articles – ¡Vámonos! The musings of Lisibo
 

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Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 11.26.58The Guardian is having a ‘Language learning in focus’  week  and the Teacher Network has been publishing articles related to news ideas and resources for language learning.

There have been articles about why people started teaching languages, an interesting article on where we are and where we need to be in relation to language learning, ideas about how best to teach languages, references to resources in the Guardian Teacher Network and ‘my best language lesson’ too.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 11.29.24Today the article is about Primary teachers’ best tips for language lessons. I was asked to contribute and along with others including Clare Seccombe, have shared some ideas that have worked in my experience.

And there’s also an article on how primary schools are getting ready for 2014 from which I’d pick out two paragraphs that highlights a couple of concerns I have – and I know others share them!

“A lot of teachers would appreciate a bit more guidance and practical help, whether it’s schemes of work or things they might be able to read,” adds Board. (Kathryn Board of CfBT)”That’s obviously not what the government wants to do – they want to provide big headlines and how you get there is up to you. But it’s quite tricky because we must not forget this is a new subject, it’s never been compulsory at key stage two before.”

 

Driscoll (Patricia Driscoll, reader in education at Canterbury Christchurch University) fears the draft curriculum does not place enough emphasis on developing children’s cultural understanding. “In ‘purpose of study’ the draft curriculum says: ‘Learning a foreign language is liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures.’ But then when you come to the ‘curriculum aims’ and ‘subject content’ there’s nothing about culture.”

“Languages are taught through interactive methods but also through cultural identity and understanding,” she says.

I wonder what’ll be up tomorrow? There’s certainly a web chat planned so if you’re free between 6 and 8pm tomorrow evening (Thursday 16th) join in with your ideas about creative lessons and teaching tips!

Following on from a mentions here and here and a short review, I had my first article published in The TES today! So exciting!

Here’s the link to the article as it appeared. The original text is below – doesn’t look like it was edited much, a fact about which I am very chuffed!

I emailed Whitehouse Common immediately and told them – and within minutes it was on the school website.

Lots of lovely tweets too – thanks to @valleseco whose tweet was the first I knew of publication, and @bellaale @IrisConnect @davidErogers @matttodd1 @NajmC @suzibewell @whcps @bootleian @bgflnews @chrisfullerisms @TaskMagic @dughall and anyone else who’s tweeted it since I wrote this post!

Hope this won’t be my last article…

Me gusta / Je t’aime / Ich mag / ???

What do learners like doing in MFL? Lisa Stevens ponders this and reflects on activities that her primary school pupils have enjoyed.

When I think back to my best experiences as a learner, they were memorable because they captured my attention and imagination. And it seems that many other learners have a similar experience.

I asked my pupils aged 3-11 what they enjoyed about learning languages, and they came up with many ideas. A class I taught in Reception who are now in Year 3 always want to play a memory game involving painted toenails because a member of their class holds the school record for the game (he was 4 when he set it!), and a Year 6 group remember retelling the story of El Nabo Gigante (The Enormous Turnip) when they were in Year 2 with silly hats and actions.

These were one off examples – when I asked a group of year 6s, they were more general, listing singing, rhymes and chanting as a favourite activity because they don’t do that in other lessons. They also said that they could better remember things that they had learned this way as they recalled the tune or the rhythm as well as the words. Towards the end of Year 6 we do a unit on a Spanish café and one activity involved rewriting a song about ordering in a café to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas. The task involved recalling vocabulary but was more then that as learners had to consider whether the rhythm of the words they were suggesting fitted the tune, making them concentrate on stress patterns and syllables. It also offered the opportunity to be imaginative as each group wanted to be the most original and perhaps funniest.

This type of creative task, using language in ‘unusual’ ways, is popular in other year groups too. In response to the story ¡Fuera de aquí Horrible Monstruo Verde! (Go away Big Green Monster), Year 3 used 2D shapes from their Maths lessons to create faces, feature by feature with a photograph taken at each stage. They then to wrote their own (simplified) version of the story saying hello to each new facial feature then telling it to go away using the photographs to create a comic strip. The sense of achievement – “I wrote a story in Spanish!” – was echoed in Year 5 when they rewrote a section of a famous Spanish poem, La Primavera by Antonio Machado, then went on to write their own poems about seasons in Spanish. Many of them were unsure about writing poems in English let alone Spanish, and here the language learning fitted well with their Literacy lessons. Year 4 were equally proud of their work in Healthy Heroes week, creating Superheroes Saludables (Healthy Superheroes), and building on their previous learning about sport and food in Spanish to create a clean living hero and unhealthy enemies. They did something no other class had done and, in a theme week, that holds great sway.

What do all these activities have in common? They were all led by the learners, all involved independence and imagination, and they all involved a challenge. The learners enjoyed themselves, feeling a sense of achievement when they’d finished, and I enjoyed ‘teaching’ them as each learner was able to stamp their individuality on the task.

Lisa is a Primary Language educator and consultant.  She is PLL and International coordinator at Whitehouse Common Primary School, and works with her LA (Birmingham) as a Language Coach supporting schools with their language provision. She is an Apple Education Mentor, an eTwinning Ambassador and BGfL MFL Curriculum Associate, and is on the Spanish Committee of ALL. 

(I know – that’s not all strictly accurate, but it was when I wrote the post!)

 

Fast forward

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Image by Cristóbal Cobo Romaní

Fast forward is the (long awaited by many!) article  published today in The TES magazine about ICT in MFL.

Yojana Sharma interviewed lots of fellow MFL Tweeters a few months back, gathering our thoughts on the use and importance of ICT in language learning.  She’s done a good job to condense all our thoughts as she spent on average 45 minutes interviewing us on the ‘phone.

So, if you’re interested in what Helena Butterfield, Clare Seccombe, Chris Harte, Isabelle Jones, Joe Dale, Alex Blagona, Suzi Bewell, Jo Rhys-Jones and José Picardo think about ICT and MFL, as well as the wonderfully named Norbert Pachler from IOE, check out the article.

Oh, and someone described as ‘widely regarded as a trailblazer for ICT use in Primary Languages’ has a word or two to say as well!

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