Bonjour, Guten Tag, Hola, Mr Bamford! A Letter To The Cumberland News...

Tuesday, 24th May 2016

The following letter appeared in the Cumberland News on Friday 20th May, sent in by our French teacher, Mr Bamford. It is a wonderful insight into our multilingual Year 1 pupils...and their talented teacher!

Count the benefits in any language

I have spent many years in education as consumer, provider, manager and consultant. I have retired twice and am now enjoying yet another life as a part-time teacher of French in a primary school near where I live.

Friday afternoon sees me enjoying imparting rudiments of the language to Years 1, 2 and 3 in a recreational manner, through songs, basic transactional interchange, pictures, numeracy, anything that comes to mind.

Recently, a pupil in Year 1 asked me if she could 'do the counting' in German, as she has learnt to count to 10 in that language. I agreed.

Since there is a little boy in the same year group who has some knowledge of Spanish, I said that he could count in Spanish at the same time.

We therefore spent an extraordinary 20 minutes 'playing' with numbers in three languages at the same time. This may go against all purists' 'one language at a time' rule, but the children loved it.

Did they benefit from it? Ask the teacher, who sits in while I conduct the session. There cannot be many primary schools in the country where children learn three foreign languages in Year 1!

We should not forget, especially at this level, that the Latin noun ludus means both 'school' and 'play'. How appropriate.