You could justify this approach depending on community needs and resources and sustainable staffing expertise, however, it is advisable to offer a Germanic language and one with a different script in order to deliver a broad and rich Discovering Language experience. See our Community languages resource document.

In certain situations, schools may consider teaching the same language to all Key Stage 2. This could be:

  1. For a short period eg. a week, when there is an opportunity to have one or more visitors to the school who speak or sign!) a new language. This visitor could visit classes in turn and there could be a specific assembly for parents to celebrate this language (see suggestions for supporting a community native speaker for short language projects).
  2. There could be a historical or topical reason for all of KS2 to learn one language for a short period. For example if the World Cup or Olympic Games are being held in a specific country, a school could use online or community resources to learn something about that country's language.
  3. Very small schools or schools with an unpredictable or uneven cohort may need to create a rolling programme of four languages, with one dominant language per year. (see DL guidelines for mixed age planning*)

No. This model is designed to give schools maximum flexibility. Your choice will depend on the languages already spoken in the school, the availability of teaching materials, the expertise of the teachers on the staff and the geographical and social context of the school.

In order to develop a broad, rich, multilingual curriculum, a school could choose, for example:

  • French and/or Spanish and/or Italian from the ‘Romance’ languages
  • German, or perhaps Dutch, from the Germanic languages
  • An Indian language such as Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi or Gujerati
  • Welsh as an example of a Celtic language
  • Russian or Polish from Eastern Europe
  • Japanese or Chinese from the Asian language families
  • Latin for its historical and linguistic underpinning of the modern world

Assessment will depend on how your curriculum is structured and what you consider to be the key learning you want all pupils to acquire. This might include assessing pupils’ ability to transfer knowledge about language structures to other languages, identifying patterns in vocabulary, decoding strategies, confidence in pupils’ approach to meeting new languages, and key cultural understanding about different countries. 

See Discovering Language’s suggested transition portfolio demonstrating experience, knowledge and skills gained over the four years of primary languages ensuring pupils are ready for Key Stage 3 languages – whichever language they will be learning ( insert link to portfolio presentation)

From Ofsted's Education Inspection Framework, 2019: 

  • "If pupils learn within a well-sequenced, well- constructed curriculum, they are making progress
  • When new knowledge and existing knowledge connect in pupils’ minds, this gives rise to understanding" 
Progression will be evidenced from the way you have planned and sequenced your curriculum. Progression will be built in through:
  • the increasing difficulty in the choice of language,
  • how you are layering the grammatical structures in each language 
  • the increasing cognitive demands for exploring patterns in vocabulary across languages including English
  • Pupils’  increasing confidence and knowledge e.g.: using grammatical terms correctly, transferring language learning skills, seeing a language in the context of a language family, reinforcing knowledge and understanding of English 
  • Progression in the ‘final’ language of year 6 through deeper understanding and application of strategies
There is a separate document linked to progression in language learning under this approach ( insert link)
See also Discovering Language overview.

The Discovering Language (DL) approach has two distinct benefits in supporting the progress of disadvantaged pupils.

Firstly, Key Stage 2 teachers will be reinforcing the literacy that has already been met in English, through revisiting grammatical structures and patterns in different languages and linking back to English.

Secondly, the emphasis in Years 3 and 4 on oracy in DL supports pupils with their speech and vocabulary acquisition. The opportunities for building vocabulary through exposure to cognates in different languages, and looking at patterns, can support vocabulary acquisition.

 EAL pupils should never be taken out of a languages class eg for extra Engish. EAL pupils often shine in a languages class as they have implicit knowledge of what is required to learn a new language

See the PowerPoint resource which you can use or edit for staff and governors

Parents may traditionally expect pupils to be learning one language.  However, the opportunity to celebrate community languages and integrate pupils’ language learning into wider curriculum themes is appreciated by parents. Once the purpose of this model is explained, they accept and welcome this broader approach. 

Governors will want to see primary languages integrated into a coherent primary curriculum and not delivered as an ‘add-on’ which is inconsistent. The Discovering Language (DL) approach is referenced in ASCL’s information paper Supporting Foreign Languages in your School: A guide for governors in primary schools

This presentation will guide you through the main features of DL and can be used with parents, governors and colleagues.

The national curriculum says "pupils should make substantial progress in one language"; surely this can't happen in a Discovering Language (DL) model?

There has been no nationally accepted definition of what is meant by 'substantial progress' in one language. Many one-language models see ' substantial progress' as:
•    Y6 pupils reaching a good level of full sentence capacity both spoken and written
•    Y6 pupils having considerable vocabulary knowledge in this single language. 

With linguist Key Stage 2 teachers and an adequate weekly timetabling, this progress is a possibility. However, as shown by the 2019 RiPL report, limited teacher skills, short timetable time, mixed ability and mixed age classes have all  contributed to limited progress by Y6, even in one language over four years.

Following a DL sequence over four years, substantial progress can be reached in the final language. This will differ from a one language model, but, in the long run will be more beneficial to a pupil's future language learning.
DL encourages schools to see substantial progress in the final language as pupils leaving Y6:
•    being able to understand, speak, read and write short sentences, including several Q and A structures,
     using a small, confident vocabulary 
•    demonstrating a capacity to be more independent and confident language learners in this final language,
      o    adapting grammar knowledge from English and other languages to this new language  
      o    transferring existing dictionary and memory skills and other language learning strategies 
      o    immediate phonic awareness (spoken and written) as to similarities and differences to English and
            other languages
      o    looking for cognates and patterns 'discovered' from English and other previously studied and community

DL schools are encouraged to work towards this definition of substantial progress in the Y6 (or Y5/6) final language.  

Discovering Language (DL) describes an increasingly complex sequenced development of language knowledge, strategies, and skills that can be covered over the four years of Key Stage 2.

In this sequenced development, languages will change according to school's choices. Guidance is given over the outline language and grammar content, as well as learning strategies and skills, appropriate to the level of each year group. The fine detail of content will depend upon the language chosen as well as support resources used and the medium and short-term planning associated with this content will be developed by individual schools. Schools should develop independent schemes of work for each language, showing progression in outcomes as pupils move up KS2.

If we consider a scheme of work as a plan describing work done in a classroom over a period of time, DL cannot be as detailed as this, as it is non-language, non-content specific. 

Please contact ASCL at 0116 299 1122 or email for further information and presentations on the Discovering Language model in schools. 

A multilingual approach offers a solution to transition issues and this is one of the main benefits of the Discovering Language (DL) approach.

The burden of trying to prepare your pupils for specific languages in specific secondary schools is removed. Your Year 6 pupils will go to a range of secondary schools according to parental preference. These secondary schools may well offer French, Spanish, German or Mandarin or Japanese as first languages in Year 7.

Whichever secondary school your pupils transfer to, you will have given them a strong foundation in language learning, a body of knowledge and a skill set which will give pupils the capacity to embrace the challenge of Year 7 languages.  

It may be possible for primary and secondary colleagues to work on the co-creation of a Year 6 scheme of work in one language, which can be built on in an effective way in Year 7. This avoids repetition and ensures an upward gradient of learning from primary through to secondary language learning.


  • Pupils are equipped with a wide range of language learning strategies – ready for whatever language in Year 7.
  • Pupils are engaged with language learning and enjoy learning new languages.
  • Pupils have experienced and have a developing understanding of several grammatical features across languages.

Pupils are increasingly internationally-minded and enthused about learning new languages. They particularly enjoy being language detectives, identifying patterns in languages and making links between languages and their own language. There are increasing numbers of pupils in primary schools who are in bilingual households, so it is natural to be exposed to various languages. 

Celebrating milestones when learning languages gives pupils a sense of progression and this is an important factor in language learning. The multilingual model offers the opportunity to celebrate milestones after each language. ( DILL document link – work in progress ) 

Our overview document provides further information.

In addition, Ofsted are likely to want to ask some of the following questions:

  • What does your curriculum design look like?
  • How do you sequence your curriculum in the long term (across Years 3 to 6), in the medium term and weekly?
  • How do you ensure your curriculum builds on prior knowledge and shows progress?
The outline model shows the sequencing of languages which demonstrates progression within each language module, tackling progressively more difficult languages, an understanding of linguistic concepts and building on knowledge about how language works, then working towards ‘substantial progress’ in the final language in Year 6.

The model takes care to define and address the requirement for substantial progress in one language:
What skills do you want children to be proficient in? What knowledge and skills do you want pupils to retain?
There are a number of strategies and skills pupils will have gained from a DL approach. 
-     pupils will have developed skills in using  a bilingual dictionary for a range of languages
-    pupils will be armed with strategies to read and listen carefully  and decode meanings in a range of languages
-     pupils will have a curiosity about  words  so that they can ask the right questions about any language they may meet in the future ( insert link for transition document)
-    Pupils develop skills in listening across a range of languages
-    Pupils will be able to apply their understanding of using phonics to other languages other than just one foreign language
Pupils will have a distinct body of knowledge to lay foundations for their future   language learning:
-    pupils will have an understanding of a range of grammatical features across several languages through frequent revisiting and repetition of the building blocks of language learning
-    The DL approach believes that the native English speaker is more in need of language learning skills than an ' in-depth' look at a single language
-    Pupils will have reinforced their knowledge of identified literacy strategies
-    Pupils display foster an enduring enthusiasm for language in its cultural and social context
Why are you teaching that particular topic at that time of year? Choosing what to include in your curriculum, and when, could include exploiting cross-curricular opportunities, community links and cultural celebrations  or a careful augmentation in the degree of difficulty of each language.

What is the impact of a multi-lingual approach?
  • Pupils  are engaged with language learning and are enjoy learning new languages
  • Pupils have experience of transferring their knowledge about simple grammar concepts to different languages
  • Pupils can apply their understanding of using phonics to other languages other than just one foreign language
  • Where a ‘community’ or ‘home’ language is introduced to all pupils, pupils celebrate the school’s context and cultural references 
  • Pupils develop skills in using a bilingual dictionary for a range of languages
  • Pupils are armed with strategies to read, listen to and decode meanings in a range of languages
  • Through making links across languages pupils’ can increase their vocabulary in their home language as well as new languages

Young children are very enthusiastic and love learning foreign languages. They find it fun and they enjoy discovering new worlds and new ways of saying things.

Learning a foreign language has the potential to awaken a lifelong interest in foreign languages.

Pupils enjoy learning about another culture and its language: learning about children in other countries: what they do, how like/unlike them they are, how they speak.

Learning a foreign language helps children with their literacy skills in English - see this article in 
Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS)  here 

This approach can support pupils moving between schools in Key Stage 2 as pupils develop transferable skills for learning new languages. 

The principal audience for Discovering Language (DL) is the generalist Key Stage 2 teacher. Even in a monolingual model (for example, French or Spanish over four years), pupils can ask ‘deep’ questions which teachers would need A level equivalent knowledge to answer.

The classroom style encouraged by the DL approach is one of co-learning rather than knowledge transmission. Experienced DL teachers find there are excellent internet links to help them research most of the queries that may arise. It is important that teachers use quality sound files to support the language as suggested in our resources section.

Note that DL advocates that teachers do have an A level equivalent in the Year 5/6 language, building up to sentence/ text level and using quality resources with native speaker (children’s) voices. Schools may need to readjust staffing or work alongside language specialists to achieve this level of language expertise.

This approach, due to its flexibility and diversity, is ideal if teachers are changing the year groups that they teach or moving schools.

Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework 2019 focuses on the substance of education – the curriculum.

Inspectors will want to see how the school’s curriculum can impact positively on pupils, communities and the needs of your pupils. Inspectors will be interested in what is driving your curriculum plan for languages? Is it ambitious?

The opportunities to build a rich, deep and  well-structured language learning experience which is fully integrated into a school’s whole curriculum plan is evident in the Discovering Language (DL) model. The aim of a DL curriculum model is to create keen, curious and fearless language learners, armed with strategies for learning new languages  and ready to embrace the challenges of language learning in Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 , whatever their new language.

Further resources are available here

One of the strengths of this approach to primary languages is that it can be delivered by any Key Stage 2 teacher. All primary teachers are literacy trained, and this expertise is useful for maximising literacy links, reinforcing grammatical structures and supporting pupils to use phonics and graphemes when meeting new vocabulary. The classroom teacher is also best placed to make links across the curriculum. 

By Year 6, where the intention is to reach ‘sentence and short levels’, a teacher would be expected to have an A level equivalent in this language. Where there’s an experienced linguist on the staff, their expertise should be used flexibly.

Related Pages

Supporting Pupils with Home, Heritage and Community Languages (primary)

  • Inclusion
  • Curriculum
  • Primary
  • MFL
  • Key Stage 1
  • Key Stage 2
  • Parents
  • Guidance

Supporting Pupils with Home, Heritage and Community Languages (primary)

  • Inclusion
  • Curriculum
  • Primary
  • MFL
  • Key Stage 1
  • Key Stage 2
  • Parents
  • Guidance

Curriculum and Assessment Committee

  • Council
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Curriculum
  • Assessment