Whole School Approach

The integration of the Modern Language with other areas of the curriculum, with school life in general, with the local community and with international projects strengthens its place in the curriculum and in the school and makes the teaching and learning of the ML more effective and enjoyable for all involved.

Click here to see videos developed by the NCCA which show MLPSI Principals speaking about how they encourage language use (both Irish and the Modern Language) in their schools.

Click here to download an Information Leaflet for Parents which you can distribute at open days, induction events or parent-teacher meetings, as well as have linked on your website or leave in hard copy at your school's reception area.

Click here to watch a video on how an MLPSI school implemented a Whole School Approach

* Whole-School approach to planning

* Whole School Approach to Cross-curricular Integration

* Organising a Language Day or Week in your school

* Displays in the MLPSI School

Whole-School approach to planning

Please click on the following links to download some guidelines on formulating a whole school plan for modern languages;

Whole School Approach to Cross-Curricular Integration

Cross-curricular integration between the modern language and other areas of the curriculum should be encouraged and facilitated on a whole school basis. All members of staff in MLPSI schools have a role to play in supporting the pupils' language learning. Cross-curricular integration is one of the principles on which the Primary School Curriculum is based and it is therefore desirable that the teaching and learning of the modern language is also approached in an integrated way. In a time when Principals and teachers often bemoan the time pressures in relation to a very crowded curriculum and the amount of planning that has to be done, it is important to remember that a cross-curricular approach does not mean more work for teachers. It is, rather, a different way of working. While time for planning must be facilitated, in the long run it can be argued that cross-curricular integration is a more efficient and effective way of teaching and learning. A cross-curricular approach becomes easier and requires less planning the more it is practised.

Benefits of cross-curricular integration

The integration of the modern language with other subjects

  •  consolidates the place and importance of the language in the curriculum and makes it seem less of an 'add-on' subject
  •  gives children a broader and richer perspective of the target country/ies and target language
  •  capitalises on the learning that takes place in the limited time that is available for the language teaching during the modern language class

In cases where there is a separate language teacher, the integration process

  •  capitalises on the skills, knowledge and perspective of both class teacher and visiting teacher
  •  benefits from the collaborative relationship of the teachers involved
  •  makes visiting language teachers feel more integrated with the staff and less isolated in their work

Please click here to download comprehensive guidelines which outline how Principals, modern language teachers and other members of staff can facilitate a cross-curricular approach.

Organising a Language Day or Week in your school

Organising a Language Week in your school is a nice way of celebrating the achievements of pupils and all involved in the teaching and learning of a modern language. It is also a wonderful occasion to reach out to all of those in your school who are not involved in the MLPSI on a daily basis.

How to organise a language week or day

  •   Plan in time
  •   Make a list of activities. Circulate it amongst staff and invite them to select at least one activity that they would like to participate in
  •   Liaise with those concerned. i.e. Principal, class teachers, members of the school community
  •   Inform all concerned of the details of the events to take place
  •   Work on the visibility of the language around the school
  •  Contact the embassies and tourist boards and ask for maps, brochures etc.

Who to involve

  •   5th and 6th class pupils
  •   Younger learners in the school
  •   Transition year students in your local secondary schoo
  •   Past pupils
  •   Visiting language teacher and class teachers
  •   School staff
  •   Teachers with a relevant post of responsibility
  •   Principal
  •   Secondary school teacher
  •   Board of Management
  •   Parents
  •   Members of the local community

When to celebrate

  •  At the start of the year (to motivate pupils)
  •  At the end of the school year (you could include a presentation of MLPSI certificates to 6th class)
  •  While you are hosting a teacher trainee from a foreign country
  •  Coinciding with a special celebration in the target language country
  •  Integrating it with some events in the school calendar
  •  Linking with some your Comenius school project activities

Where to celebrate

  •   Classrooms
  •   School hall
  •   Corridors
  •   School yards
  •   Local library
  •   Local gallery

What to do - Click on the links below for a list of suggested activities for a Language Week

1. Language and culture 

2. Art

3. Music 

4. Drama/Concert

5. Food and Cooking

6. Sports Day

7. ICT

8. Film

Remember that the week can be used as an opportunity to showcase work already carried out, such as artwork, project work, and correspondence letters. They could be exhibited in the school hall or corridors during the week. Pupils should be consulted as to what activities they would like to engage in.

  • Consider newcomer children and their cultural backgrounds
  • Share your ideas and experiences with your colleagues
  • Get ideas from Language Links
  • Any events/displays/reports done during the week should be photographed and sent to Language Links or for publication on the MLPSI website
  • Capitalise on the momentum created by the language week and plan for other events.

Organising a Language Day or week is a concerted effort!

Language and Culture

  • Invite in a guest speaker of the target language to chat to the children and tell them about their country
  • Invite a guest speaker who has experience of the target language countries. There are often parents in the school who may be available to do this, or a local secondary school teacher or past pupils. Children can also prepare an interview for that person
  • Organise class talks and/or 'taster' sessions for the younger classes
  • Choose a phrase a day for the whole school to learn in the target language (Good morning, thank you)
  • Play music from the target countries over the intercom
  • Use the target language to make announcements over the intercom
  • Organise a quiz based on the target cultures


Linking with the country/countries of the target language

  • Organise a trip to your local gallery or museum
  • Organise a trip to your local library
  •  Involve local artists
  • Have a competition to design a poster for the language week
  • Celebrate language specific festivals in art. Use the theme of festivals, to inspire mask making and other artwork. (See language specific incareer booklets for more ideas
  • Study an artist. (See Visual Arts Curriculum, strand unit Looking and Responding) •Organise an exhibition of artwork or project work for theschool community and/or parents
  • Liaise with the local secondary art teacher
  • Invite a senior secondary art student to do a presentation on an artist that they have studied
  • Make a giant collage of the chosen country using pictures/images/cut outs from magazines/papers etc. to be displayed in the main foyer for the week
  • Have the 6th class students organise an art competition with other classes in the school. The title could be 'My idea of (target country).' A prize is awarded at assembly at the end of the week. Some target language should be included in the presentation.


  Linking with the country/countries of the target language

  • Play music during quiet activities in class
  • Play music over the intercom
  • Organise a concert of songs or tunes in the target language. Focus on songs already learned during the year. Perform for another class, a school assembly or the parents
  • Invite in a staff teacher, local musician or a member of the local gramophone circle if there is one in your area • Link with the Music curriculum
  • Organise a dance workshop
  • Do a project / profile on a music group from the chosen country. Students download a piece of music for the class and present it to their classmates. If you have a partner school, record the presentations and send it to them


Linking with the country/countries of the target language

  • Organise a concert of poems and/or a play. Students perform for an audience of children from other classes or parents. (See Language specific In-career Booklets and/or websites listed for suitable plays, poems and stories)
  • Consider using the format of a television programme from the country or known to the children to prepare a performance
  • Ask children to dress up and re-enact a historical event. Perform for another class or at assembly and/or make a video

Food and cooking

Linking with the country/countries of the target language

  • Organise breakfast or lunch. There are many dishes that do not require cooking, such as salads, croissants, bread with cheese or cold meats
  • Have a lunch day when pupils are encouraged to bring typical foods and fruits
  • Ask pupils to bring in products from the target language country, or their home country available in their local shops
  • Have a Cookery Day. Make pizza, crêpes, tapas, keksen or other treats. (See language specific booklets and suggested websites for recipes)
  • Have an intercultural celebration of festivals such as 'Carnevale' and 'Pancake Tuesday' Have the pupils design menus and invitations

Sports Day

Linking with the country/countries of the target language

  • Organise a basketball or soccer match. Learn the vocabulary of sport and play a match using the target language as the language of the participants and the supporters
  • Play playground games. Learn traditional playground games of the countries where the target language is spoken– 5th and 6th class pupils can teach the games to younger classes during the week. (See Language specific In-career Booklets for suggestions)
  • Organise a treasure hunt around the school (inside or outside) with directions in the foreign language


Linking with the country/countries of the target language

  • Ask students to design their language signs for the school using clipart on their class computer
  • Ask students to design menus in the target language for the breakfast/lunch on the computer
  • Ask students to email the relevant embassies for information
  • Ask students to design invitations in the target language to invite parents/principal/guests to an event they have organized during the week
  • Encourage students to do research on selected projects to be displayed during the Language Day/Week:

-Typical breakfast/lunch/dinner in the target country

- A typical school day in the target country

- Project on their favourite footballer - E-mail the football club or fan club for extra information

- Festivals in the chosen country - How is Halloween/Christmas/Easter celebrated in the chosen country

  • Ask students to prepare a short language/cultural based PowerPoint Presentation for younger students/parents/members of staff
  • Involve pupils in an email survey with your partner school
  • Organise a webcam link with your partner school
  • Make a short DVD about your school with simple sentences spoken in the TL by the children: This is our school, this is the playground etc. Include staff, secretary, parents etc. speaking in the target language. Draw on pupils' drama skills to make it livelier. Show it to other classes. Send it to your partner school or another MLPSI school when the week is over
  • Make a short documentary based on short interviews around planned questions with staff and pupils relating to the their impressions or experiences of the target country • Use skype or video conferencing as part of your e-mail exchange
  • Include a page on your language day or week on the school's website


Linking with the country/countries of the target language

  • Watch a film with your pupils. Many DVDs from your local video club are now available in many languages.



Displays in the MLPSI School

It has been clear from our visits to primary schools that teachers are making great use of displays in various subjects in order to showcase the work that is being done by the pupils. It is important to note the impact of using displays with the modern language. Please see the Whole School Approach section in the relevant language for ready-made signs and labels for the classroom and general areas of your school that can be used to make the modern language more visible in your school.

Here are some points to keep in mind in relation to displays:

  •  In addition to displaying the pupils' own work, various words and phrases that are used by the pupils can be displayed. Give the pupils the responsibility of printing out labels, flashcards etc.
  •  Whether the Class Teacher is also the ML teacher or not, it is very important to establish a Language Corner in the classroom, where current work in the Modern Language (ML) Class can be developed and reinforced.
  •  Labelling different areas of the classroom will not be a new concept for most teachers, however to do so in the ML would develop this further. Again, allowing the pupils to do so enables them to take responsibility for their classroom and gives opportunities to use Art and ICT with the ML.
  •  When displays have been established within the classroom environment, the next step is to take this idea into the wider school area. From the largest schools to the smallest, it is important that any visitor to the school and all pupils should know that a ML is being taught there. Displaying the ML around the school celebrates the school's involvement in ML teaching - this could be done in a variety of ways, from a welcome sign in the target language to various simple phrases around the school to a designated ML notice board.
  •  If the school has a website, it would be of great benefit to include a page devoted to the modern language. This would give the pupils another way to display their work to the wider community.We will also create a link to it on this website.