5. Designing your curriculum
This provides specific guidance when incorporating learning in languages, literacy and communication in your curriculum. It should be read together with the overarching Designing your curriculum section which is relevant to learning and teaching through all areas of learning and experience.
Cross-curricular skills and integral skills
A curriculum must embed the mandatory cross-curricular skills and the integral skills that underpin the four purposes of the curriculum. The following are some key principles which settings/schools should consider when designing learning and teaching in the Languages, Literacy and Communication Area of Learning and Experience (Area).
Literacy should be at the heart of this Area, across all statements of what matters. Literacy skills should be explicitly taught in this Area. These can allow learners to express themselves, to understand and interpret written and spoken language and to articulate meaning. Settings and schools should plan for the application and development of learners’ literacy skills across the curriculum at every progression step.
The descriptions of learning for this Area are broad in scope and provide reference points for progression. More detail about progression in literacy across the curriculum is provided in the National Literacy Framework.
In this Area there are often opportunities to use literacy and numeracy skills together, for example when working out worded problems. There should also be opportunities to explore numeracy in different languages which can consolidate conceptual understanding.
Learning in this Area should provide opportunities to use different methods of digital communication. Learners should learn how to compose clear and appropriate messages tailored for particular audiences, sharing, collaborating, editing and adapting, as required. Opportunities should also be offered for them to collaborate locally and globally through digital platforms in order to increase awareness and understanding of different languages and cultures. Using technology when learning about literature can help learners deepen their understanding beyond the text in front of them.
Creativity and innovation
Learning in this Area should provide opportunities to experiment with and use languages creatively in order to give learners the confidence to take risks, to express opinions and to generate ideas across languages that can lead to innovative outcomes. They can develop their creativity through opportunities to create and perform literature. Creative expression can enhance learners’ understanding of the key concepts as well as the method of expression itself.
Critical thinking and problem-solving
In this Area listening, reading, speaking and writing should underpin the development of critical thinking and problem-solving. These skills can be honed by communicating with others in order to understand situations and articulate ideas and to develop responses to problems.
Learners should develop their personal effectiveness and self-awareness when learning and using their languages, which will in turn support learning across the whole curriculum. Providing a language-rich environment should support all learners to reflect on their own strengths in language use, and identify their own areas of development in order to continuously enhance their language and communication skills.
Planning and organising
Learning in this Area should enable learners to develop the skills to select and use appropriate sources and information. This should allow them to organise ideas, to create effective plans and to develop creative works. Given the opportunity to use literacy skills to present plans and implement solutions with clarity, learners can reflect on their work and plan and implement further improvements.
Specific considerations for this Area
The four statements of what matters in this Area refer to Welsh, English and international languages. The four statements should be considered holistically when designing the setting/school’s curriculum. They are interdependent, with each one supporting the development of the other three. All methods of communication including listening, reading, speaking and writing can be developed through literature and through exploring the links between languages, culture and identity. Each statement recognises that learning skills and knowledge in one language can strengthen the knowledge and learning of those skills in all subsequent languages.
Key principles when designing your curriculum for this Area
Settings and schools will need to plan to ensure all learners make appropriate progress in Welsh, in English and in international languages. The concept of a language learning continuum underlies progression in this Area. Learners will progress from having little or no language skills and knowledge towards proficiency in the languages they learn at school. Learners will have varying proficiencies in their languages and when designing the setting/school’s curriculum for second and subsequent languages the early steps, such as grapheme-phoneme correspondence, will need careful consideration.
Descriptions of learning for ‘Languages connect us’ are common to all learners in all schools in Wales.
Descriptions of learning for the other three statements of what matters in this Area are presented to reflect the pace and depth in different language learning contexts. Settings/schools will need to consider the descriptions of learning for Welsh most suited to their learners. As well as learners in Welsh-medium settings and schools, the pace and depth of progression in Welsh shown in the Welsh/English descriptions of learning may also be the most suitable for some learners in English-medium schools who, for example, have attended a cylch meithrin or have transferred from a Welsh-medium school to an English-medium school.
Progression in international language(s) is shown in descriptions of learning for Progression steps 3, 4 and 5. In addition to Welsh and English, all learners should have the opportunity to learn at least one international language at school and to use other home languages and community languages they may speak. Settings and schools should encourage learners to use their plurilingual skills and learners should recognise the value of being able to use different languages.
The choice of which international languages to offer lies with the school or cluster. Schools may choose to offer different international languages – language learning skills are transferable, and learners can enhance their linguistic and intercultural awareness by being exposed to multiple languages. Settings and schools may wish to collaborate with others, for example to offer continuity in the language offered from one progression step to the next or so that learners have more choice of international languages. They may choose to offer languages which are spoken by staff at the school or by the wider community. They should take advantage of opportunities globally, digitally and in the community to reinforce the learning and teaching of languages.
The Five Stage Model for English as an additional language (EAL) and Welsh as an additional language (WAL) and support materials should be referenced when considering progression of EAL learners in English-medium schools and WAL learners in Welsh-medium schools. The Language acquisition needs assessment survey toolkit for primary and secondary teachers is available online on Hwb.
Key considerations when designing your curriculum for this Area
When designing your curriculum in your school, consideration should be given to the nature of your language provision as well as the range of linguistic and cultural experiences you offer your learners. Schools should also plan for skills development in all the languages on offer and ensure breadth and depth when selecting literature.
Considerations for provision and experiences
- What is the current linguistic landscape of your school and your cluster? How can you best use this to help your learners make progress in all their languages?
- How will you choose which international language or languages to teach? How will you provide breadth and depth in international languages?
- How will you provide suitable and sufficient opportunities for learners to use their Welsh, English and international language(s) in purposeful contexts?
- How will you create an environment which encourages learners to draw upon their knowledge of a number of languages, including knowledge of language varieties (accent, dialect, register, jargon, and idiolect) to facilitate understanding and improve communication when interacting with others?
- How will you develop strategies to include and build upon learners’ home languages and cultures in the classroom?
- How will you provide opportunities for learners to participate in spontaneous as well as planned speaking in various contexts with a range of peers and adults?
- How will you provide learners with a wide range of literature, including multimodal and challenging texts in paper, digital, electronic and live form, fostering their enjoyment of purposeful reading and viewing, and encouraging them to explore books and new technologies?
Considerations for language development
- How will you ensure that all learners continue to progress in all their languages from their different starting points?
- How will you provide opportunities to connect with others in different parts of the world to offer authentic contexts for language and cultural development?
- How will you ensure rich language environments for all learners, including multilingual environments, face-to-face, via digital or written language(s), as a model for improving their own language skills?
- How will you provide a systematic development of phonological awareness and phonemic awareness?
- How will you support reading development for all learners?
- What relevant, engaging, authentic and challenging stimuli can you provide to inspire and aid preparation for purposeful speaking and writing (indoors, outdoors, through visits/trips, etc.)?
- How will you provide opportunities for learners to make progress both in learning to talk and learning through talk?
- How will you ensure that knowledge and skills in one language are transferred to and developed in other languages?
Considerations when selecting literature
- Learners should experience a wealth of literature which provides opportunities to realise the four purposes of the curriculum.
- Schools should create a positive reading culture which immerses learners in literature that reflects their interests and ignites their enthusiasm.
- Learners should be exposed to a diverse range of literary experiences beyond the classroom.
- Learners should be introduced to literature which reflects diversity and cultures in the locality, Wales as well as the wider world.
- Schools should choose literature which is sufficiently rich and substantial to engage learners intellectually and emotionally and which can encourage them to be inspired, moved and changed.
- Schools should ensure that learners experience a range of contemporary literature and literature from different periods in the past.
Learners should have the opportunity to experience and to learn about literature and creators of literature which have made a significant contribution, be that in Wales (in Welsh/English), other nations in the United Kingdom, and/or the wider world (including English literature and literature in learners’ international and home languages). This contribution might be in terms of a field of literature, in terms of the language, or in terms of culture and heritage.
Pedagogical considerations for this Area
When designing your curriculum, consideration should be given to pedagogies specific to this Area. Effective learning and teaching of skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing require a systematic whole-school approach, as do cross-linguistic skills such as mediation and translanguaging. Schools should also be aware of the differences between acquisition and learning first, second and subsequent languages in their contexts and consider how best to ensure progression for all learners in all their languages, for example through immersion, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) or plurilingual activities.
Further information can be found at:
At the earliest stages, learning to read is dependent upon the spoken language that learners have. Developing good listening and speaking skills is therefore vital to success in learning to read.
Young learners may be familiar with storybooks, nursery rhymes and print when they start funded education. Some will have started to recognise single letters and words. Others, however, will have much more limited experience of using language, sharing stories, songs and rhymes with adults. In some cases, learners may have general or specific learning needs. They may also be learning to read in a language that is different from their spoken language. These different starting points and experiences mean settings and schools need to make informed decisions about how they will help learners to become successful readers.
Learners should gain early reading skills within a rich language environment, where activities are meaningful, imaginative and varied. These activities should promote learners’ interest in reading for enjoyment, for imaginative purposes and for learning.
Research recognises phonological and phonemic awareness as important cognitive skills in learning to read. Schools should put in place a clear procedure for, and place emphasis on, the systematic development of learners’ phonological and phonemic awareness. When appropriate for a learner, the teaching of phonics should be systematic and consistent, and take place with other language activities, which promote vocabulary-building and comprehension.
Being able to decode words alone is not enough; readers need to be able to make sense of what they read. Teaching should enable learners to gain a range of skills and to apply different strategies in order to become fluent readers. This should provide them with a secure basis for developing and extending their language and literacy skills.
The following are provided as examples of how you could explore different topical learning in this Area. These are illustrations only.
Increased knowledge of languages can unlock the stories and histories of place names such as Cymru (and Wales) itself, or Glasgow in Scotland or Trelew in Argentina. A range of literature from writers and poets as diverse as T.H. Parry Williams, Shakespeare, Manon Steffan Ros , Eric Ngalle Charles and Russell T. Davies offers different perspectives and interpretations of Wales and Welsh experiences which could inspire learners to express their own identity and understand changes over time in society. Being able to communicate effectively using both Welsh and English and at least one other international language supports learners to be active and successful citizens of Wales and the world.
Key links with other Areas
Developing effective communication and literacy skills as well as learning about etymology within this Area should facilitate progression in all areas of learning and experience by giving learners better access to information, concepts and terminology.
Expressive Arts disciplines can be used as a vehicle for learners to develop languages, literacy and communication including through visual literacy, creative thinking and creative writing, understanding audience and purpose and adapting language for audience, performance poetry, drama, film, multimedia, role play and song. Experiences of literature in all its forms across these two Areas enable the learner to develop cultural empathy and sensitivity.
These two Areas link together to provide learners with the skills to effectively communicate which in turn provide a foundation for developing healthy relationships. Physical and cognitive development will impact on the acquisition of speech and language and the development of fine motor movements, such as handwriting. Literacy skills allow learners to explore texts related to health and well-being. Reading and writing for pleasure also provides opportunities to improve the learner’s sense of well-being.
Languages and literature play a vital role in identity and can help to shape and influence the development of communities and societies. Literature provides valuable evidence for, and can be a focus of, enquiries in humanities. Learners can explore literature from a range of cultures and societies, in the past and present, from their locality, Wales and the world.
Songs and rhymes can be used to teach early numeracy in all languages. Finding and applying patterns for problem-solving is a skill required for progress in these two Areas.
Digital communication and computer languages offer opportunities for links to reinforce learning across these two Areas. Learners apply literacy skills such as instructional and observational language in Science and Technology, as well as accessing and producing texts and accurately using technical and scientific vocabulary. Design communication skills bring these two Areas together both in developing learners’ design thinking as well as communicating their ideas to others.
Local, national and international contexts in this Area
Learning in this Area should inspire and enable learners to:
- become multilingual, able to use Welsh, English and at least one international language, and develop an openness to and curiosity about all languages and cultures of the world
- enjoy learning languages and develop a positive perception of themselves as users of those languages
- competently utilise the language(s) and culture(s) of their homes and communities and use these as a foundation for subsequent language learning
- have a firm foundation in Welsh and English to build on when learning other languages and when broadening their understanding of national and global contexts
- reflect on their personal and local linguistic heritage
- become knowledgeable about the diversity of local, national and international linguistic and cultural heritage
- develop their own sense of linguistic identity within their locality, Wales and the wider world. Whether learners and their families have been born in Wales or not, the learners being educated in a school in Wales will over time develop a relationship with Wales and their own sense of Welsh identity as well as with the wider world
- immerse themselves in local, national and international cultures and languages through visits, engaging with people locally and globally and connecting digitally
- foster an understanding of the culture and identity of those around them, to develop mutual respect and social cohesion
- develop an appreciation of literature, inspired by writers and creators of Wales and the wider world.
Careers and work-related experiences in this Area
When designing a curriculum, settings and schools should incorporate opportunities for learners to have experiences that enable them to:
- develop knowledge of enhanced career opportunities available through languages
- understand that being bilingual or multilingual can open doors in the world of work
- understand the increasing demand for Welsh in the workplace as Wales works towards the target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050
- value their Welsh language skills and to develop these skills further
- understand that skills in international languages are essential for Wales to thrive as an international trading nation
- develop effective communication skills in all their languages and develop confidence to interact with others and build relationships in all places of work
- develop language associated with work when learning all languages
- explore how their language skills can benefit them as they prepare for agile and flexible working in Wales and beyond.
Human rights education and diversity in this Area
Practitioners should use the opportunities within this Area to foster and develop learners’ respect and empathy for others’ languages and identities, while celebrating and respecting similarities and differences. Multilingualism within the classroom should be seen as an opportunity to raise learners’ awareness of diversity and promote the cultural wealth of the school and community.
Schools should seek involvement with the home and other settings and to promote partnerships. Supporting the development of home languages can help to promote and develop trust, appreciation and respect across languages and cultures.
Descriptions of learning