LatinYouTubePremium resources


Continuing and developing KS2 pedagogy in KS3

Rhymes and songs
Gestures, mimes and actions
Group work and pair work
Stories and big books
Equipment such as number fans

Much of the success of Primary Languages can be attributed to the QCA (now TDA) Schemes of Work for KS2 and the KS2 Framework for Languages, both of which have directly influenced many of the resources and schemes of work which are available now. The methods used in KS2 language teaching share the features of many other areas of the primary curriculum.


Below is a list of some of the aspects of KS2 language teaching which typify current practice, and which would ease Transition in KS3 as well as enlivening KS3 lessons:

Rhymes and songs

Giving language a rhythm and a tune often makes it "stick" better, and enables you to tackle much longer passages of the language than you might attempt otherwise. The language used is necessarily repetitive but not boring, and therefore more motivating. Learning through song accesses different learning styles and enables students to interact with the language in a different way, within a dynamic and social environment. It also provides a safer environment in which to explore and experiment with new sounds, with students' participation increasing as their confidence grows. Children are naturally interested in music and songs anyway, so it seems a sensible thing to include in MFL lessons in all key stages. If you can find songs from other countries where your language is spoken, it's an easy way in to Intercultural Understanding, something that Ofsted says no key stage does enough of.

The KS3 Framework recommends the use of songs to help students with their speaking:

1.1 Understanding and responding to the spoken word: (Y7) "identify gist and some detail in face-to-face exchanges, spoken passages and songs"

For background reading:
(NB Some of the links may be blocked by your school network)

Examples of songs for primary Spanish

Singing songs in the French classroom

French rhymes and songs on Light Bulb Languages


Use of rhyme and song - information plus video clip examples

Gestures, mimes and actions

The use of mimes or actions engages students in the speaking and in the composition process. Repeating language while making a physical response aids concentration and engages the learner. Using actions avoids the need to use English in the classroom, and gives students clues and a means for recall later on. You can involve students further in the process by inviting them to make up the actions for certain words.

The use of actions is also an ideal tool for memorisation (KS3 Framework LLS 5.2) and working out meaning (KS3 Framework LLS 5.4).

For background reading:
(NB Some of the links may be blocked by your school network)

Using actions to build up description

Mimes and music - practical blogpost by Samantha Lunn


Children first meet puppets in the Early Years classroom, and puppets then become a part of life in the primary school where they can be used with great effect in primary language lessons.

So why use puppets?

  • they increase concentration and imagination
  • they increase motivation and harness enthusiasm and enjoyment
  • they bring another speaker of the language into the room apart from you, and give you the opportunity to model dialogues. the puppet can be an expert or fulfill a certain role in the classroom.
  • they encourage spontaneous language and creative pair work
  • they bring drama into the classroom
  • even the shyest children respond to them. Children are less self-conscious when speaking through a puppet and it's easier to record or film them.
  • they encourage peer assessment
  • they strengthen home-school relationships - people at home can be involved in making them
  • you can use them for role-plays, songs, pair work, group work....

Puppets are an ideal way to approach certain objectives of the KS3 Framework for Languages. For example:

  • Listening and Speaking -1.4 Talking together: (Y8) "initiate and participate in unrehearsed pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil exchanges"
  • Listening and Speaking - 1.5 Presenting, narrating: (Y7) "engage listeners' attention through expression and non-verbal techniques". Children are more likely to act "through" the puppet.

For background reading:
(NB Some of the links may be blocked by your school network)

Using pencil puppets with Year 7 - blogpost by Dominic McGladdery

Los animales hablan español - example of work with KS1 using finger puppets by Lisa Stevens

Link to video presentation by Lisa Stevens about using puppets in the MFL classroom

Slideshare presentation from Lorraine Coombes

Year 7 using puppets - video by Fiona Joyce

Jo Rhys-Jones's sock puppets and the video that goes with it

Year 4 practise simple greetings using puppets

Using puppets to teach Early Years


Why use puppets?

Sock it to me! - ideas for the classroom

Excel with Marcel


The relationship between sound and spelling is a key component of the KS2 Framework for Languages. KS3 teachers should be aware that their new Year 7 students will have had experience of Phonics from Early Years in English, and from Year 3 in their KS2 foreign language work. Confidence in reading and speaking aloud in another language comes from having the ability to decode the sounds that are written in each word. It would be naive to expect any learner to absorb and make these links independently.

A number of objectives in the KS3 Framework for Languages refer to Phonics:

Knowledge about Language - 4.1 Letters and sounds: (Y7) "apply knowledge of common letter strings, sound patterns, accents and other characters"; (Y8) "identify and recall common exceptions to the usual patterns of sounds and spellings"

Language Learning Strategies - 5.1 Identifying patterns in the target language: (Y7/8) "identify patterns of pronunciation, word formation, word order, grammatical structure and sentence structure in the target language"

Language Learning Strategies - 5.6 Reading aloud: (Y7/8) "read aloud written texts with increasing fluency, accuracy and expression, showing awareness of meaning"

Some key questions for KS3 teachers:

  • Do you already include phonics explicitly in your scheme of work?
  • How important do you think it is that your students should be able to decode words in this way?
  • Would learning phonics make your students better learners?
  • What is the difference between a phoneme and a grapheme? Would you be able to teach phonics to Y7 in the same way as their primary teachers have?
  • How much do your new Year 7s know about Phonics in the foreign language?

For background reading:
(NB Some of the links may be blocked by your school network)

Spanish sounds that make it different to English

French sounds that make it different to English

Rhymes to practise specific French phonemes

Phonics presentation by Suzi Bewell

Interactive phonics activities for French

Presentation by Jo Rhys Jones with loads of ideas for teaching Phonics across the Key Stages


French Phonology Module

Fun with Phonics

A video showing Phonics being taught

Linking sound and spelling

Group work and pair work

One of the Language Learning Strategies from the KS2 Framework for Languages is "Practise new language with a friend and outside the classroom". This objective appears in all four years of KS2. Students need to have the freedom to practise new language with their peers and teachers need to have the confidence to allow them to do that. They will often learn just as much from the learning conversation that they have with their classmates as they do from you the teacher. Language is, after all, about interaction, and this gives them the opportunity to interact with their peers and use their language for a real purpose. Different students respond to different ways of learning, and those who don't have the confidence to speak in front of the whole class will often be happy to speak with a partner.

There are many different sorts of activities that students can do together in pairs or in a group. For example, they could do a card sort, a puzzle, a role play.... Primary classes respond particularly well to anything that has a kinesthetic element and anything that involves working together to solve a problem.

For background reading:
(NB Some of the links may be blocked by your school network)

Ideas for pair and group work

Thinking Skills (French)

Thinking Skills (Spanish)

Thinking Skills (German)

Ideas for pupil-centred learning

Making puzzles


Pair and group work with video clips

Stories and big books

Many primary language lessons involve reading a book together. Sometimes these are authentic children's books in the target language, often they are translations of books with which the children are already familiar, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Rainbowfish. It's true that for secondary-age students it's more difficult to find something of the right maturity level, but often traditional stories work very well.

Stories present us with a rich source of learning. Students can get involved on a basic level, giving physical responses to sounds, words or phrases, acting out parts of the story or joining in a refrain. Stories present a good model of pronunciation and a good example of sustained use of language. They enhance students' ability to listen and concentrate, as well their ability to understand new language without having to use English. Stories are also a good way to embed new structures, in particular high frequency words and structures.

In the primary classroom it is relatively easy to share a book with the children, but the secondary classrooms have different challenges, in particular a lack of space. There are several internet-based programs that you can use to make your own stories to present to your class, and of course PowerPoint is always useful for this too. The links below will give you more information.

For background reading:
(NB Some of the links may be blocked by your school network)

Using stories in the languages classroom

Reading and writing minibooks


The MFL Storybird Wiki compiled by Fiona Joyce


MFL Digital Stories Wiki



Joining in a story

Traditional stories

Using stories with Year 5 and 6

Getting started with storytelling

Enjoyment and learning with stories from the QCA scheme of work

Storytelling for languages, literacy and global citizenship

Using stories for successful transition

One book, many ideas


Low-tech methods like flashcards have fallen out of favour in the secondary sector in recent years. Teachers are encouraged to use their projectors and IWBs as much as possible. However, this can lead to whiteboard-fatigue for the students. Flashcards are often preferable since they are so tactile, kinesthetic, portable and immensely versatile.

For background reading:
(NB Some of the links may be blocked by your school network)

Ideas for using flashcards

Flashcards - getting children to remember language

Using equipment such as number fans

The primary classroom is a treasure-trove of equipment to use. The language teacher can find many imaginative uses for number fans, multi-link cubes, number lines and dice, just to name but a few. Again, new Year 7 students will be used to this kind of cross-curricular approach, of seeing in their language lessons materials and equipment that they use elsewhere too. Linking MFL with other curriculum areas can only be a good thing, and will help to validate the subject.