Each day of June there was a simple challenge linking languages and the natural world that could be completed by children (and adults!) of all ages. They included finding the names for flowers in other languages, counting hops, litter picking and eating outside. Some were even be linked to our topics (likes and dislikes, weather and colours)
Throughout June I posted the challenge each morning on Twitter and encouraged the school community to join in, posting my own ‘entry’ each day later on along with any that had been sent in. Some days another member of staff joined in, some days the activity was reflected in the forest school activity completed by the youngest children and some days families sent photos via Twitter or interacted with the post linguistically rather than graphically.
A couple of times I had the ‘luxury’ of unexpected time with classes which meant that we were able to work collaboratively on one of the challenges. Y5 used the website In Different Languages to complete butterfly or caterpillar multilingual art.
Y6 completed the task later in the month so chose one of the prompts and used GoogleTranslate as well as the above website to complete their artwork.
All the interactions were collated on a Padlet. You can see that we were very busy! There’s a column per three days plus a few extras. It’s great to look back on. I’ve just had another look and I’m inspired to find new ways to complete similar activities in the new academic year.
Since the challenge was officially over, there have been a few more interactions on Twitter with participants; it seems I’m not the only one who is fascinated by languages and the ways they interact!
I love being in nature, whether it’s running, walking or just loitering. In recent times, this has become all the more important to me, not least as a way of finding peace and calm in a world that seems to have gone bonkers. I don’t think I’m alone in this either! There seems to be an increasing awareness of the value of being outdoors, partly because it’s been the only way to meet until recently but also due to a new habits formed by being ‘locked down.’ With all this in mind, I was so excited to find a tweet today about #30DaysWildMultilingual.
Every year in June, The Wildlife Trusts run the 30 Days Wild challenge – a challenge to do an activity linked to nature, every day, for the whole month, and Multilingualism in Schools decided, in conjunction with their local Wildlife Trust in Sheffield, that they would like to create a language based challenge aimed both at those learning a language at school and those who are growing up multilingual. Each day of June there is a simple challenge linking languages and the natural world that can be completed by children (and adults!) of all ages. They include finding the names for flowers in other languages, counting hops, litter picking and eating outside. Some can even be linked to our topics (likes and dislikes, weather and colours)
I’m really excited by this and will be sharing it with learners at both my schools as an enrichment activity. I recently asked children what sorts of things they would like to do to make language learning better; challenges, and activities in different languages came up so this is serendipitous. The Multilingualism in Schools Twitter account @LostWor_l_ds will tweet an activity a day using the hashtag #30DaysWild and #30DaysWildMultilingual but you can download all 30 challenges from their website or below, and complete as many as you want, whenever you want!
Even if you aren’t able to join in with all the activities, why not choose one to complete with your learners as a one off lesson? For example, why not use the Cloud spotting task as a way to practise using a bilingual dictionary, or as a way of exploring other languages using Google Translate or online dictionaries?
Or learn a song about nature and take it outside to sing (although we’re allowed to sing inside now, it’s far better outside, especially if this lovely weather continues!)
For me, although I teach Spanish at both my schools, language learning is about languages plural, and it’s vital that ALL languages are seen as important, especially those spoken and/or understood by our school and local communities. I really hope that children will use these challenges to share their own languages and also explore others as well as – or even instead of – expanding their Spanish vocabulary. I’m also looking forward to children getting outside and exploring, appreciating the school grounds as well as their local environment.
There’s more to explore on the LostWor(l)ds website – expect another post in the near future!
If you’re interested in the wildlife aspect particularly, it’s also worth checking out your local Wildlife Trust website for details of events near you. I’ve found that my local one – Birmingham and the Black Country – are planning special events (not language related) for the Big Wild Weekend including a camp out, a quiz and talks from experts.
When bsmall contacted me to say that they were updating their 50 Phrases series and would I like a sneak peek, of course I said yes!
bsmall are a “small but mighty” (love that description!) award-winning independent children’s publishing company that creates and publishes children’s books for sale in the UK and around the world. “We’re on a mission to empower all readers with critical literacy skills, and our books are creative, educational and encourage children to think for themselves.” I’ve written about some of their books before. You can find out about their Hello Languages serieshere, one of their UKS2 parallel text books Los Mellizos del Tiempohere and their I can read series of books here (update – there are a couple of Spanish ones and more French available now £1.99 each from Apple Books)
The 50 Phrases series are currently available in French, Spanish and English, and aim to give children ‘a head start’ with a new language. Over 32 pages, they introduce some common phrases and useful vocabulary for beginner learners including how to introduce yourself, talk about your family and express opinions as well as asking questions about where and what things are, inviting others to play and requesting things. Each double page spread has between 2 and 5 key phrases that are highlighted, adding up to 50 over the whole book, as well as boxes of vocabulary that can be used with those phrases. There is also the suggestion of a game or activity to rehearse those phrases, and also a little bit of grammar is explained throughout. You can see an example below.
Each phrase is written in Spanish and English, and is also written ‘phonetically.’ I’m not a great fan of this ‘how to pronounce it’ guide as it can lead to very odd pronunciation, but I understand that some people find it helpful, particularly as this is intended to be used at home/independently. And that’s where the update comes in about which I am very pleased.
The book now comes with a QR code that gives the reader access to audio files of the 50 Spanish Phrases (and the same for English and French if you purchase those books.) that give a clear native speaker model of the pronunciation. You can see how it works with the sample below.
By giving the pronunciation of the key phrases, learners now have access to what they actually sound like which will facilitate more educated understanding of the pronunciation guide and more accurate Spanish pronunciation. So this is a great resource that can be used at home without need for a Spanish speaker to be present!
As I said, I was given a sneak peek as the updated versions are not released until May 3rd but you can preorder the SpanishFrench and English books via the bsmall website.
While you’re on the site, check out some of the other books they publish. My eye was caught by the Hide and Speak books with flaps to lift and the Mix and Match flashcards for practising questions and answers. Or download the Language Learning brochure to browse at your leisure! And make sure you check out the Activity Hub where you can download a copy of the Rights of the Language Learner as well as a beach picture labelled in French and Spanish – perfect for Y2s summer topic.
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.
In November I had the unexpected pleasure of speaking at PHOrum, an online twilight for Primary language teachers run by Sue Cave and Association for Language Learning (ALL) . PHOrum stands for Primary Hubs Online and is a response to maintaining community of support and development for primary languages in the current climate. The inaugural meeting had sessions by Steven Fawkes, Eleanor Chettle Cully and me! You can read about my part of it here.
The Spring meeting is fast approaching on February 25th 16:00-17:30 via Zoom. Along with a ‘roadshow’ of updates and information from Steven Fawkes, there will be two further presentations:
Language acquisition and development in a primary language lesson Carlota will share the process of acquisition of a language and ideas to carry on in a lesson. How to start with vocabulary and simple structures and develop skills to understand a text , comprehension questions, classroom language and be able to follow basic communication, at the same time, make the learners feel that they are being challenged and are successful in their task. Language in Primary should be real and useful. The examples will be in Spanish but applicable to other languages. Carlota Cámara Suarez is Subject Development Lead and Spanish Teacher at Gladstone Primary Academy and Thomas Deacon Juniors
Memory methods in KS2 MFL Kirsty will talk about how gestures, memory tags, routines and songs can help motivate primary language learners and improve their retention of vocabulary and phonics. Kirsty will relate this to her teaching in y3-6 giving practical examples of action songs and vocabulary learning methods that can be applied to a variety of topics in the primary classroom. She will touch on her experience of teaching EAL pupils and what motivates them to learn. Kirsty Williams is Lead Teacher for EAL and Primary MFL at Castle Newnham School, Bedford and runs the local ALL Primary Hub. She has taught French for over 15 years in KS2, KS3 and KS4.
Both sound very interesting and I’m hoping that the staff meeting at school that week is on Tuesday not Thursday!
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!
Elmo y Clara cantan sobre la importancia de lavarse las manos.
Following on from my previous post about Elmo, here’s a lovely little video all about washing your hands – very topical!
Here are the lyrics if you wanted to join in!
(spoken) El agua está lista. El jabón está listo. ¡A lavar las manos! ¡Sííí!
Si tu salud quieres ciudar, tus manos tienes que lavar. Los gérmenes eliminar y el agua siempre conservar. Frota arriba. Frota abajo. El jabón para lavar. Del meñique hasta el pulgar, cada dedo de tus manos.
Después de jugar, antes de comer. Luego de ir al baño, me lavo las manos x2
The last line of the chorus drove me bonkers as I just couldn’t work it out so I did some research which led to the Sésamo website where there are a multitude of resources including links to further handwashing videos (see the end of the post) and this worksheet in the section LIMPIOS that accompanies the song. It has four pictures for children to colour then cut out and put into the correct sequence to wash their hands.
However, I found no lyrics so I needed to call on some Spanish speaking mates who were equally puzzled. Sin embargo, a bit of detective work by @SpanishSam and @amandasalt and the line ‘Del meñique al pulgar’ was found. As we discussed, el meñique (meaning little finger) isn’t a word that sprang to mind although we’d heard it before.
Amanda found this section of information that suggests playing a handwashing game – give two or more children water and the same amount of soap and see who can produce the most bubbles whilst they sing the alphabet song (or another well known song!)
Sam found it in this really helpful document that accompanies the series, giving lesson ideas. activities and other resources to promote good health. Needs further investigation I feel but in the section related to this song it suggests playing ¿Lavarme o no lavarme? giving a variety of scenarios and ask children to decide if they need to wash their hands or not, and also suggests some cross curricular activities linked to Maths, Science and Food.
If you want to investigate handwashing in greater depth, this 12 minute videos explains why we need to wash our hands and sees Elmo finding out about the science behind handwashing whilst trying to escape from a huge germ that chases him!
Finally, in these times of Covid-19, Elmo and his friends have been encouraging children to wash their hands for 20 seconds as well as offering advice to parents on how to talk about the virus. More information here I’ll leave you with a couple of videos. Remember ¡lávate las manos!
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.
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.
I love a bargain, and am also a great fan of recycling so I am particularly pleased with a new pile of German children’s books!
Some were purchased via LiPS, one was found in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and the other three were a Christmas gift from my son who is currently studying in Germany and found them in an Oxfam shop there.
So here they are!
This lovely book is all about four legged friends playing Hide and Seek (Verstecken spielen) It has a touchy feely cover and features cute dogs a cat and a rabbit. I like the simplicity and repetition of the text as well as the animal noises. A fun book that would be great to read to FKS/KS1.
Ohren wackeln, Beine zappeln is another cute board book featuring animals. This time it has holes in each page in which you insert your fingers to make the ears (Ohren) or legs (Beine) of the animals. Each page has two lines of text and is written in rhyme – great to read aloud and practice your pronunciation as well as spotting the verbs. And of course, good for finger wiggling!
This a short board book is from the Disney Babies series and is all about baby Goofy going to bed. It’s written in prose and features Pluto as well as Goofy. Very cute!
Two books from the same series here! Kennst du das? – Do you know that? Each is a word book with bright photographs to illustrate the meanings. They include ‘usual’ words such as Pferd, Hase, Katze, Tiger and Elephant, but also more unusual animals – Streifenhörnchen, Rotfeuerfisch and Wandelnde Blätter and vocabulary – Zange (pliers) Reißverschluss (zip) and Qualle (jellyfish) It also indulges my love of looking at German words, ‘literally translating’ and seeing language links: Dreirad = three wheels = tricycle Nacktschnecke = naked snail = slug Stinktier = smelly animal = skunk Fledermaus = flying mouse = bat Nashorn = nose horn = rhino Flusspferd = river horse = hippo
Finally a board book with sliding windows (Schiebefenster) to learn numbers 1-10. The windows slide to show either the numeral or a number of objects so could be used for numbers and then extended to use the vocabulary pictured, in singular and plural forms. Perhaps older learners could have a look in a dictionary for the words whilst others will begin to recognise the correct item from three after several readings.
I was really surprised to find this book in an Oxfam shop in Bath, and even more surprised when I realised that the buttons still worked! I like reading books based on series that we watch in English as it’s possible to compare names and ket features in the other language. For example, Ryder and Chase have the same names in both languages and the PupPad in German is called the Pfot-o-fon (Paws ‘phone) I’m looking forward to sharing this book with the little ones at school. And I don’t think the enchantment of this book is limited to little ones..
So these are my new German books. What do you think? It’s a bit of a shame that I don’t teach German on a day to day basis but reading them aloud is great fun! A reminder that there is a catalogue of my (ever growing!) collection of German children’s books here, and there is also a French list and several for Spanish – fiction, nonfiction, rhymes poems and songs, plus an ‘other languages‘ list too!