Training confident primary MFL teachers.
In, Annual Conference of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) 2004, Manchester, UK,
15 - 18 Sep 2004.
This TTA funded project is researching which aspects of current PGCE (Primary) courses the trainees believe to be the most effective in preparing them to teach MFLs in schools.
In February 2002 the DfES published a new policy statement for language learning over the next decade. One of its aims is that by the year 2012 all primary pupils will be entitled to learn a Modern Foreign Language in school. This is not the first attempt to expand MFL teaching and learning in primary schools. An extensive pilot scheme was carried out in the 1960s and 70s, introducing French into primary schools. This was discontinued after the NFER evaluation of its success was published in 1974. It was claimed that one of the principal reasons for the failure of the scheme was the inadequate training of teachers (Burstall et al 1974). In order to avoid the mistakes of the previous attempt to expand MFL provision into primary schools being repeated this issue must be addressed (QCA 2001).
As a result, the Primary Language Teacher Training Project was established in 2001. During the first 2 years 13 HEIs in England were involved, partnered with 13 in France. By the third year of the project the number of languages being taught had expanded and the number of providers had increased significantly.
The data presented is drawn from an investigation conducted with trainees from 16 HEIs currently involved with the Project. The investigation uses a multi -modal methodology; questionnaires, semi - structured interviews and focus groups. An important feature for all trainees participating in this Primary Language Teacher Training Project is the school based placement overseas. During this time trainees are required to plan, teach and assess the primary curriculum through the target language whilst based in a partner institution within Europe. A significant outcome of this placement widely reported by trainees is the positive impact this experience has on their own linguistic competence and the enhancement of their cultural awareness.
Ofsted (2001) advised that teachers need an appropriately high level of linguistic competence in order to teach MFLs effectively in primary classrooms. Driscoll (1999) also identified the need for appropriate cultural development. Findings to date would indicate that the experiences the trainees gain as part of this Project fully enable them to address both these issues.
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