As part of Shrewsbury's Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) curriculum, Year 3 students are now taking trial lessons in each of the school's four MFL languages: Mandarin, Japanese, French, and Spanish. This is in addition to the immersive English language environment and dedicated Thai classes that form part of the broader curriculum.
Trial lessons allow students to experience each language and meet some of the MFL staff who will be teaching them.
Head of MFL at Riverside, Anna Pethybridge, has been with Shrewsbury for five years and believes starting language learning early is beneficial.
"Younger students are less worried about making mistakes and more willing to participate in activities and games that develop language skills at a fast rate. Our department has found that these students have fewer inhibitions, and learning languages in Year 3 can involve much more inventive thinking," Ms Pethybridge stated.
For many students, their chosen language will be their third after Thai and English, which for the majority have been learned naturally at school and home. However, the skills developed by learning MFL in an academic setting - such as focussing on sentence structure and grammar - can be transferred to other parts of the curriculum. In addition, evidence suggests those who can converse fluently in different languages benefit from enhanced problem-solving skills, improved verbal and spatial abilities, improved memory function and more flexible and creative thinking.
Mandarin is the most popular choice of MFL at Shrewsbury, with over 60% of learners deciding on this option. However, French, Spanish and Japanese are becoming increasingly popular with a wide range of provisions and content in Riverside's library.
We will continue to follow our young learners as they develop their language skills - many of whom will eventually sit the subject at IGCSE or even A-Level.