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.
Just before we broke up for the summer, I asked the 2019 Language Leaders* team at my school for their thoughts on language learning. To help them, I posed some questions. I’ve already shared this on the school website but thought others might be interested in their responses.
Why did you volunteer to be a Language Leader?
I volunteered to be a Language Leader because I love learning languages; when I go on holiday I like showing off how I know how to speak the language. (RM)
I wanted to find out more about languages as they’re fun. (PS)
I volunteered as a Language Leader because I like learning how other people communicate. (AT)
I wanted to represent the school. (IH)
I thought it would be fun! (JS/SLG)
I volunteered because languages make me happy. (RS)
I wanted to explore the different languages and how to speak them (JJ)
I volunteered because I like to learn languages (AK)
I volunteered because I wanted to try something new (LD)
What do you like about languages?
I like speaking languages – it makes me feel proud! (GG)
It makes countries different (LD)
I like how other people talk and I don’t understand them. (AT)
I like that if you learn a language, you can communicate and understand people that speak other languages. (LE)
I like the sounds you make and how you spell words in other languages (JJ)
I like that different countries have different ways of communicating. (RM)
When I speak languages it makes me feel….. (RS)
It’s fun to learn! (IH/NH)
I like that everyone’s language is unique (PS)
I find them interesting, (JS/SLG)
When you go on holiday you can speak that language. (AK)
What do you find hard? What do you do when it’s hard?
When it’s hard, I practice what to say and find someone who already speaks that language to help. (JJ)
When it’s hard I just practice! (IH)
I find remembering the language hard. (LE)
Phonics and pronunciation can be tricky! (LD)
I sometimes find pronouncing words hard but I don’t give up as I have an open mindset. (GG)
When I find it hard I do some chants to help me remember (PS)
Sometimes I find writing hard so I ask for help. (SLG)
As a Language Leader I find it hard to choose the award winners! (AK)
I found writing my application letter for Language Leader hard! (NH)
Do you know any languages other than English? How did you learn them?
I know Arabic, Urdu Spanish and a bit of French! (IH)
I know Punjabi and Spanish – Punjabi from home and Spanish from school. (GG)
I know Hindi as my family speak it at home but I sometimes feel embarrassed speaking it in front of my friends. (RM)
I know how to introduce myself in French. (AT)
I know some Italian as we go on holiday there (LD)
My parents speak Tamil and I listen to them (JJ)
I know Urdu because I speak it at home (RS)
I know some Italian as my grandma was born in Italy (AK)
Do you enjoy learning Spanish?
A resounding yes!
I love Spanish – especially with Señora Stevens! I like that it has masculine and feminine! (RM)
I enjoy Spanish because my family go on holiday to Spain some years. (AT)
I like Spanish; I like how you have masculine and feminine and can explore how to decide which gender nouns have. (JJ)
I find learning Spanish with the great Señora Stevens really fun and interesting. (PS)
What would make language learning even better for you?
I could practice harder! (IH)
I’d like to learn some useful questions for the future; for example, how to ask for a cupcake in Italian. (AT)
I’d like to learn another language! (JS)
To do more mindmaps and diagrams to help me remember words (SLG)
I’d like to learn more languages and the differences between them. (LE)
Comparing more languages – for example hello is Vanakam in Tamil and Hola in Spanish (JJ)
I’d like to learn some gymnastics words as I love gymnastics (AK)
I think visiting the country would be a great idea! (LD)
If once a week we could read a story in a different language in assembly (PS)
I love the honesty of the answers they gave (I did tell them that I would be sharing their responses!) Having read their ideas, I’ve bought some new books and asked for more assemblies (I already do more than my share!), and will be experimenting with new ways of learning and recording vocabulary.
*Language Leaders at my school support and promote language learning of all sorts. Children write a letter of application and then the previous year’s team help me to choose. It’s normally a child per class but this year we went for a team across LKS2 and UKS2, predominantly formed of Y4 and 5s. The original team (four years ago) wrote their own “job description” which I’ve added for some context.
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.
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.
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 )
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’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.
You all know the famous wolf from the fairy tales that scares everyone, eats sheep and grandmas, and chases little pigs out of their homes. But do you REALLY know him? What if he wasn’t like that at all?
This book is all about that wolf but reveals another truth – that el lobo de los cuentos doesn’t actually enjoy being bad. What happens when he decides to do exactly the opposite of what is expected from him? He says hello to Caperucita Roja, he gets chased by the cerditos and instead of scaring the cabritillos, he swaps recipes with their Mum.
In the context of this change of character, el lobo discusses emotions and feelings with his fellow characters and discovers empathy. The book finishes with some activities to help children discover and explore their emotions with some cut outs to use just like el lobo does in the story.
It’s a short story and I think it’s great as it shows a different side to the traditional stories – why should the wolf always be the baddie?- but also has important messages about our feelings and emotions. Most importantly I think it explores how we can get stuck in a pattern of behaviour that we don’t like, and that it is possible to break the cycle. I think the pictures in the book help this message get across to children as the characters are all depicted as small children in masks playing the parts.
It seems a long time since Language World 2019 (it is three weeks I guess) so I apologise for the delay in uploading my presentation here; I’ve had a few website issues.
However, here it is, and below are some notes that you may find helpful in recalling what I said, or trying to decipher the slides! You’ll also find below Clare Seccombe’s lovely sketchnote of the session which summarises what I said as well!
Pictocuentos Pictotraductor Pictoaplicaciones Unfortunately I haven’t managed to find an equivalent for French or German. WidgetOnline is a subscription website that allows you to make visual stories similar to the Pictoaplicaciones suite but in English, or other languages with an add on pack.
I wanted to share more about using Makaton and to highlight that there are a number of free as well as reasonably priced resource packs that can be downloaded from Makaton.org I got the materials to accompany my retelling of Dear Zoo/ Querido Zoo from there and then translated them/applied them to the Spanish story. And there’s an article on Using Makaton in Storytelling that you might find interesting.
Finally, I had a pile of books to share but completely forgot with the pressure of time so here are screenshots from a couple. Firstly, Don Quijote de la Mancha which has the 2 USPs of being an authentic Spanish text, and also being written in Spanish ‘handwriting’, and El Pájaro, el Monoy la Serpiente en la Selva which is a charming story about living and working together.
If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below, or you can contact me via social media!
This is the third in a series of three posts about Julia Donaldson books that I have recently purchased in Spanish.
Lo que Escuchó la Mariquita is the Spanish version of What the Ladybird heard and is a ‘farmyard thriller; a crime set on a farm‘ according to Julia Donaldson, the author. In it, two robbers, Hugo el Zurdo and Len el Largo plot to steal the prize cow from under the farmer’s nose. But they hadn’t reckoned on the very tiny, very quiet ladybird.
One night the ladybird hears the thieves plotting and relays the story to the animals who all make a loud hullabaloo – and then they hear the plan which make use of all their noisiness! Will they outsmart Hugo el Zurdo and Len el Largo? I’ll leave you to find out! It’s a great story and I love the rhyme and rhythm of the text.
How would I use this story? I’d probably read it much the way that Julia Donaldson does in the video below – but in Spanish! The story is a wonderful opportunity to work on animal vocabulary as well as the always popular topic of animal sounds. It always amuses children that animals ‘speak Spanish’ too and make slightly – or sometimes very – different noises in Spanish. You could even sort the sounds into groups according to how similar they are. You could use puppets or masks to involve individuals in retelling the story or even a set of fingerpuppets or finger scribbles for each child to join in physically, or even use actions (my latest obsession with Makaton would come in handy here!) Nonetheless with little preparation of that kind, it’s easy to encourage learners to join in with some noises and sound effects!
Follow up activities might include vocabulary matching at word level, some simple substitution sentences with animal and sound [La vaca] dice [Muu] or [El perro elegante] dijo [Cuac] or even some simple descriptions La vaca es bonita y premiada. Es blanca y negra con manchas grises. Tiene un cabestro azul y un premio rojo. La vaca dice Muu. Alternatively you could ask comprehension questions with Sí/No Verdad/Mentira responses, or at a higher level, require a response in a phrase or sentence. And finally, how about making a map of the farmyard and giving directions around it in Spanish, or making it into a game and guiding a blindfolded classmate using only animal noises (but don’t try and confuse them like the animals in the book!) There are lots of art ideas that go with this book – you can see one below.
Looking for ideas of how to use the book, I found lots of ideas for using the English version What the Ladybird heard. I’ve collected them together on a Pinterest board. It included the video below of Julia Donaldson and her husband singing a song based on the story – anyone fancy writing a Spanish version?
This is the second in a series of three posts about books by Julia Donaldson that I have recently purchased in Spanish.
Las tres cartas del Oso is a very simple board book with flaps. It has two short sentences per page and colourful illustrations by Axel Scheffler. Oso writes three letters and sets out to deliver them. We follow him, counting the letters as we go and trying to guess to whom they are addressed by the home in which they live. Are we correct? Opening the flaps gives us the answer! But why has Oso written to Ardilla, Rana and Topo? All will be revealed as the book concludes with cake!
I bought this book to read to FKS/KS1 as it is very simple and also short. It reinforces counting to 3 and also could be used to introduce the names of some animals. I’d introduce the animal words before the story, with images to support, and then display them so that children can choose from the ‘gallery’ which animal they think the letter should go to. We could act out delivering the letters too, and reading them. And, as the purpose of the letters is revealed to be Oso’s birthday, it would be a good opportunity to talk Spanish birthday songs and traditions.
A couple of traditions that I like that are quirky – instead of being given ‘the bumps’ and being thrown in the air, children in Spain have their ear ‘pulled’ the number of times that corresponds to their birthday. And in Mexico, I’ve discovered that they have the tradition below:
“As lovers of all things British AND foreign, especially languages, the team at bsmall publishing are leading a crusade to keep foreign language learning alive in the minds of our kids and parents at home.”
Thus starts the press release from bsmall publishing, announcing their new series of books entitled Hello Languages.’
I’ve blogged about bsmall products in the past including the I can read series and their dual language books for older KS2 pupils, and I also helped them with some advice a couple of years ago, so I was really pleased to be contacted for my comments on this latest publication.
bsmall have approached the creation of these materials with the following in mind:
“Kids like cool facts and fun things to do. That’s why language learning books for kids should … take the essence of the language… [and] be bright, bold, fun and colourful..filled with practical examples of language in everyday life and [encouraging] kids to just have a go without fear of making mistakes.”
The Hello languages series is available in three languages – English, French and Spanish – and is bold, colourful and fun. It’s intended to be used independently by children rather than as a classroom resource, and comprises four books;
I was sent the Hello French! materials to have a peek before they were released.
The Beginner’s Guide is organised under 6 topics and takes one aspect for each double page; for example, in Viens chez moi there are pages on Ma famille, À la maison, La cuisine et le salon, and Ma chambre et la salle de bains. It gives vocabulary and some useful phrases as well as a very short explanation or comment in English at the start of each topic as well as for certain themes such as the weather and time. The vocabulary is supplied as labels on a vibrant illustration, in French, English and with a guide to pronunciation.* There is also a word list at the back of the book for reference.
*I’m not a great fan of this as I think it can lead to confusion – how many of you have seen children laboriously copy out the phonetic version of words from a dictionary, and also over pronounciation – grassy arse? However, given that this is a resource for children to access on their own, without phonics input or a spoken example, perhaps supported by a parent who is also unaware of how to say the words/phrases, I can see the value of including the ‘how to pronounce’ notes.
The Workbook goes alongside the Beginner’s Guide, giving children an opportunity to apply what they learn in a series of Challenges – as the front page says ‘Practice makes perfect!’ On completion, children can check their answers at the back of the book and are invited to assess how they’ve got on by colouring or circling one of three faces – Bien, Pas mal or pas super.
The Colouring Book takes some of the topics and themes from the Beginner’s Guide and offers the opportunity to colour the illustration used in the latter as the child wishes, reinforcing vocabulary which is labelled as in the Beginner’s Guide.
The French-English Picture Dictionary is organised by topic with nine vocabulary items per page, and an alphabetical word list of the 350+ vocabulary items in French-English and English-French at the end.
This is a resource that I could happily recommend to a parent who wants to encourage their child’s language learning at home. It’s suitable for younger learners with some adult support in part (the workbook is labelled 6+ due to the required level of literacy) and could be used in the language being learned at school – for my pupils, this is Spanish – or in a new language – in my case, French.
A couple of months ago, Clodagh from ALL contacted me and said that Teach Primary were looking for someone to write a primary languages lesson plan for their magazine, and would I be interested? I said yes and last week, the new edition came out, complete with my lesson on p76-77.
It’s a lesson that I used on World Book Day 2016 when my school went with a Roald Dahl theme. Whilst I teach Spanish, and the resources are therefore in Spanish, it’s an idea that could easily be done in French, German, or any other of the 58 languages into which Dahl’s work has been translated!
You can access the lesson and resources here on TeachWire .
And if you’ve come to my website via Teach Primary, welcome! There are lots of other ideas for lessons here, including more for World Book Day here.
Thanks to Russel Tarr for capturing me telling a story!
My session at #PracPed18 was entitled Tell me a story! You can find the Slideshare below.
In it, I shared some ideas about the use of stories and books in the languages classroom. Beginning by discussing why you would use stories, we moved on to choosing books, and then some ideas of how you could use stories in the classroom to enhance language learning. Finally we talked about how to write your own stories; this part was a little shortened so I have added some notes below. You’ll also find links to some helpful posts and bookmarks below. I hope those that attended found the session helpful, and those that didn’t feel able to ask questions! Please feel free to leave a comment on the post if you have questions or comments!
Thanks for your participation and questions. Photo credit – Russel Tarr
Slide 18 – I skipped this one in my presentation as time was flying. This week, Merriam Webster shared a “time machine’ dictionary that tells you the words that were put into the dictionary during the year of your birth. I wrote a story using just nouns from my birth year, shared via tweet. This gave me the idea of giving children a list of words and challenging them to write a story with those words. A good way for more advanced pupils to practice verbs. I will share further when I have developed that thought!
Rewriting a familiar story. Photo credit – Russel Tarr
GPS – grammar punctuation and spelling
PSHE – Personal, Social and Health Education
ICU – Intercultural Understanding
Key Stage 1 – children aged 5-7
Key Stage 2 – children aged 7-11 (languages are a compulsory part of the curriculum in English state schools)