Autonomy in learning is for me one of the most important skills to teach the children. It is about pupils taking more control over their learning not only in the classroom but also outside, and it plays an increasingly important role when it comes to learning and mastering a language.
I remember my French teacher constantly reminding us to make posters and flashcards of useful verbs and tenses. At first, I often saw her as quite an intense teacher asking us to do all these extras, but as time went on, I started to realise that there was a lot of value in what she was trying to get us to do! By encouraging her pupils to think about the lesson content outside of the lesson itself, our understanding was being strengthened and subconsciously the language was being ‘practised’.
In the language department at Hatherop, we put great emphasis on this independence – allowing pupils to experiment, make mistakes and more importantly receive guidance to point them in the right direction and it is an area that we are continuously developing.
Being exposed to tools to manipulate a language to do what you want not only increases a pupil’s interest but it also gives it purpose. Through the use of Knowledge Organisers (KOs) and flowcharts, coupled with dictionary work and deep-diving into grammar, the pupils are learning to teach themselves – a vital skill to have later down the line in their senior school and beyond. It also allows students to self-motivate and work at a pace that is suited to them.
Before my passion for languages properly kicked off, I remember the majority of my MFL lessons being text-book based with an occasional listening activity using the old trusty cassette player. We very rarely were given free reign to produce our own language and very little opportunity to actually speak anything of our own making. In contrast, at Hatherop we actively encourage role play in the languages department, be it in French or one of the other languages that we explore during Global Citizenship weeks – building up the necessary confidence and accent to help when the language is used in a, ‘real-life’ situation.