Modern Language Learning

The Scottish Government wants every child to start learning two modern languages in primary school, in addition to English by the year 2020. Antonine has therefore been developing our modern language curriculum. Last year we introduced French from Primary 1 through to Primary 7 and this year we selected to develop Makaton as our second modern language.

What is Makaton?

Makaton is a language programme, which uses signs, symbols and speech to help children and adults communicate. It is designed to support spoken language (both to help understanding and expression) and the signs and symbols are used with speech in spoken word order.

Why did the school choose Makaton?

Our school community selected Makaton as our second modern language because it is very inclusive and will help many of our children communicate. The Makaton programme can be used with autistic children, children with learning difficulties and children new to English.

Makaton is used in society by people with all sorts of communication difficulties – not just those with learning difficulties but also many with a communication difficulty arising from a stroke or a tracheotomy, for example.
Through learning Makaton Antonine pupils will have developed invaluable knowledge, skills and understanding that will assist them in life, learning and perhaps work.

What is the difference between Makaton and other sign and symbol systems?

There are a variety of sign-only systems and symbol-only systems that provide a means to communicate.
The Makaton Programme takes signs from British Sign Language (BSL) and uniquely designed Makaton symbols, and arranges them to match the spoken and written sequence of English.
Makaton is unique because it combines signs, symbols and speech.

Is Makaton used around the world?

Extensively used all over the UK, Makaton has been adapted for use in many other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Poland, Russia, Spain, USA and Zimbabwe.

How will my child learn Makaton in school?

We aim to ensure Makaton learning is motivating, relevant and appropriate to your child’s language level.  Your child will learn Makaton through general classroom use, specific teaching sessions, nursery rhymes, songs and games. Children will use their learning in class, assembly, throughout the school and outwith school.

All teaching staff had a full day of training during an in-service day in August 2016. The school community will work together this session to design and deliver a programme of Makaton learning.

In Antonine we have decided to teach the Primary 1-4 children four Makaton signs each school year, all related to practical classroom use. In Primary 5-7 the programme will provide more breadth and depth as the children learn a greater range of signs and corresponding symbols, and learn to use them in phrase and sentences.

The children will demonstrate understanding as follows;

  • Child will produce signs with gestural prompt i.e. imitates sign
  • Child will produce signs with verbal prompt
  • Child will produce sign appropriately in context, without prompting

Some children may not be able or be expected to use signs and the requirements will therefore be for them to demonstrate understanding in another way.

The school will monitor and track children’s Makaton learning. Later in the session we will gather feedback from pupils, parents and staff about the impact Makaton learning is having on children’s experiences and outcomes in school.

If you, or anyone you know, has a knowledge of Makaton and would be prepared to support the children’s learning in any way please contact the school.