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Category: books

Also available – 50 English Phrases

When bsmall contacted me to say that they were updating their 50 Phrases series and would I like a sneak peek, of course I said yes!

bsmall are a “small but mighty” (love that description!) award-winning independent children’s publishing company that creates and publishes children’s books for sale in the UK and around the world. “We’re on a mission to empower all readers with critical literacy skills, and our books are creative, educational and encourage children to think for themselves.” I’ve written about some of their books before. You can find out about their Hello Languages series here, one of their UKS2 parallel text books Los Mellizos del Tiempo here and their I can read series of books here (update – there are a couple of Spanish ones and more French available now £1.99 each from Apple Books)

The 50 Phrases series are currently available in French, Spanish and English, and aim to give children ‘a head start’ with a new language. Over 32 pages, they introduce some common phrases and useful vocabulary for beginner learners including how to introduce yourself, talk about your family and express opinions as well as asking questions about where and what things are, inviting others to play and requesting things. Each double page spread has between 2 and 5 key phrases that are highlighted, adding up to 50 over the whole book, as well as boxes of vocabulary that can be used with those phrases. There is also the suggestion of a game or activity to rehearse those phrases, and also a little bit of grammar is explained throughout. You can see an example below.

Each phrase is written in Spanish and English, and is also written ‘phonetically.’ I’m not a great fan of this ‘how to pronounce it’ guide as it can lead to very odd pronunciation, but I understand that some people find it helpful, particularly as this is intended to be used at home/independently. And that’s where the update comes in about which I am very pleased.

The book now comes with a QR code that gives the reader access to audio files of the 50 Spanish Phrases (and the same for English and French if you purchase those books.) that give a clear native speaker model of the pronunciation. You can see how it works with the sample below.

Links to the English book.

By giving the pronunciation of the key phrases, learners now have access to what they actually sound like which will facilitate more educated understanding of the pronunciation guide and more accurate Spanish pronunciation. So this is a great resource that can be used at home without need for a Spanish speaker to be present!

As I said, I was given a sneak peek as the updated versions are not released until May 3rd but you can preorder the Spanish French and English books via the bsmall website.

While you’re on the site, check out some of the other books they publish. My eye was caught by the Hide and Speak books with flaps to lift and the Mix and Match flashcards for practising questions and answers. Or download the Language Learning brochure to browse at your leisure! And make sure you check out the Activity Hub where you can download a copy of the Rights of the Language Learner as well as a beach picture labelled in French and Spanish – perfect for Y2s summer topic.

The Bitmojis were a clue…

I once more had the pleasure of presenting at Language World, the annual conference of Association for Language Learning (ALL).
My presentation was entitled Take One Book and was the sequel to the presentation I did at PHOrum in November (you can read about it here) this time choosing a book that was originally written in Italian and has no English translation.

I really enjoyed sharing my ideas of how to use ¡Ojo Oso! and was pleasantly surprised that I managed to finish in time and have time for questions. I experimented with using subtitles/captions during my presentation after comments by Helen Simpson on LiPS made me think about accessibility. I need to watch back the recording of my session (which has just been made available for those who registered for the conference but missed the session) to see exactly how accurate they were but I know that when I spoke Spanish they definitely had trouble as they were set to English! For example un agujero became ‘all alcohol’ and una madriguera became ‘mother together.’

Below you can find a PDF of my presentation. I’ve removed the story slides due to copyright but you can find links to versions of the story read online, as well as to where you can purchase a copy.

At the end there is a link to my Pinterest where I collected together materials for the talk, some of which I didn’t use! You can also access it via this QR code.

http://bit.ly/OjoOso

Perhaps you have ideas that spring to mind? Or you have a book that you could use in a similar way? If you have any comments or questions, do leave a comment below.

Postscript – you can watch the ‘standby/rehearsal’ recording of the session here.

Share a story!

I’ve just made a quiz for the class I have on Thursday, based on well known children’s books.

All the covers are in languages other than English but are easy to identify thanks to the visuals.

There are 10 books ranging from picture books to chapter books, and after the first 10 slides that show just the covers, the next 10 slides reveal the titles in English as well as the language in which the book is written. You could use this as an extra part of the quiz, awarding bonus points for successfully identifying the language.

All the books are available from Little Linguist.

I’ve made another quiz of Roald Dahl book covers in Spanish as well.

I was overjoyed to be asked to present at the inaugural PHOrum meeting for members of the Association for Language Learning last Wednesday evening (get well soon Susanne x). My presentation was entitled Take One Book and can be viewed below along with links to some of the resources and ideas I shared.

You can find out more about the Take One Book by going to their website. A helpful literacy idea with amazing resources! https://www.takeonebook.org

There are multiple versions of the story being read online in Spanish online – this is one and here’s another one that are read in both Spanish and English, and this one has the bilingual text but just Spanish narration.

Wordwalls:
https://wordwall.net/resource/6417210  Esta no es mi gata

https://wordwall.net/resource/6416418 Es mi gata Q+A with words

https://wordwall.net/resource/6417038 Es mi gata Q+A no words

Joining in with a story video featuring Nigel Pearson sharing the book in German (Wo ist meine Katze?) https://vimeo.com/123422432 Well worth watching this masterclass in engaging a class in a story!
If you want to story as written in the book in German here’s a video of it being read

A number of resources are available for the original text (in English) that could be adapted.
A puzzle to adapt
https://www.readytoread.com/documents/rtr-carle-activities.pdfResource
Resources on TPT
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Have-You-Seen-My-Cat-by-Eric-Carle-Bundle-Resources-4566552?st=2bc1e1ad0f265de650a2c2f0f099b137
A literacy lesson plan
https://tracieanzara.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/7/2/11727035/lesson_2.pdf

ReadWriteThink Planning PDF http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/stapleless/StaplelessBookPlanningSheet.pdf
Word cards http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson131/wordcards.pdf
Lesson ideas http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/using-predictable-text-teach-131.html?tab=4#tabs

Tissue paper cat craft https://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com/2015/08/tissue-paper-black-cat-kid-craft.html
Hidden cat article https://www.cnet.com/news/find-the-cat-photograph-with-tricky-kitty-stumps-many-as-it-goes-viral/
Infographic showing the effect of loss of habitat on wild cats https://www.agenciasinc.es/Visual/Infografias/La-perdida-de-habitat-amenaza-a-los-felinos-del-mundo#results
Article about the Cat Island https://www.ngenespanol.com/traveler/descubre-la-isla-de-los-gatos-japon//
Animalandia – a great website with short factfiles in Spanish about a wide variety of animals as referenced in slide 46. http://animalandia.educa.madrid.org/

There will a PHOrum meeting every term so if you don’t want to miss out on the next one, do join ALL. Find out how here.

In these strange times, the online conference is the way to go and thus I sat down at my laptop, coffee in hand and attended the ALL Primary Languages Conference a couple of weeks ago. Nicknamed ‘Acapulco’ by Steven Fawkes (there was a reason but nobody can recall what it was!) the conference was based around five pillars as can be seen from the graphic.

Others have shared their takeaways already, including Nathalie aka Nattalingo, as well as their presentations (Suzi’s is here) and I thought I’d share mine in the form of my sketchnotes.
Disclaimer: I had to ‘leave’ early so I’m afraid I didn’t do one for Suzi’s session nor Nathalie’s but you can access their slides at the link above!

Keynote speaker Dr Michael Wardle , OFSTED Lead on Languages
“The curriculum needs to be BROAD and AMBITIOUS throughout EACH and EVERY year group.”
Sue Cave talking all things phonics.
A strong knowledge of phonics affects all areas of language learning.
Clare Seccombe – learning to walk before you can run is very important!
e.g. knowing a small pot of words really well that can then be extended by EFFECTIVE use of a bilingual dictionary.

An excellent conference and really well organised. Not only were the sessions great, the chat was good too with ideas flying so fast it was sometimes hard to keep up with it all! I recommend that you sign up to ALL as there will be future events for members, specifically designed for primary called PHOrum and they will be quality events! You can find out how to join here and also about the other benefits!

Continuing on the theme of colours, the next story I decided to share with the children is all about Elmer the elephant.
In the book, we meet Elmer and his multiple colours, and then discover things that are that colour like snow, an ice lolly and fruit.

Here it is:

Since recording it, I’ve discovered the video below which takes the book towards the story of Elmer in which he wants to be the same as everyone else to fit in. [You can find that story here.] They each colour in a picture of Elmer and explore the idea of being the same but different

Then I found this song that is really lovely and worth sharing with children as it speaks about the value of diversity.

The lyrics are:

De mil colores es su piel
se llama Elmer y es genial
un elefante quiere ser
de igual color que los demás. (2 veces)

Para ser feliz no hay que ser igual
para sonreír no hay que ser igual
para divertir no hay que ser igual
porque el color no importará. (2 veces)

(Elmer, el elefante de colores – Canción del cuento de David McKee
Autor: Juan Rafael Muñoz Muñoz
Arreglo: Luis Miguel González)

I also like this version of the songs with pictograms to aid understanding.
If you’d like another version of the story I shared, here’s a little child reading it. Very different style to me – far cuter! And I also found a couple of activities here that you could do related to the story.

ISBN 978-2-09-255390-9

This book is amazing! It has flaps, dials, double page factfiles, stories, quizzes, jokes and puzzles, all teaching facts about our planet – Planète Terre. In fact, it’s so amazing that I couldn’t just take photos, I had to make a video!

It’s the kind of book that would go down well on the class bookshelf for children to access in their free reading time. The facts are short and therefore less threatening than in your average non fiction book, allowing learners to concentrate on decoding a few unfamiliar words using their knowledge of cognates and other languages as well as context and of course their existing geographical/scientific knowledge. And although Spanish is the language we learn at my schools, I would still put this on the bookshelf as children like variety, some go to French club and others just enjoy looking at texts in other languages.

If you wanted to guide children’s reading of the book, you could compile a list of words in English that could be written in French by looking in the book (there are many words written in bold that would suit this activity) or perhaps create some sentences with gaps to be completed by reading a certain page, or even pose the six questions below and ask more advanced learners to answer in a sentence or two.

I’m off to find more of these – in Spanish this time!

I love a bargain, and am also a great fan of recycling so I am particularly pleased with a new pile of German children’s books!

Some were purchased via LiPS, one was found in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and the other three were a Christmas gift from my son who is currently studying in Germany and found them in an Oxfam shop there.

So here they are!

Verstecken spielen
Lustige Vierbeiner

ISBN 978-1-78557-464-1

This lovely book is all about four legged friends playing Hide and Seek (Verstecken spielen) It has a touchy feely cover and features cute dogs a cat and a rabbit. I like the simplicity and repetition of the text as well as the animal noises. A fun book that would be great to read to FKS/KS1.

Ohren wackeln
Beine zappeln

ISBN 978-3-473-31566-6

Ohren wackeln, Beine zappeln is another cute board book featuring animals. This time it has holes in each page in which you insert your fingers to make the ears (Ohren) or legs (Beine) of the animals. Each page has two lines of text and is written in rhyme – great to read aloud and practice your pronunciation as well as spotting the verbs. And of course, good for finger wiggling!

Baby Goofy geht zu Bett
ISBN 3-614-21890-2

This a short board book is from the Disney Babies series and is all about baby Goofy going to bed. It’s written in prose and features Pluto as well as Goofy. Very cute!

Kennst du das?
Die Tiere ISBN 3-411-70441-1
Das ABC ISBN 3-411-70631-7

Two books from the same series here! Kennst du das? – Do you know that?
Each is a word book with bright photographs to illustrate the meanings. They include ‘usual’ words such as Pferd, Hase, Katze, Tiger and Elephant, but also more unusual animals – Streifenhörnchen, Rotfeuerfisch and Wandelnde Blätter and vocabulary – Zange (pliers) Reißverschluss (zip) and Qualle (jellyfish) It also indulges my love of looking at German words, ‘literally translating’ and seeing language links:
Dreirad = three wheels = tricycle
Nacktschnecke = naked snail = slug
Stinktier = smelly animal = skunk
Fledermaus = flying mouse = bat
Nashorn = nose horn = rhino
Flusspferd = river horse = hippo

Schieben & Lernen 1 2 3
ISBN 978-3-940984-01-2

Finally a board book with sliding windows (Schiebefenster) to learn numbers 1-10. The windows slide to show either the numeral or a number of objects so could be used for numbers and then extended to use the vocabulary pictured, in singular and plural forms. Perhaps older learners could have a look in a dictionary for the words whilst others will begin to recognise the correct item from three after several readings.

PawPatrol
Auf die Plätze, Fertig, Rettung!

ISBN 978-1-5037-3215-5

I was really surprised to find this book in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and even more surprised when I realised that the buttons still worked! I like reading books based on series that we watch in English as it’s possible to compare names and ket features in the other language. For example, Ryder and Chase have the same names in both languages and the PupPad in German is called the Pfot-o-fon (Paws ‘phone) I’m looking forward to sharing this book with the little ones at school. And I don’t think the enchantment of this book is limited to little ones..

So these are my new German books. What do you think? It’s a bit of a shame that I don’t teach German on a day to day basis but reading them aloud is great fun!
A reminder that there is a catalogue of my (ever growing!) collection of German children’s books here, and there is also a French list and several for Spanish – fiction, nonfiction, rhymes poems and songs, plus an ‘other languages‘ list too!

Books from Italy

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I didn’t buy any of these but I was sorely tempted!

Just back from a family holiday in Italy where I once more had to struggle with not being able to communicate as I wished. I understood quite a bit thanks to Spanish and, to a lesser extent, French, but couldn’t formulate sufficiently coherent sentences to say what I wanted to communicate most of the time, thus resorting to a few words and a gesture with a pleading smile. In fact, I found that German was more helpful at times for the first part of the holidays as we were in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and often people didn’t speak English but understood German. Added to my ‘angst’ was the fact that all my attempts at Italian were met with replies in English, particularly in Bologna – I guess they thought they were being helpful but I was trying hard and it was a little disheartening!

However, I was in my element when I found the bookshops! My poor family tolerated me dragging them into at least four on our wanderings without moaning although I actually think they were glad of the air conditioning and a rest! I had my eye on a children’s book shop in the Piazza Maggiore but it was sadly shut when we returned to Bologna for holidays! Chiuso per Ferie was a phrase we learned very quickly! Nonetheless I still found others and treated myself to three books – I could have bought far more but as I don’t teach Italian, I was restrained and really thought hard about my choices.

ISBN 978-88-6189-548-5

Tu (non) sei piccolo is a bilingual book with the Italian in large type and the English a little smaller below. It’s a really simple book about some bears who are arguing about being big or small. What I particularly liked, apart from the bilingualism, was the repetition for the verb to be in 1st and 2nd person singular (I and you) and 2nd and 3rd person plural (you and they) as this gave me a good idea about how the verb ‘works.’ Additionally, the same two adjectives are used which meant that I could draw some conclusions about the behaviour of adjectives – much like panino/panini and cappuccino/cappuccini! It’s amusing too and I liked the illustrations of the different bears. It would be easy to adapt by changing the adjective and/or animal.

ISBN 978-88-8362-353-0

I chose Mio! Mio! Mio! as it’s also very repetitive and easy to understand. The little frog finds an egg and claims it as his own – Mio! But all the other animals say it’s theirs until it ends up hitting the elephant on the head – then nobody wants it and frog at last can have it. Then it hatches…
I enjoyed comparing animal names with the Spanish – l’elefante, l’aquila, il serpente – and discover a new one that none of my translating apps could work out – il varano which is a monitor lizard! The grammar was also similar – è mio! / ¡es mío! for it’s mine ; è suo! / ¡es suyo! meaning it’s his; I saw a similarity between chi for who and qui in French, and Allora te lo restituisco was easy to decode as I’ve give it back to you with the link to restitution. Finally, it also tickled me that it featured ‘un uovo’ as the boys were asked every morning if they’d like one in our wonderful B&B (if you’re ever going to the Dolomites, I can thoroughly recommend Agriturismo Florandonole )

ISBN 978-88-04-70392-1
The blurb on the back

My final choice recognises the wonders of Italian food and drink. Non piangere, cipolla (Don’t cry onion) is a book of poems and verse organised in alphabetical order starting with Acqua and ending with Uva. These poems will need more concentration (and a dictionary!) to translate but I can get the gist of many of them. A couple of my favourites are below.

I like the ‘playing with words’ style of this poem about tomatoes. Seemingly simple but very clever!
And this one about milk. I like the opening verses using similes and the last verse talking about making butter, cream and cheese, but it still being milk.

I’ve enjoyed reading all these books aloud, trying out my Italian pronunciation (which still needs work) and listening to how they sound. I’m looking forward to reading them ever more accurately, and also to understanding a little more as I reread them.

At the end of July, my husband and I popped off for a short break in Copenhagen in celebration of our silver wedding anniversary. We had a lovely time exploring and sightseeing, and as usual at various points my ‘teacher brain’ or as I prefer to call it ‘lifelong learner thinking’ engaged and I was struck with thoughts and ideas for the classroom.

Firstly I really struggled with not being able to communicate in Danish. I really didn’t need to as everyone spoke English but it made me feel bad not being able to speak. I found that I could understand to a certain extent if things were written thanks to having done some Swedish on Duolingo, plus managing find some similarities at times with German and/or English, but understanding speech was very problematic and speaking more so! My son (who’s studied Swedish for the last two years at Uni) and my husband (who works with Swedes and Danes) tell me that part of the problem is that people ‘swallow’ consonants in spoken Danish making it harder to understand than Swedish. However, I did persevere with my trying to understand and had some success.

For example, I discovered that the word in Danish for an hour is timer. I liked that!

And, as usual, I couldn’t leave without a book for my collection. I had a good look and decided that whilst I’d love a storybook, my level of understanding wasn’t high enough yet, so I settled on a simple word book.

My new book!

Min første bog om Farver is a board book all about colours. Each page has a different colour until the last page which has a rainbow colours. I can see the likeness of farver and Farbe in German. Some colours look – but don’t sound! – like English (pink, orange), some are like French (brun) and others wouldn’t be recognisable to me without the images – sort is black and hvid is white. The last page is about rainbow colours which again reminds me of German Regnbuens farver although I wouldn’t have guessed that er flotte meant ‘are great.’

I’m looking forward to using this when I next look at colours in Spanish as children this year have enjoyed all the comparative exercises we’ve done with multiple languages, finding similarities and differences.

Wishing I’d bought this one now though – I do love the Moomins – but books are so expensive!
PS I found a resource on TPT that is advertised with this screenshot – very interesting to compare the three languages.

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