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)
4.6 – Multisensory tasks to teach spelling
4.8 – Helping children with reading comprehension difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)
4.10 – Developing dyslexic learners’ reading skills (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)
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.
3.5 Teaching vocabulary and grammar (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)
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
2.3 – Foreign language learning and dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)
2.6 – Accommodating dyslexic learners in the classroom (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)
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!
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
1.8 – The effect of dyslexia on language learning (Dr Judit Kormos)
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!
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post on Instagram asking if anyone else wanted to volunteer for the next TM MFL Icons – 5 minutes or 20 minute presentations. A series of incidents in real life and on social media had put in a bee in my bonnet so I thought – why not? Hence I went online on Saturday morning and talked about the subject of children being withdrawn from (Spanish) lessons for extra English.
I had volunteered for 5 minutes thinking I might not have enough to fill it but I had more than enough because, as usual, once I start, my head fills with more ideas than I originally had. So here is what I said/intended to say!
My title, formulated at speed to encapsulate said bee in my bonnet, is provocative and makes me sound more bolshy than I am; however, I do believe that it’s wrong to ROUTINELY withdraw children from language lessons – in my case Spanish – for extra English/interventions. You hear the argument that these children can’t speak English and they can’t do English so why are they doing another language, and I just think there are lots of reasons why it’s not a good idea to routinely remove them from the Spanish lessons.
First of all, we do a lot of work where everybody is working together, where everybody is repeating things together, what everybody is learning together. There’s safety in that and when you’re struggling, having everybody doing the same thing at the same time can build up your confidence and can give you that little boost that you need to be able to give it a go. I always say to my class that I cannot ask for more if you are doing your best and if you’re still only managing to get 5 out 10 on your own, I can’t make you work any harder than you already are so that support from your peers is really important. It’s important that learners don’t feel “set apart” too. That feeling of comfort and of solidarity with your peers is really important, and not just for those that are low ability or SEND. We get quite a few pupils at one of my schools that come to us because they’ve been putting in housing in our area and they’re with us for a short period of time and then move on somewhere else. It’s important that they quickly feel comfortable and are part the class, and I think the language lesson is a time when they are with their peers, to use a cliche, on a level playing field. I think that’s because of the structure of Spanish lessons where there is a lot of recycling, reiterating, retrieving and going back over stuff that we done before so there is that moment when children think “oh hang on, I can fit into this; I can do this!” One child joined the school towards the end of last year and about three weeks in, his mum approached me in the playground at hometime and said “Oh, YOU’RE Señora Stevens! My child keeps talking about how much he loves your lessons. He’s so happy when he’s in your lesson!” That’s a special feeling and made me think how much he’d have missed if he’d been withdrawn to improve his English!
Secondly I think the level of support offered in language lessons through modelling, scaffolding and lots of rehearsing is important and so beneficial. We do a lot of practising; saying things all together, rehearsing it with a partner, we listen and respond. There’s a lot of that oral rehearsal before we start to read and then we write. We might use whiteboards to practise before we commit it to our book. All this rehearsal is great training and it can be applied in their English learning. All this is also building up their resilience as they make and correct mistakes, and their understanding of how to learn language whether it’s Spanish or whether it’s English.
Learning another language also shows that there is value in speaking languages other than English. Sometimes children who have English as an additional language and/or who speak another language at home feel that they want to hide that and I think it’s important that they know that other people speak different languages. I enjoy making comparisons between languages and bringing other languages into lessons. I have a couple of pupils who speak Italian and routinely share words so we can see similarities and differences. And learners love it when I try words in Urdu, Punjabi and Arabic as I find it hard to mimic their pronunciation. They may speak another language but their skills have value.
There are also many ways in which we are reinforcing and supporting English literacy as we are learning Spanish. When we talk about nouns and adjectives, verbs and so on, we are echoing the vocabulary of their literacy lessons. When I explain that months of the year in Spanish don’t have capital letters, it’s an opportunity to reinforce the rules of capitalisation in English, that we do put a capital letter for months of the year, and that a capital letter is needed at the start of a sentence in Spanish just as we do in English. When we look at word order in Spanish, we compare it to English. When we read aloud or practise conversations, we’re working on prosody (something that is high on the Primary English agenda at the moment) ensuring that we’re using expression to create the ‘music of the language’ In Spanish they helpfully put question marks at either end of the question, and exclamation marks too to enclose the words as a signal that this has to be exclaimed. I liken this to the way English uses speech marks to enclose words spoken – the ¿ ? even echo the 66 99 of ” “!
One of the ‘incidents’ that prompted my idea was a colleague on LiPS being asked to stop teaching French phonics as children were getting confused with their English phonics. There was a long discussion about this, and the prevailing view was that phonics should be taught. For a start they’re one of the pillars of primary language learning, and are vital to successful pronunciation, decoding and writing. A comment that stuck with me was ‘if your one session a week is having a detrimental effect on several years worth of English phonics teaching, you must be doing something very right and perhaps the English phonics teaching could learn something from you!’ Whilst that is playing Devil’s advocate, there is some truth in the support offered by comparing phoneme/grapheme links. As I teach Spanish, there are fewer ‘tricky sounds’ than in French, or English, but by focusing on how phonics are important to us when learning how to say words accurately, we’re drawing attention to the need to use phonics in English too, to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words. I always talk about using our Spanish glasses when we’re looking at Spanish text, something which really came into its own when I had a native Spanish speaker in class as we talked about how she had to put on her English glasses to read English!
There’s a lot to be said for experiencing success. If children experience success, it builds their confidence. The more confident they feel, the more risks they’ll take. Initial success might be very small but they add up. As we do lots of repetition and work with a limited vocabulary, the ‘answer’ is often repeated in multiple versions so success is more accessible. Plus we take small steps rather than giant leaps which are less scary! In a previous session at TM MFL Icons, Jane talked about the importance of joy and I so agree! I often wonder what it must be like to spend your whole day struggling and striving without that feeling of success and contentment. Success breeds confidence, and if you know that success is attainable, you’re more motivated to make that extra effort. Learners may not experience that success in other areas of the curriculum and by taking children away for all or even part of the lesson, it denies them that opportunity. There are lots of anecdotes on LiPS that support this. From my experience, I’ve had a number of children who have had multiple issues in other areas of the curriculum but have taken to language learning to the extent that I’ve had to explain to the (disbelieving) class teacher that they have achieved some of the same targets as their peers.
I’m not suggesting that language learning and Spanish lessons are some magic panacea to all SEND/EAL/other needs. I have at least one pupil who doesn’t access any part of the lesson due to his specific needs (he accesses very little of the curriculum in general) and there are modifications that can be needed. However, many of these are Quality First teaching strategies and will benefit all – I know that changes I made following a FutureLearn MOOC on Dyslexia and Language Learning have had a positive effect on many of the class. Nor am I saying that Spanish is more important than English or any other subject. It is entirely possible that there is little choice in some cases as to the timing of sessions (due to TA timetables and so on.) However, I would welcome some thought to be given to when interventions are staged and their effect.
Have you got a point of view? Let me know in the comments!
I’ve spent part of each week during the summer holiday taking part in a MOOC run by FutureLearn. Their courses are free and run throughout the year and I recommend them. I took part in a course on Dyslexia and Language Learning in May and thoroughly enjoyed it. You can find out more about my thoughts and findings on that course here, and apply to join the course when it is next run here.
This course was entitled Reading Macondo: the Works of Gabriel García Márquez
Explore why the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of the 20th century’s leading writers in this free online course
I’d read some GGM as part of my Spanish studies at school, and then for fun later on, and the course immediately appealed as I enjoyed the books I’d read and wanted to discover more. I have to say that rereading them, guided by the magnificent tutors on the course, has been very revealing and rewarding too, and I’ve discovered so many links and parallels in the work of GGM that I’m more than ever convinced of his genius!
Here’s an introduction to the course (shared from the FutureLearn site)
We began by looking at GGM’s novellas: in week 1 we considered La H0jarasca / Leaf Storm and in week 2, El Coronel no tiene quien le escriba / No One Writes to the Colonel.
Next, in week 3, we looked at a selection of the short stories contained in Los Funerales de la Mamá Grande / Big Mama’s Funeral.
In week 4 we moved on to consider La Mala Hora/ In Evil Hour, a short novel that is GGM’s first attempt at writing something longer.
And in weeks 5 and 6 we reached his ‘masterpiece of global literature’, Cien Años de Soledad / One Hundred Years of Solitude.
As with the Dyslexia course, I’ve sketch noted each week and shared the finished notes on Twitter and with the course participants via the comments facility on the site, and I thought I’d share them here all together.
Week 1 – The structure of La Hojarasca
Week 1 – La Hojarasca/Leaf Storm
Week 2 – El Coronel no tiene quien le escriba / No one writes to the Colonel
Week 3 – Los funerales de la Mamá Grande / Big Mama’s funeral
Week 4 – La Mala Hora / In Evil Hour
Week 5 – Cien años de soledad / One hundred years of solitude
Week 5 – Personajes en Cien años de soledad / Characters in One hundred years of solitude
Week 6 – Tiempo en Cien años de soledad / Time in One hundred years of solitude
I was very excited to see this note at the end of week 6:
You may be pleased to know that we will be offering a second FutureLearn course on the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which will examine The Autumn of the Patriarch, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Love in the Time of Cholera, The General in His Labyrinth, Of Love and Other Demons, and some short stories. We will contact you with more details about the new course once it has been announced.
This will be another course from the University of Los Andes on Gabriel García Mearquez, and this time it will look at how his work developed and changed course after Cien años de soledad. I just hope that it coincides with another break from work as I need time to read and reflect that I’m not sure I have in term time!