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Spanish Hand Gestures, originally uploaded by KatsAsleep.

Just picked up the following from Twitter via @josepicardo who was alerted to it by @luciax.

Published by The Guardian in its Language Resources – Spanish area, ‘Learn Spanish gestures’ is a guide to some typically Spanish gesticulating that you could employ to look truly authentic as you complain of being fed up or tell your friend how busy the bar was at lunchtime.

Gesticulating is something that I can’t help doing when speaking, especially in Spanish so this is just up my street. And I can see that this would be a useful resource for intercultural understanding activities, comparing typical gestures. I recall discovering the hard way that gestures that are innocuous in one country can cause offence to other nationalities – not my fault that Greece lost 5-0 in the football and noone had told me that holding up five fingers with my palm facing a Greek was rude!

Received an e-mail from CILT today with the latest copy of the Primary Languages e-Zine.

This online magazine contains news of QCA units, CILT publications and more, and also takes a topic for consideration.

The focus for this edition is STORYTELLING with ideas of how to get started, how to move on and how it fits into the Primary Curriculum and some ideas for resources as CILT staff choose their favourite books.

There’s also a section called ‘What you’re doing‘ which contains reports on how various people have used storytelling in the Primary language classroom – including Handa’s Surprise, Jules Verne and Go away Big Green Monster – written by someone you might know ;o) – as well as ideas for where to obtain *free* resources for storytelling and what research says about the use of stories.

Well worth a read!

Just caught this headline as I was checking my Yahoo! mail this morning – and just loved the ‘snapshot’ of the article under the headline –

Going to the article to investigate further, it refers to the Rose Report’s recommendations about an increased use and understanding of technology for Primary school pupils, and a separate recommendation about history and the ability to opt to not teach World War 2 and the Victorians.

And Jim Knight is quoted as saying-

“Sir Jim Rose’s report has not been completed let alone published yet – but we are already getting stories about dropping this or removing that from the curriculum.

“The bottom line is that we are working with experts to free up the curriculum in a way that teachers have asked us to do but British history has, and always will be, a core part of education in this country.

“Of course pupils in primary school will learn about major periods including the Romans, the Tudors and the Victorians and will be taught to understand a broad chronology of major events in this country and the wider world.

So, Twitter isn’t replacing History – phew! However, I am pleased that it is being considered as a useful tool to be used in the Primary classroom. I’ve used it successfully a number of times, in RE and in Spanish and have always found the children to be very inquisitive about it and excited at the immediacy of the results. So would be good to have it ‘accepted’ rather than me using it ‘on the sly!’

El Gordo

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Yesterday saw the biggest lottery of the year – El Gordo (the Fat One) – in Spain. As far as I know – and I think I would know – my Aunt didn’t win and nor did anyone else I know, but I still like to check it out as it is drawn and called in such a quaint way with children singing the numbers and prizes.

As The Guardian reports;

The Fat One showered €2.15bn (£2.02bn) in prize money across the country. It brought tears of relief to some winners and champagne-soaked pledges to pay off mortgages and meet debts from others.

The world’s biggest lottery payout has ushered in the Spanish Christmas season for almost two centuries since it was first drawn in 1812.

Rarely has the prize money, spread among tens of thousands of people, been so eagerly welcomed. “Everybody says they are going to use it to get themselves out of problems,” said Madrid lottery seller Rosario Rueda.

So, congratulations to the winners, and to the losers…there’s always next year.

Just read an interesting article in The Telegraph Education section with the above title. It reports on a group in the Harrogate area called French for Fidgets (a great name for the group!) that teaches French to toddlers through song and games. Taking kids as young as 18 months, their philosophy is –

“… to make it fun. When devising these classes, I asked myself what children this age enjoy doing and the answer was singing, eating and rolling around the floor. So that’s what we do. It just happens we speak French while we’re doing it.”

I’ve taught Kindergarten at a previous school and also had pupils as young as 18 months, so I can completely agree with and endorse the benefits of catching them early. In fact there were children with emergent speech who had as many words in Spanish as in English – and all that from 20 minutes first thing on a Monday! The analogy ‘little sponges’ is a very apt one.

And research backs this up – Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith of the Birkbeck Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development in London is quoted in the article saying –

“Right from birth, the brain has the capacity to learn three or four different languages and in many countries that’s what happens,” she says. “In fact, the majority of children in the world are bilingual, either because their country has a number of borders or because their parents speak different languages.

“The typical pattern is for a child to learn one language from their father, one from their mother and another at school or in the street. As for brain capacity, I know children with Down’s syndrome who have three languages simultaneously. The truth is that languages shouldn’t be introduced at primary school, but at nursery school.”

And she concludes with a radical idea-

“Teach a language at nursery school and you won’t need to teach it at secondary,” she maintains. “By that time, the children will already be able to speak it.”

It’s a thought – what do you think?

Some of you may recall a blog post in July about a group from English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, Hartlepool, winning Company of the Year and Most Creative Company of the Year in the Young Enterprise in the NorthEast sponsored by The Arts Council NorthEast for their product LanguAges.

For those who don’t, here’s a brief recap from the group ;

Our company, LanguAges, provides educational resources to aid the teaching and learning of French in primary schools at Key Stage 2. We have created a compilation of three different games, The Clothes Game, The Class Card Game and The Shopping Game, and an Interactive CD, which form the LanguAges Pack.

All of our games are tailored to be fun, yet educational, comprehensively covering the Key Stage 2 curriculum, and helping to improve vital comprehension and speaking skills.

Having tested the product and marketed it to Stockton schools, all schools in Hartlepool should now have a copy of the materials.

A representative from the Hartlepool local authority, Tom Argument, said: “Their materials are creative, fun, very practical, and of a high quality. The group present themselves in a business-like manner and have real entrepreneurial potential.”

The group went on to discuss the future-

We realise that LanguAges has a huge amount of potential, and are currently investigating the many options available to us. Several possibilities are being considered, such as selling the idea, or even continuing the company even after the Young Enterprise Company Programme is over.

The prospect of mass producing the LanguAges Pack and even expanding the range to include a variety of other modern foreign languages is a very exciting one.

Today I received news from their (very proud) teacher, Madame Welsh, about LanguAges.

An update….they did brilliantly well at the National Finals, winning the Award for Financial Management. They are working with a company to market their product further afield! They make me so proud!

So well done once more to the LanguAges team for their continuing success – a great example of language learning going hand in hand with other areas of the curriculum.

And a pat on the back to TTS for seeing the potential of the product. TTS is currently one of my favourite school shopping places so I’ll be watching out for the arrival of the products!

I came across an interesting news report via my GoogleAlerts from The Kerryman paper in Ireland, entitled Enthralling tales from afar. The report begins…

It goes on to say that this is the second time that this type of visit has been made possible by the GoetheInstitut, and that the aim of the exercise was to encourage primary pupils to learn German in a fun environment.

“There has been a growing interest in teaching and learning modern foreign languages at primary level in Europe and research shows how enthusiastic teachers and children are,” Georgia Herlt, head of the language department at the Goethe-Institut Dublin, stated.

“As well as learning languages it helps with cultural awareness and combats stereotypes, and the children are geared up for it when they go to secondary school.”

The visits saw Suse Weisse using familiar and less well known fairytales in German (with explanations in English).
I love using stories to teach primary languages for many reasons. For example;

  • familiarity of structure
  • familiarity of story
  • children enjoy being read to
  • making links between English and the language of the story
  • you can do all kinds of things with a story – drama, games, jigsaw texts
  • using them as a model for production of new stories
  • easy to embed sound in story powerpoints to help non specialist teachers
  • I enjoy doing the voices ;o)

I could go on!

So I’m all for these visits – when a Year2 class told me that they’d worked out from listening to and reading Rubiales on the Northumberland GfL that Spanish put the adjective after the noun whereas English put it before, I was sold on the use of stories to teach!

Off to see if I can find a Spanish storyteller now…;o)

La historia de Lego

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Acabo de leer un artículo que me chifló sobre la Historia del Lego. Como madre de dos niños de seis y nueve años, no puedo escapar del Lego – han pedido de Papá Noel el Lego de la Guerra en las Galaxias.

Noticias Locas hoy habla de The Lego MiniFig Timeline que muestra los muñequitos de acción Lego desde 1978 hasta hoy.

Ahora estoy lista hablar con mis hijos sobre el Lego con más autoridad ;o)

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clothes line, originally uploaded by daniel n. reid.

Having accosted him at the bus stop, I had the pleasure of travelling from Cowes to Newport with Adam Sutcliffe last Friday. Not quite sure why or how the subject arose, but I do know that at some point during the journey I said ‘This weekend I will mainly be wearing red’ as Adam reminded me of it on Saturday evening when I was in my fourth red outfit of the weekend saying ‘you weren’t joking, were you?!’

So, it amused me to read the following article on BBC Mundo:

Más sexy si se viste de rojo.
¿Quiere volver a un hombre loco de amor? Vístase de rojo. O al menos eso fue lo que encontró un estudio científico.

Basically, it suggests that if a woman wears red, she is seen as more attractive and more worth spending money on by men (but not by women!)

I’d just decided I would stick to one colour to save problems of deciding what to wear jewellery and accessory-wise and I’d just bought some lovely clothes in Barcelona. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?? ;o)

10,000 hits!!!

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I’ve just noticed that the visit counter on ¡Vámonos! has just reached five figures – how exciting!

At last count there have been 10,004 visits – and there have been more as the counter wasn’t in place from the start as I didn’t want to be discouraged by the lack of action! For someone who gives the impression of being very confident but actually isn’t, I am really excited that people have actually read my blog and that, in less than a year, it’s been ‘hit’ over 10,000 times.

I know it might have been 4 people 2,500 times each but my Mum is computer illiterate, my husband has all blogs blocked on his laptop by his employers, my Dad sadly didn’t have very long to access it and my kids are only interested in the posts that make noises, involve games or involve them, so unlikely!

When I reached the last milestone I blogged – 6000 hits on 22nd June – I set myself the goal of reaching five figures by Christmas so I’ve reached it just over two months early!

Little did I suspect when I started last October that I would be here nearly a year later having been read by so many!

Muchísimas gracias a todos xx

Photo – Marco on Flickr

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