Last night I attended a webinar hosted by ALL London with the British Council to launch the Language Trends survey for 2021.
Language Trends is a yearly report that discusses the state of language learning in England and is written by Ian Collen of Queens University, Belfast. It’s a really important report on language learning at primary and secondary level in England that is published and read at high level by government and policy makers. The more responses they get, the better the picture of language learning across the country as it is informed by the results of a survey sent to schools.
The Language Trends survey 2021 is being emailed to schools this week. It’ll be sent to the public email of your school – often the HT or enquiry@ Last year, it was notable that the responses tended to come from schools in more ‘affluent’ areas statistics wise (eg lower than average FSM) so it would be good to have a wider breadth of data this time. Ian Collen, the author of the report, wants to hear all about what’s going on in primary schools. One of last year’s finding was that “Primary Languages are embedded in policy but not in practice.” Therefore, if you ARE putting policy into practice, this is an opportunity to share all the wonderful things that are going on.
If you are asked to fill it in, please do! If you aren’t, email the Head and ask them to do it, or offer to do it for them! It’ll take you about 15 minutes. The deadline is 29th January which is very soon!!
If you’d like to read last year’s report, you can find it (and other research into language learning in the UK) on the British Council website Language Trends 2020 or it’s below in PDF,
This book is amazing! It has flaps, dials, double page factfiles, stories, quizzes, jokes and puzzles, all teaching facts about our planet – Planète Terre. In fact, it’s so amazing that I couldn’t just take photos, I had to make a video!
It’s the kind of book that would go down well on the class bookshelf for children to access in their free reading time. The facts are short and therefore less threatening than in your average non fiction book, allowing learners to concentrate on decoding a few unfamiliar words using their knowledge of cognates and other languages as well as context and of course their existing geographical/scientific knowledge. And although Spanish is the language we learn at my schools, I would still put this on the bookshelf as children like variety, some go to French club and others just enjoy looking at texts in other languages.
If you wanted to guide children’s reading of the book, you could compile a list of words in English that could be written in French by looking in the book (there are many words written in bold that would suit this activity) or perhaps create some sentences with gaps to be completed by reading a certain page, or even pose the six questions below and ask more advanced learners to answer in a sentence or two.
I’m off to find more of these – in Spanish this time!
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!
Yesterday I spent an interesting day in London at the Institute of Education, University College London attending the Festival of Social Science 2019 – Primary Languages Policy in England – Making it happen!
The blurb at the top of the agenda explains the purpose of the day:
Learning a modern or ancient language became a part of the statutory curriculum for England from September 2014. Five years into the new policy, there are still significant challenges in meeting national curriculum requirements, leading to inequity from school to school and region to region. This event will address key issues affecting the success of primary languages and put 10 recommendations from the recently published RIPL White Paper to the test. Come and join leading practitioners and policy makers in an interactive day where your views will directly feed into a draft implementation strategy to inform the way forward for primary languages in England. The session will take inspiration from the World Café process, combining short inputs, followed by small round table discussion of key questions, captured by graphic recording/posters, leading to plenary feedback at the end of the session, connecting main findings and agreeing points for action.
Throughout the day we considered six questions that covered the 10 recommendations of the RiPL White Paper. An ‘expert witness’ spoke for five minutes and then we discussed the questions at our tables with someone scribing onto large posters. I was designated scribe for my group that was chaired by Dr Rowena Kasprowicz and included Jenny Carpenter (President of NALA), Yvonne Kennedy (Herts for Learning) and Marnie Seymour (University of Winchester.) After each question, each group’s poster was collected and displayed. Half way through the day, responses to the first three questions were summarised by the ‘question chair’, a member of RiPL.
As well as scribing I tried to sketchnote the day. The five minute ‘opening comments’ are in black for each question, and the summary is presented in the coloured pen.
It was a very interesting day, discussing how primary languages can move forward and what needs to be done for that to happen. You can read the White Paper in detail below – or read the one page summary!
Also. do check out the RiPL website – it’s full of information and research about Primary language teaching and learning. I particularly like the One page summaries of longer research papers; a time saver and also gives a taster so you can decide if you want to delve deeper.
I’ve just got back form London and the Language Show at Kensington Olympia. A lovely couple of days catching up with people, finding out about university courses and qualifications for Stevens Junior, visiting stands and learning from others – and then some more catching up with people!
Below are sketchnotes of the seminars I attended – minus the EU one as I only attended half of it! I was travelling light and using my mini notebook plus a limited palette of black pen and six coloured highlighters so apologies that they are a little more squashed and monotone than normal!
Joe Dale’s session on Using tecnology. Sadly had to leave early as I was in pain! You can access Joe’s whole presentation here
Wendy Adeniji talking Mastery at GCSE.
The Show and Tell was full of great ideas that I quickly tried to note down. Didn’t catch all names I’m afraid! Do tell me and I’ll add them.
The lovely Catherine Cheater sharing about The Primary French Project. A great resource – that’s free! – and a wonderful presentation.
The Primary Show and Tell was also amazing, packed with great ideas about word classification, poetry, story telling, heritage language teaching and facilitating pupil understanding through framing.
Wednesday morning saw me gazing at the sea, then moving swiftly past Butlins to speak at University of Chichester MFL Conference. I had a lovely day attending sessions in the morning and sharing some ideas about using technology and stories in the languages classroom.
Below are my sketchnotes of the sessions I attended, starting with Elaine Minett’s upbeat introduction to the conference, talking about challenges being seen as opportunities, followed by an idea packed session about using poetry by Concha Julian of the Consejería de Educación and finishing with Lynne Brackley’s session on using drama based activities in languages. I enjoyed using my dramatic skills in both of the latter sessions!
If you get the opportunity next year, I can thoroughly recommend attending as the conference was varied with sessions for primary, secondary as well as cross phase sessions, and they were delivered by a variety of people including PGCE students, teachers and representatives of organisations like the British Council, the Consejería de Educación and Language Angels. I enjoyed seeing Catherine on the Little Linguist stand once more (and buying a new book!) as well as visiting other stands including Institut Français and European Schoolbooks.
One of the sessions I attended at Language World was given by Sue Cave. Entitled Language Detectives, it shared a project that Sue and a colleague had devised, originally for a day long workshop for more able primary linguists, based around children using their detective skills to decode unknown languages. Sue described it as ‘a morning of training in preparation for an afternoon trying to thwart a multilingual gang of criminals.’
The session referred to and worked on the Language Learning Skills (LLS) and Knowledge about Language (KAL) strands of the KS2 Framework (NB is still a very useful document!) We discovered that gesture is important but that it works best in conjunction with words, eye contact and prior knowledge, and I discovered that I’m not as good as charades as I thought I was. (Sorry Vicky!) We also discovered that knowledge of word classes as well as how to use a bilingual dictionary are skills that a good detective needs, and that listening to the sounds and intonation of a language is also helpful.
Having undergone our (very swift!) training, we used our skills to thwart the gang who spoke Spanish, Welsh, German and Italian, stopping them before they stole a valuable item!
Sue has very generously shared not her presentation but all the resources on her excellent website on the Sharing Good Practice section (scroll to the bottom)
One idea (of the many!) that I particularly liked was the Language Detective certificates that Sue gives out when a child makes a discovery about language and shares it with the class. Sue has generously shared her certificates in the Teaching and Learning section of the Sharing Good Practice page. As I teach Spanish not French, I’ve made some of my own that you can download from the link below.
Thanks for an inspiring session Sue, I know I’m not the only one who went away with my mind buzzing!
And thanks to Yvonne too for my ‘lucky dip’ magnifying glasses that fit the theme perfectly and will be put to sue immediately!
I shared the Chocolate rhyme previously but I think it’s worth sharing again as it’s been so popular with Y2. And, as this post shows with ‘mariposa’, any other four syllable word works. It would work with cucuracha, elefante or even Barcelona! The clapping is the same as for Double double this this in English so pupils find it less tricky than you’d think!
In July I was asked to join with Afónica (a sound production company specialising in fiction and documentary in English and Spanish) to write a pitch for an audio programme, aimed at KS2 learners of Spanish (7-11 year olds), to be broadcast by the BBC. In August we discovered that our idea featuring a Spanish boy, Quique and his new friend Charlie who has moved to Madrid from England, had been chosen. And that’s where some really hard work began, writing ten 15 minute episodes in which Quique and Charlie explore Madrid, discussing culture and language as well as visiting some iconic places like the Retiro Park, the Rastro market and the Real Madrid football stadium, and meeting some of their neighbours. Those scripts were then recorded in Madrid by some wonderful actors, some songs were added (wish I could claim that I’d written them as they are brilliant but I’m not that talented!)and Nicolas of Afónica worked his magic, putting it all together. And at 330am (UK time) tonight, episode 1 will be broadcast on Schools Radio. I am so excited; I may even be awake at 330am I’m that excited. However, you don’t need to get up in the middle of the night as each episode will be uploaded to the website and available as soon as it has been broadcast. What’s more, you can listen to the separate ‘chunks’ already by going to the Mi Madrid Schools Radio website and accessing the Clips section The idea is that the broadcasts can be listened to as an entire episode but also in chunks and that they are used to support the teaching of Spanish at KS2, particularly to students who have already learned some Spanish and are now 9-11 years old. The programmes are predominantly in Spanish with some English used to clarify and explain. Charlie asks questions that the students may well be wanting to ask – about Spanish life as well as the Spanish language – and Quique and especially his mum, Sofía, answer them. I tried to include as many quirky facts and interesting words as I could get away with because that was what grabbed my attention as a young learner, and I hope that this comes through as you listen. Here’s the episode schedule so you can see what’s coming up. I am really proud of this project and hope that lots of teachers and learners enjoy it. I’m also really pleased that Clare Seccombe of Light Bulb Language fame, has written the Teacher’s Notes to accompany the series as I know they will be amazing. They will be available very soon I hope, and will give ideas on how to use the audio as well as notes on what happens in each episode, vocabulary, and some visuals that will support the content. Please let me know if you listen, if you enjoyed it and how you used it. My favourite episode to write was Episode 8 ¡Hala Madrid! although Episode 6 Masterchef was a close second. I’ll tell you which I think has turned out best when I’ve heard them all but please leave a comment about your favourites too! SaveSave
My husband often has to travel abroad with his work and, knowing my love of books, has been trained to look put for things I might like to use in the classroom. This last week, as usual, he texted me from the airport to ask about books I might like. Only he wasn’t in Spain or Germany, Switzerland or Austria, countries that speak languages I teach (or love!); he was in Lithuania.However, I am always up for a challenge and when he sent a picture of the front of the book, I decided I liked his choice and said ‘why not?’ I think he fell in love with the covers too as he bought me two.
And so I met Kakė Makė! I couldn’t understand a word of the books, but I immediately loved the bright pictures and quirky character of Kakė Makė that comes through the illustrations.
From the pictures I decided that Kakė Makė ir Netvarkos Nykštukas was about Kakė Makė getting up to mischief, and making an incredible mess, and an elf taking her toys away. Kakė Makė then follows the elf and tries to get the toys back by completing some tasks including a maze and fighting a monster. I also worked out that Kakė Makė is a nickname and the girl’s real name is Kornelija
I’ve since found this video that tells the story in English – and I wasn’t far off! It seems that Kakė Makė translates as GooGoo MooGoo!
And then I looked at Kakė Makė ir didelė Tamsa and concluded that it’s about a shadowy monster that scares Kakė Makė and her friends, and Kakė Makė sets off to find it, capture it in a bag and dispose of it. * What do you think? Here’s a video of the story with no narration!
I think that, as a language teacher, it’s good sometimes to put yourself into the place of a learner who has very limited or no understanding (as was my case) of the language being presented. Not only does it help you to understand the level of panic that can arise when faced with a page of unfamiliar and apparently unintelligible words, but it also clarifies how you have to rely on all the clues you can find to help you.
Pictures – very helpful here
Cognates – virtually non existent; I found laberintas and bibliotekininke
Punctuation like capital letters for names – I worked out that Tamsa is the name of the monster and Pipiru is the dog. So some help but not a great deal!
Knowledge about stories – there’s usually an opening before a build up to a problem, the problem gets fixed and there’s a conclusion.
I also looked at the text and noticed a couple of things:
Kakė Makė is written Kakėi Makėi a couple of times, both times at the start of a sentence, and once Kakės Makės; what do those suffixes mean? I wonder if it’s to do with subject/object of the sentence? Or possession?
Speech is denoted by – – as in Spanish, and quotations by ,, ” which I found interesting.
I’m fascinated by the diacritical marks and accents. I want to know how they work! Does it alter the sound of the letters as in French, or the stress pattern as in Spanish? And is Lithuanian like Swedish (which I’m trying to learn on Duolingo)
I’m still not sure how, if at all, I’ll use them in my classroom but I’ve certainly enjoyed ‘reading’ them and exploring the world of Kakė Makė which, judging by my online searches, is quite extensive in Lithuania with product endorsements, themed parties, toys and much more! There’s an app you can download or you can play online (although cleaning her teeth isn’t the most exciting activity ever..) You can even be her friend on Facebook! I’m holding out to meet a Lithuanian speaker to help me read it properly!
*(After working this out, I did resort to GoogleTranslate to find out that the title means Kake Make and Big Darkness so I think I’m on the right lines!)