Primary_language_show – ¡Vámonos!

Category: Primary_language_show

When I met up with Oscar Stringer at the Primary Languages Show in Liverpool, he told me about his recent experience of using Fuzzy Felts when animating with younger pupils, so I was really excited to see some of the work he did last week on his blog.

In Animation with Reception (Early Years), Oscar shares how he used the farmyard Fuzzy Felts with small groups of pupils for 20 or so minutes, making up simple stories involving the animals and the farmer, taking the required shots before using iMovie to create the finished product with sound.

Several things excited me about this!

Firstly, it’s so simple – no models to make- just take the pieces out of the box and off you go!
Secondly, it worked with young pupils – I made plasticine monster models with Yr2 but wasn’t brave enough to animate them – yet!
And possibly the most exciting thing for me as Oscar told me, and I can see the evidence in the clip, is that it makes for very simple stories of the kind that are so useful in language learning.

Do cows eat apples? No!
Do ducks eat apples? No!
Do dogs eat apples? NO!
Do horses eat apples? YES!

¿Eres mi mamá? ( the chick asks the cow.) ¡No! etc

Une vache habite un étang? Non!
Une poule habite un étang? Non!
Le fermier habite un étang? Non!

And anyone could make up such a story, young or old, using simple language to create their own version.

So pop by Oscar’s blog and see if it inspires you too!

I’m off to ELC to get myself some fuzzy felts – the house set is on offer as are ballerinas and pirates!

Mi calendario


I had a most bizarre conversation at the Primary Language Show a fortnight ago. There I was with Jo Rhys-Jones eyeing up the new puppets on the Little Linguist stand when one of the staff exclaimed – ‘Oh, Lisa! Did you win the calendar in Birmingham?’ I replied that I did indeed – as part of the Birmingham Primary Language Conference in November! I’d almost forgotten as I had never received said calendar.

Catherine (I believe it was!) responded that she was very sorry I hadn’t received it yet – they (Little Linguist) knew that there were two winners but had no idea who had won. Apparently, they found out from my blogpost about the conference – how cool!

So, as I have now received said calendar,(see above) I wanted to say thank you to Catherine and all at Little Linguist for their detective skills, for recognising me in Liverpool and for reading my blog.

And 3CT thank you too as they have now got a calendar just like 3DS to help them with their current unit of wrk which is all about….dates!

A quick update on the presentations from the Primary Language Show in Liverpool. Last week I published my presentations Join El Carnaval de los Animales and You and Youtube via Slideshare, and embedded them on my blog with other resources from the talks.

I recorded the sessions on my trusty ‘Toblerone’ aka my iRiver, and, as I was off work with a sick son this Thursday, I had time to edit the audio using Audacity and the Levelator. I then linked the audio to my Slideshare, synched it to the presentation and published it on Slideshare as a Slidecast. So if you now go to the blogposts, or to my Slideshare page, you will get the audio too! Magic!

One of the sessions I attended at the PLS was all about using Fairytales and Fables in PLL and employing children’s thinking skills. It was led by Louise Harty from Northumberland, and spoke to the wonderful resources available on the NGfL – particularly Riccioliodoro and Les souris courageuses

As I admitted to Louise when I saw here later, I’ve used the resources on the NGfL, specifically Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood in Spanish, and have made use of some of the activities discussed during the session without really grasping the full power of them. So it was good to discover the thinking and theory behind it all.

This has implications for thinking skills – Louise opened by reflecting that learning should be active, meaningful, challenging, collaborative, mediated and reflective. She talked about Lev Vygotsky and his zones of proximal development. Vygotsky felt that it is children’s interaction with others through language that most strongly influences the levels of conceptual understanding they can reach. He also believed that we can learn from others, both the same age and of a higher age and developmental level – learning is a social activity and thinking skills could be the road to better language learning.

The progression of learning in PMFL was said to be

  • nouns
  • words to describe nouns
  • short phrase
  • making own sentences
  • able to use verbs confidently

and the scheme of learning activities that Louise was presenting follow this pattern.
At each stage, opportunities are given to explore concepts behind the knowledge in an unthreatening manner.

Here are the success criteria for each objective-

  • nouns – I understand gender (not teaching it but exploring it)
  • adjectives – I understand how adjectives work
  • short phrases – I understand simple word order.
  • sentences – I understand sentence construction
  • use verbs confidently – I understand how verbs work

By using scaffolding early on, pupils in PMFl can reach level 5 equivalent skills. Louise questioned why, if pupils are conceptually able to reach level 5 in Maths science and Literacy, we limit them in MFL?

By moving from fairytales to fables the pupils are moving from familiar to less familiar stories with more complex language.

Ricciolodoro è i Tre Orsi was the first story in focus.
By using Storyboarding pupils were developing sequencing and deductive skills. They went on to classifying nouns, exercising sorting and clasifying skills, using language of similarity and differences whilst making connections. They ahve to articulate their reasoning with everyone bringing their own learning and skills
We did an activity in which we were exploring gender – not being taught it but discovering it. If you present ‘the cognitive conflict’ children discover for themselves and it much more powerful than being told.

Les souris courageuses – une fable
We began looking at the activity Map from memory, a visual, walking dictation type of activity in which we were communicating the position of items in a picture from memory wthout touching. The key was – How did we tackle the task? Were we methodical and divide the picture into sections? Did we look for likely places to put words? Did we match adjectives in advance of instructions?

We then moved onto the construction of phrases and sentences using a grid, then joining with connectives. Although some may not be strictly correct in terms of likelihood or sense, in the feedback you get quality of language. Louise emphasised that the teacher’s role is facilitating in thsi scenario rather than giving learning. In this exercise, the thinking was interpreting and oragnising info whilst the children were talking about how to work together as a team – team strategies lead to spontaneous language.

The next activity involved a Venn diagram which we used for making deductions about adjectives. Conclusions reached included that you often add an e to make feminine adjectives and ones that are the same end in e already. The exercise then gave opportunities for more sentence making opportunities.

Sadly Louise ran out of time to explain the Fortune line and Fact or fiction, but we did have a quick look at classifying verbs, matching infinitives to verb forms and then splitting the verb cards as we saw fit. We were encouraged to split them into description and action verbs, and then to discuss our conclusions.

The interactive stories and SMART notebook files of characters and for retelling the story are available on the NGfL website and the accompanying resources are available for purchase £149.
I’ve used the Goldilocks stuff in Spanish very successfully with Year2 who discovered all sorts of things about language through it. And now I understand why!!

Here’s my presentation from my Saturday session at the Primary Languages Show in Liverpool entitled You and Youtube.

The idea of the session was to give people ideas about how Youtube can be used in Primary Language Learning (PLL). We looked at alternatives to Youtube, how to use video clips if a site is blocked by downloading via one of a number of tools and of course, ideas of suitable clips to use and how they might be used to meet bjectives in the KS2 Framework.

As the movies included in my Keynote presentation were embedded, I have had to go back through the presentation and hyperlink to source sites. So if the title is not hyperlinked, click on the picture or black squarea nd you’ll be taken to the original!

Here are a couple of clips I showed that weren’t in the presentation.

spanish food song from janet wisner on Vimeo.

Activity ideas for use with the clips included:

  • dressing up in clothes/ finding the flashcard as a race during Juguemos en el bosque
  • holding up words – bateau, ciseau, la rivière, l’eau, or jigsaw texts in Bateau Ciseau
  • listen out for a phoneme in Bateau ciseau (‘eau’) or Shnuffel (ich)
  • respond to a Slideshare using Voicethread
  • rewrite a song eg La Vaca Lola
  • discuss cultural events – Semana Santa, German first day of school
  • look at everyday life in other countries
  • sing a long
  • watching peers and using clips for assessment eg El Carnaval de los animales
  • motivation – eg Baby Mario Mysteries

If you have any comments / questions, please feel free to leave them below, or e-mail me!

I was very privileged to be invited to present this year at the Primary Languages Show in Liverpool, not once but twice!

I promised at my two sessions that I would post my notes and resources on my blog for people to download and use.

So here’s my first presentation. If you download it, the hyperlinks all work – or did when I tried them. However, if they don’t, remember that I have bookmarked all the sites to which I referred (and more) on Delicious tagged PLS09 –

The Powerpoints I used are also below –

I have blogged this unit previously here and you will find my worksheets, the SoW and more ideas here and a fuller description of how we animated our animals here.

A couple of things I mentioned but didn’t put in the presentation – the masks were downloaded from Sparklebox and the animation was done using FramebyFrame on my Macbook. You can also use SMAnimator (free to download on a PC) or ICanAnimate (for PC or Mac costs about £40)

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!

As I write, it’s Day 2 of the Primary Languages Show and I’m in a really interesting session by Louise Harty from Northumberland who is talking about Thinking skills in Fairytales and Fables – blog post to follow!

I was asked to speak at the conference this year – I did my first presentation yesterday (repeated) about El Carnaval de los animales and this afternoon I’m going to present You and Youtube (twice)

As promised, I’ll be blogging my sessions and uploading the resources to which I refer so if you were in Liverpool and want the resources, they’re there, and if you weren’t in Liverpool, you can benefit too! Any questions, feel free to ask.

I’ll also try to blog the sessions I attended – really interesting they are too! and I’m hoping to cadge some notes from others too!

As I’m coming to the end of my reports, I thought I’d point you to some other places where you can find out about the Primary Language Show.

In his usual efficient way, Joe Dale has published the show notes and audio of his sessions in Manchester on his blog – Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom.
Si if you want to find out about ICT…so what (free tools that you can use to enhance all four skills in the MFL classroom) or Podcasting from Idea to iTunes, pop along to Joe’s blog. In fact, if you wnat the answer to just about any ICT related question, you’ll probably find it there! Also worth checking out are Joe’s pictures from Manchester – see if you can spot me!

Another colleague with whom I met up in Manchester was Jo Rhys-Jones of Talkabout Primary MFL fame. We spent the two days swapping notes on sessions so I was glad to see that Jo had followed up her promise to tell us more about one of the sessions that had intrigued me most, all about Minibeasts. As the mother of two small boys, minibeasts are something about which I have learned much in the last few years, and Jo reports back on Linda Owen’s session at PLS in which Linda described a spiralling scheme of work covering Reception to Year6. Jo has added has added some of her own ideas too – well worth a read.

The CILT website declared the show ‘absolutely outstanding’ , quoting Lorna HarveyCounty Advisor for Primary MFL in one of our neighbouring LAs, Staffordshire. ‘I got such a lot out of it, as usual. I really appreciate the opportunity to hear from so many people with so much expertise, and this has a real impact on my work.’

I’d agree with Lorna.
Anyone else got anything to share from PLS that I’ve missed? Perhaps an idea that you’ve had, a short report on a session or a comment on the event overall? Feel free to leave comment below.

The last session I attended on Friday at PLS was a really tough choice – so many I wanted to attend but I chose ¡Mira Miró!, ‘a West Sussex KS2 cross-curricular Spanish / Art project, developed by María Roberts (MFL advisor) and Jane Sedgewick (Art advisor) to escape subject silos.’

Maria introduced the project, designed to be cross curricular, not CLIL (most is in English with some Spanish language), and lasting approximately 5 hours / half a term.
The dual objectives were stated as –

  • To explore the works of the Spanish painter Miró, using some simple Spanish to describe shape and colour.
  • To prduce own art in the style of Miró and be able to simply describe and evaluate it.

Miró was chosen as the artist as he is 20th century, his work is abstract and also not too ‘way out’ in imagery (Dalí would perhaps be a little too disturbing!)

The language involved in the project included the vocabulary of

  • shape
  • colour
  • size
  • preposition
  • evaluation

Maria showed us a number of activities that were used with the pupils to familiarise them with the work of Miró such as a game involving dominoes based on Miró’s work – each person has a domino and has to find someone with an identical image by describing it (in English) – this was an interesting activity that reminded us that our perception of a piece of art can be different to someone else’s – where I saw a man with long arms, another person saw something completely different, so it took a while to find our partners. The dominoes had been purchased from the Fundació Miró (as had other resources such as the posters that were originally part of a calendar)

Maria then took us through some of the activities that the pupils had done as part o the scheme including:

guess the name of the painting
Pupils looked at the painting on the right and discussed what they thought its name might be. they were encouraged to comment on the form, colour, texture, lines etc of the piece. The title is Ciphers and Constellations in love with a woman – does it suit the piece? What might be a a better name?
The pupils also learned at this pint that Miró often shut his eyes and painted – interesting and quirky – perhaps they could emulate it?

looking for shapes in pictures
Looking at this painting (left) called Woman in front of the sun, pupils were asked to look for shapes – and this is where some Spanish vocabulary comes in as they describe the shapes they see. In the following lessons, they add adjectives of colour and size to the descriptions – eg hay un círculo grande y rojo.

human sentences
using cards containing images of shape, size, colour and form, we made human sentences, physically emphasising the noun / adjective word order. This could be extended with verb cards for Hay / No hay.
DIY Miró
Having been given a random selection of the shapes from the paintings, we discussed their properties, and then constructed our own picture.


The next step was discussing where things are in the picture – having learned a few simple prepositions, one member of the group was given a very simple extract from a painting to describe whilst the rest drew what they had understood. A good exercise in communication – it’s amazing how clear you think your explanation is until you see how others have understood it ;o)
evaluation. NB accuracy of del / de la was modelled but not insisted upon as the flow of conversation and communication was seen as more important.
How does it make you feel?
Part of art is learning to appreciate it and the end stage was discussing how the painting made them feel. Words such as ‘bueno‘ were banned – words like bonito, tranquilo, calma, alegre, triste, confuso, raro, enfadado were encouraged – I wasn’t sure about the inclusion of ‘horroroso’ as an advisable word to describe another child’s work though!

I’ve scanned the handouts for now (in My Box of Goodies as Slideshare is not liking me today :o(

Maria shared that the hope is to publish these resources on the wsgfl alongside the existing cross curricular packs on Animals and habitats, and Habitats in Spanish (there are also a wide range of French cross curricular resources including The Giant Turnip and the Little Polar Bear, and a couple in German), and also to cover a French artist, Matisse (in his later years his work is suitable!) At the moment, the stumbling

block centres around copyright issues.

I think this is another great idea for embedding PLL in the existing curriculum, and looking in a more ‘joined up’ way at children’s education. Any other ideas out there?

As I approached Conference room 1 on Friday, I couldn’t work out why there was a queue. Was I in the right place or had I taken a wrong turning and ended up by the toilets?
All was soon revealed as ‘boarding packs’ were passed back and we were instructed to fill in our passports before picking three items for our suitcase and collecting our boarding passes. By the time I arrived at the front of the queue with my holiday wardrobe, consisting of a pink bikini, red shorts and green flip flops (there wasn’t much left, and our destination was La Réunion), there was one seat left for me. And, authentically, it was right at the back and involved me climbing over everyone else :o)

We were welcomed aboard our flight by Daryl Bailey, Primary Language Coordinator at Hove Park School and Language College and Hilary Philips from St Andrews Primary. I was already aware of a previous creative collaboration of these ladies – Parachutes and PE: Active language learning in Primary School (downloadable from the Hove park site – link is to German version. Also in My Box of Goodies) so this was going to be exciting!

We were asked to fasten our seatbelts, extinguish cigarettes, and advised of emergency procedure and that our lifejackets were under our chairs, all in French. Then we took off – complete with sound effects and images on powerpoint of the view from the cockpit.

Once airborne, Hilary explained the activity. A week before International Week began at her school, Hilary was inspired to create an unforgettable experience for every child at the school.
St Andrews is a two form entry primary school with 450 pupils with a range of home languages. The idea was that the activity would focus and give context to language work and involve everyone – Hilary came up with the idea of a flight. She considered a flight to a French town before settling on different countries to match the focus country chosen by each class.

having got the staff onside, parents were contacted by letter explaining that despite what the kids may have said, the flight was a fantasy one, not in reality, and asking for any help that could be offered-
did anyone work at Heathrow or have contacts?
anyone have any equipment that might be used?
could anyone come in and give a hand?

In this way, the school discovered that several parents had old cabin crew uniforms in the loft that were worn by staff on the day; an airline captain that someone knew became involved on one of the two days and several authentic posters and articles from airports were lent to the school.

Each flight was for two classes across Key Stages to enable the older pupils to look after the younger ones. According to Hilary, this led to some lovely moments as pupils read to one another, looked after those who looked apprehensive, and helped carry luggage.
The airport was in the school hall so had to be easily moveable to allow for it to be packed away at lunch time and for activities after school. There were checkin desks, a luggage desk with luggage for each flight being placed in a trolley (lent by Iceland!) and wheeled round to baggage reclaim in the corridor after the flight. The caretaker made a metal detector archway from carpet tube and sliver paint, and all kinds of old technology such as old fashioned phones, obsolete keyboards and walkie talkies were discovered and used.
Pupils each had to pack a small piece of baggage with suitable clothes for their destination (researched as part of the activity earlier in the week) and prepare their pass port that they had to present at Passport control where the staff found all sorts of excuses for querying passengers being allowed to board.
Staff had a corporate image – black tops with a chiffon scarf and a badge – and everyone gat involved including kitchen staff, governors and even the local vicar!
Once through passport control, pupils waited in the ‘departure lounge’ where they had a choice of reading materials – magazines prepared earlier in the week about the destinations of the flights. The first pupils through were allocated to the ‘First Class’ loinge, giving a front seat and the best choice of the magazines.

Once boarded on the ‘plane – marked out by tickertape – passengers had a magazine, menu and advertisement sheet to study in a polypocket on the back of the seat in front. At takeoff, a big screen formed the front of the ‘plane on which were projected pictures as if from the cockpit on takeoff with accompanying sound effects of engine noise.
Once airborne, there was even a refreshment trolley before the flight dropped off the first group of tourists, perhaps in Sark (Reception) before flying on to La Réunion (Year6) – bizarre but fun!
The experience was unforgettable for the pupils – Daryl tracked down some pupils who had been at St Andrews last year for the flights, and had now moved on to Hove PArk, and they still recalled the excitement and delight of the whole thing.

Hilary and Daryl pointed to the plurilingual nature of our world and how this activity drew together all the other activities of the week. It promoted teamwork, involved everyone, gave huge opportunities for speaking and listening, offers a context for language learning, brings the wider world closer to home and offers opportunities for FUN! Hilary also pointed out that this linked in with the QCA Geography unit on La Réunion, and was thus also cross curricular.

The Air St André experience sparked and inspired a Chinese Day, links with Travel and Tourism and Enterprise at Hove Park, and perhaps most importantly of all, the pupils are still buzzing about it six plus months on.

A really interesting idea – I wonder how the staff at my school would respond if I went to a staff meeting and made such a suggestion? Might try it out….

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