Early Years Programme Philosophy: For Children Aged 3 to 5
Parents often ask us when children should start learning another language. Our answer is always, “As early as possible!”
Studies show that the language acquisition skills of children are better — and more deeply rooted — at the early stage of life when their most strenuous intellectual efforts relate specifically to learning language .
At Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill, students can now benefit from our unique Early Years dual language immersion programme from the age of three, guided by two teachers who each use their mother tongue or native language alongside each other. This setting creates the ideal conditions for bilingualism to flourish naturally in a safe and nurturing environment.
Within a short period of time, children will effortlessly switch from one language to the other with each teacher and acquire the culture and love of each language.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
Our Bilingual Early Years Programme is based on the latest and most comprehensive research on early learning. As the first school experience for our youngest students, it’s paramount that the programme be safe, joyful, and rich. Our child-led approach builds on their ideas and interests, allowing them to explore a range of activities while offering multiple opportunities for open-ended learning in both languages.
“Les enfants ne comprennent vraiment que ce qu’ils inventent eux-mêmes.” — Jean Piaget
“Children only fully understand what they themselves have created.”
At Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill, we believe that every child is a valued contributor, both to their own learning and their surroundings. Each child’s inquisitive mind is developed through play scenarios (Harvard University)2, and differentiated learning opportunities, pursuant to the British Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” — O. Fred Donaldson
To guide children through their educational journey, we recruit highly-trained teachers who provide a supportive milieu based on positive interactions in a balanced bilingual setting. Because our youngest students need to feel safe and secure to achieve their full potential, classes welcome a maximum of 16 students who interact with two Early Years specialists (native French and English speakers).
“Spiel ist nicht Spielerei. Es hat hohen Ernst und tiefe Bedeutung.” — F. Froebel
“Playing is not an amusement. It is a most serious endeavour with the deepest meaning.”
Through proven yet innovative pedagogical methods, children are encouraged to discover, articulate, and express their own ideas and thoughts and to work collaboratively with others.
To develop self-directed and confident young learners, children will experience:
- Active project-based learning through innovative methods
- Inquiry activities through provocations
- Interactions in a safe environment dedicated to experiential learning
- Positive interactions and relationship learning from others3
“Per insegnare bisogna emozionare. Molti però pensano ancora che se ti diverti non impari.” — Maria Montessori
“To teach, one must spark emotion. Too many people still believe that while playing, one learns nothing.”
Creating Bilingual Minds, Dr. Naja Ferjan Ramirez, University of Washington
The Benefits of the Bilingual Brain, Mia Nacamulli, educator and writer
The Linguistics Genius of Babies, Patricia Khul, University of Washington
1 Hakuta K., Bialystok E., Wiley E., Critical evidence: A test of the critical-period hypothesis for second-language learning. Psychological Science, 2003.
2 Brain Architecture, Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, 2008.
3 Hattie J., Visible Learning for Teachers, 2008.
The French curriculum is divided between two class teachers.
Instruction is in English 50% of the time from Year 1/GSM to Year 6/CM2 . Each class year meets daily with one French-speaking and one English-speaking teacher, coordinating as well with speciality teachers in subjects such as PE, language, and music.
Bilingual curriculum, international education
Our school has developed a unique, shared pedagogy that encompasses statutory elements of both the French and English curriculums. Pupils benefit from an education in French and in English, thanks to two teachers who work in close partnership.
The bilingual curriculum is enhanced by creating links between topics and by dividing subjects between two teachers with common themes. This is further enhanced by different teaching methods and practices from all over the world, which address critical thinking, collaboration, and risk-taking.
We also benefit from specialist teachers with a background in EAL and FLE (English as an additional language and French as an additional language) to support beginners in either.
- ESL — English as Second Language
- FLE — Français Langue Etrangère
The History and Geography curriculum is divided between the two teachers, according to the local environment. Links are made between the two languages through literature, texts, and pictures so that both cultures are intertwined. This allows students to better understand and acknowledge diversity.
To achieve their tasks, students learn how to research, make hypotheses, and write a synthesis. They also develop specific vocabulary in both languages, which helps them feel more confident when presenting their work in front of peers.
The English- and French-speaking teachers work in collaboration on projects that are ambitious and motivating for the students, helping bridge both languages. Each project follows set procedures to reach realistic conclusions. This allows the students to be active participants in their learning. Teachers deliver theory-based learning to serve as a tool for pupils to use in experiments aimed at reaching conclusions. As a result, students become practical researchers in an ongoing journey through science.
Our literature plan guides students through their journey from GS to CM2, with shared themes that are studied across the Primary school. Teachers collaborate closely to engage students through these common motifs, which help teach vocabulary in both languages and make linkages between them. Detective stories, poems, legends, tales… there are many ways to use recurring concepts in different books to help students develop critical thinking and feel eager to read in both languages. Creative writing is also linked to the themes. Sometimes created on interactive devices, these projects foster imagination and analytical thinking to achieve excellence.
We always choose books with well-structured stories that are satisfying and rewarding to read, and which therefore offer a good model for children to consider when writing their own stories.
Differentiation in lessons is a key component. Teachers adapt their approach for different students so that every pupil has the chance to perform to the best of his or her ability. We provide the best of British education through a distinctive enquiry-based curriculum, and encourage ambition and confidence in all our children.
In Year 1/GSM, the main goal is to empower students’ phonics skills and develop their curiosity about writing. They learn that sentences are made of words and that each word is made of sounds. Through daily practice, they are encouraged to write and read by playing with words/rhythms/syllables and sounds. To cater to all students, we offer a tailored reading programme as well as differentiated activities.
Reading is one of the most important subjects every child learns at school — including starting English in Year 1. Children are taught to read English using phonics, an approach that focuses on building words from sounds. We use a proven synthetic phonics programme called “Read Write Inc. Phonics” that ensures early success in reading, writing, and spelling. We also use the UK’s most successful reading scheme, Oxford Reading Tree, which is currently used in more than 80% of primary schools, and has helped millions of children from all over the world learn...and love...to read.
In Year 2/CP, reading is taught through daily practice of sounds linked with illustrated texts. Students also learn to read by writing and by understanding the transcription of oral messages into writing.
Throughout the year, we hold reading competitions tailored to our students’ needs.
ESL teachers create an environment where students new to English feel confident and supported in learning a different language. Our aim is to develop students’ oral and aural skills to gain confidence and understanding — and integrate into the main English classes. Once this stage is passed, the ESL teachers work in close collaboration with class teachers to pre-teach vocabulary on topics used in the main classes, or to follow up on class work with extra activities so the content is fully understood. Our aim is to integrate pupils as quickly as possible so they can cope in the classroom full-time.
Through task-based learning and technology (students can record themselves), we are able to differentiate learning to cater to students’ needs. Using online apps, we are also able to communicate with families and aid students in their learning outside of school.
Our FLE program is tailored to help non-native French speakers adapt in their main classrooms. Following the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), the interactive lessons focus on learning new vocabulary and speaking first. The main goal is to build students’ confidence in French and to help them access the vocabulary of the main French class. Progressively, some grammar and reading are introduced to support and cater to their needs. Through games and engaging lessons, and in collaboration with the main class teacher, students are given the perfect platform to grow and feel confident speaking and reading in French.
The programme also helps groups of non-native students reinforce their writing and reading skills while learning new vocabulary. Every lesson is adapted to students’ levels and provides them with differentiated instructions.
Our maths curriculum is based on the French system from the French Department of Education. The English and French teachers share the curriculum, allowing students to experience different approaches and ways of working. This gives them a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Students also learn to express themselves with ease using a precise mathematical vocabulary. Participating in many competitions and international games is a another way to strengthen our curriculum, as well as adding elements of Singapore’s vaunted mathematics instruction.
Modern learning in Primary
Modern learning is defined by the way we engage students through differentiated and challenging activities.
In the Primary section, we employ technology to enhance learning. Pupils sometimes use iPads in class to access resources or to showcase their work and comprhension through visually attractive presentations. Technology integration allows teachers to differentiate their instruction more effectively and lets pupils work at their own pace and collaborate on projects.
The use of technology as a tool empowers pupils to become digital citizens, engaging them in 21st-century skills to enhance their learning. Technology is always used under the supervision of teachers.
For more information on how technology is used to enhance education progressively and securely at Lycée Winston Churchill, read about it here.