Snapshot of Language Learning One

Today is my first day of Spring 2016 observations of the Associate Teachers who work with me  in local schools.The associates work in 47 schools and deliver languages - French and Spanish each week in the schools.We have worked closely with schools to ensure there is a subject coordinator in place and that the school knows what the teachers are delivering and how the children are progressing. This is the first of my snapshots 2016 to allow us to reflect on what I can see developing in PFL  and to share this with others .

Meet Ana !

Ana is a native speaker QTS primary Spanish  teacher.

Today is 2 February. Ana  was working with Year 3 and delivering Spanish. The children in the class have been learning Spanish with Ana for two years (Year 1 and Year 2).They sound Spanish when they speak the target language and start their lessons with questions and answes in the target language - ranging from saying the  month, date , weather , how they are feeling, likes , dislikes, numbers for different activities and asking each other simple questions .They understand target language instructions and can quite easily follow Ana. Over the last two years the focus has been on spoken language. Ana follows the Primary Languages Network SOW and adds her own elements too .Now in Year 3  the children are revisiting some core learning and extending this.Currently they are looking at animals .Today they were completing their fantastical fold out animal booklets. These are three fold booklets where a part of three different animals makes the head , body and tail of the fantastical animal .I loved the imagination and creativity I could see and the care they were taking in the selection and drawing of animals! 


I have visited the school on quite a few occasions and have watched the relationship between class teacher and Ana as it has developed. The year 3 teacher confidently joins in as a learner from the start of the lesson and learns alongside the children .She is becoming a competent Spanish speaker and it was delightful to see her today supporting children in the use of the  bilingual dictionary and prompting children too. This has taken time and there is obvious trust between Ana and the class teacher.It's a marvellous example to the children too!

Elements of this lesson were not only exciting to observe but also made me think how far can we take these young children in their language learning in four KS2 years? Please remember that these Y3 are not absolute beginners however they are just 7 and 8 year olds in an english primary classroom. 

So today I made the following observations. 

  • Last week when Ana was poorly the class teacher had taken time to look at bilingual dictionaries and see that the words in english and spanish start from round about the middle .I liked her idea of a post it that the children had stuck in the middle at the start of the English Spanish section to remind them of this fact. I was impressed that children I spoke to could explain to me why this was the case.
  • All the children were revisiting and practising alphabet skills and lietracy skills in how to access words in a dictionary .this was a true languages and literacy moment .Thinking of the animal in English, thinking of the spelling, thinking of the initial letter, looking up the initial letter and then looking for the second letter in the word to find the noun in Spanish.It was obvious that some children found this process easier than others but they were all engaged and working on the activities. Ana and the class teacher were able to support too- and so did I !
  • Children were fascinated by exciting facts they found out and not just the finding of the word itself but facts such such as dragon is spellt the same in English and Spanish and its got a line over the o and if you say two dragons it  is "dragones" just like "los animales" ! 
  • Children had to think carefully about the "real" word they were looking for .The class helped Ana to help a child think about the real word for "bunny" and the fact we would need to look up rabbit , but as some of the children suggested - they already knew that word.It was el conejo!
  • The whole lesson involved the children applying rules and reading and writing in Spanish.
  • One little girl I observed,was delighted to sound spell the word "caballo" which she could already say and had already seen in other lessons but had to really think about because of the "ll" .She was then delighted with herself and her good thinking when she then looked up horse in the dictionary and found out she was correct! 
  • There was a complete range of ability in the class and Ana felt able to introduce the whole class to the position of adjectives after a noun in Spanish  .This is not something i often see with Year 3 , but the children were all able to apply the rule as they added magical colours to each animal .They needed to this before they started off on their colouring of their animals for the class display. Ana was correct to discuss this with the children because several children shared  work with her before this point where they had already placed the adjectives after the nouns.It is how they have heard them you see - so one little boy said to me "it is the way you do it in Spanish"! He had been really omaginative in the use of animal nouns- snail, hedgehog and lizard! Why did he select these ? Well these are the animals he is most interested in and you can find the words you want to use in the bilingual dictionary!           
  • And finally some children wanted to add more than one colour, so there was a quick class discus sion about what the word was for "and in Spanish and the class teacher reminded them that the letter was a "y" even though the letter sound in Spanish was an "ee"!!
  • As a celebration and a follow up the class are going to create their display .Following the discussions today we decided that the display needs speech bubbles around it explaining to anyone who looks just what the children have learned and what  rules they used to access words they want to use in a bilingual dictionary and to add the colours they wanted too!