, Christina, from Valencia, and when possible also invite native speakers into the classroom, in order to expose the children to more than one voice in the foreign language. We frequently use mime to accompany new vocabulary, as this serves to demonstrate the foreign language without the need for translation. We emphasise the listening and speaking skills over the reading and writing skills. We also use a multi-sensory and kinaesthetic approach to teaching and try to introduce a physical element into some of the games, as we believe that this serves to reinforce memory. We make the lessons as entertaining and enjoyable as possible, as we realise that this approach serves to develop a positive attitude in the children to the learning of modern foreign languages. We build children’s confidence through constant praise for any contribution they make in the foreign language, however tentative. In the Autumn term, children have learned to greet one another in Spanish, say their names and how they are, count from 1 to 15 and say their age as well as making Spanish flags and flamenco dolls and learning about Christmas in Spain. In the Spring term, children learned names for animals and members of the family and listened to familiar stories in Spanish such as the Three Little Pigs. The Summer term sees children learning about Spanish culture and the types of food that come from Spain as well as the types of food in the wider hispanic world. Children have learned words for snack foods and traditional dishes and have listened to The Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish. The topic will culminate in a Spanish food tasting afternoon where children will also be able to use their tapas plates that they designed in lessons.