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Language Training
Start date: 09 Jul 2016, End date: 08 Jul 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

We are a 6 teacher co-educational disadvantaged (DEIS) rural primary school based in the West of Ireland. We strive to provide a well-ordered caring, happy and secure atmosphere where the intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs of all pupils are identified and addressed. Under our school language policy, we introduced French as a foreign language in all classes last September. This unique learning opportunity has offered pupils a solid foundation in the French language before transferring to secondary school. We aim to give all learners access to a language education programme suited to their motivation, abilities and interests by using a multi sensory approach to teaching and learning. We hope that our competence and performance in French will be greatly improved and thus would give us a greater understanding of the French primary school system and language policies. All members of staff have studied French to a Leaving Certificate/A Level standard. Last year's immersion course combined with our existing knowledge of the French language have provided the necessary up-skilling of our staff in delivering a comprehensive language programme for our children. It was of enormous benefit to have 6 members of staff involved in the immersion course in Salignac last year as it facilitated in the planning and implementation of a whole school approach to the teaching of French. Our new found confidence in French has enabled us as a staff to embark on a language teaching programme with greater confidence which we hope to build on. Currently, we are using the 'Early Start French' programme, which is multi-sensory in nature, in all classes. This is complemented by the 'French is Fun' programme for the younger children. We have used varied and creative activities aquired on our last mobility to Salignac which have contributed greatly to the linguistic progression and the development of pupils cultural awareness. The experience we gained last year greatly enhanced our linguistic skills and offered wonderful methodological support to all classroom and special need teachers. However, we need to maintain and build upon our current language skills in order to enhance the children's language acquisition. We will implement methodologies that have an inter-cultural approach through skype, email and collaborative language projects with both our neighbouring school and our e-twinning schools in France. We will organise a 'French Week' where we will celebrate French language and culture. Currently our emphasis is on speaking and listening but we wish to develop reading and writing skills. We are liaising with French teachers in our local secondary schools and past pupils to facilitate this. We will place more emphasis on ICT tools to facilitate communication and creativity in language learning . Having up-skilled our staff in the use of new methodologies we will implement these strategies throughout our language curriculum. This will have enormous benefits to our pupils, parents and the greater community as our school has disadvantaged status (DEIS). The families will not incur any cost as the teachers will have the competency to deliver this as part of the overall language policy of the school. Now that the programme is established in our school we will ensure its continuance going forward by allocating specific curriculum time to its planning and implementation. It will be evaluated on a regular basis at our staff meetings. Our two special needs teachers are shared with two other schools in a cluster area. The positive impact of this project will be felt by the whole school catchment area which has a total population of 400 people. It would be part of our plan to extend the teaching of French to another local school. We would aspire to school exchanges and school tours to France in the future. This, using some funding from our disadvantaged status could hopefully become an annual event. We believe it is vitally important for the school going forward to have real links with the authentic culture of a country when studying the language of that country. Through this mobility project,we would endeavour to enhance our own competence and confidence in French to deliver an exciting and engaging language programme. We will continue to network with teaching colleagues through the Mayo Education Centre and we will keep the wider school community updated about our mobility project. If Ireland is to become a truly multilingual society where the ability to learn and to use two or more languages is taken for granted, then the foundations for language acquisition need to be fostered at primary level. St. Paul's is attempting to bridge the gap that exists in terms of language policy in Ireland compared to our European colleagues.
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