literacy – ¡Vámonos!
 

Category: literacy


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 Hence I went online on Saturday morning and talked about the subject of children being withdrawn from (Spanish) lessons for extra English.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

Tomorrow (Thursday 7th October) is National Poetry Day.

Here are some posts from this blog that might be helpful!

Lots of ideas from National Poetry Month including different types of poems, different ways of presenting poetry, and also some examples of poetry to music. http://lisibo.com/2013/04/national-poetry-month-spanish-ideas/

Ideas from the poetry of Gloria Fuertes including a couple of examples, and links to other poetry and ideas. http://lisibo.com/2017/05/lee-con-gloria-fuertes/

And one specific poem – Doña Pitu Piturra – that I used again with my Y3 pupils last year. http://lisibo.com/2011/07/dona-pito-piturra/

A series of poems from books I’ve recently purchased:
Un paisaje para que lo pintes http://lisibo.com/2021/02/un-paisaje-para-que-los-pintes-gloria-fuertes/
En un país mágico http://lisibo.com/2021/02/en-un-pais-magico-gloria-fuertes/

A post about writing simple poems about seasons using colours and simple adjectives http://lisibo.com/2014/06/seasonal-poems/

If you’d like an Italian poem check out the one about tomatoes on this post http://lisibo.com/2019/08/books-from-italy/

And here’s a bonus one that hasn’t appeared in another post that I’m thinking of trying tomorrow with Y3.

Don’t forget, poetry isn’t just for one day a year!

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.

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.

A reading of the poem here

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.

A recording of the poem can be found here

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?

  1. Read it and enjoy it – the rhythms and rhymes, and the message too.
  2. Act it out as a play (at the end of Primera Parte, the curtain falls and there is applause!)
  3. Look at pronunciation – the j and the use of accents.
  4. Use the image to help children find the meaning of the poem.
  5. 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!
  6. 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?
  7. 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!

Other poems by Gloria Fuertes:
Sólo tres letras
La Risa
Doña Pito Piturra
Lee con Gloria Fuertes (lots of links in this post to others)

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.

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.

I’ve written another lesson plan in the latest issue of Teach Primary. This one is based around the book Veo Veo by Antonio Rubio and Oscar Villán.

You may have read my previous post a couple of years ago on the subject. It’s a really simple board book about two ‘media lunas’ or half moons that go for a walk to the park and play I spy. They spy a series of random objects in unexpected combinations. This lesson plan expands on some of the ideas and adds some new ones.

The lesson is downloadable below:

And you can access the accompanying presentation here.

Whilst the examples are in Spanish, there is no reason why you couldn’t adapt and translate them into French, German or any other language. Hope you find it useful!

Other related post:

How to play Veo Veo

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!

The latest edition of Teach Primary magazine.

The latest edition of Teach Primary magazine has been out for a couple of weeks and features a MFL focus section between pages 140 – 153. There’s an article about the relevance of language learning in Brexit-era Britain, another on a language awareness model of Primary language learning and one from Clare Seccombe on Putting Pen to Paper (writing) in the primary languages classroom as well as a couple of pages of ‘Partner Content’ from Primary Languages Network and Language Angels about why you should use their schemes. Oh, and as you can see above, there’s also an article by me about storytelling! It’s on purple paper (my favourite colour) and I even got a ‘trail’ on the front page!) You can read it above.

I’m going to have to take out a subscription as I have to keep begging copies from friends, and don’t know I’ve been published until someone congratulates me.

My previous content in TeachPrimary:

I teach Spanish at two primary schools and we predominantly follow the Light Bulb Languages scheme of work. Year 4 are about to start the latter part of Unit 8 Descubrimos los animales. In it, they learn the names of parts of the body, comparing the words in a variety of languages, and then talk about animals, culminating in making and describing ‘strange animals.’ As a bridge between the two, we look at El Bicho de la Fruta, but I was on the look out for another story that might accompany this as Y4 love a story. And I’ve found two!

1. Un Bicho Extraño

ISBN – 978-84-96957-67-1
You can buy a copy here.

I was first made aware of this book via Jesús from the Consejería de Educación in London who spoke about it at a session I attended. It is the story of Un Bicho Extraño (A Strange Creature) who we discover bit by bit. The ‘story’ is written in a single phrase per page. Well, two phrases as you can see from below as the ‘bicho’ is revealed and then disappears as you turn the book around.

Jesús shared materials that have been prepared by a working party to enable teachers to use this text as the basis for a series of lessons. Lots of ideas and resources that are ready to be used. I intend to choose some of the activities, particularly the Pictionary activity and the materials that support descriptions of the Un zoológico de bichos raros as they go well with the scheme. It would make a good analogue alternative to using the website Switchzoo.com to create hybrid animals. (Gutted that BuiLD YouR WiLD SelF is no longer available!)

To present the story I could read the book as it is (There is also a video of the book being read here) or I could try to do as the teacher in this clip has done, building the ‘bicho’ live as I tell the story. This would be a good introduction to pupils creating their own bicho and presenting it.

2. El Carnaval de los Animales

ISBN 978-84-261-3824-8
You can buy this book from Little Linguist here

The second book was a recent purchase as I was writing an article for Teach Primary on integrating languages and music into a series of lessons (harking back to the QCA scheme of work!) I saw the title and it took me back to lessons I used to do based around Saint Saens music. Except the book isn’t just a carnival of animals as we know it.

All the animals have been invited to the carnival – but fancy dress is obligatory. How will the animals disguise themselves? The book is very amusing as animals decide how to disguise themselves, mostly as other animals but not always, and present themselves in their new forms. It’s a fun book to read as it is, and you could play games with it.

For example, can you identify the animal and the disguise?
¿Qué animal es?
¿Y el disfraz?

Es un perro salchicha disfrazado de cebra.

And this would be a simple way to make more ‘strange animals’ as pupils attempt to disguise their animal as something else. A fun activity that could be extended beyond animals for the adventurous. I like the range of interesting animals that are introduced in the story – it’s not often that you get to teach mapache or ornitorrinco, and I’ve never heard the word bogavente* before but I know it’d be a hit with Y4.

I’ll let you know how we get on with these books and how much or little we get to do with them. If you have any ideas of similar texts, do leave a message in the comments, or contact me via Twitter @lisibo.

*Un bogavente is a lobster with large claws. Una langosta (the word I knew for lobster) is a spiny lobster.
Amazing what you learn from children’s story books!



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