english – ¡Vámonos!
 

Category: english


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 Hence I went online on Saturday morning and talked about the subject of children being withdrawn from (Spanish) lessons for extra English.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 slide – the rule was one slide only!

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!

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.

The lesson is downloadable below:

And you can access the accompanying presentation here.

Whilst the examples are in Spanish, there is no reason why you couldn’t adapt and translate them into French, German or any other language. Hope you find it useful!

Other related post:

How to play Veo Veo

“As lovers of all things British AND foreign, especially languages, the team at bsmall publishing are leading a crusade to keep foreign language learning alive in the minds of our kids and parents at home.”

Thus starts the press release from bsmall publishing, announcing their new series of books entitled Hello Languages.’

I’ve blogged about bsmall products in the past including the I can read series and their dual language books for older KS2 pupils, and I also helped them with some advice a couple of years ago, so I was really pleased to be contacted for my comments on this latest publication.

bsmall have approached the creation of these materials with the following in mind:

“Kids like cool facts and fun things to do. That’s why language learning books for kids should … take the essence of the language… [and] be bright, bold, fun and colourful..filled with practical examples of language in everyday life and [encouraging] kids to just have a go without fear of making mistakes.”

The Hello languages series is available in three languages – English, French and Spanish – and is bold, colourful and fun. It’s intended to be used independently by children rather than as a classroom resource, and comprises four books;

  • Beginner’s guide
  • Picture dictionary
  • Workbook
  • Colouring book

I was sent the Hello French! materials to have a peek before they were released.

The Beginner’s Guide is organised under 6 topics and takes one aspect for each double page; for example, in Viens chez moi there are pages on Ma famille, À la maison, La cuisine et le salon,  and Ma chambre et la salle de bains. It gives vocabulary and some useful phrases as well as a very short explanation or comment in English at the start of each topic as well as for certain themes such as the weather and time. The vocabulary is supplied as labels on a vibrant illustration, in French, English and with a guide to pronunciation.* There is also a word list at the back of the book for reference.

*I’m not a great fan of this as I think it can lead to confusion – how many of you have seen children laboriously copy out the phonetic version of words from a dictionary, and also over pronounciation – grassy arse? However, given that this is a resource for children to access on their own, without phonics input or a spoken example, perhaps supported by a parent who is also unaware of how to say the words/phrases, I can see the value of including the ‘how to pronounce’ notes.

The Workbook goes alongside the Beginner’s Guide, giving children an opportunity to apply what they learn in a series of Challenges – as the front page says ‘Practice makes perfect!’ On completion, children can check their answers at the back of the book and are invited to assess how they’ve got on by colouring or circling one of three faces – Bien, Pas mal or pas super.

The Colouring Book takes some of the topics and themes from the Beginner’s Guide and offers the opportunity to colour the illustration used in the latter as the child wishes, reinforcing vocabulary which is labelled as in the Beginner’s Guide.

The French-English Picture Dictionary is organised by topic with nine vocabulary items per page, and an alphabetical word list of the 350+ vocabulary items in French-English and English-French at the end.

This is a resource that I could happily recommend to a parent who wants to encourage their child’s language learning at home. It’s suitable for younger learners with some adult support in part (the workbook is labelled 6+ due to the required level of literacy) and could be used in the language being learned at school – for my pupils, this is Spanish – or in a new language – in my case, French.

You can find out more on the bsmall website – www.bsmall.co.uk  and, on their language learning pages, you see their other language resources including books, dual language texts, play scripts, sticker books, activity books  and card games and download a catalogue.

 

*This is a book review as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 #MCBD2018*

The Marvellous Mexican Misunderstanding is a delightful book about a little boy called Adri who  overhears his Mum and Aunt Chiquita talking about the Day of the Dead and gets completely the wrong end of the stick. He asks his sister Tani lots of questions about the Aztecs, the Day of the Dead but she mischievously decides to use his ignorance of the festival as a way of teasing him, and confirms his fears.  Over the seven days leading up to Day of the Dead, every visitor and every event seems to confirm his fear that he is going to die; the Dad brings him a skeleton costume for Halloween, the neighbour brings ‘pan de muerto’, his Mum makes his favourite food. On the eve of Day of the Dead, Adri writes letters to his family and prepares himself. Will the misunderstanding be unravelled or will Adri’s fear come true? You’ll have to read and find out!

The illustrations by Nefeli Malie are wonderful – bright and childlike, and coupled with the lovely prose by Evi Triantafyllides, they tell the story of Adri in a clear and appealing way, at the same time exposing readers to aspects of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) festival. And the book is not just a story. There’s a dictionary of Spanish and English terms related to the story as well as questions posed as ‘Mexican mysteries’ about the text that highlight facts about Mexico.  The book itself forms part of the first ‘parcel’ offered by Worldwide Buddies.

Worldwide Buddies is a series of fictional, educational stories with characters from different countries around the globe that allow children to imagine a more beautifully complex world. Stories are designed to promote cultural awareness and introduce little ones to the diverse realities and wonders of the world, early on.

“A Marvelous Mexican Misunderstanding” is the first story of the series and will become available for purchase through their website in a couple of weeks: www.worldwidebuddies.com

Alongside the story, readers can also purchase a story box with additional games, toys and activities that accompany the book. You can find out more on their website or via Facebook or Instagram.

As Worldwide Buddies will start accepting orders for the books ($18) and story box ($35) soon. As they are based in the USA, I asked Evi if the book and story box will be available in the UK, and she confirmed that yes, delivery will be possible to the UK too.

As a teacher of Spanish to young children, I love this book as it is amusing and gently makes fun of Adri’s misunderstanding to reveal the wonder of the Day of the Dead festival, explaining how it is a happy festival and a time to remember those who have passed away. I’ll certainly be sharing it with my learners next year in the run up to November 1st. It also leads into a pertinent discussion about our fears often that fit well with the  SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural) agenda here. I look forward to reading more Worldwide Buddies books!

Details about #MCBD2018:
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. View our 2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/mcbd2018-medallion-level-sponsors/
View our 2018 MCBD Author Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/2018-author-sponsors/
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/about/co-hosts/
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm EST.
You can join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Did you know that Saturday 27th January is Multicultural Children’s Book Day? Nor did I until I saw a tweet asking for reviewers who were interested in books and multicultural/ intercultural awareness. As a fan of both, I jumped at the chance, and my book review will follow in the next post. 

Below are details of the event. Please note that it is based in the United States so timings are not GMT, and some offers may not be available to those in the United Kingdom. However, all the online resources are available irrespective of where you live – the beauty of the Net!

Come back tomorrow for a review of The Marvellous Mexican Misunderstanding by Evi Triantafyllides of WorldwideBuddies.com

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honoured to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan BernardoAuthor Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne BroylesAuthor Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports QueenAuthor Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing  Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham  Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm. (EST which is 2am GMT)

Join the conversation and win one of twelve 5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta 

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Another post about books I bought in Bilbao.

I’ve long been a fan of Gloria Fuertes, in particular her poem Doña Pito Piturra which I’ve written about before and so has Erzsi Culshaw.

The National Curriculum Language programme requires learners to:

  • discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied

and the KS2 section specifically states that pupils should be taught to:

  • explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
  • appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language

I’m trying to include more whole class poems that we read and recite together in light of this and also as a way of supporting the English curriculum which requires learners to recite poetry.

So when I saw a series of books called Lee con Gloria Fuertes I decided to purchase a couple. It was hard to decide which to choose but I settled for one on nature and one on weather.


Below are my favourite poems from the books. The first is a list of wishes entitled Todos contra la contaminación which fits well with the eco focus at both my schools and would work well as a reading/drawing activity with learners choosing a line or two to illustrate. The second poem is called Gatos constipados and is about two poorly cats who get thrown out for coughing too much!

There are lots more books in the series so I may well purchase more in the future.

You can find more poems specifically for children by Gloria Fuertes here and others here. In this post there are a number of downloads of her poems along with links to other Gloria Fuertes poems including here (poems about time) and here (poems about professions). You can find a PDF of more of her work here plus here which also has a reading guide.

 

And here’s my session on Making links across the curriculum.

I didn’t get to share my Pinterest pages as they were blocked by the firewall, but here’s the link to my Roman resources for Spanish. 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 a cheesy song in Spanish about the planets.

Some resources that I said I’d share –

habitats matching copy worksheet

LAT SP FR ROM NUMBERS 1-31

I also recommended looking at The Iris Project and MFL Sunderland for other resources that I have found useful for Latin/Greek (former) and Latin, Planets and much more (latter) And check out TES Resources from Joan Miró resources from Helen Stanistreet and Rachel Hawkes

If I’ve missed anything out that I promised to post, please let me know!

Linguamedia is an app that allows you to watch foreign TV stations online. Originally launched earlier this year with French channels,  Linguascope announced today that their Linguamedia app has been updated so you can now watch German, Spanish, Italian and English channels as well as French ones. They’ve also improved video playback, and updated it for the iPhone5 screen.

The app costs 69p and offers 16 French, 6 German, 12 Italian, 12 Spanish and 5 English channels (NB the channels are in that language not necessarily from that country so there is an Austrian and a Swiss channel for German) It is possible to access TV online e.g. by searching “RTVE” you can watch the stream of RTVE1, RTVE2, Telesport and Canal 24H, but for convenience, this app is great. You need a wifi connection to view the stations, and as Linguascope warn

I’ve mentioned Linguatrivia Spanish and Newshound previously but there are many other apps from Linguascope available. Worth a look!

Just found this lovely story app via my Google Reader. Called Calliope, Queen of the Zebras, it’s a very simple story that you can read or have read to you. And it is written in English, Spanish and French – you change language by clicking on the cowboy hat, beret and sombrero so you can read each page in a different language if you want. The book also has hidden animations and sounds, and a fun page on which you can dress Calliope. And it’s a lovely story too –

“I can sing or swing,

I can be or do anything.”

There are another two story apps from StoryBook ExpressDott Meets Watt and If I only had wings, both of which are in English Spanish and Vietnamese, and come with a parent’s guide of questions to get your child talking.

I’ll be looking out for more in the series too…


I’m very excited to pass on the news from Val Thornber of Little Tales of the Unexpected and Beelingua fame.

Her message reads –

I am delighted to inform you that a unique collection of GrowstoryGrow’s wonderful stories has just been published by Beelingua Products Ltd (makers of Little Tails of the Unexpected).

The stories are all designed to help primary school children effectively learn a foreign language.

Each story has sentence-building tasks, games, fun lesson plans and many other useful resources.

All of these stories are currently available “Free of Charge” for a trial period.

COMING SOON – over 100 extra stories will be available in many languages including German, Italian, Urdu, Russian, Hindi, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish.

Over the course of the next few months we will be regularly publishing these new stories. If you would like us to tell you about these new publications you need to subscribe to our newsletter.

Please forward tell parents, teachers and friends who you think may find GrowStoryGrow stories useful. Why not try out the stories with your children TODAY and please let us have any feedback by sending an email to Valerie Thornber (creator of GSG): val@growstorygrow.com

To access the stories you will need to log-in to the website www.growstorygrow.com

There you will receive a trial login and be able to try out the product for a while.

I love Les sacs en plastique – ver
y simple but with an important message; and Le monstre de la musique is very amusing too – if only it were in Spanish, I could use it wth Year 5 in their current unit of work!

Can’t wait for more languages and more stories to be added.

If yu check out the site in detail, you’ll find details of the methodology behind the resource, how the Scheme of work will be comprised and also details of pricing for September.

Well done Val and keep up the hard work!

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