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.
On June 16th I travelled to London for a day long conference organised by UnderstandingModernGov on the subject of Primary Languages – “Successfully implement the new Primary Modern Foreign Languages curriculum”. It was great to see Janet, Sylvie, Nadine and Julie, and to meet all the delegates to spend a day exploring how we can effectively plan, manage and deliver languages to primary aged pupils.
My part of the day was all about using technology; you can see the presentation below, and you can also access links to tutorials etc here.
I sketch noted all the sessions as you can see below.
Policy to practicality – Janet Lloyd
Phonics and Literacy – Julie Prince
Develop an innovative approach to Primary Language Teaching – Sylvie Barlett-Rawlings with Nadine Chadier
Additionally, you can see what Janet said on her blog.
On May 6th I made the trip across Birmingham in rush hour traffic to attend TeachMeetWM organised by the irrepressible and absolutely bonkers Simone Haughey at her school Robin Hood Primary. I sadly missed the choir singing and the start of proceedings thanks to a staff meeting and the traffic, but I arrived in the end to be greeted by delicious Chinese food saved for me by Sim and lots of friendly faces including John Rolfe and AnaPaula Booth from the British Council, and the staff of Robin Hood who are obviously well used to Simone as they didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked if they had a couple of hula hoops I could borrow!
There were many great presentations on the night including a couple via video, and you can see what you missed by looking at the Storify of the tweets at the end of the post. However, my presentation is below as promised for those who were there. How I managed to explain it all in 7 minutes I do not know but I avoided being attacked with a cuddly toy! Do leave a comment if you have questions!
I’ve just completed the final week of the FutureLearn MOOC, Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching. A little early but I wanted to get it done as I need to concentrate on report writing 🙁
This week focussed on phonological and orthographic awareness, skills that are needed for successful spelling, reading and comprehension. It underlined the need to move from word level to text level, and the value of shared reading, pre-reading/pre-teaching, and of constant checking of comprehension to avoid gaps in understanding being left unplugged.
Below are my sketch notes. I hope they’re useful!
4.3 – Developing phonological and phonemic awareness (Professor Joanna Nijawska)
4.6 – Multisensory tasks to teach spelling
4.8 – Helping children with reading comprehension difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)
4.10 – Developing dyslexic learners’ reading skills (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)
I’ve just completed Week 3 of the Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning course. This week focussed on teaching grammar and vocabulary to learners with dyslexia. Some dyslexic learners explained the techniques that did and didn’t work for them and how their learning environment affects their learning, some language teachers explained how they might teach grammar and vocabulary to dyslexic learners and we were challenged to mind map out learning and also design a task based on our learning so far.
Below are my sketch notes once more. I hope you find them helpful. I shared them in the comments section of the task on mind mapping as I think that sketch notes could be seen as mind maps with pictures. I certainly find them very helpful!
3.2 Dyslexic learners talk about learning strategies.
3.5 Teaching vocabulary and grammar (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)
Week 2 of the course focussed on understanding what aspects of language learning dyslexic students might find difficult and how we can assist in making language learning more enjoyable and less challenging for these students by making accommodations.
Below are my sketch notes of the videos; I’m enjoying sketch noting and finding that my own ‘style’ is starting to develop. (Still not happy with my drawings but I’m getting better!)
2.2 – Dyslexic students talk about their experiences
2.3 – Foreign language learning and dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)
2.6 – Accommodating dyslexic learners in the classroom (Dr Anne Margaret Smith)
2.10 – Using IT to teach students with dyslexia (Dr Margaret Crombie)
I’ve now caught up with posts from the last two weeks so the next post will be a few days on coming whilst I finish week 3!
If you follow me on Twitter, you can get a sneak preview as I post each sketch note as I complete it. Otherwise, ¡hasta pronto!
I’m currently doing a MOOC (massive open online course) with FutureLearn called Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching. It’s a four week course and is free to do. I know that quite a few people from my PLN, whether on Twitter or Facebook, are doing it too, and the participants represent a range of languages as well as phases.
It’s proving very interesting and I’m discovering that, whilst I do many of the things that are suggested as being helpful, I also do some unhelpful things that I thought would help.
To help me internalise things, I am sketch noting each video I watch and, whilst I have shared them on Twitter and in the Language in Primary Schools Facebook group, I thought at the end of each week I should share them here too.
So, here’s week 1 which started by considering some common assumptions and beliefs before looking at the theoretical concepts and issues related to dyslexia and other specific learning differences (SLD); I prefer differences (UK) instead of difficulties or disorders (US).
1.5 – Students with dyslexia talk about some difficulties that they face
1.8 – The effect of dyslexia on language learning (Dr Judit Kormos)
1.10 – The nature of reading difficulties (Professor Kate Cain)
During one of the modules for this week we were asked to use our non dominant hand to copy out a text in 3 minutes, with the lined paper on its side and substituting certain vowels for symbols in order to discover what it might be like for a dyslexic student to write under pressure. Oh, and to stand up too whilst we did it. Below is my attempt. It was very hard and very frustrating!
Last Thursday I headed to Newcastle for ALL Connected, the title of this year’s Language World conference taking place on 20-21st March at Newcastle University. I look forward to LW each year as it’s a conference that offers lots of ideas but also lots to challenge my “little grey cells” and make me think.
This year I decided to replace my normal note taking with Sketchnoting as started at #ililc5. I’d tried using Paper app on my iPad there and found it quite tricky to use to the extent that it was distracting me from the session content. I’ll persevere and practice further but for Language World I choose a different tool – the notebook and pen! Actually, notebook, pens and pencils! I’m a strong believer in choosing the correct tool for the job, be that an iPad, a pencil and pen or a slate and chalk, and this combination allowed me to write more easily, select colour at will and, most importantly, focus on what was being said rather than worrying about zooming in and out or accidentally drawing whilst trying to make the toolbar reappear!
Below are my sketch notes created over the two days. I did them all ‘live’ – no retouching afterwards apart from one on which I’d made a mistake with someone’s name and felt I really should correct it as she’d won an award and deserved it!
Bertram Richter and Rebecca Bolland – Planning for Progress @KS2
Vicky Cooke – Teaching reading in KS2: leading learners towards independence
Jackie Rayment – Primary Languages Quality Mark
Bernadette Holmes – Interculturalism: The Power of 3
Clare Seccombe – Be a crafty languages teacher
Greg Horton – Talking the talk in the MFL Classroom
Rachel Hawkes – ALL for all and all for ALL: ALL CONNECT
René Koglbauer – ALL Connected: a celebration of language learning & teaching and volunteers.
Nadine Chadier – It’s all about the code
Wendy Adeniji – How can your teaching be consistently good or outstanding?
Roma Franziska Schultz and Emma Whittle – Ideas for using literature and developing literacy in the Primary Classroom
Rachel Hawkes – Memory and thought: why we can’t have one without the other.
Steven Fawkes – Now we are 25
Looking back on them, it’s amazing how much more I can recall about the sessions than I would following my more traditional note taking; my page was smaller than A5 so I had to carefully consider each word/phrase I wrote or picture I drew. I successfully kept to one page per session (45-50minutes) apart from two sessions where there was just too much to fit onto one page.
I’m still learning and developing my own style and I certainly need to work on my drawings (there’s a tortoise on one that looks like a sheep!) but I’m pleased with the way it’s going. I intend to keep working on it, and I’ll persevere with my iPad but I’ll save that for times when there’s no ‘time pressure.’
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!