Friday, 11 April 2014

Reading in the target language is great



Target language books are great !

Reading story books with target language learners was a revelation to myself back in about 1997! At the time my children were young readers themselves and it seemed crazy that I hadn’t made the link myself between the types of colourful , engaging and repetitive stories that they enjoyed and re-read and the type of books that my young target language learners would enjoy and ask to read again and again.

The delight back then on  the Year 6 child’s face when we read la chenille qui fait des trous and the delight again  when the Year 8 child realised I was reading  Max et les maxi-monstres ! This was perhaps a mystery to me at first (although I have always loved children’s books and am also an avid reader of all literature )but then I realised it was because they felt they could understand and follow the whole story . They were revisiting books they had enjoyed in primary schools too! They even felt like competent translators of texts !

Now we work with a comprehensive SOW  from Year 3 to Year 6 and try to integrate target language story books as often as we can .  A tweet this morning from my colleague @EWoodruffe just made me smile. She’s been to  Cultura back home in France and bought some more books that we will be adding to our collection of stories next term. (Somewhat jealous really as love book hunting!)


The network news article from Sam the languages coordinator at St Philips in Warrington caused me to think about how reading crosses boundaries as an effective learning tool and how all children can appreciate books !  Sam  read and used my blog on Vive les livres for  Day World Book Day  and created activities where children looked at and appreciated English language books but the children                                                     categorised them with French language


Sometimes we use stories that we can sit, watch and  listen to  and appreciate with the children for example   die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt (die kleine Raupe Nimmersat on You tube )  by Eric Carle (actually read in German by the author

Les trois souris peintre s( les trois souris peintres on  You Tube )  : The story of three mice who want to be artists read in French

The German song retelling the story of Hansel and Gretel (Hansel und Gretel Lied on You Tube)

Behind each story is a learning purpose – so the hungry caterpillar is a great
way to revisit days of the week and reinforce foods before making your own diary of a week’s food or your own books of the simplified stories 

The story about the mice allows us to listen for pleasure to watch the moving pictures and to reinforce our practise of colours with the children








And the Hansel and Gretel clip is an excellent tool to look 
for nouns ,
identify verbs and develop the children’s ability to follow 
and comprehend a story . 
Plus there’s the added bonus that they can practise the song 
and join in and perform this at a later date !








Here’s a link to the story books we will select from each half term to support the children’s language learning in French. We have similar plans for Spanish and some German too .


And here are my   thoughts upon   why these books are appropriate   for the stage of the language learner and his/her development in the target language. These books are the gateway for the children in Year 3 ,4, 5 and 6 to familiar language in unfamiliar contexts , to creative opportunities to re-use language , to memorable stories with humorous twists , to familiar stories that the children haven’t before realised  exist in another languages as well as  English, to other cultures and to non-fiction with facts they really want to know or investigate!  Our learners reactions enable us to see what they find interesting and engaging and encourage us to use text in ever more 
                            creative ways .




We would certainly pinch the phrase from the DfE new POS and call them “great”. 
“great” to support learning , 
“great” to read with the children , 
“great” for independent reading 
“great “ as a platform to develop young language learners knowledge of a new language and its structure . 





The icing on the cake are the “great” traditional target language  stories such as roule galette when we celebrate epiphany in Year 4 les rats des villes et les rats des champs from Fontaine – a great favourite in “our town- your town” focus in year 5 or Astérix BDs we share with the children when we look at funfairs in Spring Year 6.









We start them early with target language books – we follow Uki from KS1 and puppets we make right through to a more grown up and argumentative Uki in Year 6  and we introduce the children to non-fiction too ……

With KS1 we enjoy traditional rhymes ,  tales and familiar stories . Here are my blogs on how we develop creative education of the ear learning opportunities in KS1 with shadow puppets and Goldilocks and We are going on a bear hunt in KS1 
                                    Spanish

We love "Mes p’tits docs " 
Our learners enjoy fiction and non- fiction and in the target language,using books created for the target language young audience we can read  and share facts about the target language countries .

From Year 4 onwards we will dip into and share mes p’tits docs – great non-fiction books to support our learning about the bakers and french bread, circus – what a French summer event , la station de ski ( a huge hit with our Y6 children!)



Books open our children’s minds to creativity . 
Take a look at my blog about one of my all time favourite books : Chapeau chapeau and carnival time 


Books allow us to  investigate core language through the engagement of the imagination – a choral performance of une histoire sombre




We can develop a class and group rewriting of key sentences in  il y a un alligator sous mon lit makes learning about rooms in the house so much more exciting! 





We make  creative DT displays based on Aaargh une araignée 






We can work with traditional tales combined with a  more mature investigation of fairy tale characters and fears through ” Même pas peur”  . 





Finally this year we have stepped out into trying to combine music and literature -indeed great music Au carnaval des animaux from Mozart with a great story about these animals going to a fancy dress party – funnily enough called au carnaval des animaux!



And guess what the target language results were great !
Please don’t read anything sarcastic into this above statement . 

We must select the books carefully  , encourage young learners to walk with us through stories , select books for their structure or their creative learning opportunities and then provide children with the supported learning environment to step away from us and explore simple target language audience stories on their own.  

As for me I will still be spending hours of pleasure in target language book shops finding the next great book to use in our language teaching and learning  . 
Must check my diary for when I am next abroad  !


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