Pupils at Scottish primary school inspired to learn languages and embrace internationalism
An East Renfrewshire school which reinvigorated its teaching of and boosted students' engagement in languages with the help of Erasmus+ has been recognised by the Scottish Government.
Neilston Primary School has taken part in staff mobility and strategic partnership projects funded by the European Union's programme for education and youth, broadening the horizons of students and staff alike.
So successful have the initiatives been that the school recently won Education Scotland’s 1+2 Languages and Internationalism Award.
Lindsay Allen, Teacher Leader for Modern Languages, explained how the school's involvement in Erasmus+ came about via previous experience with eTwinning - the European Union's online platform for collaboration between schools across the continent.
“We have adopted a comprehensive approach to language teaching and learning, embracing the Scottish Government’s lifelong learning skills and strategies policy, but it was clear more work was needed," she said.
"We carried out an audit of proficiency in French and its findings identified a development need in the teaching of French; staff lacked confidence in their ability to embed language learning into daily routines.
“Having seen the benefits of working with partners abroad through eTwinning, we successfully applied for Erasmus+ Key Action 1 funding, to upskill our teachers to deliver the 1+2 model.
"Now in its second year, the Language Learning at the Heart of Getting It Right for Every Child project supports eight teachers to travel to Carcassonne in France on one-week immersion courses. In addition to language classes, staff also enjoy a day in a primary school, which is a real highlight.
“Pupils have become inspired and motivated in language learning and internationalism as a result of the recent priority given to the subject and the improvements in our provision. This was recognised when, as a result of this project, we were awarded the British Council Foundation Level International Schools Award. We were hooked!”
Interdisciplinary language learning
School chiefs then decided to go to the next level - a Key Action 2 strategic partnership project with schools in France and Italy called Exploring the Endless Possibilities of an Interdisciplinary Approach to Language Learning.
“The idea for the project evolved during discussions with eTwinning partners and through work with schools for the European Day of Languages,” Lindsay said.
"Our first eTwinning project was a gentle introduction. We linked up with schools in France, Italy and Poland and pupils exchanged videos and letters. All pupils loved being part of this activity.
“Pupils and teachers enjoyed the experience and the learning outcomes were significant for all.
Erasmus+ and eTwinning are the key to engaging children in their language learning, making it relevant and interest-based
"As a result, we decided to collaborate on an ambitious project that would encompass language learning and interdisciplinary learning (IDL), where languages are included, for example, in science, social studies, literacy and numeracy.
"Pupils are now working on developing a series of masterclass IDL activities, which they will take part in when visiting host schools. They will participate in workshops - sharing experiences and best practice with others, formally and informally."
The aim is to ensure students gain high-quality, progressive learning experiences in languages as well as an array of transferable core skills required for success as they transition through school and into the world of work.
“Experiencing stimulating opportunities for language learning in an interdisciplinary, inclusive and accessible way will equip our pupils with valuable life-skills that support their learning journey and hopefully inspire them to continue with language learning into the senior phase and beyond," said Lindsay.
Pupils have become inspired and motivated in language learning and internationalism
“We want to enable our pupils to create, manipulate and use language for themselves rather than merely learning by rote.
“Our teachers will also benefit and be motivated to embark on their own educational learning journey. They will embrace new initiatives, fresh approaches and establish clear goals to succeed and contribute something new to the school on their return, motivating others around them.
"We believe the experience will give teachers a bank of effective and engaging ideas to encourage active and inclusive learning across the curriculum and facilitate excellence in the primary languages classroom."
The school’s hard work in this area is paying off.
“This year we were delighted to win Education Scotland’s 1+2 Languages and Internationalism award," said Lindsey. "A real highlight of our language-learning and international journey.
“Erasmus+ and eTwinning are key to engaging children in their language learning, making it relevant and interest-based. Who doesn’t love a pen-pal, or being able to speak with a fellow pupil from a different country?
“We are a largely mono-ethnic school, therefore it is particularly important for pupils to have opportunities to broaden their horizons.
"Our projects have enthused pupils, staff and parents to become engaged with languages in a way we never thought possible. Languages open doors!”
Looking to inspire your staff and pupils? Find out more about applying for Erasmus+ Schools funding