Today is International Mother Language Day, declared by UNESCO in 2002 to “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.”
International Mother Language Day recognizes that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO believes education, based on the first language or mother tongue, must begin from the early years as early childhood care and education is the foundation of learning.
This year’s observance is a call on policymakers, educators and teachers, parents and families to scale up their commitment to multilingual education, and inclusion in education to advance education recovery in the context of COVID-19. This effort also contributes to the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), for which UNESCO is the lead agency, and which places multilingualism at the heart of indigenous peoples’ development.
Follow the hashtag #InternationalMotherLanguageDay or #InternationalMotherLanguageDay2021 on Twitter for more celebrations of the day, and think about how you can contribute to the safeguarding the linguistic diversity of our world.
The last (for now!) of the poems that have caught my eye from the anthology Los Mejores Versos de Gloria Fuertes that I purchased from Little Linguist
This one is entitled Paisajes para que los pintes and was chosen once more for simplicity of structure, but also because it immediately sparked ideas in my mind.
Each ‘estrofa’ decribes a very simple image with the basic structure Arriba (top) Abajo (bottom) En medio (in the middle) In the first couple of estrofas this is made explicit but after that, the pattern has been established so the prepositions are omitted although the structure remains.
I immediately saw a pairs game – can you match the image to the description?
And then I thought of back to back dictation where two children sit back to back and one describes a picture that the other then draws. In ‘times of COVID’ this could be done as an activity on a recorded or live lesson, or as a whole class activity once we’re back to school. It could be one of the descriptions from the poem or one of their own.
Which brings us to rewriting the poem – so easy to do by simply substituting nouns. 1. Los pájaros arriba, Los campos abajo, y, en medio, la cuidad.
2. En el cielo, las nubes En el corral, la oveja y, en medio, la granja.
3. Arriba, el sol Abajo, el mar; En medio de la playa, la palmera.
You could make it harder by challenging children to make the lines rhyme – you might find Rimar.io or Woxicon helpful! It could lead to some fun, unpredictable pictures and is a good activity for dictionary skills too! You could extend the poems by adding adjectives too:
Arriba, las nubes blancos, Abajo, un hombre en zancos. En medio del colegio, toca un arpegio.
I can see this as a lovely way to celebrate learning too as it would be easy for children to illustrate their poems then record them, creating a class anthology either as video, stored online or printed out using QR codes to access the audio.
Can you see ways to use this poem too? Please share them in the comments!
Now to do some work as half term is nearly over and I have pupils awaiting their next lesson!
Translation: Landscapes for you to paint. The sun above, The clouds below And, in the middle of the wheat, A scarecrow.
The sun above, The sea below And, in the middle of the sea, A boat.
The meadow, The mountain And, in the middle, the cane.
The snow, The cold And, in the middle, The river.
The cloud, The sea And, in the middle, The squid.
The jungle, The palm And, in the middle, The panther.
The sky, The plain And, in the middle, The aeroplane.
The church above, The town below And, in the tower, The bell and the cat.
The next in a series of posts about poems from the anthology Los Mejores versos de Gloria Fuertes is En un país mágico, a poem in two parts about a magical world and unusual friendships.
I liked this poem as it’s very simple with a repeated structure: [noun1] amigo de [noun2] with noun2 being an unlikely amigo for noun 1. So we have cat and mouse, robber and police, wolf and lamb, witch and child, but also yolk and white, bee and flower, black and white, rich and poor.
I also liked the poem for the message of friendship, that we could all live together in harmony and peace. as the last verse says:
Esto sucedía en un país mágico donde todos se reían y nadie se enfadaba. This happened in a magical world where everyone laughed and nobody got angry.
Wouldn’t that be a good world in which to live?
What could you do with the poem?
Read it and enjoy it – the rhythms and rhymes, and the message too.
Act it out as a play (at the end of Primera Parte, the curtain falls and there is applause!)
Look at pronunciation – the j and the use of accents.
Use the image to help children find the meaning of the poem.
Explore the interesting vocabulary – el ‘poli’, la bellota, el tiesto (I had to use the picture for that one) You may need to explain the relationship between a pig and an acorn!
Look at masculine and feminine – why is la gata amiga de la rata but el gato amigo del ratón? And likewise, la gata amiga de la rata but el gato amigo del ratón?
Challenge children to find new pairings that could be friends to rewrite the poem: El frío, amigo del calor. El Sol, amigo de la Luna. La radio, amiga del video.
What would you do? Please share your ideas in the comments!
Approximate translation: IN A MAGICAL COUNTRY First part: The cat, Friend of the rat. The cat, Friend of the mouse The witch, Friend of the little girl. The ‘bobby’, Friend of the robber. The wolf, Friend of the lamb. The flowerpot, Friend of the balcony. The egg white, Friend of the yolk. The bee, Friend of the flower. (Applause! Applause! And the curtain falls)
Second part The enemy, Friend of the enemy. The white, Friend of the black. The black, Friend of the white. The pig, Friend of the acorn. The rich, Friend of the poor. The ball, Friend of the boot. The umbrella, Friend of the drop. This happened In a magical country Where everyone laughed And nobody got cross And everyone loved each other.
Following on from yesterday’s post, another poem from my new book Los Mejores Versos de Gloria Fuertes.
I was drawn to this one firstly by the brevity and then for the repetition, both things that work well for younger learners!
I also like the theme – peace. Whilst it’s not International Day of Peace until September 21st I don’t think you need a special day to celebrate these things!
If you wanted to use this poem in class, you could ask children to consider their own PAZ poem – what words would they choose for each letter? Perhaps three verbs like pensar, actuar, zanjar conflicto (think, act and resolve conflict) or nouns likes paciencia, acción y un zapatazo a la guerra (patience, action and a kick to war) As you can see, z is a tricky letter so you might want to allow words that contain a Z and write it as an acrostic. For example, you could have: Paciencia communidAd esperanZa
Alternatively you could challenge children with another word like AMOR or VIDA, or even their own name, choosing words in Spanish that apply to them. I might write Libros Idiomas Sol Amistad
I collected some resources for Día de la Paz on Pinterest including the following images that might go well with this poem or could equally be used alone.
And of course there’s this famous song Que canten los niños:
How might you use the poem? Do share your ideas in the comments!
An approximate translation: Just three letters Three letters, nothing more. Just three letters That forever you will learn. Just three letters to write PAZ (peace). The P, the A, the Z; just three letters. Just three letters, Three letters, nothing more: To sing peace, To make peace.
The P of pueblo (the people) The A of amar (love) and the Z of zafiro (sapphire) or zagal (young boy) ‘zafiro’ for the blue world; ‘zagal’ for a child like you. You don’t have to be wise or need bayonets, If you only learn these three letters well; Use them when you’re older and there’ll be peace in the world.
Perhaps they could create a happy mask to wear as they record the poem, or make an avatar using an app. Or they could speak behind a powerpoint of things that make them laugh and smile?
Related to the poem, you could look at these sayings and expressions in Spanish about smiling and laughing.
Another poem will follow tomorrow!
Approximate translation: Welcome is the laughter that leaves joy wherever it goes. Come, laughter and her cousin, the smile. To laugh is like eating (it feeds more than meat.) One must laugh hourly (as humbly prescribed.) What a laugh, Auntie Felisa, ruffling your Tshirt. (Laughing is very good for the chest!) Whoever goes laughing goes better than by car; Whoever laughs by day, sleeps well at night.
Speaking a language confidently and coherently is an important part of the curriculum in the United Kingdom. However, the impact of Covid-19 has meant that many pupils have had fewer opportunities to speak the languages they are learning. Therefore, the Association for Language Learning, the British Council and the cultural and linguistic bodies in the United Kingdom have combined efforts to devise an exciting event entitled ‘Express Yourself in Lockdown’.
This will be an opportunity to showcase language learners’ enjoyment of a language that they are learning or that is normally used in their home community from home (except for English*!).
Language learners can prepare:
A short poem in the target language (written by themselves or by another author)
A short presentation on any theme e.g. climate change, equality, why I love languages
A short sketch
A short dialogue
This can be a solo or joint performance but should be no longer than 90 seconds in total and should be recorded in landscape mode. The participants will record themselves delivering their performance, however participants who are under-16 should use either PowerPoint slides/Bitmoji/other pictures or video imagery rather than showing their faces.
Teachers can then upload the performances to a teacher or school Twitter, Instagram or YouTube account with the hashtag #CelebrateSpeaking and the language chosen (e.g. #French) by 28 February 2021. [*If your pupil speaks EAL, they may enter in English BUT you must add #EAL so it’s clear!] Don’t forget to tag @Schools_British on Twitter or @BritishCouncil on Instagram when sharing your entry.
At one of my schools, I spent the lesson before the half term break focusing on a poem written by Clare Seccombe from her brilliant new resource Poesía. As well as working on the meaning and using them to further the children’s understanding, I also invited children to read along with me as I read, and then, if they wished, to record it and submit it as part of their Teams Assignment for that week. We’ll see how many I receive!
One young lady at my other school decided to record her rewritten version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar 🐛 – El Monstruo Muy Hambriento – and agreed for me to share it. You can see and hear it below. I was gobsmacked at her accent given that we have been learning remotely since Christmas and she has had no live lessons, just a couple of videos of me reading La Oruga Muy Hambrienta.
In November I had the unexpected pleasure of speaking at PHOrum, an online twilight for Primary language teachers run by Sue Cave and Association for Language Learning (ALL) . PHOrum stands for Primary Hubs Online and is a response to maintaining community of support and development for primary languages in the current climate. The inaugural meeting had sessions by Steven Fawkes, Eleanor Chettle Cully and me! You can read about my part of it here.
The Spring meeting is fast approaching on February 25th 16:00-17:30 via Zoom. Along with a ‘roadshow’ of updates and information from Steven Fawkes, there will be two further presentations:
Language acquisition and development in a primary language lesson Carlota will share the process of acquisition of a language and ideas to carry on in a lesson. How to start with vocabulary and simple structures and develop skills to understand a text , comprehension questions, classroom language and be able to follow basic communication, at the same time, make the learners feel that they are being challenged and are successful in their task. Language in Primary should be real and useful. The examples will be in Spanish but applicable to other languages. Carlota Cámara Suarez is Subject Development Lead and Spanish Teacher at Gladstone Primary Academy and Thomas Deacon Juniors
Memory methods in KS2 MFL Kirsty will talk about how gestures, memory tags, routines and songs can help motivate primary language learners and improve their retention of vocabulary and phonics. Kirsty will relate this to her teaching in y3-6 giving practical examples of action songs and vocabulary learning methods that can be applied to a variety of topics in the primary classroom. She will touch on her experience of teaching EAL pupils and what motivates them to learn. Kirsty Williams is Lead Teacher for EAL and Primary MFL at Castle Newnham School, Bedford and runs the local ALL Primary Hub. She has taught French for over 15 years in KS2, KS3 and KS4.
Both sound very interesting and I’m hoping that the staff meeting at school that week is on Tuesday not Thursday!
At this time of year, I’m normally gearing up for my annual ‘weekend away’ at Language World. It’s taken me to York, Lancaster, Leicester, Rugby, Nottingham, London, Newcastle, Manchester, Loughborough and of course, Oxford where Language World and I first ‘met.’ This year, things are a little different as I won’t physically be going anywhere as the conference is coming to me in my home via the wonders of video conferencing. And it can come to you too if you sign up!
As the blurb on their site says: “Schools are currently exploring how they can offer rich, exciting education for all their pupils. Ofsted encourages schools to make positive decisions to preserve or develop richness of experience along with breadth and depth of curriculum – for example, giving pupils the opportunity to learn a number of foreign languages and arts subjects, recognising local ambitions. We look forward to sharing ideas and best practice from among our languages community about these kinds of curricular aspects, and about learning that goes deeper into content, motivates learners of Languages, culture and communication, and is broader than the exam specifications.”
Keynote speakers this year include:
President of ALL (2020-22), Kim Bower;
Dr. Michael Wardle, Language Lead for OFSTED;
international expert on CLIL and Professor of Languages Education and Classroom Learning at university of Edinburgh, Professor Do Coyle
Professor of Applied Linguistics at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London, Professor Li Wei
Im particularly looking forward to hearing from Professor Li Wei on Friday talking about Multilingualism, Language Learning and Social Cognition and then from Jane Driver on Saturday talking about Using CLIL and MFL strategies to maximise the curriculum for EAL learners.
And then there are the talks and presentations from which you can choose. Each session is 30 minutes long with a 20 minute presentation followed by 10 minutes for questions. Easier for concentration but challenging when you’re planning a session and always have too much for 45 minutes…
Some sessions that caught my eye as a primary languages practitioner include:
Promoting intercultural understanding through cross curricular and extra-curricular activities in the primary classroom – lots of practical ideas led by Bernadette Clinton and Raquel Tola Rego
A recipe for success! Creating a bespoke scheme of work – Clare Seccombe
Engaging, enriching, inclusive: ensuring a primary MFL curriculum which delivers for SEND pupils – Eleanor Chettle Cully
Celebrate your bilingual learners and promote linguistic diversity in your school with an International Mother Tongue Day project – Hannah White
As usual, I have a problem! The first two are at the same time as each other AND I’m speaking at the same time! And the second two are also concurrent. I’m hoping that with the online nature of the conference we might be able to catch up… but I’m not sure so don’t quote me on it!
Other sessions I’m looking forward to:
What does an anti-racist, decolonised MFL curriculum look like?
Embedding languages into the curriculum: practical examples from Scotland and Wales
Teaching Phonics – Mapping, Method and Moving on
Another innovation this year is that some 30 minute slots split into 3 mini talks and I’m looking forward to many of those too including Dr Judith Rifeser talking about Nurturing intercultural understanding and celebrating pupils’ diverse and multilingual voices through creative projects, Bryn Llewellyn sharing Learning Languages on the Move – Developing Language Vocabulary using Physically Active Learning Approaches, Helen Stokes talking about Making connections between languages with translation skills: for easier transition between KS2 and 3 and How MFL teaching can boost whole school literacy led by Clare Caio.
So much that it’s hard to choose! You might even want to ‘attend’ my session entitled Take One Book in which I’ll explore how to make full use of a storybook (a different one from the one I shared at PHOrum!) You can find further details on the Language World 2021 website and the programme can be found here.
I am very much looking forward to a new experience and whilst I’d rather we were meeting together as usual, I’m excited for the new format and will still be wearing LiPS themed clothing and sketchnoting!
Find out about my experiences at previous Language Worlds by following the links below!