lisibo talks – ¡Vámonos!
 

Category: lisibo talks


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 Hence I went online on Saturday morning and talked about the subject of children being withdrawn from (Spanish) lessons for extra English.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 slide – the rule was one slide only!

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!

At a loose end on a Saturday morning? Fancy some free CPD? Have a short attention span and prefer your learning in 20 minute or even 5 minute bursts? Well, TM MFL Icons is the thing for you!

Between 10am and 12.30pm today (Saturday 16th October) there will be a live stream of short presentations on a variety of language learning themes. Some of the session titles include:

Labels limit – engaging boys in MFL
Target Language Talk
SEND and MFL – What worked (and didn’t) for us
Making CPD about more than just activities to try. Understanding the ‘why?’


And I’ll be taking 5 minutes around 11.50am to explain this title.


If you’re interested, you can sign up here and follow on Twitter @tmmflicons #TMMFLIcons. Can’t make it this morning? Sign up and you can access the recording!

Interested in other subjects? Have a look at the Teachmeeticons home page to see when you can access CPD in other areas of the curriculum.

Fun in Acapulco starring Ursula and Elvis, or is it our hosts, Sue Cave and Steven Fawkes?

Following on from the success of last year’s event , it’s time for the second (online) ALL Primary Languages Conference. Colloquially (and rather romantically) known as Acapulco, this event on Saturday 6th November promises to be another memorable event.

The conference title is An Ambitious Primary Languages Curriculum and features a keynote from Clare Seccombe followed by sessions from Kate Percival, Vicky Cooke, Ellie Chettle-Culley, Marie Allen and someone called Lisa Stevens 😉 If you use Twitter, the hashtag will be #ALLplconf.

I’m really looking forward to a quality few hours of ideas and inspiration and hope that you can join too.

If you’re a member of ALL or a trainee student it only costs £5 otherwise the cost is £25. How do you become a member of ALL? Find out here! Heads up – you can join as a primary school for £50 which is less than an individual!

The programme is viewable here and you can register here.

Postponed from their usual Saturday in June thanks to COVID and travel restrictions, this Saturday (2nd October) sees the annual Talleres de español at Instituto Español Cañada Blanch in London.

The programme will begin with Baroness Coussins speaking about the importance of languages for the future of the UK which will be followed by presentations (predominantly in Spanish) in three strands – primary, secondary and general interest – on a variety of themes including gamification, ICT, culture, history, literature, motivation and projects. Lunch is always delicious and an integral part of the experience, and the day will end with dancing or wine and jamón!

I’ll be presenting straight after Baroness Coussins (no pressure!) and sharing my ideas entitled Take One Book.

The programme is below and you can find details of how to sign up here . I’m looking forward to it; please say ¡hola! if you’re attending!

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.

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!

Language World is the annual conference and training event of the Association for Language Learning (ALL).
The theme of Language World 2021 is “A rich curriculum for ALL”.

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!

Decisions decisions!

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.

Register 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!

Wondering why the LiPS? Check out Languages in Primary Schools group on Facebook!

Find out about my experiences at previous Language Worlds by following the links below!

Reflections on Language World 2008
Absorbing Language Learning 2009
Language World 2010 and various posts following including Raising Global Awareness and Creativity talks as well as sessions by Clare DoddLiz Black Cynthia Martin Oh, and my session – Bricklaying for beginners!
Language World 2011 – my session Entitled to enjoy Primary Languages and many other sessions by Chris HarteJan Lewandowski and Liz Fotheringham
Language World 2014 overview     Session on apps
Language World 2015 in sketchnotes
Language World 2016 in sketchnotes  Session on Sketchnoting
Language World 2017 in sketchnotes
Language World 2018 in sketchnotes My session Using Technology for collaboration 
Sue Cave’s session – Language Detectives Primary Show and Tell
Language World 2019 – The Sketchnotes My session on Supporting learners’ understanding and enjoyment of stories in the primary languages classroom.
I was briefly at Language World 2020 but didn’t blog it as it coincided with a particularly stressful time – including lockdown beginning a few days later!

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was asked to speak at The Language Show which this year went online and was delivered via Zoom. Below is my presentation and brief notes on what I talked about.


Thank you to all those who saw it ‘live’ for being there – even if I couldn’t see your faces which I found quite disconcerting – and for your questions and comments. I saved the chat and enjoyed reading back your comments. Any questions that were in the chat and not put into the Q&A tab so therefore went unanswered, I’ll answer below.

My presentation.

If you want to see me delivering it live, you can view the recording of the session for the next month (so until mid December 2020 I would think) via the Language Show website and clicking on my name (see below)

Below are links to resources, reading and things on which I commented/shared as there are lost of hyperlinked images!

The pitfalls of Google Translate https://www.redlinels.com/pros-and-cons-of-google-translate/
Physical Spanish Phonics https://brilliantpublications.co.uk/physical-spanish-phonics.html
Hands of the World at WCPS http://www.whitehousecommon.bham.sch.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3020:this-is-me-signed-in-makaton-hands-of-the-world-project&catid=81&Itemid=278

One of the songs in which we collaborated – Makaton used to communicate across countries and languages.

Old World Language Families Tree https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/59665/feast-your-eyes-beautiful-linguistic-family-tree See also http://www.sssscomic.com/comic.php?page=195
Oxford University Press dictionary sheets https://global.oup.com/education/content/dictionaries/free-resources/oxford-school-dictionary-word-origins-free-resources/?region=uk
Something Rhymes with Purple podcast https://play.acast.com/s/somethingrhymeswithpurple

Language Links posters https://www.lightbulblanguages.co.uk/resources-language-links.htm
Slide 37 worksheet https://www.lightbulblanguages.co.uk/resources/PrimarySpanish/days.pdf
Slide 36 The great Eskimo vocabulary hoax and other irreverent essays on the study of language. http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/EskimoHoax.pdf
Futurelearn course on Intercultural Studies – Language and Culture https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/intercultural-studies-language-culture
eTwinning https://www.britishcouncil.org/etwinning
Let’s Go Cultural! Erasmus+ project https://erasmusplusletsgocultural.blogspot.com/

Hello! song from the above project.

Find out more here too. WCPS Let’s Go Cultural blog

In the chat Lisa Ng asked about the exercise on slide 21. It’s from a unit on your town and the task the children were doing was using the structure En mi pueblo hay (place) Aquí se puede (infinitive) We’ve been talking about what there is/isn’t in our town, and what our town is like, and moved on to looking at infinitives. The task was supported by a ‘trapdoor’ grid that we’d used to rehearse the structure. The child whose work I shared had extended his sentences using adjectives which weren’t on the grid and applied his previous learning of adjectival position and agreement. I’d suggested it as a way to enhance their writing but not pushed the point which was why I was so pleased.
Paula asked if I remembered The Language Show a few years ago at Olympia with my trolley of resources. Of course I do! I still have it although in Covid19 times it has been rested for a bit as I’m not allowed to use as many resources.
And I’d just like to reiterate what people were saying in the chat about making mistakes and being an example to your learners. I completely agree – modelling how we deal with mistakes, and showing that we are lifelong learners is SO important. One of my Y4 classes answer the register by greeting me in variety of languages and I’m trying to learn (and remember!) the response to each. They’re being very patient and keep repeating it until I get it correct. Problem is, by the time the next week comes, I’ve forgotten most of it. I keep trying though – which is all I ask of them!

Finally, if you teach primary languages in the UK, I recommended joining Languages in Primary School group (LiPS) on Facebook. Here’s the link. Please make sure you answer all 3 questions when you ask to join! https://www.facebook.com/groups/primarylanguages


If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll answer.

I’ll leave you with Westlife – More than words

Register for free and join online!

Due to current circumstances The Language Show, which is normally held in November at Olympia in London, is going online this year.

Held the weekend 13th-15th November, the show has three streams of talks:
For those who love languages – talks, entertainment and insights.
For language teachers – CPD for teachers in primary, secondary, HE, FE, adult, EFL/ESOL
For language professionals – interpreters, translators and those who want to put their languages to work

Each stream offers a programme of seminars starting mid morning on Friday Saturday and Sunday and are all free to attend via Zoom. Some that have caught my eye include

Friday 13.30-14.15: Unlocking the hidden meanings of everyday words which is all hidden meanings and ancient connections, and the etymology of words.

Saturday 13.30-14.15: Foods and Words: Can our appetite motivate language learning? which looks at the history of some staple British food of foreign origin and introduces basic linguistic principles to understanding their names.

Sunday 11.00-11.45: 5 Weeks of Low-Prep Fun in the Language Classroom – Janina Klimas which offers 25 easy-to-prepare, engaging activities and resources that get students excited about learning languages and through some of the rough parts, all while having fun. 

Friday 15.30-16.15: Introduction to subtitling – Lindsay Bywood which will cover the various types of subtitling, how they are created, how the industry is set up and how to train and get work as a subtitler.


I’m definitely signing up for “We Are Multilingual”: Identity-based activities to promote and enhance language learning which is being delivered on Sunday 14.30-15.15 by Linda Fisher and Karen Forbes on behalf of the Multilingual Identity in Education group at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

On Saturday from 1300-1345 you can join me as I talk about how language learning is about More than words. Here’s the blurb!

“This session explores the notion that learning a language is about so much more than lists of words and grammar. Drawing from the speaker’s own observations and experiences as a lifelong language learner as well as a teacher and mother, we will consider the importance of context, culture, communication, celebration and connections in nurturing learners with an enduring passion for language(s).”

You can register for free now on the website Follow all the latest news by following The Language Show on Twitter or Facebook.

Hopefully ‘see’ some of you there!

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.

As we continue with ‘lockdown learning,’ I’ve made another video for my pupils. This week, I move away from chocolate and rhymes and ask the question ¿De qué color es Elmo?

Years ago on a trip to Spain, I found some Barrio Sésamo books in a random shop and two have become permanent favourites. Unfortunately ¿Qué oye Epi? disappeared many years ago but I still have one of them which is great for practising colours and the question ¿De qué color es?

In my video we meet Epi and Blas, and discover other members of the Barrio Sésamo gang who aren’t the same colour as Elmo in the story. Here it is.

There are lots of Barrio Sésamo videos that you might like to use in the classroom. I particularly like this one in which Elmo and Abby learn with Rosita how to sing ‘Si estás feliz…’

In case you wanted the words:

Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir. (If you’re happy, you can clap)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir.
Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir.

Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies. ((If you’re happy, stamp your feet)
Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies.
Si en verdad estás contento, a tu rostro es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your face is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies.

Si estás feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’ (If you’re happy, you can shout Hurray!)
Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’
Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’

Si estás feliz, tú puedes aletear. (If you’re happy, you can flap)
Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes aletear.
Si en verdad estás contento, a tu rostro es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your face is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aletear.

Si estás feliz, tú puedes hacer todo. (If you’re happy, you can do it all)
Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes hacer todo.
Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection)
Si estás feliz, tú puedes hacer todo.




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