MFL: Year 1 Enjoy Multisensory Language Learning


Last Tuesday, Bede's Prep's Head of Languages Ms Galletly spent her weekly Year 1 French session teaching the children vocabulary related to animals.

Using a range of soft animal toys, the pupils related verbs and nouns to their soft companions - a multisensory approach to language learning which is known to help children firmly embed and remember words.


"I wanted the children to learn a group of vocabulary related to animals," Ms Galletly explained. "With the children having previously met some of the creatures in our lessons last term, along with previously having come across some of these verbs, it made sense to link animal words with verbs for actions and movement. The two tie in nicely and capture the imagination!"

Multisensory approaches to lessons are invaluable for Early Years learners, both in terms of learning their own language and second languages too; in this case, the class started the lesson by moving their toys in such a way that actions resonated the number of syllables in a given word or phrase.


With a tortoise lumbering along, rocking from side to side, the class slowly said 'tor-' '-tue'; as a lizard scooted up a wall the class said 'lézard' rapidly, and so on.

After the starter tasks we completed, the lesson moved onto action songs.

"One of the classes' favourite song is about the parts of the body," Ms Galletly continued. "Language recycling is vital, as it's the natural way that we learn languages, and in this case the song came in very handy."


"The children moved themselves as they sang along, acting out the meanings of the words, with some pupils using their soft toys instead of their own bodies. In this way, we reviewed 'je saute' (I jump) 'je tourne' (I turn) and 'je danse' (I dance)."

For the final part of the lesson the class took part in a simple, literacy-based task involving sticking the right label with the right picture - a task which was somewhat tricky when some of the letters in the new words and phrases the children had come across were silent.


"You might wonder if it's mean to ask children to decipher a foreign language when they are only just getting used to deciphering English," said Ms Galletly, "but the Year 1 children at Bede's Prep School always seem to rise to the challenge, and this class loved trying to spot the key sounds."

With the correct labels found, the children coloured in the letters, practising their handwriting at the same time.


This ended an hour of colourful, active, multisensory learning that nobody is likely to forget any time soon! 


Learn more about the MFL department at Bede's Prep >

Learn more about life in Year 1 at Bede's Prep >