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Top ten tips for Primary Language Learning

August 27th, 2015

If you’ve read the July edition of UKEDmagazine you may have read my article entitled Top ten tips for Primary Language Learning. If you haven’t, you can read the unedited version below or the official version at this link

Top ten tips for Primary Language Learning

A wide variety of people teach languages in Primary schools, probably more than in any other ‘subject’. Whether you’re a class teacher with or without language skills, a reluctant language coordinator or a visiting language specialist (to name but a few possibilities) here are my top ten tips for primary language teaching and learning.

  1. Phonics are vital

It doesn’t matter which language you teach, making the correct sounds of that language is key. Working on phonics from the start builds a strong foundation on which learners can build, enabling them to see new words and say them accurately. Have a look at Rachel Hawkes’ website where there are links to free resources covering French Spanish German and Italian. http://www.rachelhawkes.com/Resources/Phonics/Phonics.php

 

  1. Songs and rhymes motivate and teach

A good way to increase confidence in reading and speaking the language is by sharing songs, poems and rhymes. This is also a good way to reinforce phonic knowledge and explore the rhythms of the language. Mama Lisa has songs and rhymes in many languages, often with a sound file giving the correct pronunciation and a translation into English so you know what you’re saying! There are also many songs and rhymes on Youtube on channels such as Basho and Friends or by searching for the artist such as Alain le lait

 

  1. Dramatic stories

Using stories – in translation or original language – is another great tool for language learning as they are familiar and often very repetitive. My favourites include Oso pardo, ¿qué ves?, Le navet enorme and Kleiner weisser Fisch as they lend themselves to acting out (even Y6 like acting!) and are easy for learners to adapt into their own stories. For example, Y5 invented stories based on Le navet enorme that included a child who didn’t want to get in the bath and had to be pulled to the bathroom, a teacher stuck in the PE cupboard and a car that broke down and needed to be pushed.

 

  1. Technology has its place

There are many opportunities for using technology to enhance language learning such as recording, reviewing and refining speaking activities using Audacity or an app like VoiceRecordPro, or performing speeches and role plays using Tellagami, YakitKids, or Puppet Pals.  BookCreator app is an excellent tool for creating multimedia books including text, sound, video, hyperlinks, doodles and pictures; incredibly easy to use and suitable for young children as well as those who are less confident with technology. And why not use Build Your Wildself or Switchzoo to create hybrid animals then describe them in the language.

 

  1. Share!

Using technology is also a great way to enable sharing of the great things that go on in language learning. Whether it is via the school website or VLE, tweeted or shared on a class/school blog, celebrating language learning gives it status and also provides an audience and a purpose for learning. Additionally, learners are able to take their learning home with them digitally; the excitement of pupils when we made our first podcast nine or ten years ago was great. “I’m on my Gran’s iPod!” was my favourite comment.

 

  1. Use anything you can get your hands on

The primary classroom is full of things that can be used and adapted for language learning. Number fans are great for counting and also giving feedback with numbered images for example. Mini whiteboards allow learners to write and correct without committing it to paper as well as drawing images to show understanding of vocabulary or instructions. Unifix cubes can be used for ordering ideas or vocabulary and cushions make great impromptu puppets for speaking or islands for phoneme sorting!

 

  1. Grammar isn’t a dirty word

Primary learners are very familiar with grammatical terms and enjoy comparing the grammar of other languages, making links and finding differences. Sorting words into boxes according to gender, making human sentences to explore word order and creating verb flowers or spiders are just some ways of making grammar fun and memorable.

 

  1. Integrate language learning into the curriculum

Language learning shouldn’t be seen as a standalone but, as much as possible, integrated into the primary curriculum. As there is no prescribed content in the KS2 PoS, it’s possible to teach the skills through whatever topic if you use a little imagination. And where full integration is tricky or where a specialist delivers the lesson, a class teacher can always build language into routines such as PE warmups, lining up, the register and so on, even if their knowledge of the language is limited.

 

  1. Make links

Don’t just make cross curricular links, but also cross country and cross cultural links. Making contact with children that speak the language you’re learning is very motivating and gives a real purpose to learning. It also increases learners’ understanding of other cultures as well as considering their own in new ways. The British Council SchoolsOnline is a good place to start the search for partners.

 

  1. Celebrate all languages

Most of all, celebrate all languages. Many learners already speak more than one language which is a valuable skill. Encourage them to share how to say things in their languages; comparing and contrasting numbers or colours in a variety of languages is a fun activity as learners try to group similar words together.

This article first appeared in the July 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine

If you’d like to read more of the magazine that includes other articles about language learning including one of target language by @reebekwylie and Progress in MFL by @jakehuntonMFL the links are below.

You can buy a printed copy of the magazine by clicking here, or

Freely read online by clicking Here

The Midlands’ most influential Tweeter?

August 26th, 2015

IMG_4570I received this tweet from @lisacov19 whilst I was holiday, offering congratulations.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 15.57.10

I had no idea what I’d done – surely I wasn’t been congratulated on collecting owls? So had to check out the link which explained more.

Social media analysts Lissted have created a list of the top 250 Twitter accounts across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country which have with the biggest impact on the UK.

And it seems that I claimed 160th place. Of course, I then wanted to know who I’d superseded in ‘influence.’

So, apart from Black Sabbath (191st) and the Donkey Sanctuary (164th), I am more influential than Emma Jesson (ITV weather girl 196th) Bradley Will Simpson (frontman of The Vamps 187th), The Education Show (184th), Fifth Gear (177th) the Birmingham City FC newsroom (170th) Jaguar LandRover (167th) and Lloyds Pharmacy (162nd). I even beat The Bullring by one place – that pleased me!

And then onto the question of who’s more influential than me.

Birmingham Police and The Library of Birmingham are just ahead of me in 158th and 156th respectively. Ian Bell (cricketer 148th) CBSO (133rd) Birmingham Royal Ballet (131st) Ofqual (121st) Ed James (96th) DuranDuran (91st) Joleon Lescott (73rd – not beating him was a cause of much dismay to my boys!) The Gadget Show (55th) and Katherine Merry, 400m athletic hero of my childhood (although she never replaced Kathy Cook in my affections) in 50th all have more influence over

The top 49 can be found here. It includes paraolympian Ellie Simmonds, presenter Alison Hammond, various universities and quite few MPs ; in fact the top three are Liam Byrne (Labour MP for Hodge Hill), Michael Fabricant (Conservative MP for Lichfield) and number 1 is Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East and aspiring Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

I can’t find any teachers ahead of me. There are a few parenting bloggers – Mama Geek @zoecorkhill and @V82CHRIS are 103rd and 102nd and @mrsshilts and @ericahughes are 70th and 69th – and Paul Bradshaw who is a media lecturer at Birmingham City University as well as ‘a data journalist’ is 5th.

So does that make me the most influential tweeting teacher in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country?  

Perhaps I should add that to my presentation next time I talk about Twitter

 

Related posts:

eTwinning National Conference 2015 

#ililc5 Are you a twit or a tweep?

Twitter thoughts – the results

 

 

 

We’re on our way – Staffordshire Primary Languages conference: 26th June 2015

July 26th, 2015

keep-calm-we-re-on-our-way-10On Friday 26th June I attended the Entrust Primary Languages Conference in Stafford, organised and led by Lorna Harvey. Entitled ‘We’re on our way’, the day began with an excellent keynote from Clare Seccombe aka @valleseco and genius behind LightBulbLanguages.

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Sharing a title with the conference, Clare shared her ideas on the journeys involved in primary language learning – for the child, the teacher and as a nation. I love how Clare can express her ideas so well in images. I’ve tried to capture some of them in my sketch note below.

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You can read Clare’s presentation for yourself here – We’re on our way!

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There were a number of workshops during the day – I attended one on a cluster of schools who use a ‘language investigators’ approach to language learning in Y1-2 and 3-4 before focussing on one language in Y6. My sketch note is below along with a few images.

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IMG_4687Plan for Y1-2 IMG_4688I loved the pizza/paella Italian/Spanish numbers!
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The day was very much a celebration of a project between Stafford and Burgundy, and I’d been asked to speak after lunch about a similar partnership in which I’d been involved, between Birmingham and Barcelona. It was wonderful to prepare my presentation as it sparked so many amazing memories and caused me to reflect on where we’ve gone since the (official) end of the partnership. Below you can see my presentation (although without the video clips I’m afraid) and Clare kindly sketch noted it for me.

We had a brilliant presentation from pupils about their experiences as well as a culinary lesson based on tasting and making mustard. Great fun and with clear language goals too!

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I finished the day by presenting about using technology to enhance language learning. You can see my presentation below and access the notes, tutorials etc here.

Enhancing Primary Language Learning using Technology from Lisa Stevens

A great day – not much tweeting as I was too busy sketching or making mustard as was Clare, but here’s the Storify of the tweets anyway.

A great day – thanks Lorna!

PS Clare’s workshop – Be a crafty language teacher is explained here too!

eTwinning National Conference: 5th-7th June: NCTL #eTUK15

July 26th, 2015

¡Más vale tarde que nunca!

CG1N4BwW0AE2Jg9 IMG_4558 CG1N38ZWoAAjerf

The first weekend of June saw the annual National eTwinning Conference take place at NCTL in Nottingham. Once more it was a weekend of learning, laughter and (can’t think of another L) celebrating the wonders of collaboration across boundaries.
IMG_4570I spoke once more about Twitter – Are you a Twit or a Tweep? You can see my presentation here –  twitter nottingham – if you’re interested! And there’s an eTwinning guidance document as well: TwitterGuidelines (thanks to Erszi for the photograph!)

During the weekend, I continued to sketch note the sessions.

Below are my sketch notes interspersed with pictures and comments on the sessions!

IMG_4529 Happy 10th birthday eTwinning! The cake was delicious too!
Dinner the first night in our regions – odd grouping but it meant that I got to chat with Helena. And special thanks to Kevin for being such an amazing sunshade when the setting sun got in our eyes 😉 IMG_4527
IMG_4555 Really brilliant to see – and hear – Ewan McIntosh once more. A very important person in my ‘learning journey’, both as a language teacher and an eTwinner. A very thought provoking presentation – I think I’m captured the main points in the sketch note but you can check out the NoTosh website for more details!
An important thought that I wanted to capture! IMG_4534
IMG_4556 Ewan’s workshop ‘Diving Deep into Learning’ introduced us to Guy Claxton’s 3Rs and 3Cs, and also to ‘The Squid.’ Too much to take in at once, especially as the very first session had overrun so the session was truncated, but the materials are accessible from the NoTosh site!
And then on to Action Jackson – The Power of Motivation.  Lots of the session was really common sense that isn’t often considered or applied, but it was an empowering and sometimes emotional session! Certainly believed I. Am. Amazing. IMG_4553

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IMG_4544 Coming back after lunch, Action Jackson did a short reprise – this slide sums up what he was saying.
And then onto the wonderful Sugata Mitra who presented via video link about the future of learning. Interesting ideas about the future of teaching and learning, particularly about the role of the teacher, and moving away from subject boxes. IMG_4552

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IMG_4551 Final session of the day was John Rolfe (standing in for Vicky Gough) and Joanna Speak talking about British Values and International Work. The conclusion they reached – and many of us concurred- was that British Values aren’t anything new, and actually are values that are held by many, not just the British! Great ideas and good to hear how Joanna’s link with Tabasco has developed.
Robin Hood and Maid Marion joined us for dinner!And Vikki Bruff was highly commended for her eTwinning project using Skype. IMG_4561
IMG_4568Lovely to see the LiPS girls, Erszi and Vikki – and Fatima too!
And good to see that selfies live on 😉IMG_4567

You can find out more about the weekend here and via the Storify, photos here and more presentations from the weekend here .

News this week that the NCTL is being sold off so not sure where next year’s conference will be. I’ll miss my pre-dinner early evening break by the lake!

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UnderstandingModernGov conference – June 16th 2015

July 26th, 2015

IMG_4621A little bit delayed by end of term madness…

On June 16th I travelled to London for a day long conference organised by UnderstandingModernGov on the subject of Primary Languages – “Successfully implement the new Primary Modern Foreign Languages curriculum”. It was great to see Janet, Sylvie, Nadine and Julie, and to meet all the delegates to spend a day exploring how we can effectively plan, manage and deliver languages to primary aged pupils.

My part of the day was all about using technology; you can see the presentation below, and you can also access links to tutorials etc here.

I sketch noted all the sessions as you can see below.

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Policy to practicality – Janet Lloyd

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Phonics and Literacy – Julie Prince

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Develop an innovative approach to Primary Language Teaching – Sylvie Barlett-Rawlings with Nadine Chadier


Additionally, you can see what Janet said on her blog.

And here’s the Storify of tweets from the day!

TeachMeetWMLanguages #tmwml

May 23rd, 2015
@simonehaughey

@simonehaughey

On May 6th I made the trip across Birmingham in rush hour traffic to attend TeachMeetWM organised by the irrepressible and absolutely bonkers Simone Haughey at her school Robin Hood Primary. I sadly missed the choir singing and the start of proceedings thanks to a staff meeting and the traffic, but I arrived in the end to be greeted by delicious Chinese food saved for me by Sim and lots of friendly faces including John Rolfe and AnaPaula Booth from the British Council, and the staff of Robin Hood who are obviously well used to Simone as they didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked if they had a couple of hula hoops I could borrow!

There were many great presentations on the night including a couple via video, and you can see what you missed by looking at the Storify of the tweets at the end of the post. However, my presentation is below as promised for those who were there. How I managed to explain it all in 7 minutes I do not know but I avoided being attacked with a cuddly toy! Do leave a comment if you have questions!

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia Week 4

May 10th, 2015
Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

I’ve just completed the final week of the FutureLearn MOOC, Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching. A little early but I wanted to get it done as I need to concentrate on report writing :(

This week focussed on phonological and orthographic awareness, skills that are needed for successful spelling, reading and comprehension. It underlined the need to move from word level to text level, and the value of shared reading, pre-reading/pre-teaching, and of constant checking of comprehension to avoid gaps in understanding being left unplugged.

Below are my sketch notes. I hope they’re useful!

4.3 - Developing phonological and phonemic awareness (Professor Joanna Nijawska)

4.3 – Developing phonological and phonemic awareness (Professor Joanna Nijawska)

4.6 - Multisensory tasks to teach spelling

4.6 – Multisensory tasks to teach spelling

4.8 - Helping children with reading comprehension difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

4.8 – Helping children with reading comprehension difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

4.10 - Developing dyslexic learners' reading skills (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

4.10 – Developing dyslexic learners’ reading skills (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

4.11 - Final advice

4.11 – Final advice

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia – Week 3

May 7th, 2015
Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

I’ve just completed Week 3 of the Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning course. This week focussed on teaching grammar and vocabulary to learners with dyslexia. Some dyslexic learners explained the techniques that did and didn’t work for them and how their learning environment affects their learning, some language teachers explained how they might teach grammar and vocabulary to dyslexic learners and we were challenged to mind map out learning and also design a task based on our learning so far.

Below are my sketch notes once more. I hope you find them helpful. I shared them in the comments section of the task on mind mapping as I think that sketch notes could be seen as mind maps with pictures. I certainly find them very helpful!

3.2 Dyslexic learners talk about learning strategies.

3.2 Dyslexic learners talk about learning strategies.

3.5 Teaching vocabulary and grammar (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

3.5 Teaching vocabulary and grammar (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

3.7 Multi sensory tasks for teaching grammar

3.7 Multi sensory tasks for teaching grammar

3.8 Multi sensory tasks for teaching vocabulary

3.8 Multi sensory tasks for teaching vocabulary

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia – Week 2

May 5th, 2015

 

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Week 2 of the course focussed on understanding what aspects of language learning dyslexic students might find difficult and how we can assist in making language learning more enjoyable and less challenging for these students by making accommodations.

Below are my sketch notes of the videos; I’m enjoying sketch noting and finding that my own ‘style’ is starting to develop. (Still not happy with my drawings but I’m getting better!)

2.2 - Dyslexic students talk about their experiences

2.2 – Dyslexic students talk about their experiences

2.3 - Foreign language learning and dyslexia (Margaret Crombie)

2.3 – Foreign language learning and dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)

2.6 - Accommodating dyslexic learners in the classroom (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

2.6 – Accommodating dyslexic learners in the classroom (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)

2.10 - Using IT to teach students with dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)

2.10 – Using IT to teach students with dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)

 

I’ve now caught up with posts from the last two weeks so the next post will be a few days on coming whilst I finish week 3!

If you follow me on Twitter, you can get a sneak preview as I post each sketch note as I complete it. Otherwise, ¡hasta pronto!

 

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching #FLdyslexia – Week 1

May 5th, 2015
Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

Image from www.dyslexialincs.co.uk

I’m currently doing a MOOC (massive open online course) with FutureLearn called Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching. It’s a four week course and is free to do. I know that quite a few people from my PLN, whether on Twitter or Facebook, are doing it too, and the participants represent a range of languages as well as phases.

It’s proving very interesting and I’m discovering that, whilst I do many of the things that are suggested as being helpful, I also do some unhelpful things that I thought would help.

To help me internalise things, I am sketch noting each video I watch and, whilst I have shared them on Twitter and in the Language in Primary Schools Facebook group, I thought at the end of each week I should share them here too.

So, here’s week 1 which started by considering some common assumptions and beliefs before looking at the theoretical concepts and issues related to dyslexia and other specific learning differences (SLD); I prefer differences (UK) instead of difficulties or disorders (US).

1.5 - Students with dyslexia talk about some difficulties that they face

1.5 – Students with dyslexia talk about some difficulties that they face

1.8 - The effect of dyslexia on language learning (Dr Judit Kormos)

1.8 – The effect of dyslexia on language learning (Dr Judit Kormos)

1.10 - The nature of reading difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

1.10 – The nature of reading difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)

During one of the modules for this week we were asked to use our non dominant hand to copy out a text in 3 minutes, with the lined paper on its side and substituting certain vowels for symbols in order to discover what it might be like for a dyslexic student to write under pressure. Oh, and to stand up too whilst we did it. Below is my attempt. It was very hard and very frustrating!

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Week 2 follows soon!