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Also available – 50 English Phrases

When bsmall contacted me to say that they were updating their 50 Phrases series and would I like a sneak peek, of course I said yes!

bsmall are a “small but mighty” (love that description!) award-winning independent children’s publishing company that creates and publishes children’s books for sale in the UK and around the world. “We’re on a mission to empower all readers with critical literacy skills, and our books are creative, educational and encourage children to think for themselves.” I’ve written about some of their books before. You can find out about their Hello Languages series here, one of their UKS2 parallel text books Los Mellizos del Tiempo here and their I can read series of books here (update – there are a couple of Spanish ones and more French available now £1.99 each from Apple Books)

The 50 Phrases series are currently available in French, Spanish and English, and aim to give children ‘a head start’ with a new language. Over 32 pages, they introduce some common phrases and useful vocabulary for beginner learners including how to introduce yourself, talk about your family and express opinions as well as asking questions about where and what things are, inviting others to play and requesting things. Each double page spread has between 2 and 5 key phrases that are highlighted, adding up to 50 over the whole book, as well as boxes of vocabulary that can be used with those phrases. There is also the suggestion of a game or activity to rehearse those phrases, and also a little bit of grammar is explained throughout. You can see an example below.

Each phrase is written in Spanish and English, and is also written ‘phonetically.’ I’m not a great fan of this ‘how to pronounce it’ guide as it can lead to very odd pronunciation, but I understand that some people find it helpful, particularly as this is intended to be used at home/independently. And that’s where the update comes in about which I am very pleased.

The book now comes with a QR code that gives the reader access to audio files of the 50 Spanish Phrases (and the same for English and French if you purchase those books.) that give a clear native speaker model of the pronunciation. You can see how it works with the sample below.

Links to the English book.

By giving the pronunciation of the key phrases, learners now have access to what they actually sound like which will facilitate more educated understanding of the pronunciation guide and more accurate Spanish pronunciation. So this is a great resource that can be used at home without need for a Spanish speaker to be present!

As I said, I was given a sneak peek as the updated versions are not released until May 3rd but you can preorder the Spanish French and English books via the bsmall website.

While you’re on the site, check out some of the other books they publish. My eye was caught by the Hide and Speak books with flaps to lift and the Mix and Match flashcards for practising questions and answers. Or download the Language Learning brochure to browse at your leisure! And make sure you check out the Activity Hub where you can download a copy of the Rights of the Language Learner as well as a beach picture labelled in French and Spanish – perfect for Y2s summer topic.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or have ever met me will know that I like to sketchnote whenever I attend conferences or complete professional development activities. In fact, you’ll find many of them on this website too!

Sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines. (Mike Rohde)

Well, one of my sketchnote inspirations is Sylvia Duckworth. Her definition:

 Sketchnoting, or visual note-taking, is an effective and fun way to take notes using doodles and text. It has many other benefits such as increased focus and engagement in class, improved comprehension and memory retention, helps develop creative thinking skills and allows students an alternative way to display their learning and make connections to course content. It has a calming and relaxing effect too!

You may not have met Sylvia Duckworth; perhaps you’ve never heard the name before, but I’m sure you’ve seen her sketchnotes! Recognise either of these?

Sylvia collected some of her beautiful sketchnotes in a book nearly two years ago called Sketchnotes for Educators which features 100 of her favourites in print with links to download and print them out for your classroom. Here’s the trailer!

A month or so ago I heard that Sylvia was releasing a new book entitled How to Sketchnote: A step-by-step Manual for Teacher and Students. Very exciting news! Just as exciting was news of #sketchnotefever, a 21 day sketchnote challenge. Each day from October 23rd to November 12th, Sylvia is posting a 3 minute video that shows how to draw icons, fonts, banners and bullets with the aim of building up a visual dictionary for sketchnoting. 

I joined in as I like a challenge and I felt that it would do my sketchnoting a good boost in advance of the Practical Pedagogies conference in Cologne. Each day I’ve had a go at the task and posted my results on Twitter and Instagram. Sylvia loves seeing all the #sketchnotefever posts and is really good at commenting on them all! And she’s really kindly let me have a copy of her new book ahead of publication – and it’s BRILLIANT!

It explains what sketchnoting is, compares analogue (the way I do it) and digital (the way Sylvia does it, using an iPad and Procreate app) sketchnoting and then offers exercises and activities to practice ‘doodling’, build up a vocabulary of visuals, and learn how to do all the ‘other bits’ like banners, bullets and fonts. I’m particularly liking the icon section on p26-27, and will be spending lots of time on p54 practicing animals, and the stick people on p51-2. I may even start a ‘Doodle club’ using it!

So – two bits of advice!

  1. Use #sketchnotefever as a way of giving sketchnoting a go. It’s a great introduction and by the end you’ll see that you really don’t have to be an artist to do it!
  2. Get a copy of How to Sketchnote: A step-by-step Manual for Teacher and Students. Whether you’re planning on using it as a tool to help teach your pupils how to sketchnote, or as a personal ‘how to’ manual, it’s well worth the purchase as you get links to images for projection as well as links and QR codes to videos. And if you order before November 13th, you get bonus features too. Click here to find out about it.

PS I’ll post all of my #sketchnotefever sketchnotes at the end of the challenge in one post but check out Twitter or Instagram if you can’t wait! If you search for the hashtag you’ll find lots of other people’s sketches too!

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