The English sometimes get a bad name for refusing to learn foreign languages while expecting everyone else to learn theirs.
But youngsters at a pre-school in Cosham are breaking the stereotype as they relish the opportunity to learn French songs and phrases.
Abacus Pre-School, based in St Colman’s Church, has started French lessons for 38 two to five-year-olds and so far the feedback has been excellent.
Siobhan Titley, pre-school leader, says: ‘It’s really exciting to see the children having so much fun in French class and joining in the singing and playing games.
‘At this young age they absorb so much and are enthusiastic as long as you make learning fun.
‘My daughter Mollie is five and she’s only just started learning French at school, but she complains that she finds it boring – even five is too late to start learning a language.
‘Hopefully our youngsters will leave the pre-school with a love of French and a curiosity to explore other languages.
‘Learning languages opens up the door to other cultures and when they grow older it will mean a lot more opportunities for them.
‘I know the English have a tendency towards being lazy and possibly even arrogant about learning other languages, but we’re living in a globalised world and we can’t expect everyone else to speak English all the time.’
The French lessons are run by nursery teacher Elisabeth Robic. The French national and qualified teacher visits once a week.
Their introduction in Easter coincided with a drive to increase physical activity.
Two hours a week are now set aside for each child to exercise – either through taking part in obstacle courses, races or even playing musical chairs.
Siobahn adds: ‘We want to give the youngsters a rounded and exciting education at this crucial point in their lives.
‘With the rising number of obese children we thought it would be a good idea to put in place fixed times for exercises.
‘The early years curriculum is based around free play, but some children don’t choose to be physically active.
‘Here at Abacus we are always looking at new ways in which we can enhance the children’s enjoyment and learning.’