• University of Southampton
  • University of Essex

Teaching Languages in Primary Schools: Putting Research into Practice

Discover engaging, age-appropriate teaching methods and ideas to enhance your foreign languages teaching skills for children.

7,791 enrolled on this course

Blackboard with chalk figures speaking foreign languages
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Explore how children learn languages and support their linguistic development

Learning a foreign language at a young age is known to support children’s problem-solving ability, creativity, and intercultural understanding. But many teachers report a lack of language teaching CPD opportunities and, as a result, often lack confidence in their language teaching.

On this course, you’ll learn practical teaching methods for teaching language and discover engaging tasks and projects for primary school students.

Using the latest young language learning research, you’ll be encouraged to reflect and experiment with new resources and improve your current language teaching practice.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Have you ever asked yourself why or how primary school-aged children learn languages differently from adults? What motivates them and how you can ensure that they’re making good progress? Are you unsure of what is achievable within the limited time afforded to the teaching of languages in primary schools - or how you can encourage the children to actively use the language they’re learning? Are you curious what role literacy can play in the foreign language classroom? For example should it be used from the beginning? How should it be used and what is achievable? If you have ever asked yourselves any of these questions then this MOOC is for you.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds It has been created by a team of researchers who are the experts in the learning and teaching of foreign languages in primary school settings. Each week we will guide you through some of the answers researchers provided to these questions. We will then draw out the pedagogical implications of these findings, for example what motivates children in that age group and how can we capture this to engage children in their learning? What pedagogical tools are appropriate and how do they work? What activities could you try in your classrooms or how can you reflect on why some of the activities you do are success or not?

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds The first week will focus on what motivates young learners and how this shapes their progress in the kind of activities which work well. In the second week we will discuss how we can encourage children to use language as a form of communication and what outcomes can be expected in the limited time available. And finally in the third week we will demonstrate how literacy and creative languages can support children in their learning. At all points during the course you will have the opportunity to discuss ideas, share your practice, ask questions and reflect on what you’ve learned. We are very much looking forward to exploring and sharing our research and practice with you.

What topics will you cover?

  • An introduction to the evidence base and recent research about how primary school children learn languages
  • An outline of key pedagogic principles arising from this research which can guide effective classroom practice for young learners of languages
  • Examples of practitioner stories illustrating good practice in the primary language classroom
  • Presentation of new resources and ideas for the young learners’ language classroom
  • Key ideas on how to motivate children, ensure progression, and develop independent language use through the use of literacy

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Synthesise and discuss empirical evidence regarding young language learner motivation, progression and literacy learning
  • Evaluate language learning resources and practice against language learning theory and evidence
  • Explain the importance of classroom and teacher factors in young learners’ progression and outcomes
  • Experiment with existing practice or novel resources and record reflections on their effectiveness in terms of linguistic outcomes, cognitive and emotional engagement

Who is the course for?

This course is primarily designed for primary school teachers who teach children foreign languages.

However, it will also provide useful content for language teacher educators, as well as school subject leads and leadership teams.

The course will also be of interest to parents, private language school practitioners and those who run after-school language clubs, including private tutors.

Who will you learn with?

I am a Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Southampton. I am a member of the management team of the RiPL network (Research in Primary Languages, www.ripl.uk).

I am Professor of Second Language Acquisition at the University of Essex, and Chair of the RiPL network (Research in Primary Languages, www.ripl.uk)

I am Professor of Language and Education at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. I am a member of the management team of the RiPL network (Research in Primary Languages, www.ripl.uk).

Who developed the course?

University of Southampton

Southampton is a place for ambitious people keen to stretch their intellectual abilities and help change the world.

University of Essex

University of Essex

Endorsers and supporters

funded by

ESRC logo

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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