Reading and Writing in the Primary Foreign Language

Yesterday I delivered an afternoon of CPD based around reading and writing in primary foreign languages.
The CPD was based around DfE KS2 POS Learning Objectives:

First of all we explored how all four skills (listening,speaking,reading and writing) are interconnected and support the development of each of the other skills.
This was a light bulb moment for some of the delegates and led to group discussion about how much,when,what to introduce in different skill areas.

During the CPD we considered  these objectives from the KS2 POS specifically:
  • Explore the patterns and sounds of the language and show understanding by joining in and responding.
  • Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing.
  • Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language.
  • Broaden their vocabulary and develop the ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written materials, including using a dictionary
  • Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
  • Understand basic grammar……….how to apply these, for instance  to build sentences.
The highlighted key words and phrases helped us to discuss and explore the links across skills (so for example "show understanding of words"  can be explored,practised and  demonstrated across all four skills). 

Consideration One 
 We considered how the four skills can be interlinked right from an early start using some of the activities here in this blog post Stretchy sound and letter balloon .All linked to this learning objective
  • Explore the patterns and sounds of the language and show understanding by joining in and responding.
And we discussed how the development of this skill is always important to the linguist no matter what level of language they may be able to operate with.We looked at how the types of activities here could be adapted for different stages of learning and new content/contexts.

Consideration Two
Our next consideration was the use of bilingual dictionaries and the teachers discussed ways they might introduce dictionaries for the first time to young learners and the suitability of certain types of dictionaries and pictionaries for different children.
  • Take some time to look at alphabetical order and play some alphabet sorting games
  • Pop a variety of dictionaries from different languages in a basket in the reading area perhaps including home languages of children in the class or school 
  • Let the children explore the"mystery" book on their tables with no information or clues.What do they think it is? How does it seem to be organised etc?
We discussed how bilingual dictionaries can play such a key role in  language learning across all types of activities and how children need to see the resource as a valuable language learning tool which they will use and refer to often .
This led to discussion of the use of simple pictionaries with younger children, the use of junior dictionaries with KS2 children and the introduction of more detailed dictionaries with Year 6 UKS2. 

I was really impressed by the way the teachers wanted to explore how the language was presented in the junior dictionaries, the colour -coding and the way that examples supported or could potentially  confuse the young learners.
We decided that 15 bilingual dictionaries could be sufficient for a class activity (pairs for example) and that schools could have a signing in and out process on the staff room so that the dictionaries could be booked in and out. Most of the teachers felt 30 copies would suffice across KS2 (Y3/4 and Y5/6 split).

We considered  the activities here in this blog post as introductory activities or 10 minute revisit activities to familiarise the children with how to use a bilingual dictionary.

Bilingual Dictionary Wizards

And the teachers tried out the sequence of activities that they could take back in to school and link using a bilingual dictionary to the exploration of nouns

I spy nouns

Really importantly we identified that bilingual dictionaries are not just to 

  • "broaden ... vocabulary and develop the ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written materials, including using a dictionary".
Bilingual dictionaries could become an integral available resource whatever the language learning taking place and we considered how we may use the dictionaries in any of the objectives being considered in the CPD session.

Consideration Three
Our next step was to explore this learning objective:
  • Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing

and to do this we looked at how the learning objective can be a driver for a series of activities that are very "primary" and "age appropriate" linking language learning across the curriculum.
We explored: the activities in this blog post .What is important to understand is that the activities are not just linked to the context and content described in the blog post but that the type of activities and stages of learning can be lifted and used in other contexts and with other content.We were able to identify the progression and deeper learning that potentially is taking place and how all four skills are interlinked and support development in of the other skills.

Consideration Four
We looked  at the learning objective below from the immediately obvious viewpoint of authentic books, rhymes and songs for young children and how they bring " authenticity and colour" in to the language learning classroom.

  • Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language.

  • I shared a range of materials that could be used as a  resource to listen to or read for pleasure, maybe because the resource links to the content being practised or also because it allows the teacher  to explore and reinforce another curriculum focus but in a foreign language. We thought about how we could create our own mini versions of books and create written sentences about characters and link our reading in a foreign language to World Book Day for example. Here are three examples we discussed: 

    We also looked at how poetry could be a resource to support literacy and creating written images ,an example of this is here in the blog post on a French authentic poem which allows us to engage with French poem painting of a Summer's Day.
    Familiar nursery rhymes can be used as a listening and reading resource to link all four skills together.Here in this blog post Dame Tartine we are able to link phonics,listening,joining in,speaking,singing, reading writing, APPs and DT!  I felt that this was really important to consider this as some colleagues were uncertain as to how in short limited language learning time all skills and progression could be catered for .Here  in Dame Tartine is just one example of how this can be planned and catered for over a series of lessons and week.

    Consideration Five
    And finally we were able to bring all our considerations together and look at how if we focus on developing progression in the other four considerations we can work toward Year 6 learners in their fourth formal year of learning becoming competent writers in the target language, who are able to .....
    • Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
    • Understand basic grammar……….how to apply these, for instance  to build sentences.
    Perhaps by looking for real writing opportunities that link across the curriculum then the writing has a dynamic purpose ?
    Here is one recent topical example that some of my colleagues are working on: