One of my responsibilities as Governor is for Spanish at St John’s. As a some-time linguist, it has been a real pleasure for me to see the fantastic opportunities St John’s pupils have to learn a foreign language. Learning a foreign language exposes children to other cultures and ideas, and also helps them to develop early language skills and even to understand English better – as grammatical concepts are reinforced or contrasted in learning a second language.
The primary modern foreign language taught at St John’s is Spanish, led by Mrs Hayes. Spanish is spoken by over 400 million people across the world, and is considered one of the easier languages for a native English speaker to learn. Spain is also a popular holiday destination for families, giving the opportunity for children to practise in ‘real life’.
Pupils across the whole school, from Reception to Year 6, have weekly Spanish lessons with Mrs Hayes. Lessons are fun and interactive, while covering a curriculum of basic vocabulary and grammar. For Year 6, this culminates in a residential trip to Spain, where pupils have the opportunity to practise their language skills and experience a different culture. This year the group will be travelling to Seville, and when I joined one of their lessons at the end of February they were already thinking about what they might need to pack and what they would like to visit.
But it’s not just the weekly lessons where pupils are learning Spanish. Pupils from Year 2 upwards can participate in very popular lunchtime or after school Spanish clubs – on my visit I was treated to a performance of “Los Tres Cerditos” (The Three Little Pigs) entirely in Spanish by the Yr 4-6 club. Parts of assembly are conducted in Spanish on Mondays and there is even a weekly Spanish tuck shop (where items are bought and sold in Spanish). It is great to see Spanish embedded in school life this way, as part of St John’s commitment not just to this subject but to providing its pupils with a really rounded and varied curriculum.