OXFORDSHIRE’S first free school is offering a new style of education in the county.
Pupils at Culham’s Europa School are only speaking English for half their lessons.
That’s because all children learn in two languages from the very beginning.
Half the week is spent learning in English, while for the remaining two and a half days, every lesson from science to maths is taught in French or German.
The school, which opened earlier this month, has 164 children aged between four and six.
German Daniela Havenstein, who teaches the Year Two German stream, said after just four days learning in German: “It’s going much better than I expected.
“I had expected them to be slightly more anxious but they are not anxious at all and they don’t worry about being wrong or being corrected.”
Mrs Havenstein added: “It’s like being an actor, you are constantly inventing signs and having to think how can I act this out, what can I bring in.”
Rather than translate into English, every effort is made to help children understand using signs, flashcards, actions, and gestures.
Mrs Havenstein said: “The way to do it is to tap into what interests them. If they like to watch Spongebob Square-pants, then watch it in German.”
The state-funded school is set to be the first of a string of free schools in the county.
Tyndale Community School, in East Oxford, and Heyford Park Free School, in Upper Heyford, are both expected to open next September.
Principal Peter Ashbourne said: “We wanted to create a European programme not only for those already familiar with it, but also for those who never considered it because it was too expensive.
“We are making education something which everyone has access to.
“I’m sure other schools will follow suit.”
The pupils include children from bilingual or multilingual families, those with extended families from different countries and those who have no experience of other languages at all.
Klara Rainey, aged six, who has German grandparents, gets extra help in class as she has a visual impairment.
She said: “It’s harder to understand what the German teacher is saying because I don’t know very much German, but I know a few more words now so I can follow a bit more.
“I like it.”