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Tag: catalan

A visit to Foyles

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Yesterday I was in London for the annual ALL Council meeting, this year held at the Institute of Education. I deliberately set out early so that I could visit Foyles on Charing Cross Road as it now houses Grant and Cutler on the 4th floor.  To be honest I could easily have spent far longer than the 40 minutes I had on 4th floor alone, and there are several other floors that were calling to me as well, including the cafe!
However, 40 minutes was all I had and I spent it browsing books with several purposes.

  1. Seeing if I could find anything to inspire my boys with their language learning
  2. Looking for things for my own language development.
  3. Looking for new and interesting materials to use in my teaching.

Given that Sohn#1 had just bought all his books for uni, and didn’t really know what he wanted as a gift, coupled with the extortionate price of Swedish and Norwegian books, I failed to find him anything. Hijo#2 has just purchased all the books on list for A level French and I couldn’t find any Spanish text books that a) we didn’t already have or b)I thought were worth buying for him to self study so I didn’t buy anything for him specifically either. However, that’s OK as it reminded me of my copy of Harry potter á l’école des sorciers as well as reminding me to look out some Spanish texts from my past to lend to #2, and #1 has just had some books for the history part of his course.

So on to purpose 2 – my language development.
I can speak 6 languages with varying success from fluency to basic conversation, but I only really use two on a regular basis at the moment, teaching Spanish and speaking English. I don’t like to neglect the others so I made some purchases, partly to motivate me and also to keep my brain in tune!

I studied Catalan at university (a loooong time ago) and, having not used it for many years, ten years ago I rediscovered my ability to speak it during a partnership between my school and a school in Barcelona. Since then I’ve not lost my love of speaking it once more, and over the summer I did a FutureLearn course on Getting to know Catalonia which reignited my need to read in Catalan.I’m eagerly awaiting for a promised FutureLearn course on Ramon Llull but in the meantime I purchased a dual language anthology of poems. I don’t read enough poetry and I find it particularly exciting to ‘hear’ the rhythm of the language as I read.  

Since living in Switzerland I’ve been learning German; I’ve (nearly) stopped beating myself up about not having learned more while I was there and can certainly understand and often say far more than I think I can. Duolingo keeps me ticking over, although phrases such as Mein Kopf ist nicht aus Beton and Dies ist eine heilige Eule aren’t that useful on a day to day basis, and I’ve fortunately not had to declare that Eine Wespe ist in meiner Hose. However, I think it’s time I did some reading too. I have a collection of children’s books (see here  here and here) including Mr Men books thanks to my MFL Besties Secret Santa, and Sohn#1 has left some of his books at home but I thought I’d try something a little less challenging before I embark on Kafka and Brecht! So I chose this dual text compilation of short stories to build my confidence as I can cross reference and check my understanding. I find that sort of exercise really helpful as I pick apart how sentences are constructed; I haven’t really been taught about sentence structure and word order so it’s quite interesting finding patterns for myself!

Then I decided that I’d like a couple more PixiBuch as I love them – they’re small and also only £1.50. These overlap with my purpose 3 – to find new and interesting materials for teaching as I will use them when I start the long awaited and long postponed German club. Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot is a traditional German fairy tale and Du bist bei mir: Gute-Nacht-Gebete contains some lovely goodnight rhymes that sound marvellous in my head (where my accent is beautiful and perfectly German!)

One of the SDP objectives for both schools at which I teach is reading. At both schools, staff are being asked to ensure that there are times in each day when children can read, and also a time for the teacher to read to the pupils.  Children need to be exposed to a variety of texts and their vocabulary grows the more they read and/or are read to. Therefore, I had a look for some suitable texts that I could share. I have a number of Mr Men books in Spanish and bought a couple more. The stories are familiar to the children so, in conjunction with the illustrations, they can follow. However, I’m a little concerned that they are quite wordy so was looking for something else too. 

First I found this lovely book of fairytales. Each is just two pages long and starts with a page of ‘pictogramas’ that are used to tell the story in rebus form i.e. words are replaced with a picture. I’m looking forward to sharing them with Y3 – and the younger children when I get the opportunity as I’m pretty sure that they’ll soon be joining in with the story, ‘reading’ the images. 

Then I found a couple of boxes of ‘100 Cuentos Cortos‘ that contain 50 cards, each with a short story on either side. The stories are very short – some only a paragraph long – so there’s little time for children to get discombobulated by not understanding every word, and there’ll be time to repeat them more slowly a second time to allow a greater chance of comprehension. The vocabulary is simple, and the illustrations are clear and give a good idea of the story. There are a variety of themes including weather, animals, different seasons and festivals, and some are based around traditional tales. I’ll probably use these with Y4 and possibly Y5.

 

Finally I bought another dual language book for Y6 – El Principito. After the first few chapters that set the scene which will take longer than one session, the chapters are very short meaning that one can be read each lesson. The beauty of the dual text is that I can read the Spanish version then leave the chapter in both Spanish and English for children to read before the next lesson to clarify doubts, ensure understanding and, for some, dissect the texts. 

 

Perhaps I’m being overly hopeful about how well this will go, but they do say to Aim for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

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I will never ever forget my visit to Cal Figarot, HQ of Els Castellers de Vilafranca. An overwhelming evening of fun, fear and awe that left me quite emotional as we watched – and participated in a small way – in a rehearsal of this very special group of ‘human tower builders’. (Sadly the photographs disappeared when my website was hacked, and the links to my school website are out of date too – I’ll upload them again when I have a moment!)  Therefore I am a little sad that I’m not in the UK at the moment as they’re ‘on tour!’

The Human Towers are a three hundred year old tradition of building multi-story human towers called “castells”.  The great Human Towers perform at many Mediterranean town festivals and are one of the oldest and most spectacular traditions in Barcelona and Catalonia.

The 170 member Castellers de Vilafranca, the world’s best Human Towers team, will debut in London on Friday, 19th April, at Potters Field Park near London Bridge.  Each tower will be an exercise in intense concentration, strength and balance as the barefooted participants form successively smaller tiers – resembling a human wedding cake – by climbing up the bodies of each layer to mount the shoulders of the previous tier until the tower is complete.

Once UNESCO had declared the Human Towers as Intangible Cultural Heritage [2010], a huge festival was hosted in the Old Estrella Damm Factory in celebration, in the heart of Barcelona during which a variety of concerts took place and human towers were built to commemorate the much anticipated recognition. It is estimated that over 2,500 people attended the large-scale event.

(from Estrella Damm press release)

The Castellers will in London from Friday 19th April – Sunday 21st April, performing in various places. The schedule is below and I’ve attached a PDF as well. If you are in or around London, or fancy a day trip, I know that you will not be disappointed. ‘Human towers’ are gobsmacking – and this lot are record breaking world champions!

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CASTELLERS DE VILAFRANCA

THE HUMAN TOWERS OF BARCELONA

IN LONDON

19th – 21st April 2013

 

Friday 19th April

 

12.00 h            Performance at Potters Fields Park, Tooley Street, Southwark. London Bridge Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

17.00 h            Performance at Broadgate Circle, City of London. Moorgate Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

18.00 h            Performance at Broadgate Circle, City of London. Moorgate Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

Saturday 20th April

 

12.00 h            Performance at Clapham Common, near the Windmill, South Side, Lambeth. Clapham Common Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

13.00 h            Performance at Clapham Common, near the Windmill, South Side, Lambeth. Clapham Common Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

 

14.00 h            Performance at Clapham Common, near the Windmill, South Side, Lambeth. Clapham Common Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

Sunday 21st April

11.00 h             Performance at Millennium Bridge, near the museum, Bankside, Southwark. Mansion House Station

13.00 h            Performance at Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, Southwark. London Bridge Station. St. George’s Day Celebration

Supported by:

Estrella Damm, Barcelona 1876

Equity Point London

Delegation of Catalonia to the United Kingdom

Institut Ramon Llull London

Catalans UK

Vilafranca del Penedès City Council

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And if you can’t make it, they’ll be in Salisbury in June. And you can catch the passion in the below video.

 

PS There’s a movie about them too! The Human Towers

Zoo Barcelona

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Yes, it’s another Barcelona post but nothing to do with football – promise!

Last week when I was in Barcelona on a Comenius Regio visit, my colleague Jane and I hared around numerous sites in the city, collecting resources.

One place we visited was the Zoo de Barcelona. Are all zoos the same, we wondered? Well, no! Whilst there were plenty of animals in common, this was nothing like Twycross (our local zoo) You could get very close to the animals (a little too close we felt in some cases – aren’t hippos and rhinos rather dangerous animals to be kept in enclosures with 2 foot high walls) and the information was in three languages – Catalan, Castillian (Spanish) and English. Hence I pootled around happily snapping signs to the amusement of anyone who saw me, ready for comparison of languages activities, guessing games and reading activities.

I also took plenty of animals pictures to fit into our creative learning journeys – Are you my Mummy?  The Circle of Life. Big teeth. A walk on the wildside. The Blue Planet. And more.  It’s amazing how many links you can come up with when faced with a near empty zoo and armed with a camera and a creative thinking colleague to ‘bounce’ off. We tried to get some footage/ images for Down Under but the kangaroos were uncooperative, lying on their backs in the sun and  refusing to hop.

Anyhow, I’ve been thinking about these ideas and will be collecting the many pictures into folders and writing up some ideas for colleagues as well as giving them the opportunity to think for themselves given the footage and photos. And I had a look at the website to see what I could find.

Like the Zoo, it is tri-lingual and I LOVE IT! At last I’ve found a site in Spanish to rival the French Zoo Palmyre

There’s an interactive map that allows you to click on an animal silhouette and discover photos and information about that animal – scientific classification, habitat, how endangered it is and also a lovely chunk of writing about the animal too. And it’s all available in the three languages – great for Spanish teaching but also good so that the non-specialist who wants to use the Spanish version has a ‘safety net’ ;o)

Then there’s the Espacio Lúdico or recreational area where there are some fun games. One involves solving clues to find out to which animal the pawprints belong. Simple sentences that can be decoded with minimum help and a bit of previous knowledge of animals perhaps! And so easy to use in non discrete language lessons – which had be jumping up and down excitedly!

Other sections caught my attention such as the zoo rules, the history of the zoo and even the map of how to get there and the price list. Some people say I have a one track mind and never switch off from learning mode – I guess I do! And it doesn’t bother me much to be honest! If only there were enough hours in the day to explore all the ideas that come to mind in a place like that!

As we work on our ideas at school, I’ll try to share as many as I can here.

I’ll leave you with Copito de Nieve (Floquet / Snowflake), for many, the (sadly deceased) face of Barcelona Zoo. A powerful image and thought.

 

 

I’ve never made  secret of my love of football, nor my love of Spain.  And I think most people who read my blog also know that Barcelona is very very dear to my heart, as a city and also as a team.

I haven’t been blogging here over the last week but I have been posting on my school website where you can catch a flavour of some of my exploits on our (final) Comenius Regio project.

One of the highlights of the visit was a trip and tour of the Camp Nou – I caused great amusement with my squealing, jumping, flapping and at times tears!

So I am VERY VERY excited about tomorrow and the Champions League final. It is so true that FCBarcelona is ‘més que un club’ – it’s a huge part of people’s life and the club is so much more than a football team.

In preparation, here’s the Himne de Barça – the children in Y5 at Els Pins sang it for us whilst we were there – everyone of them! This is the karaoke version so you can join in.

Want the words in English? See below!

Catalan

English

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