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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 06:18 GMT
A primary school's French revolution
Classroom
The executive is keen to improve languages in schools
An Aberdeen school's novel way of helping pupils learn French has been praised by Scotland's education minister.

Staff at Walker Road Primary hit on the idea that children might make better use of a foreign language if it was used to teach them part of their curriculum.

The philosophy stems from "immersion" teaching, something common in other parts of Europe, but rarely employed in the UK.

The different approach, which started as a pilot scheme at the school in 2000, saw French being taught at primary one level instead of waiting until year six.

LANGUAGE TEACHING
Cathy Jamieson, education minister
This proves that when an innovative approach is taken to learning - in this case language learning - the benefits come through as greater pupil confidence and greater pupil interest

Cathy Jamieson
Education Minister

In addition, the foreign language teachers insisted on speaking to pupils only in French.

And it was not just children in the classroom who got involved, their parents were also allowed into some lessons.

Pupils from the school are now due to visit Edinburgh on Monday to tell Cathy Jamieson and her deputy Nicol Stephen - in French - how much they enjoy their lessons.

Ms Jamieson said: "This proves that when an innovative approach is taken to learning - in this case language learning - the benefits come through as greater pupil confidence and greater pupil interest.

"It's good to celebrate one of the many success stories in language learning and teaching and I am pleased that good use is being made of Scottish Executive funding."

Financial help

Ms Jamieson said the executive's funding structure gave local councils and schools greater flexibility in the use of language funding.

"We are already supporting more than 20 innovative language projects, with room for more next year.

"We have also produced support materials for teachers, most significantly CD-roms in French, German, Spanish and Italian which will soon be available to every language teacher rather than one per school," said Ms Jamieson.

The Scottish Executive is providing some financial support for the Aberdeen project - 30% of the costs in the first two years, rising to 50% for this financial year and the next.

The executive increased the resources available to local authorities to support foreign language learning from 3.7m to 4.2m in the last financial year.

A spokeswoman said funding had been further increased to 4.7m for this and the next financial year.

See also:

18 Dec 02 | Education
22 Nov 02 | Education
27 Aug 02 | Education
10 Jul 02 | Education
24 May 02 | Education
11 Mar 02 | Education
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