My trip to Acapulco today was very exciting. Perhaps not as exciting as a trip to actual Acapulco but I was spared the looong flight as it was able to attend the ALL Primary Languages Conference online from the comfort of my own dining room!
As part of the day I delivered a presentation entitled Not another worksheet Miss! a compilation of activities for ambitious primary language learners, whatever their age or ability. I whipped through as many as I possibly could in the time given but as usual I had far more to say that time allowed.
As I said at the time, these activities are not all mine, and I acknowledge my debt to the language community for sharing their ideas, particularly members of LiPS and my professional learning networks on social media. Ideas form over time and sometimes I honestly can’t recall what triggers an idea so whilst I have tried to give credit where it’s due, if I have failed, I apologise. Here’s a document that includes links to resources as I don’t think Slideshare is clickable!
I promised to fill in the gaps I left particularly towards the end with the last section. Slides 37-45 contain links to posts on this website that explain what I would’ve said in detail so I’ll focus on the final ‘sequence’ that I didn’t have a chance to explain.
As it’s easier, I’ve made a short video explaining what I wanted to say. Hope you find it helpful. UPDATE – Here’s the link as I’m having trouble embedding it and it’s getting late!
If you have any comments, questions or want to add your own activities, please feel free to comment below.
Between 9am and 3pm, there were 6 presentations all on the theme of An Ambitious Primary Language Curriculum for all.
I’ve shared previously (and done whole training sessions about) how I find sketchnoting really helpful to aid listening to, processing and also retaining what is said during sessions, and today I decided to get out my pens and paper to record the day.
Obviously I couldn’t sketchnote and present at the same time (I’m clever but not that clever!) so there are only 5 in my collection but I hope that you find them helpful.
If you signed up for the conference, you will receive a link to watch the recordings. If you didn’t, this will hopefully give you a taste! It was an excellent way to spend a Saturday although I’m now going for a run to help me further process my thoughts.
My overriding thought – well, it’s actually Clare Seccombe’s thought but I’m SO with her on this!
“We owe it to the children to get this [an ambitious primary languages curriculum] right – they can’t be ambitious if we are not ambitious on their behalf for a cracking languages curriculum that really works.”
Today I had the pleasure of presenting at the Talleres de español in London. It was lovely to see people in real life rather than through a computer screen, and it was definitely worth the trip from Birmingham. As always Instituto Español Vicente Cañada Blanch was buzzing with chat and the food was delicioso. Not many conferences where you are given a glass of wine with lunch, or finish the afternoon dancing or learning about jamón y vino! Thanks to the Consejería de Educación and Junta de Castilla y León for facilitating the day and to Baroness Coussins for her inspiring start to the day. It’s good to know that there’s someone passionate about languages fighting hard and trying to make change in the corridors of power. “Talking about languages in Parliament often feels like wading through treacle. [But it’s about] doors opening and horizons widening. The beauty of languages is that there is a win-win waiting to be claimed.”
As promised here is my presentation. I spoke about Take One Book in Spanish and my presentation is below. In a future edition of TECLA you’ll be able to read a summary of what I said in Spanish (I hope!)
All the videos and activities I mentioned in the presentation are bookmarked on a Pinterest page. A warning – Pinterest may be blocked in your school (it is in Birmingham schools) so it may be that you have to access the links at home and save them elsewhere, but this is the easiest way to collate them. And here is the vocabulary for the Tesoro o basura activity.
I once more had the pleasure of presenting at Language World, the annual conference of Association for Language Learning (ALL). My presentation was entitled Take One Book and was the sequel to the presentation I did at PHOrum in November (you can read about it here) this time choosing a book that was originally written in Italian and has no English translation.
I really enjoyed sharing my ideas of how to use ¡Ojo Oso! and was pleasantly surprised that I managed to finish in time and have time for questions. I experimented with using subtitles/captions during my presentation after comments by Helen Simpson on LiPS made me think about accessibility. I need to watch back the recording of my session (which has just been made available for those who registered for the conference but missed the session) to see exactly how accurate they were but I know that when I spoke Spanish they definitely had trouble as they were set to English! For example un agujero became ‘all alcohol’ and una madriguera became ‘mother together.’
Below you can find a PDF of my presentation. I’ve removed the story slides due to copyright but you can find links to versions of the story read online, as well as to where you can purchase a copy.
At the end there is a link to my Pinterest where I collected together materials for the talk, some of which I didn’t use! You can also access it via this QR code.
Perhaps you have ideas that spring to mind? Or you have a book that you could use in a similar way? If you have any comments or questions, do leave a comment below.
Postscript – you can watch the ‘standby/rehearsal’ recording of the session here.
The last (for now!) of the poems that have caught my eye from the anthology Los Mejores Versos de Gloria Fuertes that I purchased from Little Linguist
This one is entitled Paisajes para que los pintes and was chosen once more for simplicity of structure, but also because it immediately sparked ideas in my mind.
Each ‘estrofa’ decribes a very simple image with the basic structure Arriba (top) Abajo (bottom) En medio (in the middle) In the first couple of estrofas this is made explicit but after that, the pattern has been established so the prepositions are omitted although the structure remains.
I immediately saw a pairs game – can you match the image to the description?
And then I thought of back to back dictation where two children sit back to back and one describes a picture that the other then draws. In ‘times of COVID’ this could be done as an activity on a recorded or live lesson, or as a whole class activity once we’re back to school. It could be one of the descriptions from the poem or one of their own.
Which brings us to rewriting the poem – so easy to do by simply substituting nouns. 1. Los pájaros arriba, Los campos abajo, y, en medio, la cuidad.
2. En el cielo, las nubes En el corral, la oveja y, en medio, la granja.
3. Arriba, el sol Abajo, el mar; En medio de la playa, la palmera.
You could make it harder by challenging children to make the lines rhyme – you might find Rimar.io or Woxicon helpful! It could lead to some fun, unpredictable pictures and is a good activity for dictionary skills too! You could extend the poems by adding adjectives too:
Arriba, las nubes blancos, Abajo, un hombre en zancos. En medio del colegio, toca un arpegio.
I can see this as a lovely way to celebrate learning too as it would be easy for children to illustrate their poems then record them, creating a class anthology either as video, stored online or printed out using QR codes to access the audio.
Can you see ways to use this poem too? Please share them in the comments!
Now to do some work as half term is nearly over and I have pupils awaiting their next lesson!
Translation: Landscapes for you to paint. The sun above, The clouds below And, in the middle of the wheat, A scarecrow.
The sun above, The sea below And, in the middle of the sea, A boat.
The meadow, The mountain And, in the middle, the cane.
The snow, The cold And, in the middle, The river.
The cloud, The sea And, in the middle, The squid.
The jungle, The palm And, in the middle, The panther.
The sky, The plain And, in the middle, The aeroplane.
The church above, The town below And, in the tower, The bell and the cat.
The next in a series of posts about poems from the anthology Los Mejores versos de Gloria Fuertes is En un país mágico, a poem in two parts about a magical world and unusual friendships.
I liked this poem as it’s very simple with a repeated structure: [noun1] amigo de [noun2] with noun2 being an unlikely amigo for noun 1. So we have cat and mouse, robber and police, wolf and lamb, witch and child, but also yolk and white, bee and flower, black and white, rich and poor.
I also liked the poem for the message of friendship, that we could all live together in harmony and peace. as the last verse says:
Esto sucedía en un país mágico donde todos se reían y nadie se enfadaba. This happened in a magical world where everyone laughed and nobody got angry.
Wouldn’t that be a good world in which to live?
What could you do with the poem?
Read it and enjoy it – the rhythms and rhymes, and the message too.
Act it out as a play (at the end of Primera Parte, the curtain falls and there is applause!)
Look at pronunciation – the j and the use of accents.
Use the image to help children find the meaning of the poem.
Explore the interesting vocabulary – el ‘poli’, la bellota, el tiesto (I had to use the picture for that one) You may need to explain the relationship between a pig and an acorn!
Look at masculine and feminine – why is la gata amiga de la rata but el gato amigo del ratón? And likewise, la gata amiga de la rata but el gato amigo del ratón?
Challenge children to find new pairings that could be friends to rewrite the poem: El frío, amigo del calor. El Sol, amigo de la Luna. La radio, amiga del video.
What would you do? Please share your ideas in the comments!
Approximate translation: IN A MAGICAL COUNTRY First part: The cat, Friend of the rat. The cat, Friend of the mouse The witch, Friend of the little girl. The ‘bobby’, Friend of the robber. The wolf, Friend of the lamb. The flowerpot, Friend of the balcony. The egg white, Friend of the yolk. The bee, Friend of the flower. (Applause! Applause! And the curtain falls)
Second part The enemy, Friend of the enemy. The white, Friend of the black. The black, Friend of the white. The pig, Friend of the acorn. The rich, Friend of the poor. The ball, Friend of the boot. The umbrella, Friend of the drop. This happened In a magical country Where everyone laughed And nobody got cross And everyone loved each other.
At this time of year, I’m normally gearing up for my annual ‘weekend away’ at Language World. It’s taken me to York, Lancaster, Leicester, Rugby, Nottingham, London, Newcastle, Manchester, Loughborough and of course, Oxford where Language World and I first ‘met.’ This year, things are a little different as I won’t physically be going anywhere as the conference is coming to me in my home via the wonders of video conferencing. And it can come to you too if you sign up!
As the blurb on their site says: “Schools are currently exploring how they can offer rich, exciting education for all their pupils. Ofsted encourages schools to make positive decisions to preserve or develop richness of experience along with breadth and depth of curriculum – for example, giving pupils the opportunity to learn a number of foreign languages and arts subjects, recognising local ambitions. We look forward to sharing ideas and best practice from among our languages community about these kinds of curricular aspects, and about learning that goes deeper into content, motivates learners of Languages, culture and communication, and is broader than the exam specifications.”
Keynote speakers this year include:
President of ALL (2020-22), Kim Bower;
Dr. Michael Wardle, Language Lead for OFSTED;
international expert on CLIL and Professor of Languages Education and Classroom Learning at university of Edinburgh, Professor Do Coyle
Professor of Applied Linguistics at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London, Professor Li Wei
Im particularly looking forward to hearing from Professor Li Wei on Friday talking about Multilingualism, Language Learning and Social Cognition and then from Jane Driver on Saturday talking about Using CLIL and MFL strategies to maximise the curriculum for EAL learners.
And then there are the talks and presentations from which you can choose. Each session is 30 minutes long with a 20 minute presentation followed by 10 minutes for questions. Easier for concentration but challenging when you’re planning a session and always have too much for 45 minutes…
Some sessions that caught my eye as a primary languages practitioner include:
Promoting intercultural understanding through cross curricular and extra-curricular activities in the primary classroom – lots of practical ideas led by Bernadette Clinton and Raquel Tola Rego
A recipe for success! Creating a bespoke scheme of work – Clare Seccombe
Engaging, enriching, inclusive: ensuring a primary MFL curriculum which delivers for SEND pupils – Eleanor Chettle Cully
Celebrate your bilingual learners and promote linguistic diversity in your school with an International Mother Tongue Day project – Hannah White
As usual, I have a problem! The first two are at the same time as each other AND I’m speaking at the same time! And the second two are also concurrent. I’m hoping that with the online nature of the conference we might be able to catch up… but I’m not sure so don’t quote me on it!
Other sessions I’m looking forward to:
What does an anti-racist, decolonised MFL curriculum look like?
Embedding languages into the curriculum: practical examples from Scotland and Wales
Teaching Phonics – Mapping, Method and Moving on
Another innovation this year is that some 30 minute slots split into 3 mini talks and I’m looking forward to many of those too including Dr Judith Rifeser talking about Nurturing intercultural understanding and celebrating pupils’ diverse and multilingual voices through creative projects, Bryn Llewellyn sharing Learning Languages on the Move – Developing Language Vocabulary using Physically Active Learning Approaches, Helen Stokes talking about Making connections between languages with translation skills: for easier transition between KS2 and 3 and How MFL teaching can boost whole school literacy led by Clare Caio.
So much that it’s hard to choose! You might even want to ‘attend’ my session entitled Take One Book in which I’ll explore how to make full use of a storybook (a different one from the one I shared at PHOrum!) You can find further details on the Language World 2021 website and the programme can be found here.
I am very much looking forward to a new experience and whilst I’d rather we were meeting together as usual, I’m excited for the new format and will still be wearing LiPS themed clothing and sketchnoting!
Find out about my experiences at previous Language Worlds by following the links below!
*This is compilation of previous posts plus a couple of new ideas!*
This website is new and I love it! https://dayofthedead.holiday/ is well presented and comprehensive in explaining the festival – when, where, why, who and how – as well as offering ideas for how you can celebrate including make up tutorials, craft ideas and recipes.
This video is a helpful video that explains what happens during the festival, full of vocabulary and presented in steady clear Spanish.
And this one colourfully explains how indigenous festivals became mixed with catholicism to make the festival as it is today.
Finally I want to point out the Rockalingua song that has proved popular with my pupils in recent years. If you go to their website you can watch a video of the song as well as download the words, worksheets and other materials for free.
I’ve shared ideas on this theme before; if you click on the images below, they’ll take you to the posts!
An interesting news article about changes in the way Día de los Muertos is celebrated, and how it’s moving from private to more public. I was certainly struck when I landed in Mexico City on October 31st 2015 by the exuberance and spectacle of the street celebrations but also by the quiet of the personal celebrations by individuals on the subsequent days. I think there was a Halloween/Día de los Muertos divide going on, but that was my perception. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Whilst I know that many schools do not celebrate Halloween (mine don’t!) I thought I’d share these ideas that I’ve used, made or seen over the years.
A Halloween Storybird.
Songs about ‘calabazas’
Songs about ‘esqueletos’
In 2012 I made this Storybird at the request of the Reception teacher at my school. I say ‘my school’ but at the time I lived in Switzerland and they were missing me!
I happily created it and shared it with them, and then with you via my blog in this post.
Unfortunately in the intervening years, Storybird has changed the way you can share so the link was broken so I created a PPT of the pages and added some activities and extra slides today, then narrated it. The link to it is at the bottom of the post.
I’ve shared the first of these songs before when I subtitled it (using a tool that doesn’t exist anymore so it’s lost 🙁 However, you can switch on the CC subtitles now and whilst, not perfect (the third ‘calabaza’ is ‘enojada’ and the subtitle read ‘que no y no’) they serve the purpose!
As you can see, each ‘calabaza’ is expresses a feeling using the phrase ‘se siente…’ and you could follow up this song with asking ¿Cómo te sientes? (How are you feeling?) with children responding “Me siento…”
Here are the lyrics: Cinco calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente muy cansada. Cuatro calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente asustada. Tres calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente enojada. Dos calabazas sentadas en su casa Una calabaza se siente muy frustrada. Una calabaza sentada en su casa Una calabaza se siente sorprendida Cinco calabazas duermen en su casa Cuando sale el sol, se sienten muy felices.
I’ve just discovered this second video, also about ‘calabazas’ and emotions. This time the ‘calabazas’ are more animated, and express their feeling using the verb estar. Some interesting vocabulary used including gruñona, a great word meaning grumpy or cranky! Another opportunity to discuss feelings, asking ¿Cómo estás? with children replying Estoy… It also offers an opportunity to look at the present continuous Estoy+gerund.
Here are the lyrics: Letra: Una calabaza, sonriendo, sonriendo. x3 Una calabaza está feliz.
Dos calabazas, gruñendo, gruñendo. x3 Dos calabazas están gruñonas.
Tres calabazas, bostezando, bostezando. x3 Tres calabazas están con sueño.
Cuatro calabazas, llorando, llorando. x3 Cuatro calabazas están tristes.
Cinco calabazas, riendo, riendo. x3 Cinco calabazas están jugando.
I’ve long been familiar with the Babelzone song about ‘Los Esqueletos’ that has a skeleton coming out of the ‘tumba’ every hour of the night as the clock strikes, and have shared it many times! The version below has a bit more ‘movida’ and also uses ‘desde…. hasta’ to give a range of time (from … until) rather than ‘cuando el reloj marca…’ Certainly an earworm!
I also like this version as it’s a rhyme rather than a song; great to work on rhythm and link language learning to music. You could find the percussion instruments and really get a beat going! And then it becomes a song encouraging you to dance. First moving your ‘cintura’, then your ‘cabeza’, ‘rodillas’ and finally your ‘cuerpo’
And linking ‘los esqueletos’ to parts of the body, you could try “El Baile del Esqueleto.” To the tune of Dem Bones, the song encourages you to move and dance whilst simply talking about how your bones are connected to one another. You could use it as part of a science lesson on the skeleton, or as an exercise in finding the word for or working out what the lyrics mean using scientific knowledge.
And not entirely a song about ‘esqueletos’ but here’s a ‘Halloween’ version of 5 babies jumping on the bed with skeletons and a ghost Mummy telling them off!
During lockdown I recorded a number of stories for my pupils and, like many people, had some online shopping sprees when I couldn’t get out. I combined these when a colleague discovered that I had bought a Julie Donaldson/Axel Scheffler book that is her favourite and asked me to record it for her so she could hear what it sounded like. I’ve uploaded it here for the next few weeks if you’d like to use it. After that, you can have a look at this version which is animated with pictures from the book (but also has some spelling mistakes!) or this one. If you have a Twinkl subscription there is a set of vocabulary to accompany the story here and the bottom of this post has a couple of craft activities too. Obviously, activities for the English version Room on a Broom could also be used and/or adapted, especially craft activities as they have no text on them; here are some examples KiddychartsScholasticTeaching Ideas
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.