Language, Literacy & Communication
Language is the essence of thinking and is integral, not just to effective communication, but to learning, reflection and creativity. This Area of Learning and Experience provides the fundamental building blocks for different forms of communication, literacy and learning about language, and also opportunities to develop competence in different languages.
Being able to listen attentively and speak lucidly and understandably or to use non-verbal communication effectively are crucial attributes in learning and life more generally. Developing oracy – the capacity to develop and express ideas through speech – is of central importance to both thinking and learning.
Exposure to literature extends children and young people’s understanding of the power of language. It can stimulate imagination, challenge thinking and introduce new ideas. This Area of Learning and Experience can generate a love of reading that will enrich lives and contribute to present and future well-being.
The pervasive influence of digital technologies on children and young people’s lives poses new challenges and opens up fresh possibilities for language learning. Issues of register, audience, ethics and meaning can all be explored in this evolving context.
The role of multiple language learning is particularly important in Wales. Learning other languages introduces children and young people to other cultures. There is also evidence that successful learning of another language can influence the capacity to learn subsequent languages and may have wider cognitive benefits. The teaching and learning of Welsh is a priority for the Welsh Government. It forms a key element of this Area of Learning and Experience, with the intention that Welsh language will be compulsory to age 16. (Further issues relating to the Welsh language within the curriculum are discussed later in this chapter.)
Multiple language learning presents particular challenges for curriculum design, particularly in primary schools. The creation of sufficient time and the investment in necessary resources will inevitably pose difficult questions about priorities. However, this Area of Learning and Experience provides a means of exploiting the links between English, Welsh and modern foreign language learning, encouraging children and young people to transfer what they have learned, for example, in English about how language works to Welsh or modern foreign languages. They can thus gain a secure understanding of the structure of languages. This, along with an appreciation of words and their origins, can help children and young people to become excited about and interested in language.
The Review believes that the acquisition of modern foreign languages will benefit from the earlier development of the Welsh language, and recommends that this third and/or fourth language should therefore be introduced in the first year of secondary schooling, or earlier where time, circumstances and expertise allow.
Language, Literacy & Communication will span English, Welsh and Modern Foreign Languages. Further information on the areas can be obtained by clicking on a subject found on the left hand side of this text.