Friday, 18 July 2014

Primary Language Learning and practical primary pedagogy using the new POS 2014

Primary Language Learning and Strategic Focus for September 2014 and beyond.
 So this is my final blog of the Summer term and it's all about readiness and starting off on the right foot with primary languages. How can schools build successful strategic teaching and learning focuses for the individual school/ and understand and build toward successful primary language learning embraced by the whole staff within the school?

First a little context to my ramblings ..........
This academic year the JLN subject coordinators and I have spent our coordinator CPD sessions considering how we can prepare , use and move on with the new DfE POS for KS2 primary language learning.

51 colleagues(divided in to two smaller groups ranging from established, building or just starting off schools) and I have met one afternoon per term to discuss the new POS. The new DfE POS is not so "new" now as we have had sight of this for at least 12 months ,certainly 12 months in its completed state). It's the official document from which we must all work in state education and has to support beginners , moving on and established primary and KS3 language learning school programmes.

Who should teach primary languages? 

We discussed delivery and sustainability and came to the conclusion that schools find their own delivery models - in school PPA, visiting teachers, language assistants ,experienced and target language speaking HLTAs,class teachers supported by SOW and sound files etc. all of these have value and should be valued! What is key is that there must be a strategic vision in school, a long term overview, medium term planning and appropriately selected next steps are in place. why? The role of coordinator is a vital one.We felt  that there is staff buy in and a collective feeling that the school values primary language learning when it is an integral part of the whole school learning programme not seen as an "add on "! 

These are our conclusions (from coordinators ,young and old, experienced and new to the role, specialists and non-specialists) and we hope that they may be useful and support our schools and other networks and individual schools and teachers to develop or tweak sustainable and successful language learning models.In our opinion ,after reflection ,the POS may be brief (in amount of paper) but it is not a fluffy document.You need to look for the opportunities within it too! We know there will be other points to be raised and discussed etc but hopefully here are some good starting points!

A school vision 
Firstly we took a look at the "Purpose of Study".The first sentence talks about the "liberation from insularity"
What a phrase. We deliberated..... and then Robert (a wonderful Spanish coordinator) declared it's the "WOW" factor! It's the moment a child speaks a word in the target language for the first time or tells his/her carer/ parent about the facts s/he has learnt in school about the country etc today. For us,it's the conversations we have with target language speakers and the adventures we can have too.We felt that from here we could all begin to tweak, maintain or build our picture of the school vision from Sept 2014 onwards. This picture inspired us!

We identified in the paragraph core focuses for the coordinators and core challenges that needed to be unpicked back at school to create a school vision statement:

  • High quality teaching and learning 
  • Culture
  • Preparation for future language learning
We unpicked the phrase "new ways of thinking and great literature " and with our practical hats on decided that in exploring the culture of the target language we would need to consider why and how festivals, traditions, cultural approaches,story,poems,daily routines occur in the way they do.We felt that the phrase(no longer a learning focus of language learning)"inter-cultural understanding" would still help us to explore with the children new ways of thinking and great literature.

We could see how we may want to explore the simple stories for example next year about WW1 or evacuees during WW1 and WW2 and how therefore we would need to encourage our children to empathise with circumstances and emotions that may be very unfamiliar.

We pondered long and hard over "great literature" and what that word "great " really meant. We talked a lot about all the lovely stories we have been using to colour in the learning in languages that is already taking place. 

We can not throw away our story books such as "grand monstre vert" even if it  is written by an american author nor can we not read "The Hungry Caterpillar" or "Going on a bear hunt" in the target language because they too are by non target language speakers. The children  love these stories and it's the light bulb moments when they realise you can access, buy and read these  stories in other countries and languages that is too precious! We will continue to share rhymes such as itsy bitsy spider in the various target languages with our very young learners too. we already explore authentic poetry and we  know  for example that we have already used poetry Jean de la Fontaine (le rat de ville et le rat de champs) in very much abbreviated form when for instance we have looked at my town your town and my house your house. We look forward to the challenge of simple poetry in the target language and  building on the authentic rhymes, songs and simple poetry we already use  from the target language.We want to offer the children "great " learning experiences and this will involve familiar stories and also new and exciting explorations of authentic and respected literature from the target language! We look forward to this challenge but will always try to work with texts that are learner age and stage of learning appropriate or have age and stage appropriate activities to unpack the text! During our conversations it was very clear that we are about inclusive learning and seeing all children progress in their communication skills.

Making substantial progress,using bi-lingual dictionaries are already part of the school  focus and on the agenda in lots of the schools I work with 

Substantial progress makes language learning more valuable and respected in our opinion.(We aren't just singing a song or repeating numbers 1-10 ... we are going on a learning journey,often revisiting familiar language but also trying to build upon it or use it in a new way).Schools find that long and medium term planning gives them the bigger picture and allows them the opportunities to weave new activities and resources through their language learning year, still ensuring progress in content and skills. 
It seems sensible and good practice to the teachers that they share with the children tools that make learning more accessible and this links so well with phonology and independent use of language. Indeed lots of the co-ordinators identified that some simple staff CPD input about pronunciation,intonation,rules of phonology in  the target language and then very importantly how to use and access the bi-lingual dictionary help staff buy in as well! Stumbling blocks for staff are often not knowing where to access language and sound files, uncertainty about  pronunciation or not knowing how to use a bi-lingual dictionary and as they progress not being sure about which definite article they should be using and how to find this out.Simple in- school teacher led or consultant/trainer led CPD input can allay the fear factor and then all staff can embrace to a certain level language learning!  

Grammar is a challenge not an obstacle for teachers.Once they see how it links to the need to structure sentences accurately to develop competent clear communication skills and they recognise that this is what they are already promoting in literacy then it becomes an exciting challenge.In fact I think it allows primary language learning to become more meaningful and powerful for lots of primary class teachers - it's not just a lot of words or a silly rhyme,but there is point and purpose and sometimes the teachers learn alongside the children and feel more and more confident in their use of language. I have spent a lot of this academic year creating resources and materials to explore grammar  and structure appropriately and creatively with young children and can get very excited about what we really can achieve with the young learners and grammar! Again there is need for staff CPD and there is need for a guiding hand and making those links between literacy and language learning and how they are all part of exploring language and communication,which helps to  remove the fear factor.  

Subject Content 
In considering the subject content,we had to consider also the Aims of the new POS. We found them pivotal to both the school vision, strategic planning and to the meat of the week on week lesson planning.They helped us to look at what we should access and use and how we should plan for teaching and learning activities.We saw opportunities for shared learning tools and resources across KS2 and also shared tools and approaches as pathways in to KS3 and beyond.Really important as we had already identified that we need to lay foundations for KS3 learning and that KS3 should pick up and develop further what primary have achieved.Shared learning tools could mean shared pathways to learning and knowledge of prior learning and how and why this has taken place.

Of course the co-ordinators are first and foremost teachers and so the subject content bullet point list was seen as integral to our subject content discussions on planning and progression.
Firstly we reminded ourselves that we must make sure now right from Year 3 September 2014 that there is appropriate balance of spoken and written language and that we practise with the children  all four skills of listening,speaking ,reading and writing. This may seem like a big change for those of us who remember the early stage focus on listening and speaking,but ask yourself how many children need to see words and physically create words and sentences before they are internalised and can be used independently? (I have poor hearing now at 51! I am not certain I have ever had wonderful hearing but I do love languages and exploring the structure of language and definitely have always needed more than just listening and speaking to access language .)We did feel though that in the early stages there is bound to be more listening and speaking and those that teach languages as KS1 want to continue and see singing , joining in and listening and speaking as integral to that KS1 language learning.We all felt that writing must once again be planned as age and stage appropriate and that we have to find creative ways to write- in the air/ as a game writing with a finger on backs,writing in sand, using IT to record writing, "painting writing" etc.We are keen to remember as we plan for writing next term that scribing with a pen or pencil is often just the final product - what is happening inside the brain is the mechanics of writing and reading and listening are integral to how this all comes together.

The bullet pointed subject content in the POS embraces listening ,speaking ,reading , writing and grammar. Colleagues such as Clare Seccombe and Rachel Hawkes have collated and drawn up really useful lists of the five key elements on their blogs.Those of us who worked with or trained people with the KS2 Framework,know that we need to break down these lists and points into stages of learning to learn how to ....listen, speak , read, write , use structure and we identify the KS2 Framework objectives as the climbing frame upon which to achieve this. Great thing with climbing frames is you can go up,down , over the top, start again from the bottom or take a rest half way up and admire the view! We are going to try to remember that language learning skills spiral up and spiral down (very much like Maths can do) and our learners need to climb at their own best speed.  

So after spending the year in CPD sessions, on email with colleagues,in meetings with local coordinators and SLT,training our local teachers and working with the associate language teachers what do I think currently about primary languages from September 2014 and the new POS? Clare Seccombe (@valleseco) asked us to describe the new POS in one word recently on Twitter and unusually for me it took me quite a while to decide upon my word but then I tweeted "opportunity".Why? We need to take this opportunity and help all the children in KS2 to become confident in their ability(at whatever level) to operate in a new target language.On Twitter recently I received this cartoon from @PatriciaDunn71

Let's try to help all our young learners to explore the skills of language learning ...  "speaking  with increasing confidence,fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say ..... and  learning how "to write at varying length ,for different purposes and audiences ". We need to combine this with the "liberation from insularity" and encourage all our children to have the confidence to develop enquiring minds that want to explore "great literature" and also understand different cultures, languages and "ways of thinking" 

Time for a holiday I think - sorry for rambling on!   

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sound Pathway Codes, a shared learning tool

Today I am working with a group of coordinators and some of their secondary colleagues at a High School in Southport.We are looking at the new DfE POS and shared learning tools and how to make progress across 7 years of language learning.

"Phonology" as it is referred to in the new DfE POS will be one of our focuses and how this fits in to a sequence of learning plays how we can build progression in to the children's developing understanding of phonics in the target language and the links between sound and spelling.

Phonics as a focus isn't  new ! Obviously!It's a feature of all KS1 teaching and learning in the main language of the schools and in communication skills and learning to read and write.It has always been a part of the primary language learning that has taken place in this country and certainly as part of the KS2  Framework skills and learning objectives.Indeed above you can see an example of a French phonics fan from TTS.

A month ago we held our conference #JLN2014 and the wonderful Julie Prince spoke about phonics and teaching /learning activities  in the target language based upon the book she wrote with Dr Lynne Erler "Sounds and Words" .

Inspired by Julie's ideas I have created the activity below called "sound pathway code" to  take these ideas just that little bit further to see how we can make progress and share learning tools that can be revisited at KS3 particularly in Y7 .

Sound Pathway Code

  • Select your content 

I have selected colours,as it's part of a sequence of activities to practise the 4 skills and to create word rainbows for the classroom.

  • Now create sound pathway codes . Here's are some I made earlier!Basically you need to decide how many different words you wish to use per code,divide your strip in to the same number of sections and add the key symbol to represent the word. Here it was easy because I just filled in the  boxes with the specific colour 

  • Now create you sound stepping stones. 

Once again very easy .They are pieces of white card with the key sound written as a grapheme or letter string in the target language on one side of the white cards.(We are working with French target language colours here by the way!)

  • As a hidden prompt add a small picture ( or in this case "dot" on the reverse of the card that represents the word the grapheme or letter string comes from).Do not tell or remind the class about this!

  • Ask the class to work in groups of four and to a sound code card.Each child in the group needs a different sound code card.
  • Ask the children to place their sound stepping stones on the table with the written letter string or grapheme face up.They must not turn over the cards and see the picture clues! 
  • Each child must take it in turns to look at the symbol prompts on his/her sound pathway code card, locate the correct grapheme or letter string,reorganise the stepping stones in to the order they require to create a spoken pathway from one end of their sound pathway code card strip to the other. 
  • They can check their sound code pathways after each child has achieved their sound code pathway by turning over the cards and seeing if they have selected the correct card for their symbols and in the correct order.For example the first sound stepping stone to match the yellow square on my sound pathway code card is ......

and when at the end of my sound code pathway I turn over the cards I can see that I selected "au" because it's in the target ;language word "jaune" and when I turn over the sound stepping stone card, I was correct as I can see a small yellow dot!

Let's add challenge
The activity above would be an activity for early learners and could also be revisited again and again later in the children's learning to reinforce sound letter links and phoneme grapheme transfer.
But now let's see if we can add challenge that encourages and offer me AfL to demonstrate progress.I played this game on Tuesday this week and it was really well received!

  • Create and distribute the sound pathway codes and the sound stepping stones as above but omit two sound stepping stones per group. do not tell the children you have done this .Let them figure this out .
  • In my game the players began to realise that two colours I had selected "rouge" and "blanc" didn't have a stepping stone that fitted the word! The players at first thought there was a mistake and then the penny began to drop! Each group had the same or similar problems!
  • I could see who realised this immediately,who could tell me the problem  of the missing stones and who could suggest ways to resolve the problem by suggesting letter strings or graphemes for two new blank sound stepping stones so that they could complete their sound code pathway walks.   

Next step?
Well next step for me would be to ask the children to create their own sound pathway codes and sound stepping stones with a "twist" as above  for another group to use.The process of creating the game would mean that they need to :
  • think about the sound and spelling of the words
  • identify key letter strings or graphemes
  • write the key letter strings or graphemes on the stepping stones
  • play a new game with familiar language prepared by other classmates and puzzle out the challenges of the new game!   

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Evidence of progress in primary language learning .

Yesterday whilst  training teachers in Manchester I was able to share some of our network’s evidence that progress over four year primary language learning is being made and that on a regular basis we see this progress.

In Speaking children are progressing from simple utterances to dialogues to simple conversations
In Writing children are progressing from writing single familiar words to writing sentences (noun verb adjective and to writing a range of sentences and short texts with accurate basic grammar using nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Well the primary teachers are planning for progress.The progress has been developing over a period of years.This is not a quick fix!  The network has developed in to it's own support structure where teachers support teachers and resources /ways of approaching language teaching and learning are shared either through myself or through informal links and sub- groups )e.g Emilie's upskilling group). It has taken time.

To make good and substantial progress as would therefore be expected they are working from long term overviews that develop considers ways to introduce, revisit ,re-use in new contexts and build upon language learning. The network and the support helps of course! Here's the link to the page on the JLN website where you can see the colour coded long term overview which many of the network schools use or refer to help their initial planning.Last month I blogged  about what the associate language teachers who work in 32 schools as visiting teachers or language assistants are identifying as progress across KS1 and KS2 

Yesterday I required concrete tangible examples that classroom teachers an achieve and that have been generated by real children in real learning circumstances. Here are the everyday language examples I selected to share with  the teachers in Manchester to show how progress is being made.
The examples are as follows:

Listening and Responding to single words and phrases and saying short utterances

Firstly I shared children listening  ,responding and joining in with a playground PE activity using numbers and colours.(Listening and responding at stage one of learning).These examples come from a Year 2 class at Christ Church CE and you can see examples of their spoken work on their school website Christ Church CE

Moving from questions and answers in a spoken dialogue to building a simple conversation
Then I was able to show how children after 18 months of formal KS2 French learning at Christ Church CE are demonstrating different stages and skills in speaking within the class itself .I have these lovely clips from the school coordinator which show children participating in speaking conversations  as groups of four children .To achieve this ,the Year 4 children ( March of the academic year) 
  • recalled, revisited and gathered familiar questions and answers together in spoken and then written form 
  • written their own simple scripts drawing upon content from the some of the language they have practised across the 18 months (personal information ,feelings, family and illnesses are included in this sketch)
  • practised and remembered their conversations
  • worked in differentiated skill level groups of four to support each other.
For myself the fascinating thing is to see the spread of language skills after 18 months – two children are speaking short phrases and two children are performing a strong question and answer dialogue and one of these two children is pushing the boundaries with asides and reactions that is moving toward holding a conversation. Neither of these two clips is flamboyant but show the product of a sequence of lessons and the skills the children are developing at this stage on their learning.

Independent speaking and writing: short accurate texts 
For us all yesterday it was probably the evidence you can hear in the clip below and the evidence you can see in the short written document below that made us sit up and think! 
You see I have known for a quite a while  that many of the schools  in the network are moving on.I am grateful for the fact that the language learning in local schools did not stop when languages in primary schools were doubtful.This means that in many of our schools we have been able to build upon prior learning consistently, draw upon local good practice and examples and therefore make effective progress and support other schools to aspire/ achieve the same. What I hadn't realised was how this would have an impact on other teachers from different areas where they are just starting off.It didn't frighten them it gave them goals and ways forward.

A short accurate written text
The written script is just one example from a local primary school (St Philips) where the teacher in January this year did some work around likes and dislikes and fruits and vegetables. She brought me several examples of the written work in best handwriting as it was ready for display in the classroom and here is a remarkable example to our subject coordinators CPD afternoon. Some of the children had written longer sentences using correct language in simple sentences but this example stood out because this child had thought carefully and worked upon accuracy in adjectival agreement and position and had used the class bilingual dictionaries to find words to describe the fruit that s/he really wanted to say.The example below is something that most children can achieve and that's why we decided to share this with colleagues .It has to be achievable.

Speaking independently :accurate descriptive text 
Finally there was a clip from my wonderful colleague Emilie @ EWoodruffe at our conference and which she shared as part of her presentation on the use of technology #JLN2014 .
We have known for a while that children in network schools are  producing accurate imaginative and independent descriptive spoken and written short texts .We know that one of the times we see this is in their third year of learning a language when the children work on a context based on fashion shows through the ages. 

This year Emilie captured this brilliantly for us all to share at the conference with the Yakit for children APP. The final creative products by the children are after several weeks of work  on clothes and descriptions and in February Year 5 ,so two and a half years after they have started learning a language. The example I selected yesterday was just a random selection from these recordings but it made light bulbs go on around the room! The recording is a culmination of listening, speaking , reading , writing , remembering and working on grammar with adjectives. Take a listen!

So at the end of a good year within the network and with many more examples of progress and teachers planning for progress ,my questions for myself and colleagues must be – what next? 
This is progress that we are now seeing at different stages across approximately 90 schools- some schools are being supported by other schools in the network but on a weekly basis such evidence of progress at different stages of language learning is shared with me.Exciting and challenging questions which I hope to begin to address with my colleagues next year .... 
  • Where will language learning progress to next year in the network? 
  • What  can we begin to achieve as these children some of them now at the end  of Year 5 leave primary next year and enter Year 7 and secondary language learning? 
  • How will we build on this platform for learning?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

3D scene questions ,answers and clay figures

What a brilliant idea I have just come across.
Take a look below!
It's creative, imaginative and a wonderful way to bring together questions and answers to create simple exchanges of language. The site on which I found this wonderful idea is a site called "Val d'Arve news" as part of the Ecole Val D'Arve. Thank you so much! Here's the link to the Val d'arve news.

What do I like about this?
Well for a start it links art,literacy and dynamics of people's conversations and situations with target language knowledge.
It's an opportunity to practise accurate independent writing of questions and answers at whatever stage your language learners may be.
It's a great way as well to set up some real life drama snap shots too - like physical instagrams.
It's also a tool that we can use in KS2,in KS3 if we work with the Art and Drama departments and possibly to create our own "Wallace and Grommit" or "Morph" sketches using APPs and IT in KS2,3,4 and 5

How should we approach this?
  • Firstly ask the children to work in pairs to generate questions and answers that demonstrate the dynamics in a relationship between for example : 

a mother and a child
two friends
a husband and wife
a teacher and a pupil
a policeman and a lost person
  • Ask them to consider what might be the potential questions and answers between these people and and how would the people sound and what actions would they use?
  • Ask the children to draw their dialogues as cartoon sketches ( sure a lot of us already do this)
  • share with them some of the scenes and clay models on the Val d'Arve site. 
  • Now make it 3D with clay models and sets - just like the teacher here in the Ecole Val d'arve has done!

Take a look at some of their clay models (how they convey the dynamics of the situation and the people) and scene sets (how they have cultural references in the back drop) and how they have added their speech bubble questions and answers (which add the text we need to interpret the event)!Brilliant. Thank you for the ideas Ecole Val'd'Arve!

Hope this inspires you too!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Emotions and "doodle senses" poems in French

I am looking for poems for Year 6 which evoke senses and emotions and encourage them to collect good memories of their time in primary school.

I found this beautiful poem by Pierre Gamarra- Mon cartable 

What a brilliant idea with Year 6 !
Simple and effective!

First there is a great game ......
A blindfold game :guessing by taste or smell or touch.

  • First share with the class a tray of items of familiar target language items.
  • Ask children to come to the front and label these  objects on the tray.selecting the correct noun from a variety of h target language word labels . 
  • Now hold a smell,touch and sense experience guessing game,where you challenge volunteers to touch , smell and sense the items without being able to see them.
  • Allow children to come to the front and put on a blindfold and guess:
  1. What fruits they can smell?
  2. What foods like chocolate or coffee they can smell?
  3. What smells and touch sensations of classroom equipment they can guess (crayons/paints/pencils/paper/books)?

Rmember that you should use items that the children already know as target language word.Enourage the children to utter their guesses using full sentences or questions(if they are uncertain) too? 

A poetry reading 

  • Share the text with the class and read the poem for the class.
  • Ask them to smell and sense and imagine that they can touch the items mentioned on the poem.
  • Can they tell you some facts about the poem and the smells and objects are mentioned?
  • You could create a pictorial list of the items on the flip chart as the children read about the objects in the poem.
  • Find out more about the poet! Can they tell you whether this is a person living in France or somewhere else in the World and how do they know this( e.g.bison/cow boys)

Creatimng "Doodle senses poems".
How are they going to do this ..?
Ask them to create a "doodle senses poem".This is a poem where the children literally doodle or scrobble on the written poem, to remove some of the text and leave a [partal text that shares the message of the poem.In this instance the children should be left with the key items and memories of the poem.

  • They will need copies of the text and a black pen or a pencil.
  • With a black pen or pencil they need to colour out words they don't know and then see what doodle smells and senses they are left with. 
  • Some children may want to work in pairs and you may decide to ask a TA to work with a small group of children to guide them through the text.

I feel that our children should after four years of language learning have most of these words in brackets "undoodled"because they are familiar to them.
(mon cartable/odeurs/la pomme/le livre/la gomme/ les crayons de couleurs/l'orange/le bison/le nougat/la mandarine/le papier (d'argent ou d'or)/les bateaux/ le port/les cow-boys/ les noisettes/le caramel/les confettis de la fête/les longs cheveux/ ma mère/ mon papa/la rose /le chocolat)

  • Ask the children to read their comppleted doodled poems to each other.This will be essentially the list of language they have left.

Mon cartable: a place to keep their own happy memory sensations of primary school. 

  • Now ask the children to fold a piece of A4 paper or card in half and create their own cartable.
  • Inside they need to write  the phrase

Mon cartable a cinq odeurs.....

  • Can the children then add five objects,five colours and  five smells or tastes of school that they know they won't forget and that will be good memories when they think of school in years to come? 

Colours make memories through poetry

It's almost the end of the term.I wanted to find a poem in French that linked Year 5  UKS2 prior learning and knowledge of colours and nouns (since Y3 ) and the use of a bi-lingual dictionary to create memories of the school year and their French language learning.
I didn't need too look far -did I?
Here is the poem by Chantal Couliou :

Crayons de couleur

Le vert pour les pommes et les prairies
Le jaune pour le soleil et les canaris
Le rouge pour les fraises et le feu
Le noir pour la nuit et les corbeaux
Le gris pour les ânes et les nuages
Le blue pour la mer et le ciel
Et toutes les couleurs pour colorier 
Le monde

So how can this be used? Well each line is about a colour and objects associated with the colour. It would lead on very well from an early blog post of mine about word association and colours which the children always enjoy - even if they have played the games and created word association symbols before .Colour mimes and word association

Let's unpack the meaning of the poem 

Read the poem for the children.

  • Ask them to listen for the colours.
  • You could ask them to order coloured cards from top to bottom in a row as they hear them mentioned or place counters on the table in the order or pop dots of crayon colour on a strip of paper in the order they hear the colours.

Let's investigate the nouns and find their meanings 
Now let's ask the children to see what links they can see between nouns. 
The poem is being used to unpack language learning memories so these activities are based on reactivating memory - of words/ links/ ways to investigate meaning...

  • On tables of four give the children the nouns from the poem- which do they immediately recognise (probably les pommes/ les fraises/la mer/le soleil ) as we will have practised these before e.g. when learning fruits or when practising greetings and farewells (bonne nuit) or weather (il fait du soleil). 
  • Which are cognates or which are semi cognates (e.g les prairies, les canaris)?
  • Which might they need to look up in bi-lingual dictionaries ? However before they do explain that the nouns are linked as pairs of nouns by colours.
  • Can they identify colours that they would associate with any of the nouns they can recognise (e.g noir- la nuit/ rouge - les fraises/ bleu- la mer/ jaune - le soleil)?
  • So does this help them now to take an informed guess at the nouns they may still not know - if nouns make pairs linked by colour? 
  • Only now let them check their informed guesses in bi-lingual dictionaries.
Create a calm performance with full concentration
You will need small picture cards that represent each colour and each noun- enough so that each member of the class has a card.
  • Take feedback from the children on what they think their pictures represent in the target language from the nouns they have investigated or the colours they know.
  • Ask the class to listen to the poem again very carefully.
  • Can the class lift their cards as they hear the word represented by the picture?
  • Swap cards are repeat the activity again
  • Now invite a child holding one of each the cards to the front- stand them in random order.
  • Can the class recall and reorder the cards in the order they have heard them spoken in the poem?
  • Ask the class to listen one more time and check their cards are in the correct order. Are there any cards that they want to reorder?
  • Can the class say the whole poem up to the last line with you using the cards as prompts?
Et toutes les couleurs pour colorier le monde ....
Give out paper and ask the children to create a pictorial depiction of the poem they have heard, investigated and spoken in all the colours and using all the items that the poet has referred to in the text.
They must draw the world and add their own pictures in correct colours within the shape of the world.

Reading opportunities  
You may be inspired to offer the children when they have finished their pictorial depictions some independent reading of poems written by young pupils based on the poem above.
I found some lovely examples on this school site here:ecole elementaire examples  

Finish with a song 
We always love this particular song about colours so maybe this is one you could either play whilst the children create their own pictures or at the end of the lesson - just to listen for pleasure or whilst they tidy away.. 

Beginners birthday celebration activities

Birthday celebrations for beginners

Here is a simple beginners’” birthday celebration lesson”in French and Spanish!

Either download pictures of French/Spanish birthday cards or show the children real French birthday cards. Discuss in English similarities and any differences with our own birthday cards.
The activities below involve numbers 0-11 , a birthday greeting and how to ask and answer age 

Numbers pass the parcel 

Play  pass the parcel/sack as a circle activity to revise numbers 0-11.In the sack there should be number cards from 0-11  
Play French/Spanish birthday music just like the two suggested clips below.

Inside the sack are number cards from 0-11.When the music stops ask the child who has the bag to pick out a number card and show the class. Can the class say the number in French?

Play a second game and this time can the child who picks out the number card – conceal it and can the class guess the number on the card? You could ask the class to sing along with the “happy birthday” phrase from the birthday sound clip too 

Blowing out the candles 

Teach the children the rhyme in French or Spanish below for counting candles –start with all the class holding up their closed fists ,then children should hold up a new finger for each additional candle from 1-10 ,and when you reach eleven,they should blow out all the candles and wave both hands up in the air!

Contad las velas
Contad las velas
Contad las velas
Contad las velas

Comptez les bougies
Comptez les bougies
Comptez les bougies
Comptez les bougies

  • Pass round a box with candles inside. 
  • Encourage the children to say the counting rhyme “Comptez les bougies 1,2,3” /contad las velas  with you .
  • At the end of the rhyme , take out a certain number of candles and show them in your hand .
  • Can the children remember the number in French or Spanish for the quantity they can see. 
  • Check with them by blu-tacking the candles to the top of the box as it was a pretend cake .Were they correct? 
  • Play the game again.

What age are you? 
  • Ask the children which number in French/Spanish would be the right number to give for their current age. 
  • Ask children to put up hand if they are 7 and to put up hand if they are 8 for example.

Age packages
  • Teach the children in the target language the phrases for “How old are you? and “I  am …. years old”.

  • Ask the children to work out how many syllables there are in the question and to stand like a wrapped up present as they start their question phrased and the to break out of the wrapping syllable by syllable until they have said the whole question . 
  • Repeat several times and watch good examples of performance .
  • Repeat with the response to the question in a similar way.
Circle party game 

(Circles within circles)
  • Stand the children in a circle and go round and number the children alternately 1 and 2.
  • All the number 1 children must ask the question of the number 2 children “how old are you?” in the target language and all the number 2 children must respond truthfully. 
  • Swap over and repeat the activity
  • Now make an inner and outer circle of number one children and number two children. It’s speed birthday greetings! 
  • Number one circle  must ask the child opposite them in umber two circle their age and say happy birthday and then the number one circle one move one step to their left so they have a new partner. After five goes swap roles so number two circle children are asking the questions etc

A musical game
  • All children to stand in a circle and sing with the teacher “J’ai 7 ans” to the tune of frère jacques”. 
  • When the music stops children who are 7 sit down.
  • Sing again and this time change the age from 7 to 8.
  • This time all the children who are 8 sit down

The sounds of a "positioning rhyme" in French

A positioning rhyme in French

Why is this necessary?
Last week Emilie and I delivered CPD where the teachers had to listen to words that describe the position of an object in French.
  • The two words sous- under and sur - on caused challenges , as said quickly they sounded quite similar to the untrained ear.
  • En haut (above )was also interesting because of the aspirated sound for "h" and the close connection of "en" and "au" remembering too that the "t" is a silent last letter.
  • Another teacher pointed put that you can't anticipate whether the action required is in front or behind until you hear the second syllable of the words devant (in front) and derrière (behind)
So below are activities that I have been using for many years to practise these key words and the sounds contained within them. 

The positional words and the rhyme
Teach the children the positional language below. Some of the words are similar sounds in the target language and the children will need to listen very carefully .

En haut,devant,derrière
Devant et sous et sur.

Devant, derrière.

En haut , en haut , en haut!

Pass the parcel sous and sur

  • Sit the children in a circle and  play music whilst the children pass an object around the circle. 
  • Pause the music and the child holding the object must listen to you carefully as you ask them to put the object “sous” or “sur” an upturned box that is in the centre of the circle.
  • Each time encourage the rest of the class to show thumbs up or thumbs down as the child places the object on or under the box.
  • Play the game a second time and this time allow the child to the left or right of the child holding the object when the music stops to determine if the object goes “sous” or “sur” the box.

A question of concentration
  • Practise all the key position words
  • Ask the children to stand up and add actions – slowly and carefully as if they were Tai Chi actions.
  • Now put together the rhyme and the actions as a Tai Chi performance.
  • Ask the children to close their eyes and just listen (they can’t then rely on anyone else) and ask them to perform the rhyme.
  • Now muddle up the order of the words- can the children listen and concentrate and perform the correct actions in the correct order.

What’s the sound ?
  • Break the words down into key sounds:

Sous (ou)
Sur  (u)
Devant (ant)
Derrière (ère)
en haut  (en/au)

  • Call a sound .Can the children think of the word and perform the correct action.
  • Place the key sounds as written sounds on the floor as a path of stepping stones- you need six paths so all children can work at the same time.
  • Ask the children to divide themselves into groups of six and to form a line. 
  • Ask the children to move across the stepping stones to read the written sound on each stepping stone and as they step on the stepping stone they must perform the action they associate with the sound e.g ou = sous

The secret treasure hiding journey
You will need space for this activity- the hall or the playground would be best.
  • Ask the children to think of something very precious to put in to a special casket that they can imagine holding.

  • Ask the children to place their precious object in their casket and lock the casket.
  • The teacher should explain that they are going to hear the rhyme several times and they need to go on a secret treasure hiding journey in their imaginations to hide their caskets.
  • Ask the children to move around the room- reaching high, looking under or going under something or climbing on top or placing the casket on top of something imaginary as they make their secret treasure hiding journey in unison with the rhyme.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Something old ,something new

I have called this blog "something old, something new" because the new DfE POS certainly has elements of the previous approach to primary language learning and also has laid down a requirement that there is joined up thinking between KS2 and KS3
There are few new tools but there are new challenges 
There is little new direct advice but there are documents and measures we can use to see how the development of this new seven year language learning continuum develops in individual schools.Below is one possible solution to getting the message out there loud and clear and supporting/ being able then to offer strategic support to local colleagues who need to grapple the new challenges. 

A few months ago one of our local schools shared with me a grid of subject self evaluation descriptors for foreign languages.
The grids were taken from the descriptors that some of us were already familiar with from the subject specific grade criteria on the OfSted website.
What I found interesting was that the school wanted to consider their own progress in primary language learning against this grid . It was probably the first time that the school had been made aware of self evaluation descriptors for primary language learning and the subject coordinator wanted to use these to monitor her own strategic progress and how well the school was addressing the requirements of language learning in the school.
At first I was concerned - concerned for those who haven't started and concerned for those who may find some of the descriptors challenging .
So I contacted Elaine Taylor, HMI,National Lead for Modern Languages,  and asked her for her advice. Should I share these descriptors with my local network schools? Below is her initial response.

This document is nothing new. It is the subject specific grade criteria that have been around for years, but they have been presented differently - in a grid. They are free on the Ofsted website.

The statements are aspirational, but they have the health-warning that they be used as ‘appropriate to the age of the pupils concerned’. They are emphatically NOT to be used in inspections, so the interpretation of ‘appropriate’ is up to the school. The accompanying notes state: ‘It is important to note that this guidance is intended only to inform the judgements made by specialist inspectors carrying out subject survey visits. It is not for use on section 5 whole-school inspections.’ There are not likely to be any subject inspections in foundation subjects for the foreseeable future.

After reading her advice I decided that schools did need to be aware or reminded of these descriptors and that the primary colleagues I work with would want to have or be aware of strategic guidance.
What I didn't want to do was over egg or frighten schools as they grappled with first steps or next steps in primary language learning.

Below is a check list questionnaire I generated from some of the descriptors to help schools to consider whereabouts they would put themselves using OfSted criteria in the development of primary language learning.I have found that this has become a useful document to develop dialogue with SLT and coordinators and to support and guide colleagues to determine next steps.It works best where contact already exists and a good working relationship  has been established. 
I always share with them Elaine's comment above and make it clear that these are descriptors to be used as guidelines taken from a much larger document and should not currently be used in an inspection.It is also really important that as Elaine points out the descriptors are considered in an age appropriate context , which in my opinion means also a stage appropriate context too.

SLT are not daunted or frightened if you ask them to identify where they are currently and what their own next three or four steps from the questionnaire. 
They welcome the fact that they have something on which to build their own individual school's strategic language  learning development and feel that the descriptors allow for profitable exchanges,conversations and next steps  between SLT and subject coordinators and then also between subject coordinators and staff.What is very important is that the school considers the points as appropriate to the school itself.We can offer solutions ,support,networking and we share the good practice we find so the document becomes a two way conversation and not purely a focus on what still needs to be done.In every school there are SLT,teachers, teaching assistants and governors- non specialist and specialist language teachers alike- who bring language knowledge, great ideas and good pedagogical approaches to language learning.In every school there are instances where guidance and support from in house,within the network or beyond is required.  

Here are the main points and statements I selected.Certain points needed adaptation for example "inter" cultural understanding as the new DfE POS talks about culture rather than inter-cultural understanding.

Teachers communicate the value of modern languages to pupils very effectively.
Planning is informed by a good level of subject expertise.
Teachers routinely use the target language for classroom communication and generally insist on pupils responding in the language.
Pupils willingly participate in activities that require them to use the language to communicate orally and in writing as a result of good teaching.
Text is used well to improve pupils’ pronunciation and as a ‘cue’ for speaking and writing. Imaginative use is made of a breadth of listening materials to develop pupils’ understanding of the spoken word.
Reading is used to develop (inter)cultural understanding and pupils read for pleasure.
Curriculum planning is responsive to pupils’ prior learning, including for pupils transferring from primary to secondary schools.
The curriculum is broad, balanced and well informed by current initiatives in modern languages .
Curriculum planning ensures pupils have opportunities to develop all four skills equally. All pupils are provided with first-hand experience of the culture of the country where the language is spoken through visits or visitors or through the use of ICT.
Pupils’ learning is enhanced through productive links with other subjects.
Leadership is well-informed by current developments in the subject.
Subject leaders encourage other stakeholders to make a positive contribution to the promotion of language learning.
The subject makes a good contribution to whole-school priorities, including literacy and numeracy policies.

The descriptors in yellow create purposeful discussion from the outset:
  • Are SLT aware of the new DfE POS and the demands of the new curriculum?
  • How can we make all staff  aware of the importance of learning an language. How can we support staff to find ways to celebrate what their children are learning in a language even if they themselves are the not the deliverer of the language teaching and learning?  
  • How can all staff promote language learning and be aware of the activities and progress the children make?(This can be in the way they watch, listen or ask the children to share an activity they have practised with a language teacher or because they themselves are teaching the language learning).
  • How an the learning environment in the classrooms promote languages? Perhaps this will be appropriate for the age ,stage and teacher's approach through display, reading corner access to text,use of songs and games as five minute follow up activities, revisiting spoken language with sound files, class assembly focuses etc.This is important in my opinion  particularly if the school opts for a visiting teacher to deliver primary languages.
  • Are the teachers of language learning in  school aware that children need to make equal progress in speaking and writing in the new DfE POS.Do the teachers feel confident to explain and teach grammar in an age and stage appropriate manner.What will progress look like in language learning and how will children , teachers and SLT be made aware of progress?
  • What does substantial progress should look like in pupils' learning?
  • Both primary and high schools need to take stock.What has happened before?What languages might they meet in KS3 and KS4 ?Are schools aware at KS2 and KS3 that in primary language learning is asked to lay foundations of language learning and at KS3 colleagues should build upon the foundations even if there is a change to another language?
  • What skill development is taking place ? Do schools have guidance to support the development of skills in a language learner and where can support be accessed and utilised? 
This is dialogue document I am finding generates purposeful discussion and allows primary schools ownership of next steps.Used properly and strategically it can allow the school to move forward with their implementation of language learning.It's a document which  needs to be shared with staff and with visiting teachers and language assistants to enable a clear  path in language teaching and learning to develop.
It's about using what exists to support schools to find ways forward and in lots of cases to celebrate  what they are already striving to achieve.

So how do we work together to address or enhance descriptors above? Take a look here