Number of teaching hours per year: 111
Objectives and tasks Teaching a foreign language at a young age, starting at year 4, basically serves psychological and language-related purposes: on one part, it is aimed at creating an interest in language learning and providing experiences of success, and on the other, they serve as foundation for further language learning, especially through the development of receptive skills. This is accompanied by laying the groundwork of language learning strategies.
Language teaching at an early age is based on the natural processes of language learning. Children participate in activities which are interesting for them, which are meaningful and motivating in themselves, and which present challenges scaled to their cognitive abilities. In the course of these activities, children progress by listening to the target language while understanding the context. This is a slow process; spectacular performance characteristic of older age groups cannot be expected. A typical element is the ‘silent phase’, where some pupils do not speak for months but like to participate in playful activities.
In language classes, the pupils interpret what they hear in the unknown language on the basis of their knowledge of the world. It is therefore essential that contents are based on knowledge already covered. This can be ensured partly by utilising situations and visual elements, and also by integrating contents already covered in other subjects. This enables pupils to understand what is being said by the teacher in a foreign language.
The framework curriculum builds upon the topics, communication intentions, themes and activities covered in the mother tongue during years 1 to 4. Development is focused on listening comprehension, which may be tracked by way of obeying instructions in the class and participating in playful exercises involving actions. Speech ranges from one-word answers (yes, no, name, colour, number) to using non-analysed longer units (greetings, rhymes, songs, games). Asking questions and receiving answers in Hungarian is a natural part of the class work, used as feed-back and confirmation along with the teachers speaking in the target language.
Requirements follow the natural process of language learning and include words and simple sentences. It is advisable to postpone the introduction of reading and writing until children express an interest in these activities.
Developmental requirements Pupils need to become aware of the fact that apart from their native tongue, they may also use a foreign language to express themselves. Pupils should develop a positive attitude to language learning. Co-operation skills should improve, as well as the ability to work in pairs and groups. Pupils should become familiar with some basic strategies in language learning.
List of (suggested) topics:
Me and my family: self-introduction, introduction of family members.
Home, closer neighbourhood: description of the home, the living rooms and bedrooms; favourite animals, favourite toys.
School: objects in the classroom, rooms in the school building.
Wider environment: animals in different parts of the world.
Leisure activities and entertainment: favourite sports; collections.
TOPICS, CONTENTS The framework curriculum specifies output requirements with respect to communicative intentions and topics drawn up for six languages for two-year periods.
Communicative intentions Communicative intentions used in social interaction:
greetings and saying goodbye,
expressing thanks and responding to expression of thanks.
Expressing personal attitude and opinion:
likes and dislikes
Communicative intentions related to the exchange of information:
understand and react by acting to instructions, orders given using familiar semantic elements and no longer than two sentences;
understand questions formulated using familiar language elements and no longer than one sentence.
give an answer in the form of incomplete or simple sentences to questions formulated using familiar semantic elements; reproduce words, texts with a simpler structure (at least a few rhymes, songs, poems) which had been learnt earlier.
recognise the written form of familiar words, read sentences constructed of a few words with familiar semantic elements;
find important information in a single sentence constructed using familiar semantic elements.
recognise the written form of familiar words, write sentences constructed of a few words with familiar semantic elements.
For further reference below is a list of proficiency levels as defined by the Council of Europe:
The definition of proficiency levels on the basis of the recommendations of the Council of Europe regarding foreign language teaching* C2 The language learner can easily understand every written or heard text; can summarise information from different spoken or written sources and give a comprehensive account of arguments and reports; capable of spontaneous expression in a fully coherent and precise style; can convey finer shades of meaning even in rather complex situations.
C1 The language learner can understand extended and sophisticated texts sensing hidden meaning; capable of fluent and spontaneous expression without much obvious searching for expressions; can use the language flexibly and effectively for social and professional purposes, such as learning and work; can construct clear, well-structured, detailed text of fairly complex subjects with an assured use of templates and connective devices.
B2 The language learner can follow texts of complex concrete or abstract subjects, including conversations in his/her field of occupation; can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes interaction with native speakers quite effortless for both parties; can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects and is capable of expressing personal views on an issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
B1 The language learner can understand the main points of clear standard texts on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.; can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in areas where the language is spoken; can construct simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest; can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
A2 The language learner can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment); can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on family matters or everyday life; can describe in simple terms personal attitude to something in the immediate environments or in areas related to the most basic needs.
A1 The language learner can understand and use the most frequent expressions and very basic phrases used in everyday communication with the purpose of satisfying concrete immediate needs; can introduce self and other people and can answer questions concerning personal issues (e.g. place of living), people known or things possessed; can interact in a simple way provided the other person speaks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.