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Language Investigation is an approach to language teaching which complements the prevailing approach to language teaching today, the communicative approach.

It has been developed in Coventry Local Authority to respond to the the challenges of introducing languages into the Primary School Curriculum. These are:

  • Teacher expertise
  • An already overcrowded curriculum
  • Curriculum continuity between Primary and Secondary Schools

The approach was the focus of the Coventry Pathfinder for Primary Languages ( 2003 -2005 ). In the words of the national Ofsted report on the Pathfinders:

An innovative approach in one LEA to the Key Stage 2 curriculum supported teachers in teaching a multilingual programme, which built on pupils’ work in literacy and developed their early understanding of language. Investigative activities enabled pupils to make links between languages and draw conclusions about how languages work. This provided a strong foundation for later, or simultaneous, learning of one or two specific languages, and pupils made rapid progress. The approach also provided an inclusive, non-hierarchical view of language and culture early on.

( Implementing languages entitlement in primary schools. An evaluation of progress in ten pathfinder LEAs : HMI 2476, July 2005 )

children holding signs saying hello in different languagesAlthough, initially, a specific response to the challenge of introducing languages into the primary curriculum, it has relevance for languages in the new secondary curriculum with its emphasis on cross-curricular and thematic approaches.

Overall, the approach is designed to help to build pupils' capacity as language learners. Gifted and talented pupils in languages display the following attributes:



Able language learners often:

  • display curiosity about language and have a strong desire to create language
  • make connections and are quick to pick up new language and structures
  • spot patterns - classifying words and structures, solving problems and asking why
  • Are imaginative with language
  • Enjoy learning independently
  • Have an insight into how they like to learn and are thus able to learn more efficiently
  • Are often interested in culture

A fuller version of the above is on DCSF Standards site.

Here are a range of greetings in the different languages of the world or hear how you can say hello.

© Nick Jones 2003-2008. Advisor for MFL Coventry LEA