Happy Learning - Linguistic immersion for Early Years pupils
Diane Cassidy, an Early Years Education teacher at Agora International School Barcelona, explains, step by step, how various languages (English, Castilian Spanish, Catalan and Mandarin Chinese) are introduced into the early years curriculum and how Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) is incorporated every day into the work carried out with each individual child.
Agora International School Barcelona School devotes special attention to the learning of languages, initially focussing on becoming proficient in English. Great importance is placed on linguistic immersion, where during the Early Years phase children learn vocabulary and grammar by means of entertaining activities and practical experience. As the language is taught, the relevant cultural references and traditions are introduced, encouraging the children to develop respect and tolerance and to embrace the customs and traditions of other cultures. Diane Cassidy, an Early Years teacher at the school, talks about this stage of the children’s education and the importance of English and Happy Learning as key elements of the school’s methodology.
There are two main phases in the language learning process; the first involves working with individual words, helping the children to feel confident with the new language and then gradually moving on to start forming more complete sentences. Secondly, as their oral confidence increases, the children are introduced to writing and literacy skills in English. The English immersion process for the youngest pupils is carried out in two stages: the first stage is at P1 and P2 where English is incorporated into 30-minute sessions every day in a relaxed and entertaining way, mainly via games, songs and other activities. By Stage P3, 70% of the activities that the children undertake at school will be carried out in English, and English-speaking teachers are in contact with the children at all times. In addition to English, the centre’s linguistic programme involves two weekly sessions of Spanish and a daily reading and writing session in Catalan.
All this is combined with a general educational system based upon Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI) that is tailored to meet the individual needs of each student. This involves combining languages and mathematics with artistic or musical activities helping each child to learn through games and play in accordance with their particular needs and interests. The curriculum is designed to stimulate the children’s curiosity for learning and to motivate them to develop their knowledge and understanding and fulfil their personal and academic potential. Development of these multiple intelligences is carried out by introducing new technologies and engaging the children in a wide range of activities designed to determine the type of intelligences particular to each child and to support their emotional and social development.
These fundamental philosophies come together to form our Happy Learning experience; thanks to our innovative educational systems the children in the early years at Agora International School Barcelona are happy to go to school every day and are eager to participate in activities full of challenge and fun.