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National push to get students learning in a foreign language

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Check out this new initiative from Aston University (in Birmingham)...

• National centre set up to promote learning all kinds of subjects in a foreign language
• Year 10s at one school make a grade-and-a-half more progress after learning their usual school subjects in French

A national centre dedicated to the teaching of school subjects in a foreign language has been launched.

The scheme, led by Aston University and Bordesley Green Girls’ School with input from Birmingham City Council, forms part of efforts to increase uptake of students deciding to continue studying modern languages, and to raise achievement levels across all subjects.

Learning Through Languages UK will connect the existing community of teachers and lecturers that deliver lessons in a foreign language, known as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning).

The ultimate aim is to develop a ‘golden thread’ of language learning from primary school through to university.

Dr Emmanuelle Labeau, Co-Director of the Centre for Language Research (CLaRA) at Aston University and one of the lead academics, said: “Across the country there are pockets of activity in CLIL, but these remain fragmented and lack sustainability. Evidence of CLIL’s application in other countries has shown how a national centre can spread the word and use of CLIL and consequently the improvement in both language acquisition and achievement. We believe that language is a skill that can be accessed by all, and given the right approach, children from any context and at any level can achieve success.”

Bordesley Green Girls’ School has seen a rise in all key stage three subjects thanks to the adoption of CLIL.

89% of students at the school study languages at GCSE and 81% of those girls said that they enjoy the subject.

Judith Woodfield Head Teacher said: “Year 10 students who have studied geography, business and science in French in years 7 and 8 are making over a grade-and-a-half more progress in humanities subjects, a grade higher in French and two-thirds of a grade higher in other Ebacc subjects.

“We believe that our international curriculum is developing the problem solving skills needed to access the more challenging GCSEs. Nationally modern foreign languages are not being taken up by all students as they are perceived as being harder. Our students enter the school well below the national average, but their tremendous motivation towards languages and learning subjects through languages is ensuring that that they have the best possible chance of reaching higher levels of attainment.”

The centre was launched at the school on Friday April 27th, with representatives from the Department for Education, teachers’ associations and distinguished scholars due to attend.

Original article

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