Today at The Language Show it was my pleasure to deliver a presentation entitled A few of our favourite things.
During a packed 45 minutes I highlighted as many of the things that my pupils say they enjoy as I could. I do talk very fast but as is often the case, I had far more to say than there was time to share.
As promised you can find my slides below including links to things I mentioned such as the songs and games. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below. And if you bought a ticket, you can access my presentation (along with many many more!) on catch up. I’m looking forward to doing just that over the next week or so.
I use the LightBulb Languages scheme of work which can be found here
The latest issue (and all past ones!) of Writeaway can be found here The next deadline for submissions is 9th December.
I ran out of time to share about our amazing Erasmus+ project that has certainly been one of the children at WCPS’s favourite things over the last three years. Hopefully one day I’ll get to present a whole session on it (or record one of my own!) but until then, please have a look at the project blog from the point of view of our school here and the whole project blog (which was written by the Greek partners) here.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post on Instagram asking if anyone else wanted to volunteer for the next TM MFL Icons – 5 minutes or 20 minute presentations. A series of incidents in real life and on social media had put in a bee in my bonnet so I thought – why not? Hence I went online on Saturday morning and talked about the subject of children being withdrawn from (Spanish) lessons for extra English.
I had volunteered for 5 minutes thinking I might not have enough to fill it but I had more than enough because, as usual, once I start, my head fills with more ideas than I originally had. So here is what I said/intended to say!
My title, formulated at speed to encapsulate said bee in my bonnet, is provocative and makes me sound more bolshy than I am; however, I do believe that it’s wrong to ROUTINELY withdraw children from language lessons – in my case Spanish – for extra English/interventions. You hear the argument that these children can’t speak English and they can’t do English so why are they doing another language, and I just think there are lots of reasons why it’s not a good idea to routinely remove them from the Spanish lessons.
First of all, we do a lot of work where everybody is working together, where everybody is repeating things together, what everybody is learning together. There’s safety in that and when you’re struggling, having everybody doing the same thing at the same time can build up your confidence and can give you that little boost that you need to be able to give it a go. I always say to my class that I cannot ask for more if you are doing your best and if you’re still only managing to get 5 out 10 on your own, I can’t make you work any harder than you already are so that support from your peers is really important. It’s important that learners don’t feel “set apart” too. That feeling of comfort and of solidarity with your peers is really important, and not just for those that are low ability or SEND. We get quite a few pupils at one of my schools that come to us because they’ve been putting in housing in our area and they’re with us for a short period of time and then move on somewhere else. It’s important that they quickly feel comfortable and are part the class, and I think the language lesson is a time when they are with their peers, to use a cliche, on a level playing field. I think that’s because of the structure of Spanish lessons where there is a lot of recycling, reiterating, retrieving and going back over stuff that we done before so there is that moment when children think “oh hang on, I can fit into this; I can do this!” One child joined the school towards the end of last year and about three weeks in, his mum approached me in the playground at hometime and said “Oh, YOU’RE Señora Stevens! My child keeps talking about how much he loves your lessons. He’s so happy when he’s in your lesson!” That’s a special feeling and made me think how much he’d have missed if he’d been withdrawn to improve his English!
Secondly I think the level of support offered in language lessons through modelling, scaffolding and lots of rehearsing is important and so beneficial. We do a lot of practising; saying things all together, rehearsing it with a partner, we listen and respond. There’s a lot of that oral rehearsal before we start to read and then we write. We might use whiteboards to practise before we commit it to our book. All this rehearsal is great training and it can be applied in their English learning. All this is also building up their resilience as they make and correct mistakes, and their understanding of how to learn language whether it’s Spanish or whether it’s English.
Learning another language also shows that there is value in speaking languages other than English. Sometimes children who have English as an additional language and/or who speak another language at home feel that they want to hide that and I think it’s important that they know that other people speak different languages. I enjoy making comparisons between languages and bringing other languages into lessons. I have a couple of pupils who speak Italian and routinely share words so we can see similarities and differences. And learners love it when I try words in Urdu, Punjabi and Arabic as I find it hard to mimic their pronunciation. They may speak another language but their skills have value.
There are also many ways in which we are reinforcing and supporting English literacy as we are learning Spanish. When we talk about nouns and adjectives, verbs and so on, we are echoing the vocabulary of their literacy lessons. When I explain that months of the year in Spanish don’t have capital letters, it’s an opportunity to reinforce the rules of capitalisation in English, that we do put a capital letter for months of the year, and that a capital letter is needed at the start of a sentence in Spanish just as we do in English. When we look at word order in Spanish, we compare it to English. When we read aloud or practise conversations, we’re working on prosody (something that is high on the Primary English agenda at the moment) ensuring that we’re using expression to create the ‘music of the language’ In Spanish they helpfully put question marks at either end of the question, and exclamation marks too to enclose the words as a signal that this has to be exclaimed. I liken this to the way English uses speech marks to enclose words spoken – the ¿ ? even echo the 66 99 of ” “!
One of the ‘incidents’ that prompted my idea was a colleague on LiPS being asked to stop teaching French phonics as children were getting confused with their English phonics. There was a long discussion about this, and the prevailing view was that phonics should be taught. For a start they’re one of the pillars of primary language learning, and are vital to successful pronunciation, decoding and writing. A comment that stuck with me was ‘if your one session a week is having a detrimental effect on several years worth of English phonics teaching, you must be doing something very right and perhaps the English phonics teaching could learn something from you!’ Whilst that is playing Devil’s advocate, there is some truth in the support offered by comparing phoneme/grapheme links. As I teach Spanish, there are fewer ‘tricky sounds’ than in French, or English, but by focusing on how phonics are important to us when learning how to say words accurately, we’re drawing attention to the need to use phonics in English too, to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words. I always talk about using our Spanish glasses when we’re looking at Spanish text, something which really came into its own when I had a native Spanish speaker in class as we talked about how she had to put on her English glasses to read English!
There’s a lot to be said for experiencing success. If children experience success, it builds their confidence. The more confident they feel, the more risks they’ll take. Initial success might be very small but they add up. As we do lots of repetition and work with a limited vocabulary, the ‘answer’ is often repeated in multiple versions so success is more accessible. Plus we take small steps rather than giant leaps which are less scary! In a previous session at TM MFL Icons, Jane talked about the importance of joy and I so agree! I often wonder what it must be like to spend your whole day struggling and striving without that feeling of success and contentment. Success breeds confidence, and if you know that success is attainable, you’re more motivated to make that extra effort. Learners may not experience that success in other areas of the curriculum and by taking children away for all or even part of the lesson, it denies them that opportunity. There are lots of anecdotes on LiPS that support this. From my experience, I’ve had a number of children who have had multiple issues in other areas of the curriculum but have taken to language learning to the extent that I’ve had to explain to the (disbelieving) class teacher that they have achieved some of the same targets as their peers.
I’m not suggesting that language learning and Spanish lessons are some magic panacea to all SEND/EAL/other needs. I have at least one pupil who doesn’t access any part of the lesson due to his specific needs (he accesses very little of the curriculum in general) and there are modifications that can be needed. However, many of these are Quality First teaching strategies and will benefit all – I know that changes I made following a FutureLearn MOOC on Dyslexia and Language Learning have had a positive effect on many of the class. Nor am I saying that Spanish is more important than English or any other subject. It is entirely possible that there is little choice in some cases as to the timing of sessions (due to TA timetables and so on.) However, I would welcome some thought to be given to when interventions are staged and their effect.
Have you got a point of view? Let me know in the comments!
The programme will begin with Baroness Coussins speaking about the importance of languages for the future of the UK which will be followed by presentations (predominantly in Spanish) in three strands – primary, secondary and general interest – on a variety of themes including gamification, ICT, culture, history, literature, motivation and projects. Lunch is always delicious and an integral part of the experience, and the day will end with dancing or wine and jamón!
I’ll be presenting straight after Baroness Coussins (no pressure!) and sharing my ideas entitled Take One Book.
The programme is below and you can find details of how to sign up here . I’m looking forward to it; please say ¡hola! if you’re attending!
I once more had the pleasure of presenting at Language World, the annual conference of Association for Language Learning (ALL). My presentation was entitled Take One Book and was the sequel to the presentation I did at PHOrum in November (you can read about it here) this time choosing a book that was originally written in Italian and has no English translation.
I really enjoyed sharing my ideas of how to use ¡Ojo Oso! and was pleasantly surprised that I managed to finish in time and have time for questions. I experimented with using subtitles/captions during my presentation after comments by Helen Simpson on LiPS made me think about accessibility. I need to watch back the recording of my session (which has just been made available for those who registered for the conference but missed the session) to see exactly how accurate they were but I know that when I spoke Spanish they definitely had trouble as they were set to English! For example un agujero became ‘all alcohol’ and una madriguera became ‘mother together.’
Below you can find a PDF of my presentation. I’ve removed the story slides due to copyright but you can find links to versions of the story read online, as well as to where you can purchase a copy.
At the end there is a link to my Pinterest where I collected together materials for the talk, some of which I didn’t use! You can also access it via this QR code.
Perhaps you have ideas that spring to mind? Or you have a book that you could use in a similar way? If you have any comments or questions, do leave a comment below.
Postscript – you can watch the ‘standby/rehearsal’ recording of the session 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)
Now that term is at an end I have finally got around to uploading my presentation to Slideshare and writing this post!
As I said previously, it was a very successful day and I hoped that what I had planned to share would live up to that which had gone before! There were lots of encouraging noises made as I was speaking and also some lovely messages afterwards so I think there were at least a few nuggets of gold!
On Thursday, I had the privilege – and it really was a privilege – of delivering one of the keynotes at the Primary Languages Networkconference in Lymm. It was a day jam packed with ideas and demonstrated the power and value of a community of teachers and learners, bouncing ideas of each other and sharing their light bulb moments. And celebrating those ideas too.
I did my best to sketch note all the sessions, including the Spotlight sessions, and you can see them below. I would recommend that you follow the PLN blog to keep abreast of all the fantastic ideas that spring out of the network (This post was inspired by the day), and even consider joining for further support and inspiration!
Thanks to Janet for inviting me – I had a wonderful day! You can see some of the highlights in the video at the bottom of the post!
Details of my session will follow in the next post!
Keeping it Primary – the wonderful Therese Comfort shared what makes Primary language learning so special, with special stickers from La Petite Souris/El Ratoncito Pérez/ die Zahnfee.
How to identify progress – Dan Alliot talked about what progress looks like in primary language learning, and challenged us to flip the triangle so it’s not always point first!
Embedding phonics in Language Learning – Sue Cave challenged us to pronounce Hungarian words using phonics to support us, talking us through the 7 stepping stones to ‘code breaking’ and sharing ideas of how to practice and reinforce phonics in French.
Throughout the day there were Spotlights – shorter presentations of one or two ideas each from PLN associates and also exhibitors. I’ve tried to capture them all in the above – some with more success than others (spot the pig that looks suspiciously like a cow!) Ideas included songs for EDL, games, purposeful writing activities using technology, AR dragons, using actions and creating raps and poems.
This weekend I’ve been in Nottingham at the NCL (I think that’s what it’s now called!) for the National eTwinning Conference. “Interesting” given the events on Friday but also good timing as I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather have been at such a time, reaffirming the joy and value of collaboration.
After several requests following fascination with my sketchnoting at last year’s conference, I volunteered to lead a seminar on sketch noting, thus completing my busy week with a third presentation. You can see a very similar presentation on my Slideshare channel here. I also sketchnoted as many sessions as I could, trying not to be intimidated by the wonderful @inkythinking InkyEllieC from inkythinking.com who was provided ‘real time graphic animation’ of the event.
I’ll post my sketchnotes as soon as I’ve had time to tidy them up (not a spare moment all weekend!) as well as my reflections on the event. A hint: I had a great time!
My second session was all about cross curricular language learning; how languages support other areas of the curriculum like literacy and maths as well as how languages can be taught in conjunction with and through other subjects and vice versa.
I mentioned my Pinterest pages; here’s the link to my Roman resources for Spanish. And if you click through the presentation, you’ll find links to things like the music for The Carnival of the Animals, a slideshare of Querido Zoo, links to BuildyourWildself and Switchzoo for making hybrid animals and that cheesy song in Spanish about the planets.
Here’s my Keynote presentation from today’s Sanako Technology in Language Teaching (TILT) conference.
In it, I reflect on my journey in language teaching, reflecting on the increasing role that technology has played. Along the way, I revealed my experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly) and discussed some of the tools that have proved useful, brilliant and/or indispensable.
If you click the slides in the Slideshare, you’ll find some hyperlinks. A few things to which I referred:
The Year 3 lesson progression that I didn’t manage to fit in is described here.
If you go to my Slideshare account you’ll find other presentations about technology that you may find helpful. Unfortunately Slideshare has stopped Slidecast so there’s no audio anymore but some presentations can be found at Lisibo Talks.
And if you use the search box on my blog you’ll find posts about all sorts of tools!
Any questions, please tweet, email or write a comment below!