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National Curriculum

Modern foreign languages key stage 2

Non-statutory content

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

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There is no statutory requirement to teach a modern foreign language at key stages 1 and 2. The following guidelines are non-statutory and aimed at those primary schools that are teaching or planning to teach a modern foreign language.

The guidelines are designed for use with pupils in years 5 and 6. They may be adapted for use with other year groups in primary schools. 

While much of the programme of study for modern foreign languages at key stages 3 and 4 can be applied in primary schools, the following aspects are particularly relevant and have been suitably adapted. 

Explanatory text


When planning to introduce a modern foreign language, schools need to consider:

  • the aims and objectives for teaching a modern foreign language

  • the choice of modern foreign language

  • the age at which the language is to be introduced

  • the availability of suitably trained teachers

  • the amount and frequency of teaching time, including the number of weeks taught in the school year

  • continuity and progression from class to class and from primary to secondary school.

Knowledge, skills and understanding

Understanding and using the foreign language

1. In the early stages of language learning pupils might be taught:

  1. how to use and respond to the foreign language

  2. how to listen carefully in order to discriminate sounds, identify meaning and develop auditory awareness

  3. correct pronunciation and intonation

  4. how to ask and answer questions

  5. techniques for memorising words, phrases and short extracts

  6. how to use context and clues to interpret meaning

  7. how to make use of their knowledge of English or another language in learning the foreign language.

2. Pupils can be taught about other countries and cultures by:

  1. working with authentic materials including some from ICT-based sources

  2. considering their own culture and comparing it with others

  3. considering the experiences of other people.

3. In order to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding further, pupils might also be taught:

  1. the interrelationship of sounds and writing

  2. simple aspects of grammar and how to apply them

  3. how to initiate conversations

  4. how to use dictionaries and other reference materials

  5. how to communicate with each other in the foreign language in pairs
    and groups and with their teacher

  6. how to use their knowledge of the language creatively and imaginatively

  7. how to use the foreign language for real purposes.

Links with other subjects

Learning another language presents opportunities for the reinforcement of knowledge, skills and understanding developed in other curriculum areas.

These opportunities can be exploited through:

  • aspects of English such as speaking and listening skills, knowledge and understanding of grammatical structures and sentence construction

  • aspects of mathematics such as counting, calculations, money, the time and the date

  • songs, alphabet, poems, rhymes and stories in other languages

  • international or multi-cultural work, for example celebration of festivals, storytelling

  • using ICT, for example e-mail with schools abroad, materials from the internet and satellite television

  • geographical and historical work relating to other countries.

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

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