Start date: Jul 1, 2015,
End date: Jun 30, 2016
Our school, Scoil Fhursa, is developing a school policy re; languages and the teaching of European Languages in the school. The parents used to pay for outside organisations to provide after-school language classes in French and Spanish. Due to the economic downturn a lot of parents found it difficult to continue and the staff and school management were looking for ways to reintroduce these classes. A number of teachers liked the idea of teaching French/Spanish but weren't confident in their proficiency or their ability to devise a curriculum. While conducting research on this issue one of the teachers came across LFEE-- an Edinburgh-based company who provide immersion courses for teachers who teach French/Spanish in Primary Schools. We got in touch with them & were told to consult with Léargas about obtaining the funds for attending a course.
The school management decided to focus on French language classes for the time being as that is the most common European language provided by the local secondary schools. Our objective is to have a group of teachers competent in French ( to the degree needed in Primary School) who can develop a curriculum suitable for the different age groups in the school. These teachers will conduct french language classes and also train and mentor their colleagues so that over time the majority of teachers will feel able to include the french language in their classes. This means that we will not have to ask parents to pay for external French language teachers.
Three teachers were involved -- initially one of the teachers named had to drop out due to family commitments so the Principal decided to attend in her place. Each of the teachers involved have over 20 years experience in the classroom and are very interested in developing a curriculum for languages. Two of the teachers, Bríd Ní Neachtain & Mairead Ní Chualáin, have spent the majority of their careers teaching in Scoileanna Gaeltachta or Gaelscoileanna and have seen at first hand how easy it is for children to pick up a language if it is presented in a fun and engaging manner and with the right resources. Bríd Ni Neachtain had recently been appointed Príomhoide of our school and was very enthusiastic and supportive of the idea. All of the teachers did French in the Leaving Cert. and have spent time travelling in France. They enjoy the culture and practicing the language.
As organiser of the project Bríd contacted the local University (National University of Ireland Galway) and asked for any assistance they could provide for us. They put us in touch with a teacher named Ann Marie Costello. Fortunately, Ann Marie has a degree in both Gaeilge (Irish) and French. Ann Marie volunteers her time once a week at the school. The school feels the pupils have benefitted from her presence. They have created projects which showcase their knowledge and creativity. This has given our pupils a great foundation in the language and boosted their excitement at learning more in secondary school. Philippe Chasseriaud is a parent who is French was asked to share his personal experiences of growing up in France with the children. He has spoken to some classes about the language, food, culture and traditions of Franceand - we hope to extend this to more classes next year.
Mairead Ní Chualáin developed a curriculum suitable for 3rd/4th class. The curriculum is based on 5 classes of 45 minutes duration that covers the following general areas: Introductions, The French Alphabet, Verbs: present/past tense, Colours, Numbers, Parts of the Body, The Calendar, Animals. These are taught using a variety of teaching methods which include, games, oral activities, written activities, song & dance. This has been presented to 3rd class with the cooperation of the class teacher.
Mary Rose de Gruinéil implemented a comprehensive course of work covering many aspects of French language & culture with Sixth Class. The French language classes have linked in with the Irish language curriculum which has a topic on Celtic languages and cultures in other European countries.
We feel that we have forged some great links with NUIGalway which we plan to develop over the coming years. This lays the groundwork for continuing and perhaps expanding the teaching of French classes next year. We had planned on starting an Etwinning project this past year but quickly realised that we needed to concentrate initially on providing a basic level of French for the children & to improve the confidence of the teachers. We will look in more detail at the eTwinning projects available in the new school year & hopefully find one that is suitable for our school.
We also plan to look at the way in which we can utilise the resources of our local Teachers Centre in the new school year. We plan to get in touch with other schools who are providing French classes in their primary schools & share & disseminate our respective knowledge, experiences and resources.
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