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Tag: nature

Update time!

At the end of May I wrote about the #30DaysWildMultilingual challenge run by Multilingualism in Schools, and I thought I should ‘report back’ as promised!


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’m looking forward to future collaborations with Multilingualism in Schools linking languages with other areas of the curriculum and our lives. I’m definitely planning to use the Language Portraits activity as well as the 10 minute language posters, and I’m excited about the prospect of a new project linked to COP26 in November.

June 2021

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.

If you do join in, make sure to tweet @LostWor_l_ds and use the hashtags #30DaysWild and #30DaysWildMultilingual or, if you don’t use Twitter, email lostworlds@sheffield.ac.uk or leave comments on their website.

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.

Continuing my posts on non-fiction texts, here are some suggestions of texts that you might use to engage those hard to please learners who need something a bit different to capture their attention.

Firstly, some DK Readers that I bought a long while ago on Amazon. They come in several levels as you can see below, ranging from one sentence per page plus reinforcing illustrated vocabulary through simple sentences using repetitive language to the inclusion of information boxes and fact files and beyond.

 

The three I have come from the lower levels as they were bought to be accessed pretty independently by learners, and are on topics that I don’t specifically teach so the vocabulary is mostly unknown.

This is taken from El Mundo Marino which belongs in the lowest level ‘prenivel 1 para principiantes’ and I used this with Y1 last year when they were looking at the seaside. I read it to the class, focusing on the names of the things found in the sea rather than the meaning of the phrases. It was then left for reading during the week by anyone that fancied and also as an activity for those who finished quickly. Perhaps you could encourage learners to label a picture of a sea creature using the book as a reference?

The second book is called Gigantes de Hierro and was bought when I had a pupil who was obsessed with vehicles. I now know a little boy who would very much appreciate this book! It contains some great pictures and I found it fun expanding my heavy machinery vocabulary to include un camión de volteo, una aplanadora  and una carretilla elevadora. Of course, it’s good for a bit of role reversal with learner teaching the teacher new words; just proves nobody knows everything! It’s a good book to read with a child or to a group of children, particularly with the onomatopoeia!

And then there’s ¡Insectos! which comes from ‘nivel 2 Lectura asistida’ and has some wonderful photographs of insects as well as interesting information. It’s quite complex as it’s a direct translation of the English version, but not impenetrable. For the page above left I might ask questions such as:

  • What is the name of that insect in English? Use the text to help you if you don’t know.
  • We call it a praying mantis – do you think the Spanish name is similar? Why?
  • What do you think ‘inmóvil’ means? Why?
  • Can you find a word for ‘huge eyes’ in the text? (relying on them knowing ‘ojo’)
  • How do you say ‘Its front legs trap the fly’?
  • Find the words from jump, trap, disappear

I like the fact file at the end too which,if anything, is the most accessible as the facts are so short. I’d have translations of each fact and ask learners to match them up with the Spanish as an extension activity perhaps, or as a little challenge!

If you search DK Readers Spanish on Amazon there are several including El Mundo Marino and Insectos although most come from the USA so beware the postage!


Deportes de riesgo – El vestuario de pegatinasI bought this book at El Prat in Barcelona last year as I was about to embark on sports with a particularly feisty Y6 cohort and needed all the ammunition I could get to keep them with me for the last half term! Every time we learn the vocabulary of sports there are children, usually boys it has to be said, who want to say that they do activities and play games other than the ‘stock’ ones like football, rugby, basketball, swimming and horse riding. And why not? I’m forever encouraging learners to be imaginative and ‘make it up’ in Spanish lessons so I can’t really object when they want to say that they go scuba diving or skateboarding. And this book covers, as the title suggests, some marvellously dangerous and unusual sports. It not only gives the name for the sport, but also talks about the equipment required which fits perfectly with the Light Bulb Languages unit that looks at sporting clothing and equipment to explore the definite and indefinite article. Again I wouldn’t let them use the stickers on the pages but I’d use the stickers on card and cut out to ‘dress’ the sports people, or indeed use the central pages as a picture dictionary which is what I did last time I used it.

There are sports mentioned that I’d never heard of, and it’s always good to find out the technical words in Spanish associated with sports. For example, someone who does el parkour is called un traceur or una trace use (all taken from French which is where it originated), un piolet is an ice axe and climbing chalk is polvo de magnesio

If I can bear it, I might even separate the pages of the book and use the pages as ‘laminas’ with questions associated with each, as well as reading activities to dress the people in the images according to written instructions.

One complaint about this book – there are four female sports people and over thirty male. Girls like dangerous sports too, Usborne!

ISBN – 978-1-4095-7265-7

Buy from Amazon and Ediciones Usborne 


My last collection of books in this post are from Mini Larousse 

I love these books for a variety of reasons:

  • They’re attractive with amusing illustrations that draw you in so can be enjoyed even if you don’t understand a word!
  • The text is in Spanish handwriting which is again novel, adds something to the reading challenge and is a good way to add a bit of culture and ‘authenticity’ as well.
  • The texts are presented in short chunks using bold to pick out key words.

Being a football fan, El fútbol was the first one that I purchased, attracted by the cover that features La Selección winning La Copa Mundial with recognisable drawings of players (although Iker Casillas has strangely got very dark hair and a huge chin!) In fact there are players throughout the book that learners will recognise including Frank Lampard, Bufon, Gerrard and even Gary Lineker.

I like the combination of prose and labeled images, and the balance of images to text is about right to not put off reluctant readers in  UKS2. As with previous books, I’d be happy for learners to access them individually and use the pictures and their knowledge of football in conjunction with language learning skills to read as they wish. To offer some guidance you could produce a list of key words and phrases in English and challenge learners to find the equivalent in spanish, perhaps giving them the page number as a clue.



Caballeros y castillos is a book that Y3 would find interesting  as one of their topics is all about castles and involves organising an imaginary jousting competition, complete with stalls and ‘betting’ on the jousts (from Youtube!) The page able would be useful for finding the names of people involved in the joust, and the one below could be used as the stimulus to design and describe ‘escudos’ (a twist on the Y3 Spanish topic on shape and colour)

And then there’s Los Piratas which is a bit advanced for the KS1 topic on treasure but great for reading for pleasure. Good to see some famous female pirates featured in this book!

You can purchase El fútbol and Los Dinosaurios in this series from Little Linguist.

ISBN – 978-84-15411-16-1 El Fútbol

ISBN – 978-84-15411-14-7 Los Piratas

ISBN – 978-84-15411-18-5 Caballeros y castillos

Other books include El Universo, La Prehistoria, Los 5 sentidos and El Cuerpo Humano.


Any ideas you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!

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