CPD and food for thought on primary language teaching and learning

So what did we learn yesterday at the conference?(JLN2014)
Well ....

  • First and foremost the importance of networking and working together and having strategic direction to support us.
  • We have networks within networks but they are all held together and moving forward. We are fortunate enough for example to have networks of language learning teachers, networks of subject coordinators, some cluster networks,associate language assistant and teacher networks and schools..... 
  • Teachers need to meet , to share ,to listen , to learn . Yesterday demonstrated this so clearly.Emails this morning say how great it was to go away with practical ideas, to have taken a different look at an area that already exists in school or is a new challenge and to have met familiar faces and new friends.
  • There is a great deal of good practice and knowledge out there around primary language learning that when it comes together in one place can allow everyone to see the bigger picture.
  • The power of social media to share with colleagues who couldn't be at the event but can take a close look at the event and follow the strands of the conference back in school
  • Teachers take ideas and make them their own- again this morning the emails say that teachers are thinking of ways to use Clare's mini-books, are already trying out Julie's phonics ideas, want to share with their class Emilie's two selected APPs for speaking and have practised Joanne's warm up greeting song in French, Spanish and tried to put it in German!
The big picture to take away from the conference:
  • Song ,games and short burst activities keep all the children engaged and allow us to practise and revisit familiar language and build children's language knowledge.
  • Songs are engaging for all ages and stages. It's what,how and why you use them in your lessons that matters.Delivery , joining in and performance bring them to life and make them stay in the memory!   

  • Phonics play a huge role in the development of both children and staff's confidence to be able t work with an unfamiliar target language
  • Phonics should be a shared learning approach throughout KS2 and also in our schools where we teach languages in KS1
  • Phonics is a one of the major keys to unlocking the reading code of a target language and helping to solve the mystery of |"I am no good at languages!"amongst teachers and children
  • Physicality in learning and the use of drama and mime allow children to operate in a target language beyond repetition for repetition's sake
  • Time to try, talk and share is paramount to disseminating good practice 
  • Teachers do focus on reading and writing and should b be encouraged to look for creative ways to read and write and this is not always reading authentic literature or writing the word down
  • Creative written outcomes such as mini books lend themselves to whole class activities ,imaginative use of simple target language sentences and a focus by each individual child on basic grammar

  • Teachers and children love story books that are engaging with great graphics ,well designed, have purpose,link to the learning content and contexts, lead to creative outcomes and can be read again and again!The raffle prizes had purpose below .. as each book links to a context and content that teachers will plan to teach next year and guess what they can share their teaching and learning at a Spring network meeting!

  • APPs can make a difference to children's accuracy in speaking and writing, when they are chosen for a real and specific reason and  the outcome is a quality product that can be shared and revisited. APPs can support teachers to encourage children to maximise potential in  a target language.
  • Using clips that are available to us on the internet to bring a city or a place to life for the children such as Emilie's virtual tour of Paris, add interest and purpose and a deepening understanding of the target language country at an age appropriate level.

Food for thought for myself and maybe for others about the future of primary language teaching and learning and the workforce we need to engage to achieve this.
  • Yesterday at the conference there were colleagues who speak a foreign language well , are native speakers , have a degree in languages,were trained as specialist primary languages teachers, have an interest in languages,are keen to promote languages in their own schools, are improving their own language,identify their own strengths and weaknesses in a foreign language 
  • Each colleague was there because s/he has an identified role in school to deliver effective primary languages. Each of them was engaged, looking for own next steps, found support from colleagues, engaged in healthy debate about best next steps and left the conference with a positive next step in mind.
  • Primary languages is about engaging the whole  community of learners no matter what level or experience they have in language learning and allowing individuals to thrive with as much support as they need to do so.
  • Networks within networks, support for everyone,clear goals and achievable next steps all come to my mind .... helping everyone to feel that they can be part of and contribute to the agenda and providing them with the building blocks to succeed.