I’ve written another lesson plan in the latest issue of Teach Primary. This one is based around the book Veo Veo by Antonio Rubio and Oscar Villán.
You may have read my previous post a couple of years ago on the subject. It’s a really simple board book about two ‘media lunas’ or half moons that go for a walk to the park and play I spy. They spy a series of random objects in unexpected combinations. This lesson plan expands on some of the ideas and adds some new ones.
This book is amazing! It has flaps, dials, double page factfiles, stories, quizzes, jokes and puzzles, all teaching facts about our planet – Planète Terre. In fact, it’s so amazing that I couldn’t just take photos, I had to make a video!
It’s the kind of book that would go down well on the class bookshelf for children to access in their free reading time. The facts are short and therefore less threatening than in your average non fiction book, allowing learners to concentrate on decoding a few unfamiliar words using their knowledge of cognates and other languages as well as context and of course their existing geographical/scientific knowledge. And although Spanish is the language we learn at my schools, I would still put this on the bookshelf as children like variety, some go to French club and others just enjoy looking at texts in other languages.
If you wanted to guide children’s reading of the book, you could compile a list of words in English that could be written in French by looking in the book (there are many words written in bold that would suit this activity) or perhaps create some sentences with gaps to be completed by reading a certain page, or even pose the six questions below and ask more advanced learners to answer in a sentence or two.
I’m off to find more of these – in Spanish this time!
I love a bargain, and am also a great fan of recycling so I am particularly pleased with a new pile of German children’s books!
Some were purchased via LiPS, one was found in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and the other three were a Christmas gift from my son who is currently studying in Germany and found them in an Oxfam shop there.
So here they are!
This lovely book is all about four legged friends playing Hide and Seek (Verstecken spielen) It has a touchy feely cover and features cute dogs a cat and a rabbit. I like the simplicity and repetition of the text as well as the animal noises. A fun book that would be great to read to FKS/KS1.
Ohren wackeln, Beine zappeln is another cute board book featuring animals. This time it has holes in each page in which you insert your fingers to make the ears (Ohren) or legs (Beine) of the animals. Each page has two lines of text and is written in rhyme – great to read aloud and practice your pronunciation as well as spotting the verbs. And of course, good for finger wiggling!
This a short board book is from the Disney Babies series and is all about baby Goofy going to bed. It’s written in prose and features Pluto as well as Goofy. Very cute!
Two books from the same series here! Kennst du das? – Do you know that? Each is a word book with bright photographs to illustrate the meanings. They include ‘usual’ words such as Pferd, Hase, Katze, Tiger and Elephant, but also more unusual animals – Streifenhörnchen, Rotfeuerfisch and Wandelnde Blätter and vocabulary – Zange (pliers) Reißverschluss (zip) and Qualle (jellyfish) It also indulges my love of looking at German words, ‘literally translating’ and seeing language links: Dreirad = three wheels = tricycle Nacktschnecke = naked snail = slug Stinktier = smelly animal = skunk Fledermaus = flying mouse = bat Nashorn = nose horn = rhino Flusspferd = river horse = hippo
Finally a board book with sliding windows (Schiebefenster) to learn numbers 1-10. The windows slide to show either the numeral or a number of objects so could be used for numbers and then extended to use the vocabulary pictured, in singular and plural forms. Perhaps older learners could have a look in a dictionary for the words whilst others will begin to recognise the correct item from three after several readings.
I was really surprised to find this book in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and even more surprised when I realised that the buttons still worked! I like reading books based on series that we watch in English as it’s possible to compare names and ket features in the other language. For example, Ryder and Chase have the same names in both languages and the PupPad in German is called the Pfot-o-fon (Paws ‘phone) I’m looking forward to sharing this book with the little ones at school. And I don’t think the enchantment of this book is limited to little ones..
So these are my new German books. What do you think? It’s a bit of a shame that I don’t teach German on a day to day basis but reading them aloud is great fun! A reminder that there is a catalogue of my (ever growing!) collection of German children’s books here, and there is also a French list and several for Spanish – fiction, nonfiction, rhymes poems and songs, plus an ‘other languages‘ list too!
Yesterday I spent an interesting day in London at the Institute of Education, University College London attending the Festival of Social Science 2019 – Primary Languages Policy in England – Making it happen!
The blurb at the top of the agenda explains the purpose of the day:
Learning a modern or ancient language became a part of the statutory curriculum for England from September 2014. Five years into the new policy, there are still significant challenges in meeting national curriculum requirements, leading to inequity from school to school and region to region. This event will address key issues affecting the success of primary languages and put 10 recommendations from the recently published RIPL White Paper to the test. Come and join leading practitioners and policy makers in an interactive day where your views will directly feed into a draft implementation strategy to inform the way forward for primary languages in England. The session will take inspiration from the World Café process, combining short inputs, followed by small round table discussion of key questions, captured by graphic recording/posters, leading to plenary feedback at the end of the session, connecting main findings and agreeing points for action.
Throughout the day we considered six questions that covered the 10 recommendations of the RiPL White Paper. An ‘expert witness’ spoke for five minutes and then we discussed the questions at our tables with someone scribing onto large posters. I was designated scribe for my group that was chaired by Dr Rowena Kasprowicz and included Jenny Carpenter (President of NALA), Yvonne Kennedy (Herts for Learning) and Marnie Seymour (University of Winchester.) After each question, each group’s poster was collected and displayed. Half way through the day, responses to the first three questions were summarised by the ‘question chair’, a member of RiPL.
As well as scribing I tried to sketchnote the day. The five minute ‘opening comments’ are in black for each question, and the summary is presented in the coloured pen.
It was a very interesting day, discussing how primary languages can move forward and what needs to be done for that to happen. You can read the White Paper in detail below – or read the one page summary!
Also. do check out the RiPL website – it’s full of information and research about Primary language teaching and learning. I particularly like the One page summaries of longer research papers; a time saver and also gives a taster so you can decide if you want to delve deeper.
The latest edition of Teach Primary magazine has been out for a couple of weeks and features a MFL focus section between pages 140 – 153. There’s an article about the relevance of language learning in Brexit-era Britain, another on a language awareness model of Primary language learning and one from Clare Seccombe on Putting Pen to Paper (writing) in the primary languages classroom as well as a couple of pages of ‘Partner Content’ from Primary Languages Network and Language Angels about why you should use their schemes. Oh, and as you can see above, there’s also an article by me about storytelling! It’s on purple paper (my favourite colour) and I even got a ‘trail’ on the front page!) You can read it above.
I’m going to have to take out a subscription as I have to keep begging copies from friends, and don’t know I’ve been published until someone congratulates me.
Just before we broke up for the summer, I asked the 2019 Language Leaders* team at my school for their thoughts on language learning. To help them, I posed some questions. I’ve already shared this on the school website but thought others might be interested in their responses.
Why did you volunteer to be a Language Leader?
I volunteered to be a Language Leader because I love learning languages; when I go on holiday I like showing off how I know how to speak the language. (RM)
I wanted to find out more about languages as they’re fun. (PS)
I volunteered as a Language Leader because I like learning how other people communicate. (AT)
I wanted to represent the school. (IH)
I thought it would be fun! (JS/SLG)
I volunteered because languages make me happy. (RS)
I wanted to explore the different languages and how to speak them (JJ)
I volunteered because I like to learn languages (AK)
I volunteered because I wanted to try something new (LD)
What do you like about languages?
I like speaking languages – it makes me feel proud! (GG)
It makes countries different (LD)
I like how other people talk and I don’t understand them. (AT)
I like that if you learn a language, you can communicate and understand people that speak other languages. (LE)
I like the sounds you make and how you spell words in other languages (JJ)
I like that different countries have different ways of communicating. (RM)
When I speak languages it makes me feel….. (RS)
It’s fun to learn! (IH/NH)
I like that everyone’s language is unique (PS)
I find them interesting, (JS/SLG)
When you go on holiday you can speak that language. (AK)
What do you find hard? What do you do when it’s hard?
When it’s hard, I practice what to say and find someone who already speaks that language to help. (JJ)
When it’s hard I just practice! (IH)
I find remembering the language hard. (LE)
Phonics and pronunciation can be tricky! (LD)
I sometimes find pronouncing words hard but I don’t give up as I have an open mindset. (GG)
When I find it hard I do some chants to help me remember (PS)
Sometimes I find writing hard so I ask for help. (SLG)
As a Language Leader I find it hard to choose the award winners! (AK)
I found writing my application letter for Language Leader hard! (NH)
Do you know any languages other than English? How did you learn them?
I know Arabic, Urdu Spanish and a bit of French! (IH)
I know Punjabi and Spanish – Punjabi from home and Spanish from school. (GG)
I know Hindi as my family speak it at home but I sometimes feel embarrassed speaking it in front of my friends. (RM)
I know how to introduce myself in French. (AT)
I know some Italian as we go on holiday there (LD)
My parents speak Tamil and I listen to them (JJ)
I know Urdu because I speak it at home (RS)
I know some Italian as my grandma was born in Italy (AK)
Do you enjoy learning Spanish?
A resounding yes!
I love Spanish – especially with Señora Stevens! I like that it has masculine and feminine! (RM)
I enjoy Spanish because my family go on holiday to Spain some years. (AT)
I like Spanish; I like how you have masculine and feminine and can explore how to decide which gender nouns have. (JJ)
I find learning Spanish with the great Señora Stevens really fun and interesting. (PS)
What would make language learning even better for you?
I could practice harder! (IH)
I’d like to learn some useful questions for the future; for example, how to ask for a cupcake in Italian. (AT)
I’d like to learn another language! (JS)
To do more mindmaps and diagrams to help me remember words (SLG)
I’d like to learn more languages and the differences between them. (LE)
Comparing more languages – for example hello is Vanakam in Tamil and Hola in Spanish (JJ)
I’d like to learn some gymnastics words as I love gymnastics (AK)
I think visiting the country would be a great idea! (LD)
If once a week we could read a story in a different language in assembly (PS)
I love the honesty of the answers they gave (I did tell them that I would be sharing their responses!) Having read their ideas, I’ve bought some new books and asked for more assemblies (I already do more than my share!), and will be experimenting with new ways of learning and recording vocabulary.
*Language Leaders at my school support and promote language learning of all sorts. Children write a letter of application and then the previous year’s team help me to choose. It’s normally a child per class but this year we went for a team across LKS2 and UKS2, predominantly formed of Y4 and 5s. The original team (four years ago) wrote their own “job description” which I’ve added for some context.
Just back from a family holiday in Italy where I once more had to struggle with not being able to communicate as I wished. I understood quite a bit thanks to Spanish and, to a lesser extent, French, but couldn’t formulate sufficiently coherent sentences to say what I wanted to communicate most of the time, thus resorting to a few words and a gesture with a pleading smile. In fact, I found that German was more helpful at times for the first part of the holidays as we were in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and often people didn’t speak English but understood German. Added to my ‘angst’ was the fact that all my attempts at Italian were met with replies in English, particularly in Bologna – I guess they thought they were being helpful but I was trying hard and it was a little disheartening!
However, I was in my element when I found the bookshops! My poor family tolerated me dragging them into at least four on our wanderings without moaning although I actually think they were glad of the air conditioning and a rest! I had my eye on a children’s book shop in the Piazza Maggiore but it was sadly shut when we returned to Bologna for holidays! Chiuso per Ferie was a phrase we learned very quickly! Nonetheless I still found others and treated myself to three books – I could have bought far more but as I don’t teach Italian, I was restrained and really thought hard about my choices.
Tu (non) sei piccolo is a bilingual book with the Italian in large type and the English a little smaller below. It’s a really simple book about some bears who are arguing about being big or small. What I particularly liked, apart from the bilingualism, was the repetition for the verb to be in 1st and 2nd person singular (I and you) and 2nd and 3rd person plural (you and they) as this gave me a good idea about how the verb ‘works.’ Additionally, the same two adjectives are used which meant that I could draw some conclusions about the behaviour of adjectives – much like panino/panini and cappuccino/cappuccini! It’s amusing too and I liked the illustrations of the different bears. It would be easy to adapt by changing the adjective and/or animal.
I chose Mio! Mio! Mio! as it’s also very repetitive and easy to understand. The little frog finds an egg and claims it as his own – Mio! But all the other animals say it’s theirs until it ends up hitting the elephant on the head – then nobody wants it and frog at last can have it. Then it hatches… I enjoyed comparing animal names with the Spanish – l’elefante, l’aquila, il serpente – and discover a new one that none of my translating apps could work out – il varano which is a monitor lizard! The grammar was also similar – è mio! / ¡es mío! for it’s mine ; è suo! / ¡es suyo! meaning it’s his; I saw a similarity between chi for who and qui in French, and Allora te lo restituisco was easy to decode as I’ve give it back to you with the link to restitution. Finally, it also tickled me that it featured ‘un uovo’ as the boys were asked every morning if they’d like one in our wonderful B&B (if you’re ever going to the Dolomites, I can thoroughly recommend Agriturismo Florandonole )
My final choice recognises the wonders of Italian food and drink. Non piangere, cipolla (Don’t cry onion) is a book of poems and verse organised in alphabetical order starting with Acqua and ending with Uva. These poems will need more concentration (and a dictionary!) to translate but I can get the gist of many of them. A couple of my favourites are below.
I’ve enjoyed reading all these books aloud, trying out my Italian pronunciation (which still needs work) and listening to how they sound. I’m looking forward to reading them ever more accurately, and also to understanding a little more as I reread them.
At the end of July, my husband and I popped off for a short break in Copenhagen in celebration of our silver wedding anniversary. We had a lovely time exploring and sightseeing, and as usual at various points my ‘teacher brain’ or as I prefer to call it ‘lifelong learner thinking’ engaged and I was struck with thoughts and ideas for the classroom.
Firstly I really struggled with not being able to communicate in Danish. I really didn’t need to as everyone spoke English but it made me feel bad not being able to speak. I found that I could understand to a certain extent if things were written thanks to having done some Swedish on Duolingo, plus managing find some similarities at times with German and/or English, but understanding speech was very problematic and speaking more so! My son (who’s studied Swedish for the last two years at Uni) and my husband (who works with Swedes and Danes) tell me that part of the problem is that people ‘swallow’ consonants in spoken Danish making it harder to understand than Swedish. However, I did persevere with my trying to understand and had some success.
And, as usual, I couldn’t leave without a book for my collection. I had a good look and decided that whilst I’d love a storybook, my level of understanding wasn’t high enough yet, so I settled on a simple word book.
Min første bog om Farver is a board book all about colours. Each page has a different colour until the last page which has a rainbow colours. I can see the likeness of farver and Farbe in German. Some colours look – but don’t sound! – like English (pink, orange), some are like French (brun) and others wouldn’t be recognisable to me without the images – sort is black and hvid is white. The last page is about rainbow colours which again reminds me of German Regnbuens farver although I wouldn’t have guessed that er flotte meant ‘are great.’
I’m looking forward to using this when I next look at colours in Spanish as children this year have enjoyed all the comparative exercises we’ve done with multiple languages, finding similarities and differences.
Have you seen the latest issue of Teach Primary? If you have you might have noticed that I’ve been writing again. This month I’ve provided a lesson plan and resources that link languages (in my case Spanish) with the music of Saint Saëns and specifically the Carnival of the Animals.
For those that have been in primary language teaching for a fair few years might recognise that this lesson is inspired by the QCA Scheme of Work which I used as my starting point before adding my own ideas and twists.
If you don’t have a subscription to the magazine, you can download the lesson and resources for free from Teachwire here I’ve added the lesson plan below.
In case you didn’t know, the Champion League Final this evening is being held in Madrid. And that set me thinking about the series Mi Madrid that I wrote for BBC Schools Radio last year. One of the 10 episodes ¡Hala Madrid! is all about football, albeit ‘el derbi madrileño’ between Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid. I love football and it was a joy to write. I particularly enjoyed writing the story in which the Madrid football stadiums argue about who is the best. You can hear it told here and read the (bilingual) transcript here El Estadio Metropolitano will be the stage for tonight’s game and hopefully will see an amazing game, won by the best team! #YNWA
Wish I could claim credit for writing the songs for Mi Madrid as they’re amazing! I’m really glad that the BBC has now made videos for each of them as it makes them even more useful. I sometimes choose one to play whilst kids complete an activity as a timer, or as a way of gaining attention.