Yesterday as part of Health Week I shared this video with Y5 who were focusing on ‘exercise for health.’ Although Sergio Ramos’ singing caused great amusement, they loved it and all enthusiastically joined in with the chorus.
If you’ve read the July edition of UKEDmagazine you may have read my article entitled Top ten tips for Primary Language Learning. If you haven’t, you can read the unedited version below or the official version at this link
Top ten tips for Primary Language Learning
A wide variety of people teach languages in Primary schools, probably more than in any other ‘subject’. Whether you’re a class teacher with or without language skills, a reluctant language coordinator or a visiting language specialist (to name but a few possibilities) here are my top ten tips for primary language teaching and learning.
Phonics are vital
It doesn’t matter which language you teach, making the correct sounds of that language is key. Working on phonics from the start builds a strong foundation on which learners can build, enabling them to see new words and say them accurately. Have a look at Rachel Hawkes’ website where there are links to free resources covering French Spanish German and Italian. http://www.rachelhawkes.com/Resources/Phonics/Phonics.php
Songs and rhymes motivate and teach
A good way to increase confidence in reading and speaking the language is by sharing songs, poems and rhymes. This is also a good way to reinforce phonic knowledge and explore the rhythms of the language. Mama Lisa has songs and rhymes in many languages, often with a sound file giving the correct pronunciation and a translation into English so you know what you’re saying! There are also many songs and rhymes on Youtube on channels such as Basho and Friends or by searching for the artist such as Alain le lait
Using stories – in translation or original language – is another great tool for language learning as they are familiar and often very repetitive. My favourites include Oso pardo, ¿qué ves?,Le navet enorme and Kleiner weisser Fisch as they lend themselves to acting out (even Y6 like acting!) and are easy for learners to adapt into their own stories. For example, Y5 invented stories based on Le navet enorme that included a child who didn’t want to get in the bath and had to be pulled to the bathroom, a teacher stuck in the PE cupboard and a car that broke down and needed to be pushed.
Technology has its place
There are many opportunities for using technology to enhance language learning such as recording, reviewing and refining speaking activities using Audacity or an app like VoiceRecordPro, or performing speeches and role plays using Tellagami, YakitKids, or Puppet Pals. BookCreator app is an excellent tool for creating multimedia books including text, sound, video, hyperlinks, doodles and pictures; incredibly easy to use and suitable for young children as well as those who are less confident with technology. And why not use Build Your Wildself or Switchzoo to create hybrid animals then describe them in the language.
Using technology is also a great way to enable sharing of the great things that go on in language learning. Whether it is via the school website or VLE, tweeted or shared on a class/school blog, celebrating language learning gives it status and also provides an audience and a purpose for learning. Additionally, learners are able to take their learning home with them digitally; the excitement of pupils when we made our first podcast nine or ten years ago was great. “I’m on my Gran’s iPod!” was my favourite comment.
Use anything you can get your hands on
The primary classroom is full of things that can be used and adapted for language learning. Number fans are great for counting and also giving feedback with numbered images for example. Mini whiteboards allow learners to write and correct without committing it to paper as well as drawing images to show understanding of vocabulary or instructions. Unifix cubes can be used for ordering ideas or vocabulary and cushions make great impromptu puppets for speaking or islands for phoneme sorting!
Grammar isn’t a dirty word
Primary learners are very familiar with grammatical terms and enjoy comparing the grammar of other languages, making links and finding differences. Sorting words into boxes according to gender, making human sentences to explore word order and creating verb flowers or spiders are just some ways of making grammar fun and memorable.
Integrate language learning into the curriculum
Language learning shouldn’t be seen as a standalone but, as much as possible, integrated into the primary curriculum. As there is no prescribed content in the KS2 PoS, it’s possible to teach the skills through whatever topic if you use a little imagination. And where full integration is tricky or where a specialist delivers the lesson, a class teacher can always build language into routines such as PE warmups, lining up, the register and so on, even if their knowledge of the language is limited.
Don’t just make cross curricular links, but also cross country and cross cultural links. Making contact with children that speak the language you’re learning is very motivating and gives a real purpose to learning. It also increases learners’ understanding of other cultures as well as considering their own in new ways. The British Council SchoolsOnline is a good place to start the search for partners.
Celebrate all languages
Most of all, celebrate all languages. Many learners already speak more than one language which is a valuable skill. Encourage them to share how to say things in their languages; comparing and contrasting numbers or colours in a variety of languages is a fun activity as learners try to group similar words together.
This article first appeared in the July 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine
If you’d like to read more of the magazine that includes other articles about language learning including one of target language by @reebekwylie and Progress in MFL by @jakehuntonMFL the links are below.
Ever since #ililc5 when Janet Lloyd introduced us to this French song for gaining attention and restoring quiet in the classroom, I’ve been searching for a Spanish equivalent. So far I’ve not found one but it got me thinking about using songs and rhymes to create calm.
I have to admit that I tend to use them to either create excitement and action – see posts about La Vaca Lola and Choco Choco la la, two of my favourite songs, or to teach vocabulary – for example, see these posts on Yo quiero ser by Nubeluz or La finca del Tío Ramón and Hojas Hojas that I subtitled using Amara. However, I began to use this song to start all my lessons in KS1 at the start of the year and noted that as well as signalling the start of the Spanish lesson, it focused us all and calmed everyone down.
Part of the appeal is the routine, but I also think that the actions help. And as I was searching, lots of the songs and rhymes I found were either about or used your hands so I thought that warranted a post!
I came across some lovely songs that I think would certainly work for restoring calm, focusing attention and creating a ‘brain break’ during class:
1. El pourri de las manos
I love this collection of songs which could be used separately or as a whole! Each is only about 40 seconds long and all can be sung/acted on the carpet as well as in seats. Some helpful (opposites) vocabulary too – content/triste, arriba/abajo, abre/cierra, allí/allá.
I also like the way that it starts very calm and then gets a little more animated but not too much!
This is one of the songs included in the above video – I think the ‘band’ will be very popular, and it’s still very chilled with the saxophone and calm actions!
Saco una manito. La hago bailar, / I take out one hand. I make it dance. La cierro, la abro y la vuelvo a guardar. / I close it, I open it, and I put it away again. Saco la otra manito. La hago bailar, / I take out the other hand. I make it dance. La cierro, la abro y la vuelvo a guardar. / I close it, I open it, and I put it away again. Saco las dos manitos. Las hago bailar, / I take out two hands. I make them dance. Las cierro, las abro y las vuelvo a guardar. / I close them, I open them, and I put them away again.
A very very simple song in which you touch each finger together one after the other then all together.
Palmas con un dedo, palmas con el otro, doy con el más largo, luego con el otro,
viene el más pequeño…
¡Y luego con todos!
Éste dedo es la mama,éste otro es el papa,el más grande es el hermanocon la niña de la mano,
el chiquito va detrás.
Todos salen a pasear
4. El zapatero
This song about a shoemaker is the Spanish equivalent of Wind the bobbin up with arm rolling forward and back, pull, pull and then ‘pan pan pan’ as you gently hammer the shoe.
estira, estira y pan – pan – pan
estira, estira y pan – pan – pan
zapatero a remendar los zapatos sin parar
zapatero a remendar los zapatos sin parar
I’ve seen this rhyme before but had forgotten about it. A nonsense rhyme, but with hand actions that require some concentration.
Continuing on the original thought of bringing the class together, this might work as I’ve yet to find a class that don’t want to wiggle their bottoms given half a chance!
Mis manos hacen clap clap clap
Mis pies hacen stamp stamp stamp
Mi boca hace la la la
Cintura hace cha cha cha
Other rhymes using your hands include Los dedos de las manos and there are several more here including Dedo pulgar (the Spanish version of Tommy Thumb) and Cinco ratoncitos in which one less finger or ‘ratoncitos’ comes out each time to play! And the ever helpful Spanish Playground has some other suggestions too.
I was going to talk about clapping rhymes but I think I’ll save that for another post as they aren’t really very calming 😉
I’ll try some of these out in class and let you know what happens.
PS Over the last two weeks Y2 and I have been exploring world dance and this week we did some ‘flamenco’ arm work. There was utter concentration so perhaps that’s another avenue to explore!
I’m making a list of useful links that parents might use with their children to practice and reinforce their Spanish, and was struck by how many ‘goodies’ there are provided by the BBC. So I thought I’d share! NB I’ve focussed on Spanish but they all come in a variety of languages – see individual sections)
For younger learners (preschool onwards), The Lingo Show started out as a website featuring ‘language bugs’ who teach Lingo a few words in their language. As it was so popular, it became a TV series with episodes featuring Jargonaise (French), Wèi (Mandarin) and Queso who teaches Spanish, and then a second series featuring the German, Welsh and Urdu bugs was made and broadcast in May 2013.
The website has fun activities as well as links to songs that feature. Current languages include Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, German, Sinhala, French, Welsh, English, Italian, Urdu.
Here’s an example of a song featuring Queso from Youtube, and the link to a counting song
The ‘old’ Primary Languages website with ‘animales animados’ and Jhonny (sic) and co was great (and you can still access the archived version minus games here) but I was really excited to be involved in ‘revamping’ the site and rebranding it. It was developed when languages were to be compulsory and the KS2 Framework was THE bible of primary language learning, but it still stands in my opinion. This site was written to be accessible to KS2 pupils and is organized in topics. It includes:
vocabulary with sound files to help pronunciation;
interesting tips and facts about Spanish/French/Mandarin;
links to other helpful resources
There were limitations to the things that could be done e.g. interactivity, ‘free’ writing, games beyond vocabulary recognition level etc. And I sometimes wonder what happened to other ideas and resources that I saw and wrote that have never appeared on the site – including sentence building games, lesson plans. worksheets and notes for parents.
I’ve used the site with Y2 recently and they love the songs – they listen as they work and have started singing along. Sometimes they want to see the words and other times they want to watch without. The tunes are excellent – the composer did a good job of making the words fit in English Spanish French and Mandarin to the same tune!
I’ve signposted it to my colleagues as well as a way that they can ‘do their bit’ to reinforce Spanish learning; non-threatening as it’s all there for them.
3. Bitesize (now the home of Learning Zone)
The ‘repository’ of all the BBC videos used to be the Learning Zone Class clips, but they have moved to Bitesize (actually since I started writing this post!) The Learning Zone is still there in archive form and still works; it just won’t be updated. If you scroll down to Spanish in the Primary section, there are lots of clips of programmes on a variety of subjects:
However, these videos – and others – are now listed on BBC Bitesize. There are categories for Spanish according to the ‘Key Stage’ system:
(NB there are other languages too in all the above sections! French, German, Italian, Mandarin)
These two clips come under KS2 School and are from a series called Adventures Abroad; a playground game called Abuelita ¿Qué hora es? that I’ve played with classes, and a programme about primary school routine in Spain that I know has been used and enjoyed by others who found Papo the parrot particularly amusing.
This is a series of programmes in which a child, Ashleigh, is helped with her Spanish by friends in Spain via video conferencing. It also includes some songs and cultural information. (Also in French and German)
Here’s the trailer…
and here are the episodes:
Something I’ve noticed is that the clips all have a QR code option for sharing which I like! That means that I can make a display of all the QR codes and then learners can access them whenever they wish (as long as they have an iPad or mobile device!); for example, as an extension/further learning for early finishers.
I really like Virtually there. Ashleigh isn’t a KS1 child; I’d say she’s nearly secondary age so it would appeal to older KS2 learners and also KS3 beginners. I also like the mix of ‘live’ episodes and songs; the gender song is one of my favourites.
So, there’s a round up of BBC online ‘stuff’ for primary learners. Hope it’s helpful!
I’m conscious that I haven’t posted since before school started so I thought I’d share something I’ve made this week.
At WCPS, Foundation and Key Stage 1 teachers follow the Little Languages scheme of work for Spanish. It’s simple to use, has clear instructions and best of all, builds up from a +/- 10 minute activity/ies in FS to 10- 15 minutes in Y1 and 15-20 minutes in Y2. The activities can be repeated during the week or just done once, and there’s lots of repetition. Sound files are included to support the teachers (none of whom are fluent or confident Spanish speakers) and visuals too.
I’m timetabled to teach two Y2classes this half term which is great, so I’m following the same scheme but making it a bit more in depth and adding my own bits to it! At the same time, I need to ensure that the third class have a similar experience; their teacher is doing their lessons with half a class at a time as the other half go swimming and then the other half when they swap.
The last few weeks have been based around animals.
Week one we sang an adapted version of Vengan a ver mi granja featuring a kitten (un gatito) and a duckling (un patito). We sang the song with actions then played Patito/Gatito, a game with cuddly toys.
We sent someone out of the room and hid the ‘gatito’. When they returned we had to find ‘gatito’ by listening to the rest of the class repeating its name; the nearer the person got, the louder we said ‘gatito’. One class was really good at the dynamics whilst the other needed a bit of help as they were loud from the start and didn’t leave themselves enough leeway to get louder without screaming! Then we played with ‘patito’. This led to horror when someone hid the cuddly in the class play oven! The next week, we added ‘perrito’ to the game. Very popular and the children recalled the words clearly after so much repetition.
The next week we moved onto a story about wild animals called ¿Quién soy? in which you see small parts of a wild animal who asks ¿Quién soy? before revealing themself and saying ‘Soy un elefante / un tigre / una jirafa’ etc. Whilst reading the story for the first time, we assigned each animal an action and children showed they understood by doing the action on subsequent retellings. For example, un elefante was arm as a trunk; una jirafa, arm above head like a long neck; un tigre was claws in front; and un león was the same but whilst swishing your hair. They also joined in with ¿Quién soy? and some with the response too. Another game followed in which children mimed an animal and asked ¿Quién soy?, challenging their classmates to guess. Again, plenty of volunteers and lots of language. We also used masks to play a similar game with the images from the story; we looked at the clue images, chorusing ¿Quién soy?, and the child wearing the correct mask jumped up and announced ‘Soy….’
Their favourite is…
… accompanied by puffing out the cheeks (which strangely helped them to say the word!)
To continue the theme I made a simple labelling sheet with 8 animals, three of which they hadn’t met: un mono, una cebra, una serpiente. This led to a really good discussion about how they could work out which animal these words matched.
‘Mono looks like the start of monkey.’
‘Cebra looks like zebra.’ ‘It starts with a s sound not a z or a c though’
‘Serpiente sounds like snake because it’s got a sss at the start’ (that followed me reading the word with a very sibilant s!)
This week, the lesson was to be based around Alarma en la jungla. But I couldn’t it. I’m sure I’ve got it so Im not buying another copy until I’ve had a good look, and I couldn’t find a powerpoint or PDF online (that didn’t require me to sign up to something requiring my credit card details!) so I had to find an alternative.
Step forward, Animales salvajes. This is a lovely book that I bought in Spain for 2€ which has a little rhyme giving a clue to the animal hiding behind the ‘plastic page’. Look at the example below!
We’d met all but one animal so I planned to read it to the class, sharing the book so that everyone could have a look, emphasising or explaining key words to help them guess. For example, the first animal is described as ‘verde’ and they have a chart of Spanish colours on the wall so that gave them a clue that it wasn’t the elephant! However, I was aware that my colleague in the 3rd Y2 class couldn’t speak Spanish and wouldn’t be able to read the book to the children. So I made a powerpoint with embedded sound for her so she could just show the pictures and turn the pages whilst the text and sound came from the IWB. And I added a question to each slide too ¿Qué es? as it’s a common question that they’ll hear repeatedly.
Except we had two special assemblies so we didn’t use it! However, we’re all ready for next week. And hopefully the sound on the IWB in one of the classes will be fixed as the children are eager for a repeat of Veo a un animal on the BBC Primary Spanish website.
Firstly, it’s a guessing song about wild animals.
Secondly, they like the funny pictures and the catchy tune.
And thirdly, they are particularly impressed because I wrote it (and all the other Spanish/French songs, games and vocabulary /information pages on the site) and this has elevated me to superstardom in their eyes!
We did however have a great game of ‘Secret leader’ in which we all sat in a circle and chanted a word whilst doing an action. We sent a child out and nominated a leader who would change the action whenever they wanted (I changed the word in response to their action as it was the first time we’d played but one child did it themselves so we’ll see what happens next time!). The child returned and had to work out the Secret leader. “Oh, it’s like ‘Wink-faint’ isn’t it?” said one child which made me think of the days when we used to ‘murder’ each other and die violently and gorily! This class are only 6 years old though 😉 Again, a game with lots of repetition with the action reinforcing the spoken word.
I’ll report back on how we’re progressing at a later date. Hope you enjoy the resources I’ve shared.
Thanks to Joe Dale for the photo (and video later)!
I had the privilege on 28th March to speak at the South West London Primary Languages Conference #SWLPLC. My talk was entitled There’s more to PLL than ‘that donkey’ (Tip Top Tips for Primary Language Learning) and took inspiration from my son who when asked what he’d done in French usually replied “oh, we did that donkey again”. I have nothing against Mon âne but there’s more to PLL than singing as I went on to explain, sharing some of my favourite activities and ideas. Below is my presentaion and links to resources I used and sites I referenced.
A lovely day and well worth the early morning; great to see Joe, Rachel, Carmel and finally meet Ceri and Sue, and also to have so many positive comments about Primary Language learning flying around the room.
I didn’t get to share my Pinterest pages as they were blocked by the firewall, but here’s the link to my Roman resources for Spanish. And if you flick through, resources for lots of other topics/themes too.
As I explained on the day, when you have to submit your idea so far in advance and aren’t entirely sure how your idea will pan out, it is quite tricky to come up with a witty/apposite title. My choice of Something old Something new was mainly because I envisaged sharing some old ideas and some new ones plus some borrowed from others. However, as I came to think in more detail I began to think more about weddings!
Primary languages have had a bit of a torrid love life, being loved and then rejected by the primary curriculum, nearly getting up the aisle in 2010 but being jilted at the last moment when all was going so well. So I set out to explore the ‘prenuptial agreement’ (or Languages Programmes of Study at KS2), how we can make this ‘marriage’ work, how to convince those that are nervous about married life and how we’ll keep the spark alive.
So I began by looking at the Programmes of Study, highlighting parts of the document that I found interesting.
Purpose of study – Intercultural Understanding is still really important – it’s a vital part of language learning. Providing learners with building blocks AND mortar is key if they are to be able to express what they want in the foreign language. And ‘great works of literature’ doesn’t mean Don Quijote de la Mancha, A la recherché du temps perdu or Mein Kampf at Year 3; poetry is great literature and we regularly use an extract tom Machado in Year 5 as stimulus for writing.
Aims – It’s about a balance and variety of things; a breadth of experience that leads to progression. No arguments there!
The lack of detail in the Attainment target section could be seen as a bit disconcerting but doesn’t give much guidance. However, I’m hanging on to my Key Stage 2 Framework which is still a great document; follow that and you can’t go far wrong. Measuring progress in terms of I can statements is also helpful, and there’s been a great discussion on Primary languages forum this week on what we should be looking for in terms of skills progression. (Want to join in? Join the forum or ask to join the Sharing Primary Languages wikispace)
Subject content – I highlighted that whilst it says ‘substantial progress in one language’, this does not mean that looking at other languages is precluded; in fact, I’d positively encourage it as making links between languages is a vital language learning skill. We discussed how a balance of skills can be achieved when some are more comfortable with speaking activities than the written word which seems more ‘serious’ and permanent. And we mentioned ‘the grammar question’ – it’s not such a bad thing! Nor is looking at languages such as Greek and Latin; very useful for understanding the formation of languages as I discovered on my year abroad at Universitat de les Illes Balears. Finally in this section we thought about laying those foundations for KS3. I referred back to a presentation I’d made at Language World called Bricklaying for Beginners and how bricks need mortar, and how it’s not a wall that needs demolishing at KS3; reinforcing but not knocking down!
I then took each ‘pupils should be taught to..’ statement and split them into listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar, suggesting ideas and activities that might meet them.
There are lots of links on the wiki to many of the ideas but here are some comments:
‘joining in’ is very important and builds confidence as does repetition e.g storytelling, reciting rhymes and poems
making links between graphemes and phonemes is important to enable increased fluency e.g. listening out for phonemes in songs/rhymes, sorting words, reading with your Spanish/French/German glasses so you view graphemes not as you would in your own language
confidence with phonics is vital to teacher and learner; syllables and stress patterns too – hence my pupils’ love of stress punching! (a post about this and ‘animal symphony’ will follow shortly)
books are brilliant – not just fiction though! Non fiction is very popular with boys and also is great for linking to other curricular areas: going back to my analogy, this ‘marriage’ is about give and take! If you can’t find suitable books, make your own as with my Storybird ¿De dónde viene el yak?
learners can decode more complex texts without knowing every word if you provide them with the confidence to do so, embed language learning skills and discuss how languages work from the very start.
writing doesn’t have to be in a book; whiteboards, post-it notes, mini books, Padlet, labels, paper chains, posters, your partner’s hand; they all count!
structuring and scaffolding is fine – trapdoors are great as starters as is making human sentences and physically rearranging words. The Human Fruit machine with 3+ learners holding a large dice with 6 images of nouns/adjectives/verbs etc on them and spin is a great way of making make random sentences and exploring how you can substitute words in existing sentences to make new ones!
I loved grammar at school; I liked the logic of it all and the patterns. So why not exploit that and make verb flowers, grammar songs and raps, dice games and so on. Use highlighters/colour to clarify grammar ( I lived by my red=accusative, green=nominative and blue=dative when learning German) be it nouns, adjectival placement, verb endings/groupings or spelling.
Use activities that are used in other areas of the primary curriculum; learners up level sentences in Literacy all the time so why not in the foreign language? Word pyramids starting with a word and extending to a complex sentence at the base? And card sorting activities too.
So that’s the session in a (pretty big) nutshell!
(Written whilst lying flat on my back in pain so please excuse typos!)
As if we’re not fed up enough of it by now, I thought I’d share a few simple activities on the theme of chocolate!
Here’s a video of a song called Uno, dos, tres, chocolate
It’s a variation on my favourite rhyme –
Uno dos tres CHO
Uno dos tres CO
Uno dos tres LA
Uno dos tres TE
Bate, bate, chocolate
Bate, bate, chocolate
Actions – count on your fingers for the first 4 lines then rub hands together to mix the hot chocolate with the molinillo. I like this rhyme as it’s simple, has actions and allows a bit of cultural explanation about chocolate originating as a drink in South America and being brought over to Europe by explorers.