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Mi Madrid

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If you’ve read the Lisibo Ltd page of this site recently, you may have read the following under my activities for 2017:

An exciting project for young learners of Spanish – sworn to secrecy but all will be revealed soon!

Well ‘soon’ has arrived and I’m pleased to tell you all about it!

In July I was asked to join with Afónica  (a sound production company specialising in fiction and documentary in English and Spanish) to write a pitch for an audio programme, aimed at KS2 learners of Spanish (7-11 year olds), to be broadcast by the BBC. In August we discovered that our idea featuring a Spanish boy, Quique and his new friend Charlie who has moved to Madrid from England, had been chosen. And that’s where some really hard work began, writing ten 15 minute episodes in which Quique and Charlie explore Madrid, discussing culture and language as well as visiting some iconic places like the Retiro Park, the Rastro market and the Real Madrid football stadium, and meeting some of their neighbours. Those scripts were then recorded in Madrid by some wonderful actors, some songs were added (wish I could claim that I’d written them as they are brilliant but I’m not that talented!)and Nicolas of Afónica worked his magic, putting it all together. And at 330am (UK time) tonight, episode 1 will be broadcast on Schools Radio. I am so excited; I may even be awake at 330am I’m that excited. However, you don’t need to get up in the middle of the night as each episode will be uploaded to the website and available as soon as it has been broadcast. What’s more, you can listen to the separate ‘chunks’ already by going to the Mi Madrid Schools Radio website and accessing the Clips section The idea is that the broadcasts can be listened to as an entire episode but also in chunks and that they are used to support the teaching of Spanish at KS2, particularly to students who have already learned some Spanish and are now 9-11 years old. The programmes are predominantly in Spanish with some English used to clarify and explain. Charlie asks questions that the students may well be wanting to ask – about Spanish life as well as the Spanish language – and Quique and especially his mum, Sofía, answer them. I tried to include as many quirky facts and interesting words as I could get away with because that was what grabbed my attention as a young learner, and I hope that this comes through as you listen. Here’s the episode schedule so you can see what’s coming up.   I am really proud of this project and hope that lots of teachers and learners enjoy it. I’m also really pleased that Clare Seccombe of Light Bulb Language fame, has written the Teacher’s Notes to accompany the series as I know they will be amazing. They will be available very soon I hope, and will give ideas on how to use the audio as well as notes on what happens in each episode, vocabulary, and some visuals that will support the content. Please let me know if you listen, if you enjoyed it and how you used it. My favourite episode to write was Episode 8 ¡Hala Madrid! although Episode 6 Masterchef  was a close second. I’ll tell you which I think has turned out best when I’ve heard them all but please leave a comment about your favourites too!   SaveSave

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My husband often has to travel abroad with his work and, knowing my love of books, has been trained to look put for things I might like to use in the classroom. This last week, as usual, he texted me from the airport to ask about books I might like. Only he wasn’t in Spain or Germany, Switzerland or Austria, countries that speak languages I teach (or love!); he was in Lithuania.However, I am always up for a challenge and when he sent a picture of the front of the book, I decided I liked his choice and said ‘why not?’ I think he fell in love with the covers too as he bought me two.

And so I met Kakė Makė! I couldn’t understand a word of the books, but I immediately loved the bright pictures and quirky character of Kakė Makė that comes through the illustrations.

From the pictures I decided that Kakė Makė ir Netvarkos Nykštukas was about Kakė Makė getting up to mischief, and making an incredible mess, and an elf taking her toys away. Kakė Makė then follows the elf and tries to get the toys back by completing some tasks including a maze and fighting a monster. I also worked out that Kakė Makė is a nickname and the girl’s real name is Kornelija

I’ve since found this video that tells the story in English – and I wasn’t far off! It seems that Kakė Makė translates as GooGoo MooGoo!

And then I looked at Kakė Makė ir didelė Tamsa and concluded that it’s about a shadowy monster that scares Kakė Makė and her friends, and Kakė Makė sets off to find it, capture it in a bag and dispose of it. * What do you think? Here’s a video of the story with no narration!

I think that, as a language teacher, it’s good sometimes to put yourself into the place of a learner who has very limited or no understanding (as was my case) of the language being presented. Not only does it help you to understand the level of panic that can arise when faced with a page of unfamiliar and apparently unintelligible  words, but it also clarifies how you have to rely on all the clues you can find to help you.

  • Pictures – very helpful here
  • Cognates – virtually non existent; I found laberintas and bibliotekininke
  • Punctuation like capital letters for names  – I worked out that Tamsa is the name of the monster and Pipiru is the dog. So some help but not a great deal!
  • Knowledge about stories – there’s usually an opening before a build up to a problem, the problem gets fixed and there’s a conclusion.

I also looked at the text and noticed a couple of things:

  1. Kakė Makė is written Kakėi Makėi a couple of times, both times at the start of a sentence, and once Kakės Makės; what do those suffixes mean? I wonder if it’s to do with subject/object of the sentence? Or possession?
  2. Speech is denoted by – – as in Spanish, and quotations by ,,    ” which I found interesting.
  3. I’m fascinated by the diacritical marks and accents. I want to know how they work! Does it alter the sound of the letters as in French, or the stress pattern as in Spanish? And is Lithuanian like Swedish (which I’m trying to learn on Duolingo)

I’m still not sure how, if at all, I’ll use them in my classroom but I’ve certainly enjoyed ‘reading’ them and exploring the world of Kakė Makė which, judging by my online searches, is quite extensive in Lithuania with product endorsements, themed parties, toys and much more! There’s an app you can download or you can play online (although cleaning her teeth isn’t the most exciting activity ever..) You can even be her friend on Facebook! I’m holding out to meet a Lithuanian speaker to help me read it properly!

*(After working this out, I did resort to GoogleTranslate to find out that the title means Kake Make and Big Darkness so I think I’m on the right lines!)

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