The child's rights
Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, primary education has a duty to make children aware of their rights. For children who develop this awareness, wide-ranging opportunities open up within their immediate social context. In this context, the basic right to linguistic education becomes the means of access to many further rights. Persons able to read and write, and to do so e.g. in one or more foreign languages as well, will learn to communicate in a more complex way and will develop social competences more easily.
The right to education, specifically the right to learn a foreign language, thus implies the opportunity to penetrate into foreign cultures, to understand the foreign and the Other more readily, to develop both curiosity and tolerance, to pursue paths that but for the knowledge of languages would remain closed, and so to develop one’s personality without constraints.
Young children are unafraid of the unfamiliar, and are open-minded in their approach to language that has strange sounds. But they cannot assert for themselves their right to be given the opportunity to acquire foreign languages in child-friendly ways.
The child-centred language programme
The Nuremberg Recommendations On Early Foreign Language Learning, published by the Goethe Institut in 1996 in collaboration with a large number of experts from 22 countries worldwide, were drawn up with the objective of placing early foreign language learning on the most widely acceptable curricular basis possible.
They present a contemporary perspective on the intricate web of factors involved in early foreign language learning, with the aim of showing both potential and needs of a four- to ten-year-old child during learning.
According to the Recommendations, any foreign language programme tailored to childhood learning must address the child’s developing personality as a whole. It must foster the child’s emotional, creative, social, cognitive and linguistic capabilities in equal measure with the aim of bringing about communicative acts in the foreign language.
Click here for the Nuremberg recommendations on Early Foreign Language Learning.
Common European Framework of Reference for languages
Our school’s educational programme is totally consistent with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. We use teaching material and books endorsed by the European Council and we participate in exams held by the biggest certification bodies in the world such as Cambridge English Language Assessment, Alliance Française and Hanban the executive body of the Chinese Language Council International.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR or CEF, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe and, increasingly, in other countries. It was put together by the Council of Europe as the main part of the project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" between 1989 and 1996. Its main aim is to provide a method of learning, teaching and assessing which applies to all languages in Europe. In November 2001, a European Union Council Resolution recommended using the CEFR to set up systems of validation of language ability. The six reference levels (see below) are becoming widely accepted as the European standard for grading an individual's language proficiency.
The CEFR describes foreign language proficiency at six levels
A1 Breakthrough or beginner
The student can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
A2 WAY STAGE OR ELEMENTARY
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
B1 Threshold or intermediate
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
B2 VANTAGE OR UPPER INTERMEDIATE
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
C1 Effective operational proficiency or advanced
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
C2 MASTERY OR PROFICIENCY
Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.