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Archive for the ‘knowledge about language’ Category

Building Spanish dictionary skills

Monday, September 24th, 2012

“I am not a walking dictionary!”

How many times have I replied with this phrase when asked ‘How do you say…. in Spanish/French/German/Polish? (yes, there were some who felt that the Language Coordinator meant that I was fluent in all languages…) Using a dictionary was one of the skills that I feel is really important to develop as it allows greater learner independence as well as supporting and enhancing literacy.

Firstly, it’s important that learners know that a bi-lingual dictionary has two halves, often helpfully separated by a coloured band, and recognise that you won’t find the word for ‘cow’ by looking in the Spanish to English part!

Once that’s established, looking at alphabetical order is helpful. Whilst this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, it’s worth pointing out that in a Spanish dictionary there are entries under the letter ‘ñ’. I have a Diccionario Salvat from my university days that has a separate section for “ch” and “ll” as well but this not common nowadays.

One of my classes’ favourite dictionary activities was playing ‘Quick draw Spanish’ in which they competed to draw their “weapon” (dictionary) and “shoot” (find a word) as quickly as possible. Works well with individuals or as a table game with learners taking it in turns to be the Sharpshooter. There are some other good ideas of games to play with dictionaries (and other reference materials) here. I also like this game where more advanced learners could use their Knowledge about Language (KAL) to deduce what words might mean, and younger/newer learners might be given a list of 4 possibilities from which to choose.

When I was thinking about this, I found some free online resources (always a bonus!) Whilst they are linked to the Oxford Learner’s Spanish Dictionary, they can be used with any dictionary and are mostly straightforward. At WCPS we had a short period at the start of the day called SODA (Start of the Day Activity) and these exercises would be ideal to do at that time, or perhaps as part of Guided reading, developing skills. The higher numbered worksheets start to deal with more aspects of grammar and tenses so you might not want to give them as written to a group, but the ideas are useful and there’s always a child who needs a challenge! (The same worksheets are also available in French and German, and there are a variety of free primary resources for using a dictionary and a thesaurus)

And Collins also have some free resources linked to their Easy learning dictionaries in French and Spanish including an 11 page guide to using a bilingual dictionary.  ELSpanDictionarySkills

There is also a set of resources to go with dictionary skills on TES Resources. Whilst labelled as Secondary, some of the most basic ones aimed at Year 7 could equally well be used with Upper Key Stage 2.

Whilst paper dictionaries may be giving way to online versions, the skills needed to look for and successfully select the appropriate word are still as important – especially if we are to avoid such ‘faux pas’ as referring to a (video) shoot as ‘une fusillade’.

World Hello Day

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Thank you to June da Silva for pointing this out via primarylanguages@mailtalk.ac.uk.

November 21st is World Hello Day on which people are encouraged to greet 10 people to demonstrate the importance of personal communication in maintaining peace.

  World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973.  Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.

    People around the world use the occasion of World Hello Day as an opportunity to express their concern for world peace.  Beginning with a simple greeting on World Hello Day, their activities send a message to leaders, encouraging them to use communication rather than force to settle conflicts.

    As a global event World Hello Day joins local participation in a global expression of peace.  The World Hello Day web site address is http://www.worldhelloday.org.

As June says in her email, what an opportunity to promote communication in other languages too. I will be attempting to greet 10 people in Swiss German and / or their native language. I’m sure I can find 10 people who speak 10 different languages at home amongst my boys’ new classmates and parents…

www.ipl.org/div/hello will help me in my task as will http://www.digitaldialects.com/ 

And how about these lovely song?

Languages all around you

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Another little gem I found on the Consejería site last night was a resource aimed at language awareness.

Entitled Languages all around you, it was developed by

  • Consejería de Educación
  • Consolato Generale d’Italia Edinburgo, Ufficio Scolastico
  • Goethe-Institut Glasgow
  • Institut Français d’Écosse

This is a collection of activities showing how modern languages are part of everyday life. The idea is to make pupils more aware of the importance of languages, the role they play in many aspects of young people’s experience and how languages can be learned while having fun and playing.

This booklet is aimed at children of Primary six and seven (that’s our Year 5 and 6 I think) although I reckon it would be good as a transition project between Primary and Secondary to get know pupils and find out about their experiences.

In the six units pupils explore the following topics:

1. Family & Home

2. Friends & School

3. Languages in Public Places

4. Languages & Travel

5. Languages & Food

6. Languages & Sports

And the best bit? It’s freely downloadable from the publications tab under material didáctica.

I particularly like section 2 where it asks pupils to talk about languages spoken by their family as well as their peers. And I discovered something about Haribo too!

I recommend you explore the site if you haven’t already – there are other resources (some paid) that are well worth considering including PDFs of resources that are now out of print.

 

AQA – Creative and motivational language learning in the primary classroom. Part 2

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

On Tuesday I was in sunny (yes, it was sunny!) Manchester, delivering my AQA course.

Apart from the problems with the internet, I believe a good day was had by all – lunch was once more a highlight!

Rather than repeat all the links, can I refer you to my last post where you will find all the ‘new’ links about PLL, and also some recommendations from other delegates of sites and learning materials that they’ve found useful.

I forgot last week to put a link to a resource listing many many games and quick activities for the PLL classroom, so here it is.

I wish the English…..

Monday, November 24th, 2008



I love this poster, shared with me on Twitter by @nwinton from the imaginatively named I love Typography blog in a post entitled Diacritical Challenge. The challenge is to a) name the font and b) identify the diacritical marks!

I’ve got to say that I couldn’t name all of them but there are plenty of people having a go in the comments!!

The subtitle of the post is ‘Squiggly bits’ which is how many of the pupils I teach describe them. As they’re unfamiliar in our language, it can take a bit of explaining but ñ isn’t too hard to explain, and the accents in Spanish to show where to stress words is easily explained when I mispronounce their names by stressing the wrong bit. And ¡ and ¿ are explained by the need to know if something is a question or exclamation a the beginning of the sentence so that your intonation is correct – cue much overacting ;o)

All counts towards Knowledge about Language!