Early in October I took part in the Talleres de español at Instituto Español Vicente Cañada Blanch in Portobello, London. It was quite a treat to attend and participate in a face to face conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day in spite of the pouring rain and general exhaustion!
My presentation was entitled Take One Book, considering how one book can be used as the inspiration and impetus for a wide variety of activities in the primary language classroom. You can read a little about it and view my slides in a previous post.
When I was asked to speak, the organisers asked if I would be willing to write up my talk for publication in a special edition of TECLA, the Consejería magazine. I agreed and the magazine has just been published. I am really proud to be part of such a prestigious publication, and hope that it is well received and useful to readers.
Below is the first page and you can download the whole article below that.
Other contributions include an interview with Baroness Coussins, an article on using important artists as the vehicle for Spanish learning, and a report on using MFL projects to build bridges at QKA in Peterborough where 52 languages are spoken by the school community. The full list of articles is below. I’m looking forward to reading through the articles over the holidays when I have time to digest.
As mentioned in an earlier post, I was asked to speak at The Language Show which this year went online and was delivered via Zoom. Below is my presentation and brief notes on what I talked about.
Thank you to all those who saw it ‘live’ for being there – even if I couldn’t see your faces which I found quite disconcerting – and for your questions and comments. I saved the chat and enjoyed reading back your comments. Any questions that were in the chat and not put into the Q&A tab so therefore went unanswered, I’ll answer below.
If you want to see me delivering it live, you can view the recording of the session for the next month (so until mid December 2020 I would think) via the Language Show website and clicking on my name (see below)
Below are links to resources, reading and things on which I commented/shared as there are lost of hyperlinked images!
In the chat Lisa Ng asked about the exercise on slide 21. It’s from a unit on your town and the task the children were doing was using the structure En mi pueblo hay (place) Aquí se puede (infinitive) We’ve been talking about what there is/isn’t in our town, and what our town is like, and moved on to looking at infinitives. The task was supported by a ‘trapdoor’ grid that we’d used to rehearse the structure. The child whose work I shared had extended his sentences using adjectives which weren’t on the grid and applied his previous learning of adjectival position and agreement. I’d suggested it as a way to enhance their writing but not pushed the point which was why I was so pleased. Paula asked if I remembered The Language Show a few years ago at Olympia with my trolley of resources. Of course I do! I still have it although in Covid19 times it has been rested for a bit as I’m not allowed to use as many resources. And I’d just like to reiterate what people were saying in the chat about making mistakes and being an example to your learners. I completely agree – modelling how we deal with mistakes, and showing that we are lifelong learners is SO important. One of my Y4 classes answer the register by greeting me in variety of languages and I’m trying to learn (and remember!) the response to each. They’re being very patient and keep repeating it until I get it correct. Problem is, by the time the next week comes, I’ve forgotten most of it. I keep trying though – which is all I ask of them!
Finally, if you teach primary languages in the UK, I recommended joining Languages in Primary School group (LiPS) on Facebook. Here’s the link. Please make sure you answer all 3 questions when you ask to join! https://www.facebook.com/groups/primarylanguages
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll answer.
Continuing on the theme of colours, the next story I decided to share with the children is all about Elmer the elephant. In the book, we meet Elmer and his multiple colours, and then discover things that are that colour like snow, an ice lolly and fruit.
Here it is:
Since recording it, I’ve discovered the video below which takes the book towards the story of Elmer in which he wants to be the same as everyone else to fit in. [You can find that story here.] They each colour in a picture of Elmer and explore the idea of being the same but different
Then I found this song that is really lovely and worth sharing with children as it speaks about the value of diversity.
The lyrics are:
De mil colores es su piel se llama Elmer y es genial un elefante quiere ser de igual color que los demás. (2 veces)
Para ser feliz no hay que ser igual para sonreír no hay que ser igual para divertir no hay que ser igual porque el color no importará. (2 veces)
(Elmer, el elefante de colores – Canción del cuento de David McKee Autor: Juan Rafael Muñoz Muñoz Arreglo: Luis Miguel González)
I also like this version of the songs with pictograms to aid understanding. If you’d like another version of the story I shared, here’s a little child reading it. Very different style to me – far cuter! And I also found a couple of activities here that you could do related to the story.
As we continue with ‘lockdown learning,’ I’ve made another video for my pupils. This week, I move away from chocolate and rhymes and ask the question ¿De qué color es Elmo?
Years ago on a trip to Spain, I found some Barrio Sésamo books in a random shop and two have become permanent favourites. Unfortunately ¿Qué oye Epi? disappeared many years ago but I still have one of them which is great for practising colours and the question ¿De qué color es?
In my video we meet Epi and Blas, and discover other members of the Barrio Sésamo gang who aren’t the same colour as Elmo in the story. Here it is.
There are lots of Barrio Sésamo videos that you might like to use in the classroom. I particularly like this one in which Elmo and Abby learn with Rosita how to sing ‘Si estás feliz…’
In case you wanted the words:
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir. (If you’re happy, you can clap) Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir. Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection) Si estás feliz, tú puedes aplaudir.
Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies. ((If you’re happy, stamp your feet) Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies. Si en verdad estás contento, a tu rostro es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your face is the reflection) Si estás feliz, golpear con los pies.
Si estás feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’ (If you’re happy, you can shout Hurray!) Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’ Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection) Si estás feliz, tú puedes gritar ‘¡Hurra!’
Si estás feliz, tú puedes aletear. (If you’re happy, you can flap) Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes aletear. Si en verdad estás contento, a tu rostro es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your face is the reflection) Si estás feliz, tú puedes aletear.
Si estás feliz, tú puedes hacer todo. (If you’re happy, you can do it all) Si estás muy feliz, tú puedes hacer todo. Si en verdad estás contento, tu sonrisa es el reflejo. (If you really are happy, your smile is the reflection) Si estás feliz, tú puedes hacer todo.
Like many of you, I’ve been trying to keep my Spanish ‘teaching’ going in this time of lockdown and no ‘school school’ by providing activities for them to do at ‘home school’.
Today I was making a ‘hello’ message for one of the schools at which I teach and decided to add a little Spanish activity to it. And then thought I’d share it with the children at my other school. And then thought I’d share it with you in case you think it’s useful.
I’m sure many of you will know the chocolate rhyme; indeed, I’ve mentioned it here before in posts about clapping rhymes (see below). I love the way that you can use other words as well. Mariposa was taught to me by the children at CEP Antonio de Ulloa in Cartagena which led me to think of elefante and caramelo. I’m sure, with more than a couple of minute’s thought I could think of more words too!
Here’s the video! Enjoy!
Here are other posts about chocolate, sweets and clapping rhymes:
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 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.
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.
I was talking to someone this week that I’ve known since my late teens about ambitions that we had then and whether they’ve been realised. Whilst they had a long list of aspirations including to write a book, travel the world and win awards for their writing (all achieved), I really only had two ambitions that didn’t seem as exciting – to be a mum, and to be a teacher. Ambitions achieved? Well, yes. I am mum to two boys and I like to think they’re turning out OK, and I am a teacher.
But I didn’t want to be just any teacher. I wanted to be a teacher like Mrs Head, Mrs Corden and Señora Sánchez- Richardson; unforgettable teachers who are etched in my mind, who nurtured and encouraged my fascination with learning and with finding out about the world beyond our town and country, and who inspired me to be a teacher too. I literally followed in the footsteps of the latter as I took over from her as Head of Spanish when she retired, but have I ever managed to make such an impact on a child’s life as she made on mine?
I love my job and have done since I moved to primary but it hasn’t always been like that. At one point, realising my ambition to teach, and to teach Spanish, was destroying my life and that of my young children, and that’s when I left secondary teaching. [NB I am not saying that secondary is bad and primary blissful but I always wanted to be a middle school teacher who taught Spanish and was ‘forced’ into secondary teaching as the closest way forward.] I look back on those days and wonder if I managed to make a difference to any of my pupils as I was a walking stress factory. I know I did though as I’ve since met a pupil who remembered how she’d made my life a living nightmare when I first started as Head of Spanish and told me that she admired my determination to get her to succeed when she was throwing all my efforts back in my face. One of my pupils from those days contacted me (via a teaching friend) when he finished his GCSEs to tell me that he’d done well and to thank me for teaching him French. I’d only done it for a year in Y8, and only two lessons a week although I did love teaching his class. We’re still in contact, and when he wanted to start learning Spanish, he asked for my help.
What about since I moved to primary? I’ve loved it but that doesn’t equate to inspiring anyone. Perhaps I should just be glad that I like going to work, that I have fun and that I’m doing what I love to do. Does it matter if I’m making a specific difference to anyone’s life? Well it does to me. My overarching aim is to encourage children to explore languages, to enjoy learning them and to want to carry on when they leave. The vast majority move to secondary schools where they will learn French or German rather than Spanish (at least at first) so it’s important to me that they leave with the will to ‘start again’ but also the understanding – and belief – that those years of Spanish were not wasted.
So do I make a difference? Past pupils quite often say ¡hola! when they see me so I can’t have made a hugely negative impression on most of them! I love going to ‘prize giving’ evenings for my boys not just to celebrate their achievements but to ‘check up’ on old pupils, and I’m especially proud when they have won prizes for languages (happens quite often!) Former pupils send me messages with younger siblings or even turn up at school to tell me how they’ve doing with languages or have done at GCSE, and some proudly tell me that they’re continuing with language learning. A former pupil asking to do work experience at one school this year specified that she was particularly interested in languages (of course I jumped at the opportunity!) Another former pupil volunteered as a sixth former, first through his school scheme in Y12 and then in his free time, delivering Spanish in KS1, and is now a student teacher with a language specialism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that it’s all my influence that makes this happen; I know that these young people have had excellent language teachers at secondary level too, but I’d like to think that I started them on their way…
And it’s not just the ‘high fliers’ that I’d like to think have been influenced. A Y6 at my other school last year bought me a huge bunch of flowers and wrote me a note about how much he’d enjoyed Spanish and how he’d miss me – a child who is not a natural linguist but who listened and tried his best, always with a smile. I hope he remembers his experiences if languages are quite the same for him in the future.
I started by recalling a conversation I had with a friend. That was one of two reasons I started this post, the other catalyst being a message on LinkedIn from another former pupil who has now completed his engineering degree and is completing a Masters whilst spending a year in industry. During his internship he’s decided to take up Spanish again and wanted to ask my advice as Duolingo is great but he felt he lacked listening and speaking practice. He’d written the whole message in Spanish (and I don’t think he’d completely GoogleTranslated it either!) which touched me, but what he wrote in the second half of the message made me cry:
So I guess I’ve made a difference to those young people, however big or small. And they’re the ones I know about. As I said earlier, Señora Sánchez-Richardson knew I became a Spanish teacher but she doesn’t know about my career since 2000. Mrs Corden died whilst I was at secondary school but I went to her funeral and made sure that her children knew the influence she had on me. I last saw Mrs Head when I was 10 so she probably doesn’t know how much they influenced me, and she certainly knows nothing of my teaching career as I was Lisa Efford then.
The point of this post is not to say ‘look at me, I’m brilliant’ but to serve as a reminder of two things. Firstly, ambitions are great but who knows as teenager where life might lead you. I’ve done far more than I could ever imagine then including keynoting conferences, writing websites, radio series, magazine articles and textbook materials, running a marathon and completing triathlons and living in Switzerland. And secondly, we might not know the influence we have at the time, and we may never know, but it happens. Teaching can be a ‘thankless’ task, sometimes quite literally. I don’t get piles of presents at the end of the year as a class teacher might do, but it makes any thanks I do receive all the more special. And actually, as much as I love (dark) chocolate and smelly candles, I’d swap them all for a message like the one above.
A couple of months ago, Clodagh from ALL contacted me and said that Teach Primary were looking for someone to write a primary languages lesson plan for their magazine, and would I be interested? I said yes and last week, the new edition came out, complete with my lesson on p76-77.
It’s a lesson that I used on World Book Day 2016 when my school went with a Roald Dahl theme. Whilst I teach Spanish, and the resources are therefore in Spanish, it’s an idea that could easily be done in French, German, or any other of the 58 languages into which Dahl’s work has been translated!
You can access the lesson and resources here on TeachWire .
And if you’ve come to my website via Teach Primary, welcome! There are lots of other ideas for lessons here, including more for World Book Day here.