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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 10:40 GMT
Month abroad for trainee teachers
Primary class
Primary schools will have to teach a modern language from 2010
Trainee teachers who will provide compulsory language lessons in primary schools are benefiting from a month's placement abroad, say inspectors.

The government wants England's primary pupils to have modern language lessons but there have been concerns about a lack of suitably qualified staff.

Student teachers are spending a month in schools in France, Spain and Germany as part of their training courses.

The education watchdog, Ofsted, says this is proving a considerable success.

The experience of a four-week overseas placement was described as "overwhelmingly positive" in an Ofsted report examining initial teacher training courses for primary language specialists.

Language gap

It says that working in two educational cultures is proving a major benefit, helping students to reflect on their training.

I know the German I will be teaching is not going to be 'textbook' German, but German that is used in classrooms
William Rimmer
PGCE student
"These placements enabled trainees not only to develop their language skills in a relevant setting, but also to function professionally in a very different, and challenging, educational context," said the report.

At the end of their placement in these schools abroad, students are expected to be able to teach another subject through a modern language other than English.

"Trainees gain significantly in confidence as a result of their experiences abroad. As one trainee said: 'If I can teach geometry in Spanish, I can do anything!'"


Student William Rimmer is doing a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) with German specialisation at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, which has given him the opportunity to spend time in Germany.

"It's been fantastic. We're just coming to the end of the placement now, and I have to say it's been thoroughly worthwhile," he told the BBC News website.

"I'm currently teaching and observing in a Year 4 class in Dresden.

"The opportunity has given me a lot to think about, especially considering the differences in the two nations' schools - for example in Germany the teachers stay with their classes the whole time in Years 1 to 4 and they only teach the core subjects - Deutsch, Mathe und Sachunterricht - as well as one specialism, whereas obviously we are assigned to a year and teach across the curriculum.

"I have to say that I can't decide which is best though, both methods have their disadvantages too.

"It's really helped strengthen my language use too, so that I know the German I will be teaching is not going to be 'textbook' German, but German that is used in classrooms across the nation."


In the 2006-07 year examined by Ofsted, there were more than 1,000 specialist primary language students in initial teacher training courses.

It is expected that each primary school will have one such specialist teacher - or perhaps two in larger schools.

By 2010, all seven to 11-year-olds in England will be entitled to modern language lessons.

But this government initiative, addressing concerns about a lack of language skills, means a much greater demand for specialist teaching staff.

Teacher training colleges, local authorities and specialist language colleges will be expected to help to provide the extra staff.

Schools to get 340 for languages
19 Dec 07 |  Education
Seven-year-olds to take languages
12 Mar 07 |  Education
Language teachers 'need training'
26 Oct 05 |  Education

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