As you work through the EARLY START materials, you will find many times when it pays to establish a link with a primary school in a country whose language you are learningp. It will give your children a real opportunity, not only to use their language to communicate and swap information, but also to motivate them and feed their curiosity about how other people live - and also to see themselves as others see them...

Finding a suitable partner:
Some teachers find a partner school through personal contacts - often through town twinning. There are a lot of advantages in cementing a link that involves many other groups and individuals in your community..

Be an e-Twin!
The EU's eTwinning website is free to use and has a databaase of schools who wish to form partnerships. There is help to get you started. Look at the case studies to see what other schools are doing.
www.etwinning.net

Help from the British Council
The Global Gateway  is an international website, enabling those involved in education across the world to engage in creative partnerships. It is a one-stop-shop, providing quick access to comprehensive information on how to develop an international dimension to education your school offers.

To find a partner school in a country where they speak the language, access some excellent teaching materials or to find out what the global dimension is all about. - go to http://www.globalgateway.org. You can browse for overseas schools seeking partners, or register your details for others to see. There is also information on funding (but don't get excited!)

Global gateway
Click to go to http://www.globalgateway.org

For a link with a school in a country outside Europe, you'll find details of the UK Government's Global School Partnerships Programme which encourages the international dimension in education, through links with Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Virtual links
Partnerships can be developed initially through links by e-mail, fax or posted letters - not forgetting the possibilities of, for example, faxing pictures drawn by children, and sending parcels of everyday objects.

The European Schools Project promotes email/telecomm links between primary and secondary schools in 26 countries,: www.europeanschoolsproject.org.

The Montageplus website http://www.britishcouncil.org/montageworld offers a range of user-friendly curriculum project ideas focussing on the use of new technologies for use internationally across all age ranges.

Pupil-to-pupil links
Experience suggests class-to-class links usually work better, but if this suits your circumstances, try the schools' website ePALS which operates pass-word protected chatrooms and monitored e-mail accounts used by 4.5 million students and teachers in 191 countries -
www.epals.com.

Setting up a joint project
Embarking on a cross-curriculum project with your French partners is an ideal way to stimulate communication between pupils and staff - though perhaps a bit ambitious if this is your first go at an international link.

EU Comenius funding is available for projects involving several schools from different countries - see www.britishcouncil.org/socrates.

Your local Language College is funded to support language learning "in the community", which includes local primary schools. The College can also take advantage of the Specialist Schools Trust (SST) programme that assists links with European schools - www.lc-se.net.

Teacher visits
Set up your link activities with a face-to-face meeting. Look for funding for a trip to meet with your new French partners and to see each other's schools and local area at
http://www.wotw.org.uk.

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Virtual visits by video-conferencing ?

More schools are enjoying video-conferencing links - it is easier for young beginners to communicate - despite their small vocabulary - with a combination of moving image and spoken as well as written language.

For ideas about using video-conferencing within a joint project with a partner school, or to bring a foreign expert or place of interest into your classroom, contact the Video-conferencing in the Classroom Project. They give technical and educational advice, run training, help find partners and can even lend you equipment.

They also have a dairy of video-conference events on offer from various providers around the world - see www.global-leap.com for more---->

... or an actual visit overseas?

It will help motivate many children to learn a language if they know that, later on in the school year, they will be meeting with the children from their partner school.

For most primary schools, a short trip is the most practical way of visiting the country - which is why we make information available particularly about the region closest to the Channel ports and the Tunnel - known as 'Nord - Pas-de-Calais':

"The other side": is a website to help you plan school trips to northern France - with masses of extra cultural information: www.theotherside.co.uk

Health & safety
https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationDetail/Page1/DFES-0566-2002 - useful info. on UK Government Health & Safety requirements for educational visits, including Guide for Organisers (downloadable). - essential reading to help you avoid the perils of an ill-prepared trip abroad with children.

School visit
Many school organise visits abroad - careful planning minimises risk and increases the value of the trip.

Bringing native-speakers into the classroom

There is also the possibility of bringing people who speak the language into your classroom from amongst visitors to the local community, and people who live or work locally who are native speakers. If there are foreign companies in your area, they may be willing to help.

It is also worth exploring the idea of having a "language assistant" for a few hours a week - probably shared with other schools, because there is a cost. Foreign Language Assistants' (FLAs) are foreign graduates training to teach English in their own country.

Information for Schools and Local Education Authorities about the Foreign Language Assistants scheme' is on the British Council website,http://www.britishcouncil.org/languageassistants-uk-schools-and-authorities.htm