The foreign language area in the curriculum. Criteria to be reflected in the educational project and the curricular project.
The Organic Act 1/1990 of General Organisation of the Educational System introduced some important changes, aimed at improving the quality of education in Spain. Among these changes we can mention:
– The extension of compulsory education to the age of 16 years old
– The establishment of new educational stages such as: Infant Education, Primary Education, and Compulsory Secondary Education.
– These stages are organised in cycles, which is the period that should be considered for teaching programs and promotion.
– The establishment of a curriculum which, in spite of having certain aspects which are compulsory for all the country, is also open and flexible, as the different autonomous educational services could adapt it to their real context. Then, each school should adapt the official curriculum to their real environment by means of the design and development of the Curricular Project.
– Besides, the Centres have the right to define their educational options, their objectives and their organisational structure that will make possible the attainment of such objectives. These aspects must be included in a document called the Educational Project.
Then, taking into account these basic aspects of the educational reform, we are going to deal with:
– The Foreign Language area, as it is reflected in the official curriculum.
– The criteria to be reflected in the Educational Project and the Curricular Project, in relation to this area.
2. THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE AREA IN THE OFFICIAL CURRICULUM:
The teaching of a foreign language is included among the areas of Primary education, as we can see in the articles number 14 of the Organic Act 1/1990, and also in the article number 5 of the Royal Decree 1344/91, which established the national curriculum for Primary Education.
According to these legal documents, the teaching of that foreign language starts in the second cycle. However, in most autonomous regions of Spain, the teaching of a foreign language has been brought forward to the first cycle.
In Extremadura, this introduction came into force from the beginning of the last academic year, according to an Order of the 30th of August, 2000.
The importance given to the learning of a foreign language in current society has to do with certain social, educational and psychological demands, which Brewster, Ellis and Girard, in their book “The Primary English teacher’s guide’ summarised as follows:
– Social demands: derive from the need of communicating with people from other countries in a world, which is becoming a ‘global village’. The success in business and international relations is closely linked to the learning of foreign languages, especially in the context of the European Union, where goods and people can move freely through the member states. Besides, the ability of communicating in a foreign language (especially in English) is quite useful to travel abroad, and for the transmission of news and knowledge.
– The Educational demands have to do with the development of cognitive and social abilities by means of the learning of a new language and its culture. This knowledge help children to overcome their natural egocentrism, as they realise that there are other ways of living and seeing reality different from their own. At the same time, this contact will help them to develop tolerance and respect as well as a better understanding and appreciation of their own language and culture.
– Finally, the psychological demands refer to the need of introducing them to the learning of a foreign language, as young as possible, because they are less distanced from the age in which they learn their first language than teenagers or adults, and they are still good at understanding and imitating what they hear. Besides, they realise that the same functions and notions they have just learn in their native language, can be expressed, equally well, using a different language.
Once we have seen the importance of teaching a foreign language in Primary education, we are going to see how the foreign language area is reflected in the official curriculum through the analysis of its different elements.
We are going to start with the analysis of the methodological principles:
1. First of all, we should consider that the foreign language area curricular purpose is not to teach a foreign language but rather to teach how to communicate using it. Therefore Royal Decree 1006/1991 of the 14th June, which establishes the teaching requirements for Primary education, sees communicative competence as comprising five sub-competencies:
– Grammar competence: the ability to implement rules and lexical items from the language system.
– Discourse competence: which refers to the ability to produce different types of discourse organising them according to the communicative situation and the interlocutors.
– Sociolinguistic competence: refers to the ability to adapt statements to different contexts observing the usage of a given linguistic community.
– Strategic competence: implies being able to use verbal and non-verbal strategies to compensate for breakdowns in communication.
– Sociocultural competence: refers to the student’s knowledge of the cultural aspects of the countries where the foreign language is spoken.
All these elements are part of the language, as language is not something abstract, but a tool for effective communication.
2. Communicative competence acquisition is seen as a creative construction process. Our pupils using their general cognitive strategies and linguistic input they receive establish hypothesis to form the new rules about the foreign language system.
3. This new system is gradually contrasted and improved as new input is presented. Therefore error is seen as an integral part of the learning process, as it is the manifestation of the effort our pupils are making to acquire the new system.
4. This acquisition process may be fostered, especially at first, in ways that do not require a linguistic response by using Total Physical Response techniques.
5. Receptive skills (listening and reading) are very important at this stage, specially listening, since oral communication is the most direct form of communication among human beings.
6. We will try to familiarise the children not only with the target language from a functional point of view, but also as a means of cultural and social transmission.
7. We should organise contents around topics connected to the students’ interest.
8. The four linguistic skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) should be integrated through meaningful communicative activities.
Then, the General objectives of the foreign language area are designed according to the principles we have just mentioned. As we will see, these objectives refer to the development of the four linguistic skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), and also to the use of linguistic and extralinguistic strategies and the knowledge of sociocultural aspects, in order to get communicative competence in the foreign language.
There are nine general objectives, expressed in form of interrelated abilities:
1. To understand simple and oral written texts about known objects, situations and events, using general and specific information taken from those texts for specific purposes.
2. To use the foreign language orally to communicate with the teacher and students in common class activities and in communicative situations created for this purpose, observing the basic rules of interpersonal communication, and adopting a respectful attitude towards the contribution of others.
3. To produce short simple texts about topics that the students are familiar with observing the basic writing rules.
4. To read and understand short simple texts related to class activities, to their knowledge of the world and to their experiences and interests, with the purpose of obtaining general and specific information as desired.
5. To recognise and appreciate the communicative value of foreign languages and their ability to learn them, showing understanding and respectful attitude towards other languages, their speakers and their culture.
6. To understand and use the linguistic and non-linguistic conventions used by the foreign language speakers in common situations (greetings, farewells, introductions, congratulations…) in order to make communication easier.
7. To use in foreign language learning, previous knowledge and experience with other languages, developing autonomous learning strategies.
8. To establish relationships between meaning, pronunciation and graphic representation of simple words and sentences in the foreign language, as well as recognising the characteristic aspects of sound, rhythm and intonation in that foreign language.
9. To use non-linguistic expressive resources (gestures, body language, sounds, pictures) to understand and be understood when using a foreign language.
In order to develop the abilities expressed in these objectives, we should work on CONTENTS that in our curriculum are classified into:
Conceptual contents refer to facts, events, rules and principles.
Procedural contents refer to the strategies, abilities, techniques and skills necessary in the learning process.
Attitudinal contents are concerned with behaviour and values.
These three kinds of contents are set in blocks:
– Oral communication uses and forms.
– Written communication uses and forms.
– Sociocultural aspects.
The CONTENTS OF THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE AREA are also designed around communicative needs and situations. We have summarised the three blocks of contents, which appear in the RD 1344/91 of the 6th of September, as follows:
a. Oral Communication uses and forms:
– Basic communicative needs and situations in the spoken form: greeting, identifying oneself, giving and asking for information expressing needs and requests…
– Characteristics of communicative situations:
· Number and type of interlocutors.
· Moment and place.
· Formal or informal communication.
– Vocabulary and structures needed to express basic communicative needs in the spoken form.
– Topics related to the interests of the students and wide notions:
· Colours, numbers, time, daily life, food, animals, time, sports…
– Recognising sounds, rhythm and intonation patterns of the foreign language.
– General comprehension of spoken messages (face to face or recorded) about familiar topics.
– Specific comprehension of spoken messages (face to face or recorded) in contextualised situations.
– Producing oral messages to satisfy common communicative needs.
– Participating in linguistic exchanges for specific play purposes (simulations, role-play).
– Recognising and using basic common strategies (linguistic and non-linguistic) to overcome communicative difficulties.
– Recognising grammatical forms to ask questions, state, deny, express possession, gender and number, quantify, express facts in present, past, future… and using them effectively for communication.
– Awareness of the importance of oral communication in a foreign languages
– Willingness to speak a foreign language by participating in group activities (games, group work, role, play…).
b. Written Communication uses and forms:
– Basic communicative needs and situations in the written form.
– Characteristics of communicative situations.
– Topics of general use and wide notions…
– The names of the letters in the foreign language and their correspondence with their written form.
– Relationship between meaning, of the vocabulary studied its pronunciation and its graphic representation.
– General comprehension of written messages related to class activities, and common communicative needs.
– Specific comprehension of simple authentic material.
– Recognising in written texts grammatical structures used to request, state, deny, express possession, gender and number, state, deny…, using them effectively for communication.
– Producing short simple written texts in response to oral or written stimulus aimed at different readers.
– Appreciating the importance of knowing how to read and write in the foreign language.
c. Sociocultural Aspects:
– Social and cultural aspects of the countries where the foreign language is spoken which may be interesting for our pupils such as:
· Expression and gestures that go with speaking, such as: polite gestures, tone of voice, symbols…
· Aspects of every-day life: schedules, habits of children of this age, food.
· Games, popular songs, favourite meeting places and sports in the countries whose language is studied…
· Presence in Spain of the foreign language studied by means of: products,
labels, songs, films, TV programs…
– Using rules of behaviour and habits of the foreign language speakers in context.
– Comparing the most relevant aspects of everyday life in those countries with the corresponding aspects of the students’ native country.
– Using authentic materials from different sources close to the learners’ in order to obtain specific information.
– Curiosity and respect for the most relevant aspects of everyday life in theses countries.
– Appreciation of the sociolinguistic behaviour as a means to improve communication.
– Interest in getting to know people from other countries.
After the contents which should be taken into account to develop the abilities expressed in the general objectives, the Royal Decree 1344/1991, presents nine ASSESSMENT CRITERIA, which should be understood as a tool to check if students have got the abilities expressed in the General Objectives. These assessment criteria refer to abilities, but also make a little reference to contents as well as a brief explanation.
According to the R.D. 1344/91, the attainment of the general objectives of the foreign language area, will be assessed in relation to the following criteria:
1.- To recognise and reproduce characteristic phonemes of the foreign language as well as rhythm and intonation patterns in words and sentences used in real language situations.
This criterion tries to check if students are familiar with the sounds, rhythm and intonation of the foreign language in listening and speaking. The texts they should listen to or produce must make sense and be in context.
2.- .-To grasp the overall meaning of oral texts emitted in face to face communicative situations supported by gestures, and miming and any necessary repetitions in which combinations of previously studied elements appears and which deal with topics that the learners are familiar with.
This criterion considers the ability of students to understand the global meaning of oral text in the best conditions, which imply: direct communication, contextual support and topics related to their previous knowledge.
3.- To extract specific information, which has been previously studied, from oral texts with a simple structure and vocabulary, which deal with topics that, are interesting and familiar to the students.
This criterion checks the student’s ability to understand, not only the global message, but also specific details from simple oral texts, which deal with topics that are familiar to them.
4.- To participate in short oral exchanges related to common classroom activities, producing comprehensible discourse adapted to the characteristics of the situation and to the communicative aim.
This criterion refers to the student’s ability to express basic communicative needs in the context of the class such as: asking something, asking for something, asking for permission to do something, asking for help, greeting… These messages should be expressed correctly enough to be understood. (for example, they should use the correct expression to ask for permission such as: “Can I go to the toilet, please?, or Can I open the window/door?, Can I borrow your pen, please?
5.- To participate in simulated communicative situations, which have been previously studied in class using common social formulas correctly in the foreign language.
This criterion checks the student’s ability to communicate orally in the most basic situations of daily life using social relation formulas, especially those which are typical of children of this age, such as: “How are you? Fine, thanks”.
. “Many happy returns”…
5.- To grasp the general meaning and extract specific information from short written texts, with a linear layout, and simple structures and vocabulary, which deal with topics that are interesting and familiar to the student
This criterion refers to the student’s ability to understand short written texts from the teacher or other students, such as: informal letters or instructions, public advertisements, charts and other written texts with visual support such as simple comics for children.
6.- To read, with the help of the teacher or a dictionary simple books for children with redundant visual support and written in foreign language, and showing the level of comprehension attained by performing specific tasks.
With this criterion, we assess if the student is able to read simple books written in the foreign language, but with pictures that help them to understand. Then they have to show us what they have understood by means of verbal on non verbal task, which could be done even in the student’s native language, as we want to check comprehension, not expression.
7.- To produce short comprehensible written texts that are adapted to the characteristics of the situation and to the communicative aim and reflect to the subject matter studied in class.
This criterion means that students should be able to write short simple messages, related to their interests and needs, such as: the list of things they need for an excursion, a short letter giving basic personal information about themselves, or an invitation to a birthday party.
8.- To recognise some sociocultural features of the communities of foreign language speakers that are contained in the language samples studied in class.
Finally, this criterion is designed to check if students are able to recognise some sociocultural elements of the countries where the foreign language is spoken, especially those related to the daily life of children such as: schedules, habits, subjects at school, games, greetings, favourite meeting places, popular songs, festivals, food…
3.-CRITERIA TO BE REFLECTED IN THE EDUCATIONAL AND IN THE CURRICULAR PROJECT:
Once we have analysed the elements of the official curriculum, which corresponds to the first level of concretion, we must deal with the documents that each center should design in order to:
– Define their educational options and structure through the Educational Project.
– Adapt the different curricular elements to their context by means of the Curricular Project.
3.1.- The Educational Project:
First, we will deal with the Educational Project, which is a document that must be designed and approved by the entire School Community, through their representatives in the School Board. According to the Royal Decree 82/1996 of the 26th January, which establishes the organic regulations of the Infant and Primary Schools, the Educational Project consist of:
1.- The analysis of the sociocultural context of the center, which is the first step to establish the following elements.(identity signs and educational objectives)
2.- The identity signs refer to those educational options that agree with the educational ideas of the school community.
3.- Taking into account these identity signs, the school community should establish the educational objectives as well as reviewing the general objectives of every stage established in the official curriculum to adapt them to their context, and to the identity signs of the centre.
4.- To get these aims, the school community has to define the organisational structure they are going to adopt including:
– A general guideline about the relations of collaboration among the different members of the school community, and also the relations with other institutions.
-The organisational structure of the school, that should be reflected in a document about the distribution of tasks among the different organs of the school community and also the internal rules of the center.
3.1.1.- Criteria to be reflected in the Educational Project in relation to
the foreign language area:
Now, we are going to see how the foreign language area could be reflected in the design of the Educational Project, by means of a practical example.
1.- Regarding the school identity signs the teaching of a foreign language could be considered by the School community as a means to promote:
– Respect for all the cultures
– Development of democratical habits.
– Autonomous learning.
2.- Taking into account the identity signs we have expressed, we could include the following educational objectives:
– Promote the learning of a foreign language as a tool for social development.
– Learning a foreign language as a tool for social development.
– Learning a foreign language and its culture to increase tolerance and being open-minded.
– Enlarging the psychological development of children learning a new language and its culture.
3.- After establishing the identity signs and the educational objectives, we have to take some practical decisions about the organisational aspects that will make possible the attainment of our objectives. Following with our example we can adopt the following decisions:
– Establishment of interchanges with an English speaking country
– Establishment of relations with different institutions, such as the British Council in order to obtain material.
– Contact with parents or relatives of students that have visited English-speaking countries.
– Participation in official programs related to Foreign language learning, such as the experimental teaching of English in Primary Education.
3.2.- The Curricular Project:
According to the R.D. 82/1996, the Curricular Project should include the following elements:
– The general objectives of the stage adapted to the socio-cultural context of the school.
– The sequence of objectives, contents and evaluation criteria of the different areas per cycle.
– General methodological decisions that affect the following aspects: Methodological principles, groupings, space, time and materials.
– General decisions about the attention to pupils with special needs.
3.2.1. – Criteria to be reflected in the Curricular Project in relation to the foreign language area:
Now, we are going to analyse how the foreign language area could be reflected in the Curricular Project of the Stage. We are going to resort to an example, as we did when talking about the Educational Project.
Once the general objectives of the stage have been adapted to the socio-cultural context of the school, the teaching staff should take decisions about the sequence of objectives, contents, and evaluation criteria of each area along the different cycles. Since the establishment of this sequence is a difficult task, the Ministry of Education published a Resolution of the 5th of March 1992, that offered some criteria to establish such sequence.
In relation to the foreign language area, this Resolution says that:
1. We must establish the sequence of objectives, contents and assessment criteria, according to the principles of the communicative approach. This means, that we should develop the four linguistic skills in an interrelated way as they are in real communication., and also connect the different skills with our student’s interests and needs.
2.- To establish the sequence of objectives for the second and third cycles, we should consider:
· The psychological stage of development of children
· Their previous knowledge
· Their communicative needs
· The degree in which the abilities expressed in the general objectives are going to be developed in each cycle, For instance, starting from the objective number one of the foreign language area:
‘To understand simple and oral written texts about known objects, situations and events, using general and specific information taken from those texts for specific purposes.’
We can sequence the abilities expressed in this objective, for the second cycle of Primary education, as follows:
‘At the end of the second cycle pupils will be able to understand the general meaning of simple oral texts emitted by the teacher with a simple structure and vocabulary, in familiar contexts, and with the help of gestures, mime and any necessary repetition’
1. Regarding the SEQUENCE OF CONTENTS, the best way to promote the development of communicative abilities is organising them around procedures. If we decide to do it in this way, we should consider several criteria, to follow a logical progression in the difficulty of such procedures. These criteria are defined according to:
– The type of oral or written texts
– The channel
– The type of comprehension
– The interlocutor
– The level of correction
Now, we are going to explain these criteria in detail.:
– The type of oral or written texts
Here we must consider the length, vocabulary, the linguistic structures, and organisation of the oral or written texts that we are going to use in class. Obviously, we must go from short simple texts to more complex ones.
– The channel
As far as channel is concerned we should consider if the oral or written messages that our students should understand or produce are going to be transmitted in a face to face communicative situation, or by means of a cassette recording or a written text. In this sense, we should start from face to face communication, because mime, gestures and expressions help pupils to understand.
– The type of comprehension
The type of comprehension refers to the information we ask them to extract from an oral or written message. This comprehension may be global ( if they should get the general sense of the message) or specific (if they have to extract specific details). The most logical progression goes from global to specific comprehension.
– The interlocutor
Regarding the interlocutor we should take into account if he/she is known or unknown for the student, if he/she belongs to the school context or not. At the beginning we should work with close interlocutors such as the teacher and the classmates.
– The level of correction
The level of correction deals with the demands about correction in the oral and written production of students. Obviously such demands increase along the cycles. At the beginning, they should produce language correctly enough to be understood.
3 .- Then, if we have decided to organise contents around procedures, we should not forget that the three types of contents (concepts, procedures and attitudes) must be considered in an interrelated way. Then we should relate them as in the following example:
“Recognising the characteristic sounds, rhythm and intonation patterns of the foreign language, realising the importance of being able to communicate in a foreign language
To see this relation more clear, the Resolution of the 5th of March suggests that we can display them in a chart, as follows
EXAMPLE OF SEQUENCE OF CONTENTS FOR THE SECOND CYCLE
-Rhythm and intonation
– Realising the importance of oral communication in a foreign language.
-Words and sentences in texts related to the context of the classroom and daily life
– Showing an optimistic attitude towards their own ability to understand the foreign language
– of messages with the following communicative intentions:
*Greeting (hello!,good morning…)
*Identifying oneself (I am. ,My name is…)
*Giving and asking for basic personal information (using expressions such as: What´s your name, How old are you?…)
– These communicative functions should be related to topics of general use and wide notions, which are interesting for children, such as:
*The school, family, friends, animals, body, home, numbers, colours…
– Showing a receptive attitude towards people who speak a different language.
– Of information previously required in contextualised situations*
– Showing a receptive attitude towards people who speak a foreign language.
*For instance, we ask children to fill a chart about the favourite sports of different characters from the textbook. First, we tell them what they are going to listen to a conversation where the characters talk about things they like and dislike and what information they should pay attention to. Then, we play the cassette or read the text aloud and they should complete the chart, with the specific information we have asked them for (sports, in this case)
As we can see this task ask them to extract specific information (about favourite sports), previously required by the teacher, in a contextualised situation,( as they already recognise the characters voices, and know what they are talking about).
If we do this with all the general objectives we will have a list of the contents of each cycle including concepts procedures and attitudes.
These orientations are quite useful to establish the sequence of objectives, contents and assessment criteria, in the second and third cycle, but we must not forget that English has been introduced in the 1st cycle in our Autonomous Community. Then the Order of 30th of August published by the Department of Education, Science and Technology of our Autonomous Government says in its article number 3 that:
“The centers must change and adapt their Curricular Project partially as the objectives, contents and evaluation criteria of the foreign language area, should be sequenced for three cycles, instead of two”
Obviously, as we haven’t got our own curriculum yet, we must take as reference the objectives, contents and evaluation criteria of the R.D. 1344/91 of the 6th of September, which establishes the national curriculum for primary Education.
However, the Department of Education, Science and Technology of our Autonomous Government, has published a document, made by foreign language teachers co-ordinated by the Technical Inspection Service called “English in the first cycle of Primary Education”. This document is not a law, it has been published just to help teachers. Regarding the abilities, skills and contents which should be worked in this cycle this document says that:
In the FIRST CYCLE:
– The most important skill in the first cycle should be listening.
– We must not force children to speak until they are ready to do it. Then at the beginning they can show what they have understood by means of non-verbal actions such as movements, gestures, drawing, cutting, pointing, colouring…
– Total Physical Response ( TPR) activities and songs are a good way to help them link words and actions, and express themselves in English in a funny and meaningful way.
– Written language should be avoided, especially in the first year of the cycle, because they are learning to read and write in their native language and the complex English spelling could be confusing for them.
– Contents should be taught by means of didactic units, organised around meaningful topics as: Family, Friends, Christmas, Things of the classroom, The house, Food, Toys, Clothes…
– Children must be already familiar with such topics in their native language. Then, the co-ordination with the tutor-teacher is very important to establish the sequence of the different didactic units along the cycle.
According to the Resolution of the 5th of March, which establishes some principles for the sequence of objectives, contents and evaluation criteria, during the 2nd cycle we must consider that:
Listening is still the most important skill, and we must help children to:
Understand the global meaning of simple oral messages and extract specific information previously required in contextualised situations.
– The oral messages they have to understand should present a simple structure and vocabulary and deal with topics related to children’s interests and needs (such as school, home, family, games, sports…)
As far as the development of speaking is concerned, pupils in the 2nd cycle must learn simple linguistic structures, which can be applied to a great number of communicative situations. These situations could be:
*Habitual communicative situations in the classroom such as: greeting, identifying oneself, asking for permission, and asking for help.
* Situations created by the teacher to promote learning, such as: Identifying and placing objects, people or places, expressing quantity, expressing likes and dislikes, giving simple instructions… In these situations teachers should promote pupils interest in oral communication by means of group activities (simulations, games, and role-plays) where language is used with a communicative aim
In spite of the importance given to oral language, the written code is also present in the 2nd cycle from the first day. As far as reading is concerned, we should help students to develop their reading abilities in the foreign language, working on words, short sentences, class instructions, simple descriptions and very short stories, supported by pictures.
Children must start just identifying the written form of words and sentences that they already know in the oral form. Then, matching written words and sentences with pictures is the typical reading activity at the beginning of the second cycle.
As far as writing is concerned, we must consider that at this age ( 8 to 10 years old) the communicative needs related to writing are still very limited, even in their native language. This implies that written texts in this cycle should consist of:
· Very short descriptions
· Lists to perform tasks ( such as the list of things they need for a party, or a shopping list)
· Short messages between classmates (for example short orders in games: go to the door, dance, stand on your chair, go to the left/right…)
· Birthday cards, and invitations, Christmas cards…
Finally, socio-cultural contents in the 2nd cycle should refer to the daily life of children in the English-speaking countries, including aspects such as: schedules, celebrations and festivals, shops, traditional tales and songs.
IN THE THIRD CYCLE:
We must help students to go from comprehension to production. The development of oral language is still the main objective. The oral texts they must understand in this cycle will be more complex and longer than in the previous one, as children are already familiar with the sounds of the foreign language, and they are able to use communicative strategies to understand such as: listening for specific information or just to get the general meaning of an oral text, predicting what they think may come next, inferring opinion and attitude from the intonation of the speakers or deducing the meaning of new words from context
The oral texts we must offer them must be also related to their interests and needs. For example:
· Descriptions of places or people.
· Conversations between children about their daily life, hobbies, or opinions.
· Fantastic situations based on traditional tales.
Regarding the oral productive skill (speaking) pupils in the third cycle are able to:
· Use verbal and non verbal strategies to be understood (Verbal strategies could be: using a word instead of another, replacing an specific word they don´t know for a more general one or explaining the meaning of a word they don´t know;
Non verbal strategies are: making gestures or sounds, drawing, or pointing to objects, to solve communicative problems)
· Use social relation formulas and expressions, which are used to satisfy basic communicative needs such as greeting, congratulating, thanking, apologising, introducing oneself…. In this cycle most children know what expression they should use according to the communicative situation.
Then, by means to these abilities, they are able to participate in oral exchanges to express their basic communicative needs in the context of the classroom or in real or simulated contexts related to their daily life (dealing with topics such as: home, food, animals, sports, holidays…) correctly enough to be understood.
Regarding WRITTEN COMMUNICATION, in the third cycle we must consider:
· The development of intensive and extensive reading:
Intensive reading refers to understand every word of short texts (short descriptions or stories, personal letters, advertisements or labels). Extensive reading refers to get the global sense of longer texts, such as: tales, comics or simple books for children with redundant visual support. To read this kind of texts children can resort to the help of the teacher or the dictionary. The most important thing in extensive reading is enjoying the texts.
· Writing in this cycle will focus on the production of short simple texts in response to oral or written stimulus, aimed at different readers and adapted to the different communicative situations. These written texts will include: short personal letters, descriptions and stories.
Finally socio- cultural contents in this cycle will deal with aspects related to daily life in the English-speaking countries and also with other socio-cultural aspects of those countries related to the student´s interests, for instance: cars, sport, famous people on pop stars, cinema, environment, cities, famous buildings, sports…
Now, we are going to deal with the last decisions we must take in the curricular project: the sequence of assessment criteria and the methodological options.
2. – The sequence of assessment criteria, depends on the sequence of objectives and contents, since they establish the abilities that children should acquire at the end of the Primary stage related to the contents they need to develop such abilities. Then, according to the principles established for the sequence of objectives and contents, an example of sequence of an evaluation criterion, taken from the curricular materials known as Red Boxes ( Lenguas Extranjeras. Mec. 1992)
3.- To identify simple details, previously required from oral texts related to topics which have been studied in class, and perform simple instructions given by the teacher in the context of the classroom.
3.– To extract specific information previously required from oral texts, with a simple structure and vocabulary, which deal with topics which are interesting and familiar for students ( daily life, likes and dislikes, opinions and personal experiences…)
Finally, THE LAST ELEMENT OF THE CURRICULAR PROJECT, that we are going to consider, is the definition of the General Methodological Options we are going to take into account . To define such options we must follow the recommendations of the Royal decree 1344/1991, 6th September, which establishes the basic requirements for Primary Education, and also the methodological principles established for the Primary Stage in general, and particularly those principles established for the foreign language area . As we have seen when talking about the different curricular elements, the main aim of teaching a foreign language in Primary Education will be getting students to communicate in such foreign language.
· Then, grouping, space and time must be understood in a flexible way to allow students to participate in real communicative interactions.
· As far as materials is concerned, they should promote activity on the part of students as well as being visual, attractive and as authentic as possible.
· We also should pay attention to diversity, designing activities in which everyone could participate according to his/her abilities.
· And finally, according to this kind of methodology, assessment should be used as a tool to improve the learning–teaching process.
– Ley Orgánica 1/1990, de 3 de octubre de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo.
– RD 1344/1991 de 6 de septiembre, por el que se establece el currículo de la Educación Primaria.
– RD 82/1996, de 26 de enero que establece el Reglamento Orgánico de las Escuelas de Educación infantil y colegios de Educación primaria.
– Resolución de 5 de marzo de 1992, de la Secretaria de Estado para la Educación, que regula la elaboración de proyectos curriculares y establece orientaciones para la distribución de objetivos, contenidos y criterios de evaluación.
– Orden del 30 de agosto de 2000, por la que se establece y regula la impartición de la lengua extranjera en el primer ciclo de Educación primaria, en el ámbito de la Comunidad Autónoma de Extremadura.
– MEC: Materiales para la Reforma, area de lengua extranjera. Madrid. Servicio de publicaciones del MEC. 1991.
– MEC. Proyecto Curricular. Materiales para la reforma. Madrid. Servicio de publicaciones del MEC, 1991.
– Brewster, Ellis and Girard. The primary English Teacher’s Guide. London. Penguin. 1992.