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Tag: primarylanguages

At a loose end on a Saturday morning? Fancy some free CPD? Have a short attention span and prefer your learning in 20 minute or even 5 minute bursts? Well, TM MFL Icons is the thing for you!

Between 10am and 12.30pm today (Saturday 16th October) there will be a live stream of short presentations on a variety of language learning themes. Some of the session titles include:

Labels limit – engaging boys in MFL
Target Language Talk
SEND and MFL – What worked (and didn’t) for us
Making CPD about more than just activities to try. Understanding the ‘why?’


And I’ll be taking 5 minutes around 11.50am to explain this title.


If you’re interested, you can sign up here and follow on Twitter @tmmflicons #TMMFLIcons. Can’t make it this morning? Sign up and you can access the recording!

Interested in other subjects? Have a look at the Teachmeeticons home page to see when you can access CPD in other areas of the curriculum.

Fun in Acapulco starring Ursula and Elvis, or is it our hosts, Sue Cave and Steven Fawkes?

Following on from the success of last year’s event , it’s time for the second (online) ALL Primary Languages Conference. Colloquially (and rather romantically) known as Acapulco, this event on Saturday 6th November promises to be another memorable event.

The conference title is An Ambitious Primary Languages Curriculum and features a keynote from Clare Seccombe followed by sessions from Kate Percival, Vicky Cooke, Ellie Chettle-Culley, Marie Allen and someone called Lisa Stevens 😉 If you use Twitter, the hashtag will be #ALLplconf.

I’m really looking forward to a quality few hours of ideas and inspiration and hope that you can join too.

If you’re a member of ALL or a trainee student it only costs £5 otherwise the cost is £25. How do you become a member of ALL? Find out here! Heads up – you can join as a primary school for £50 which is less than an individual!

The programme is viewable here and you can register here.

Today I had the pleasure of presenting at the Talleres de español in London. It was lovely to see people in real life rather than through a computer screen, and it was definitely worth the trip from Birmingham. As always Instituto Español Vicente Cañada Blanch was buzzing with chat and the food was delicioso. Not many conferences where you are given a glass of wine with lunch, or finish the afternoon dancing or learning about jamón y vino! Thanks to the Consejería de Educación and Junta de Castilla y León for facilitating the day and to Baroness Coussins for her inspiring start to the day. It’s good to know that there’s someone passionate about languages fighting hard and trying to make change in the corridors of power. “Talking about languages in Parliament often feels like wading through treacle. [But it’s about] doors opening and horizons widening. The beauty of languages is that there is a win-win waiting to be claimed.”

As promised here is my presentation. I spoke about Take One Book in Spanish and my presentation is below. In a future edition of TECLA you’ll be able to read a summary of what I said in Spanish (I hope!)

https://www.slideshare.net/lisibo/take-one-book-talleres-de-espaol-2021

All the videos and activities I mentioned in the presentation are bookmarked on a Pinterest page. A warning – Pinterest may be blocked in your school (it is in Birmingham schools) so it may be that you have to access the links at home and save them elsewhere, but this is the easiest way to collate them. And here is the vocabulary for the Tesoro o basura activity.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments below; likewise if you have any ideas of your own that you think would work well.

Postponed from their usual Saturday in June thanks to COVID and travel restrictions, this Saturday (2nd October) sees the annual Talleres de español at Instituto Español Cañada Blanch in London.

The programme will begin with Baroness Coussins speaking about the importance of languages for the future of the UK which will be followed by presentations (predominantly in Spanish) in three strands – primary, secondary and general interest – on a variety of themes including gamification, ICT, culture, history, literature, motivation and projects. Lunch is always delicious and an integral part of the experience, and the day will end with dancing or wine and jamón!

I’ll be presenting straight after Baroness Coussins (no pressure!) and sharing my ideas entitled Take One Book.

The programme is below and you can find details of how to sign up here . I’m looking forward to it; please say ¡hola! if you’re attending!

A new book from Sandra Boynton

In the post this morning I received an exciting package – a new book that I wasn’t expecting until mid September! I love Sandra Boynton books – Moo Baa La la la was one of my sons’ favourite books as toddlers and Azul el sombrero, Verde el sombrero was a massive hit when I recorded it for KS1 in lockdown (I received several reports and even videos of children exclaiming ¡Ay caramba!) so when I saw that she’d published a new book, I preordered it!

The book is all about emotions. Here’s the opening page that sets up the whole book:

Each page then features an animal and an emotion. Here are the first two pages:

All the emotions go with estar and include enérgico, gruñón and contenta. As you can see from the sample pages and the examples I’ve given, the adjectives are presented in masculine – enojado, enérgico – and feminine – contenta – forms as well as those that are unchangeable – triste, feliz.

I love the illustrations which make the book. All the animals have their own characters and also demonstrate their emotion brilliantly. I also like that there is some more unusual vocabulary like complacido (contented/pleased with yourself) and confundida (confused) which opens up discussion of confounded being another (stronger) way of saying confused.

The final message of the book is that whilst the hope is that everyone is happy, it’s OK if you’re not, you’re amongst friends and that emotions change day to day.

It’s a lovely stand alone book but would also be good to introduce and/or review :-

  • animal vocabulary
  • estar + adjectives
  • use of muy (and potentially bastante) to qualify the extent of the feeling
  • masculine and feminine nouns (cerdo and hipopótamo are masculine nouns but are presented in feminine form as the animal is female)
  • the diminutive -ito/a
Una rana contenta

Having read the book, I’d try some of the following:

  • Asking the question ¿Cómo estás? and looking for a reply starting Estoy... (I am….)
  • Ask the question ¿Cómo está (animal)? to use the 3rd person with replies (animal) está (emotion) which requires learners to swap the indefinite artilce in the text for the definite article in their reply e.g. ¿Cómo está la rana? La rana está contenta
  • Make new sentences about animals and emotions based on pictures (see below for some possible ones!)
  • Make similes using the structure [adjective] como [animal] e.g. enfadado como un león; hambrienta como una cabra; listo como un búho

I thoroughly recommend the book – and all of Sandra Boynton’s books as they’re great fun but also great to spark ideas and activities.

What do you think?

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.

The Bitmojis were a clue…

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.

http://bit.ly/OjoOso

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.

Share a story!

I’ve just made a quiz for the class I have on Thursday, based on well known children’s books.

All the covers are in languages other than English but are easy to identify thanks to the visuals.

There are 10 books ranging from picture books to chapter books, and after the first 10 slides that show just the covers, the next 10 slides reveal the titles in English as well as the language in which the book is written. You could use this as an extra part of the quiz, awarding bonus points for successfully identifying the language.

All the books are available from Little Linguist.

I’ve made another quiz of Roald Dahl book covers in Spanish as well.

The next in a series of posts about poems from the anthology Los Mejores versos de Gloria Fuertes is En un país mágico, a poem in two parts about a magical world and unusual friendships.

A recording of the poem can be found here

I liked this poem as it’s very simple with a repeated structure:
[noun1] amigo de [noun2]
with noun2 being an unlikely amigo for noun 1. So we have cat and mouse, robber and police, wolf and lamb, witch and child, but also yolk and white, bee and flower, black and white, rich and poor.

I also liked the poem for the message of friendship, that we could all live together in harmony and peace. as the last verse says:

Esto sucedía en un país mágico donde todos se reían y nadie se enfadaba.
This happened in a magical world where everyone laughed and nobody got angry.

Wouldn’t that be a good world in which to live?

What could you do with the poem?

  1. Read it and enjoy it – the rhythms and rhymes, and the message too.
  2. Act it out as a play (at the end of Primera Parte, the curtain falls and there is applause!)
  3. Look at pronunciation – the j and the use of accents.
  4. Use the image to help children find the meaning of the poem.
  5. Explore the interesting vocabulary – el ‘poli’, la bellota, el tiesto (I had to use the picture for that one) You may need to explain the relationship between a pig and an acorn!
  6. Look at masculine and feminine – why is la gata amiga de la rata but el gato amigo del ratón? And likewise, la gata amiga de la rata but el gato amigo del ratón?
  7. Challenge children to find new pairings that could be friends to rewrite the poem:
    El frío, amigo del calor.
    El Sol, amigo de la Luna.
    La radio, amiga del video.

What would you do? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Other poems by Gloria Fuertes:
Sólo tres letras
La Risa
Doña Pito Piturra
Lee con Gloria Fuertes (lots of links in this post to others)

Approximate translation:
IN A MAGICAL COUNTRY
First part:
The cat,
Friend of the rat.
The cat,
Friend of the mouse
The witch,
Friend of the little girl.
The ‘bobby’,
Friend of the robber.
The wolf,
Friend of the lamb.
The flowerpot,
Friend of the balcony.
The egg white,
Friend of the yolk.
The bee,
Friend of the flower.
(Applause! Applause! And the curtain falls)

Second part
The enemy,
Friend of the enemy.
The white,
Friend of the black.
The black,
Friend of the white.
The pig,
Friend of the acorn.
The rich,
Friend of the poor.
The ball,
Friend of the boot.
The umbrella,
Friend of the drop.
This happened
In a magical country
Where everyone laughed
And nobody got cross
And everyone loved each other.

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