I gave two presentations today, one on Top Tips for Primary Language Learning and the other on cross curricular language teaching. It was lovely to meet the people in my sessions – thanks for joining in and participating in my songs games and activities.I’m currently trying to upload my presentations to Slideshare as they won’t upload directly here, but until then, here are a few of the video clips I shared today!
Ana y Enrique – Los planetas
This version has pictograms too!
And then there was the soundtrack to our Sumo phonics
And the amusing German tongue twister/ story about Barbara and her rhubarb bar
And if you want to know what it means… http://youtu.be/l3_tRPRt9x8
Hope that’s whetted your appetite. More when I get home as the Internet is straining
It’s now February so it’s time for the next instalment of the ICT Links into Languages Conference commonly known at #ILILC. Inexplicably pronounced like a symptom of chicken pox, it is the place to be for language teachers.
With two days of seminars and workshops plus a Saturday evening Show and Tell, there’s plenty for everyone irrespective of language or phase taught, experience or confidence. Joe Dale will open this year ‘Capturing the zeitgeist’ with what’s new in the world of technology in MFL and someone called Lisa Stevens is closing the conference ‘Cooking on gas’ (other fuels are available).
I am always very excited to attend ILILC as it’s the only conference I managed still to attend when I was in Switzerland, I have been to every single one (I think there should be some kind of commemorative badge for us?) and I can literally say ‘been there, got the Tshirt!’ I wonder what colour it will be this year… (orders to @elvisrunner asap!)
If you haven’t already booked, do have a look at the Links into languages SouthEast site to find out more. Too many I’d like to attend, including one whilst I’m presenting (about Twitter) which always happens! You can see the programme and abstracts by scrolling to the bottom of the page (the programme is at the bottom of this post too) and also links to posts from previous years!
I’d especially encourage you to attend if you aren’t going to Language World in Newcastle in March as it is too far away. Several of the sessions will be repeated there so you can get a preview
See you there – for inspiration, discussion, running and cupcakes!
Introducing Pacca Alpaca, a language learning app for little people!
I’ve been working with Anamil Tech on the Spanish dimension of this app and am pleased to say that it is now available in the iTunes and GooglePlay stores where it has already received a review!
It was lovely to work with Nicole again after the success of The Lingo Show which she created and produced (I did the Spanish on that too!) as I knew that the concept would be fun and interactive.
Pacca is a funny quirky and very inquisitive alpaca who travels on a magical carousel from his home in the Andes to explore, learning languages on the way as well as exploring his new environment. In this first instalment, he pops off to Australia!
Here’s what the ‘blurb’ says:
Pacca Alpaca – Australia!
Pacca Alpaca – Australia is a multilingual app aimed at children aged two to six and designed to encourage them to learn new languages and understand the world around them as they embark on an Australian adventure with Pacca the alpaca.
Pacca’s adventure unfolds in his home in the Andes Mountains, as he spots a new destination from afar and flies off in his magical carousel to investigate. When he lands with a bump in Australia, a local host greets him and takes him on a tour of the country. Along the way, the two play games, meet other animals and learn about shapes, colours and numbers. While they play, children can earn rewards as they complete challenges and learn new words in their chosen language – French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic or English.
The app is the first in a series of adventure apps following Pacca and his friends on their travels across the globe, so watch this space for the next installment!
Things I like about it:
Pacca is a lovely character; very friendly and fun
you can complete the activities in several languages using the same app
there are no advertisements/pop ups/in app purchases
the language is clearly spoken by a child (the Spanish voice actor was a delight; a really sweet little girl from Canarias and it was a shame I didn’t actually get to meet her!) which I think is important in an app aimed at little ones
it’s fun to play the games and you are rewarded with souvenirs for the carousel
all the vocabulary you’ve learned is stored in your suitcase and can be reviewed when you wish
you can start again and recollect all the souvenirs when you’ve finished – and in another language if you want
you discover a new country/culture as you learn e.g. aboriginal style artwork is used for the colours, famous landmarks are shown
there’s the promise of more adventures to different places!
It’s not a free app – it costs £2.49 – so having it on a class set of iPads would need some negotiation but I’ll definitely add it to my list of apps that I recommend to parents/grandparents who want ideas for engaging children in learning outside of the classroom as well as putting it on my iPad for individual/paired play.
copy of Spanish calendar tabs for 2015 – (you’ll need to reduce it to half size I discovered unless you print it straight from the site in which case it’s the correct size!)
felt tip pens
LOTS of patience!
I gave each child a net on thin card and asked them to decorate each pentagon to form a background. Some chose a pattern, some tried to draw a suitable picture for the month, others just coloured.
Then they cut out the net – I’d made all the bits to cut really obvious by using dashed lines but still children cut off the tabs!
They cut each month out and stuck one month per pentagon onto the net.
Then the fun began! You need to fold all the pentagons inwards, and all the tabs too.
Sticking it all together starts off easy as you make a basket shape with the base but gets more and more fiddly as you have less space to grip and hold flaps so that they bond. My advice is to make sure the you do a tab or two at a time and hold them until they are firmly stuck. The last few joins will be more flimsy as you can’t apply pressure but if you try to leave a pentagon with several flaps, you should be able to just tuck them in and hope for the best!
Here’s my finished example:
I’ve since discovered this preprinted dodecahedron calendar calendario-deca-2015 on the same site – it wasn’t there last week! However, I prefer my version as this has capital letters for the months and days and having battled with children all term to stop ‘correcting’ the date that is written on the board when they copy it into their books, I’m not going down that road!
And there is also a Calendario rombico calendario-rombico-2015 which looks interesting! You need to follow the instructions here to make it!
Whilst the bottom strip on the calendar tabs is not needed, it fits beautifully with the unit we’re studying as we’re in the middle of discussing festivals and dates, and the calendarios will be great for practising saying the date in Spanish after Christmas break. However, having spent my lunch hour ‘rescuing’ a large pile of them, I don’t want to see another one for a while!
I’m making a list of useful links that parents might use with their children to practice and reinforce their Spanish, and was struck by how many ‘goodies’ there are provided by the BBC. So I thought I’d share! NB I’ve focussed on Spanish but they all come in a variety of languages – see individual sections)
For younger learners (preschool onwards), The Lingo Show started out as a website featuring ‘language bugs’ who teach Lingo a few words in their language. As it was so popular, it became a TV series with episodes featuring Jargonaise (French), Wèi (Mandarin) and Queso who teaches Spanish, and then a second series featuring the German, Welsh and Urdu bugs was made and broadcast in May 2013.
The website has fun activities as well as links to songs that feature. Current languages include Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, German, Sinhala, French, Welsh, English, Italian, Urdu.
Here’s an example of a song featuring Queso from Youtube, and the link to a counting song
The ‘old’ Primary Languages website with ‘animales animados’ and Jhonny (sic) and co was great (and you can still access the archived version minus games here) but I was really excited to be involved in ‘revamping’ the site and rebranding it. It was developed when languages were to be compulsory and the KS2 Framework was THE bible of primary language learning, but it still stands in my opinion. This site was written to be accessible to KS2 pupils and is organized in topics. It includes:
vocabulary with sound files to help pronunciation;
interesting tips and facts about Spanish/French/Mandarin;
links to other helpful resources
There were limitations to the things that could be done e.g. interactivity, ‘free’ writing, games beyond vocabulary recognition level etc. And I sometimes wonder what happened to other ideas and resources that I saw and wrote that have never appeared on the site – including sentence building games, lesson plans. worksheets and notes for parents.
I’ve used the site with Y2 recently and they love the songs – they listen as they work and have started singing along. Sometimes they want to see the words and other times they want to watch without. The tunes are excellent – the composer did a good job of making the words fit in English Spanish French and Mandarin to the same tune!
I’ve signposted it to my colleagues as well as a way that they can ‘do their bit’ to reinforce Spanish learning; non-threatening as it’s all there for them.
3. Bitesize (now the home of Learning Zone)
The ‘repository’ of all the BBC videos used to be the Learning Zone Class clips, but they have moved to Bitesize (actually since I started writing this post!) The Learning Zone is still there in archive form and still works; it just won’t be updated. If you scroll down to Spanish in the Primary section, there are lots of clips of programmes on a variety of subjects:
However, these videos – and others – are now listed on BBC Bitesize. There are categories for Spanish according to the ‘Key Stage’ system:
(NB there are other languages too in all the above sections! French, German, Italian, Mandarin)
These two clips come under KS2 School and are from a series called Adventures Abroad; a playground game called Abuelita ¿Qué hora es? that I’ve played with classes, and a programme about primary school routine in Spain that I know has been used and enjoyed by others who found Papo the parrot particularly amusing.
This is a series of programmes in which a child, Ashleigh, is helped with her Spanish by friends in Spain via video conferencing. It also includes some songs and cultural information. (Also in French and German)
Here’s the trailer…
and here are the episodes:
Something I’ve noticed is that the clips all have a QR code option for sharing which I like! That means that I can make a display of all the QR codes and then learners can access them whenever they wish (as long as they have an iPad or mobile device!); for example, as an extension/further learning for early finishers.
I really like Virtually there. Ashleigh isn’t a KS1 child; I’d say she’s nearly secondary age so it would appeal to older KS2 learners and also KS3 beginners. I also like the mix of ‘live’ episodes and songs; the gender song is one of my favourites.
So, there’s a round up of BBC online ‘stuff’ for primary learners. Hope it’s helpful!
Having worked on adapting a verse of La Primavera by Antonio Machado last week (see here and here for previous posts about this) , Year 5 were set a new poetic challenge this week.
Whilst I was out of action with my broken ankle, some students from BCU taught my Y5 classes using the QCA SoW unit Las cuatro estaciones as their starting point. They taught about the weather, the months of the year and the seasons, and judging by the recap lesson we had, they were successful in their aim!
This week we reviewed the seasons and thought about how we might write simple poems about them. I suggested we thought of colours as everyone was familiar with at least 5 colours that they could match to a season. I introduced other adjectives, including reminding them of ones we had used in connection to music (Autumn term) and the planets (Spring term)
I modelled a simple structure, saying we were aiming for something like a Haiku not a sonnet; about half of them understood what I meant!
La primavera es verde y amarilla.
La primavera es bonito y alegre.
Me gusta la primavera.
Having given a sheet with some adjectives on it (including some unsuitable ones for this task like alto and bajo) and access to dictionaries, off they went.
And I was really pleased with some of the results.
Amelia has missed most Spanish lessons since Christmas as she has spent Tuesday afternoons at a local secondary school doing some G&T work. Today she wrote the poem below in 10 minutes.
And these children impressed too, especially this one from Sam who finds Spanish tricky at times.
They are simple, yes. But they demonstrate to varying extents that they can
write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structure that they have learnt
broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
describe people, places, things and actions … and in writing (Languages Programmes of Study: Key Stage 2)
Looking forward to next week when we will continue in this vein and present our poems using technology!
As I explained on the day, when you have to submit your idea so far in advance and aren’t entirely sure how your idea will pan out, it is quite tricky to come up with a witty/apposite title. My choice of Something old Something new was mainly because I envisaged sharing some old ideas and some new ones plus some borrowed from others. However, as I came to think in more detail I began to think more about weddings!
Primary languages have had a bit of a torrid love life, being loved and then rejected by the primary curriculum, nearly getting up the aisle in 2010 but being jilted at the last moment when all was going so well. So I set out to explore the ‘prenuptial agreement’ (or Languages Programmes of Study at KS2), how we can make this ‘marriage’ work, how to convince those that are nervous about married life and how we’ll keep the spark alive.
So I began by looking at the Programmes of Study, highlighting parts of the document that I found interesting.
Purpose of study – Intercultural Understanding is still really important – it’s a vital part of language learning. Providing learners with building blocks AND mortar is key if they are to be able to express what they want in the foreign language. And ‘great works of literature’ doesn’t mean Don Quijote de la Mancha, A la recherché du temps perdu or Mein Kampf at Year 3; poetry is great literature and we regularly use an extract tom Machado in Year 5 as stimulus for writing.
Aims – It’s about a balance and variety of things; a breadth of experience that leads to progression. No arguments there!
The lack of detail in the Attainment target section could be seen as a bit disconcerting but doesn’t give much guidance. However, I’m hanging on to my Key Stage 2 Framework which is still a great document; follow that and you can’t go far wrong. Measuring progress in terms of I can statements is also helpful, and there’s been a great discussion on Primary languages forum this week on what we should be looking for in terms of skills progression. (Want to join in? Join the forum or ask to join the Sharing Primary Languages wikispace)
Subject content – I highlighted that whilst it says ‘substantial progress in one language’, this does not mean that looking at other languages is precluded; in fact, I’d positively encourage it as making links between languages is a vital language learning skill. We discussed how a balance of skills can be achieved when some are more comfortable with speaking activities than the written word which seems more ‘serious’ and permanent. And we mentioned ‘the grammar question’ – it’s not such a bad thing! Nor is looking at languages such as Greek and Latin; very useful for understanding the formation of languages as I discovered on my year abroad at Universitat de les Illes Balears. Finally in this section we thought about laying those foundations for KS3. I referred back to a presentation I’d made at Language World called Bricklaying for Beginners and how bricks need mortar, and how it’s not a wall that needs demolishing at KS3; reinforcing but not knocking down!
I then took each ‘pupils should be taught to..’ statement and split them into listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar, suggesting ideas and activities that might meet them.
There are lots of links on the wiki to many of the ideas but here are some comments:
‘joining in’ is very important and builds confidence as does repetition e.g storytelling, reciting rhymes and poems
making links between graphemes and phonemes is important to enable increased fluency e.g. listening out for phonemes in songs/rhymes, sorting words, reading with your Spanish/French/German glasses so you view graphemes not as you would in your own language
confidence with phonics is vital to teacher and learner; syllables and stress patterns too – hence my pupils’ love of stress punching! (a post about this and ‘animal symphony’ will follow shortly)
books are brilliant – not just fiction though! Non fiction is very popular with boys and also is great for linking to other curricular areas: going back to my analogy, this ‘marriage’ is about give and take! If you can’t find suitable books, make your own as with my Storybird ¿De dónde viene el yak?
learners can decode more complex texts without knowing every word if you provide them with the confidence to do so, embed language learning skills and discuss how languages work from the very start.
writing doesn’t have to be in a book; whiteboards, post-it notes, mini books, Padlet, labels, paper chains, posters, your partner’s hand; they all count!
structuring and scaffolding is fine – trapdoors are great as starters as is making human sentences and physically rearranging words. The Human Fruit machine with 3+ learners holding a large dice with 6 images of nouns/adjectives/verbs etc on them and spin is a great way of making make random sentences and exploring how you can substitute words in existing sentences to make new ones!
I loved grammar at school; I liked the logic of it all and the patterns. So why not exploit that and make verb flowers, grammar songs and raps, dice games and so on. Use highlighters/colour to clarify grammar ( I lived by my red=accusative, green=nominative and blue=dative when learning German) be it nouns, adjectival placement, verb endings/groupings or spelling.
Use activities that are used in other areas of the primary curriculum; learners up level sentences in Literacy all the time so why not in the foreign language? Word pyramids starting with a word and extending to a complex sentence at the base? And card sorting activities too.
So that’s the session in a (pretty big) nutshell!
(Written whilst lying flat on my back in pain so please excuse typos!)
*This is one of a series of posts about some of my favourite story books for Primary Language Learning*
One of my favourite occupations in Spain or France – and now Switzerland/Germany – is sitting on the floor of bookshops, supermarkets and any other likely looking shop, poring over children’s books. I could – and often do – spend hours searching for gems that I can use in the classroom. I consequently have a large collection of books but many are either out of print or “don’t exist” in searches as I bought them in supermarkets. De quelle couleur est ta culotte (shared earlier this week) is one such out of print book – you can get it but it costs a week’s wages! Two of today’s books belong to another category – they ‘exist’ (obviously as I have copies!) but can’t be found for love nor money! However, I’m still going to share them as the ideas can be used with other books of a similar vein, or with homemade presentations instead of a commercial book.
I found ¿De qué color es Elmo? in a shop in Benalmadena about eight years ago and it instantly became a favourite, particularly with Nursery/Reception. The book poses the question ¿De qué color es Elmo? and each double page spread offers a suggestion as to his colour on the left hand page with the response on the right hand page indicating that another character is that colour as well as an object in the picture, before finally suggesting the correct colour on the final page!
The book is popular for a number of reasons
It’s repetitive – it’s easy to respond to the question with a loud ¡NO! however old you may be! Or join in with the suggested colour when I pause ¿Es Elmo….? by looking at the colour of the writing!
Sesame Street is always a winner as the characters are so friendly. Many younger learners don’t know the English names for all characters but they do know Elmo! And those that recognise Big Bird are quite happy to accept that he’s called Paco Pico, or that Grover is called Coco!
The pictures are clear and interesting. Once we’re familiar with the book we look for other objects in the pictures that are the colour suggested. For example, the house – la casa – is suggested on this page. Then we turn the page and look in other pictures. And then we start looking around the room for more ideas. Sometimes we play “Traeme algo ….” – this worked really well when the age of my pupils spanned 1 – 3 years as the little ones were happy looking and pointing whilst the older ones needed a bit more challenge! As a follow on activity we might build up a collage of images in the different colours, like mini mood boards with a character at the centre of each. Older learners might label them.
Someone recently said on a forum that they didn’t like little books as not everyone can see them in a class situation and that is true (although it’s a good way of staying warm as everyone squishes up close…) However, there is a very limited supply of big books, particularly in other languages. To get around this problem, I photographed each double page and blew it up to A3 size and laminated it, making my own ‘big book’. If I had had a projector in the room, I’d have simply projected the images from my computer onto it, straight from the photogallery (the quick answer) or in a presentation (the longer lasting solution!) Lots of classrooms have visualisers now so why not use that to show the book? (Alex shares here how you can use a USB webcam as a really cheap visualiser!)
As I said, I bought this book years ago along with another called ¿Qué oye Epi?, a lovely story about what Epi (Ernie!) can hear as he sits by his window. Unfortunately that book went missing and I can’t replace it. Fortunately I had ‘blown it up’ into a display so can hopefully find where that is (I’m a bit of a hoarder!) and use it again.
Another book I have that is good for very little ones is Descubre y aprende los colores con Fido. I found this in a discount bookshop in Spain along with Descubre y aprende los números con Fido for 2,95€. I’m sure that there are many equivalent books out there!
Each double page focuses on a colour – verde, azul, rojo, amarillo and marrón (not an obvious choice for me but it works!) – and has a number of things to do.
three examples of e.g. brown things (adjective after noun isn’t something I’d point out but sometimes a bright spark points it out for me!)
‘point to the colour’ on the colour grid
turn the wheel to find the e.g. brown object
other labelled items that ‘go with’ the object on the wheel – in this case, things in the garden around Fido’s kennel.
This book works best with small groups of children or as a book for independent learning although you could use a visualiser to share it with a whole class, inviting individuals to point/turn the wheel whilst everyone else watches on the screen.
My final book (for now as I haven’t found them all yet!) on the subject of colour is Harold y el lápiz morado. Harold is a little boy (in a onesie!) who decides one night, after much thought, to go for a walk in the moonlight. But there’s no moon… so he draws one with his purple crayon. And then he draws the path and the adventure begins as the purple crayon brings Harold’s thoughts to life.
Whilst it has lots of words in it and I wouldn’t necessarily read it all to the class in one go, I love the idea of “taking a line for a walk” (not quite in the same way as Paul Klee!) guided by your imagination! Added to that, it’s very visual as the drawings are clear you can follow what’s happening without understanding every ward. So I’d read it as an experience of listening to a story in Spanish, deciphering meaning from pictures, gestures and tone of voice. And then we might take our own lines for walks to see where they might take us! Perhaps we might even take it in turns to add an image to the story that could then be narrated in Spanish by the teacher (or that convenient native speaker in my class!)