Performance as a vehicle to support Transition between Stages of language learning
Language learning seems to me to be a stage by stage process.
As a learner we like the familiar to build upon when we are first learning a language and we enjoy exploring how versatile a small amount of language knowledge can be.Throughout the JLN KS2 SOW there are opportunities to take part in performance, to use performance to demonstrate understanding of a written text and to add character to a sketch or text by adding character, attitude and voice .Sometimes it’s just about adding English stage directions with early learners who don’t have sufficient language knowledge to do this in the target language .This activity in itself links well with Literacy at KS2 and developing dialogues and play scripts.
Performance therefore seems a bridge in my opinion between KS2 and KS3 that the children can take forward into their secondary school language learning and see this as natural progresson .
Working with a secondary school and its cluster primary schools I asked the Secondary HOD to commit to revisiting and using plays and sketches with Y7 in Autumn term that all the children in the cluster schools had practised with their own Y6 class teachers during the Summer term .Most of the children in the cluster schools worked in French and some of the children worked in Spanish. The children we decided would not necessarily all want to stand up and perform comedy sketches based on simple core language in front of their new perhaps unfamiliar peers. They would however be happy to revisit and perform in groups the sketches – giving the secondary teachers an opportunity for some valuable AfL : pronunciation, recall and with a few additional phrases how well children could understand and cope with unfamiliar language .
It’s worked so well , that the Y6 teachers want to spend time working on the sketches .The children are delighted that their work has been valued and taken seriously and the HOD reports that his staff found it an invaluable learning opportunity . By this he means what his staff learned about the new Y7 language learners .The best bit of it all is probably the value the secondary language department put on the learning as they invited the children to volunteer to take part in performances of their sketches plus additional language etc at the Y6 Open Evening in early October!
And this year?
Well that’s why I am writing this blog page….because we are at the point in the Y6 learning year where we will begin to prepare them for future language learning in our schools. We review and revisit their knowledge , create presentation and after Easter the Y6 teachers will weave the sketches through their language learning .The teachers may also celebrate the end of a stage in language learning by selecting some groups' sketches for the End of Year Y6 Farewell Assembly .They facilitate this learning knowing that it is valued by the local High School . The HOD wants to showcase the sketches again this year and to develop further the AfL opportunities .
Having their work valued means that the primary school teachers themselves are very happy to sit down with myself and the MFL department this March and share more of their children's learning. A mutual respect is developing between colleagues who will use a learning activity as vehicle by which to move the children from one stage to the next in their learning.
I started the blog by saying that language learning is a "stage by stage process"and in my opinion here is an ideal vehicle by which to prepare children in KS3 , 4 and 5 to explore authentic texts,films and plays in the target language and it all starts so simply …… in KS2!