School pupils smiling and hands in air

British Council 

September 2019 

The report sampled 10 primary schools across Wales, surveying both headteachers, staff and pupils, and interviewed stakeholders from the four regional consortia. By surveying schools who had already used both traditional and innovative methods of including languages in the school’s curriculum the report looks ahead and is able to analyse the benefits of embedding international languages, discussing the differing approaches and make recommendations for other schools based on best practice.

The report outlines some of the innovative methods teachers are using to integrate international languages into the classroom. 

The headteachers surveyed in the report saw international languages provision as representing the international ethos and aspirations of their school and supporting children to become ‘global citizens’.

Pupils themselves recognised this; “We like languages because you can go to other countries and meet people, travel the world, do good jobs”.  

The report found: 

  • Primary schools that have introduced international languages have reported a range of positive impacts on pupils’ literacy and oracy skills, with progress in communication skills and engagement with learning reported in all schools.
  • Schools have used the flexibility that will be a key feature of the new curriculum to develop creative approaches for teaching and learning international languages, linking language learning to aspects such as science, music and art and working with new partners and technology. 
  • Anecdotal feedback from staff highlighted the positive impact international language learning has had on both high achievers and lower ability learners. The non-traditional way of learning contributed to quieter children’s confidence to engage and enthusiasm to learn more. Teachers also reported an increase in their own confidence once they began language lessons. 
  • Whilst teachers do not need to be proficient in the language to see success, “it’s an advantage that I’m learning and that they are aware of this”, the survey acknowledged that delivering languages could be a challenge without having an expert on the teaching staff or good resources, and headteachers stated the difficulty of encouraging staff who have perhaps not had a good experience of language learning to teach it.
  • Both Welsh-medium and English-medium schools surveyed reported benefits of linking the teaching of international languages to the teaching of Welsh.
  • The teaching of Welsh, English and other international languages can aid the introduction of pupil’s ‘home’ languages into the classroom, celebrating diversity and multiculturalism.