The Progression in Primary Languages Research Project

About the project

The Progression in Primary Languages project, led by Dr Rowena Kasprowicz (University of Reading), is a longitudinal research study exploring language learning in primary school. The aim of the study is to build a detailed picture of language learning throughout Key Stage 2 and explore the individual, instructional and contextual factors that influence language learning in primary school classrooms in England.

Working in collaboration with Dr Rachel Hawkes, the project team are supported by project partners including the Association for Language Learning, the National Centre for Excellence in Languages Pedagogy, and the Research in Primary Languages network.

The project is funded through a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.


Longitudinal study of progression

Despite the clear intention within the National Curriculum for Foreign Languages, that children “should make substantial progress in one language” (DfE, 2013), there is a lack of clarity and only limited guidance available for schools regarding core content and learning outcomes for primary languages. Consequently, there is uncertainty regarding what “substantial progress” looks like in the primary languages classroom, leading to considerable variation in provision across different schools and languages, which has a knock-on effect as children transition from primary to secondary school.

Through a 4-year longitudinal study, the Progression in Primary Languages project will examine young learners’ language development in French, German and Spanish over four years of learning at primary school in England. Beginning in January 2023, pupils from our partner schools (whose language provision is ‘optimal but realistic’ for this context, i.e. offering 45-60 minutes of teaching per week following a defined scheme of work) will complete a set of language activities twice per year, which will measure the development of their language knowledge, including understanding and use of phonics, vocabulary and grammar, as well as listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in the target language.

The data generated through the longitudinal study will help to identify realistic learning outcomes and benchmarks for primary languages, following on from key recommendations in the Research in Primary Language network’s 2019 White Paper.

Partner Schools for German

We are still recruiting Partner Schools for the German strand of the project and are keen to hear both from schools who already have German teaching in place and those who would be keen to introduce German using the teaching resources created through the project. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more: [email protected]


KS2 German SoW and Resources

As part of the project, the team are working with Dr Rachel Hawkes on the creation of a fully resourced scheme of work for KS2 German. All resources are free to useeditable and include embedded audio to support delivery. The first set of resources for Year 3/4 Autumn term are already available via the project website with Year 5/6 Autumn resources being added over the next few weeks, and Spring and Summer terms to follow. The resources can be accessed here: KS2 German Scheme of Work and Resources

We would love to hear from you if you and your school are interested in using the new resources, so feel free to get in touch: [email protected]


The Wider Context: Perceptions of Primary Languages

We are also keen to better understand the wider context of primary languages teaching in England. To that end, the project team have launched a survey to explore the views and perceptions of primary school teachers, teacher educators, and teacher trainees with regards to the Key Stage 2 Languages Programme of Study, approaches to assessment of primary languages and beliefs about language teaching at this level.

If you are a primary school teacher, teacher educator or trainee in England, we would love to hear from you! Thank you to everyone who has responded so far.

Teacher survey link:

Teacher educator survey link:

Trainee survey link:

For further information about the project and access to the resources, please visit the project website:

To get in touch with the project team, please contact us on: [email protected]