Snapshot of language learning two

This morning I was with a class where the Year 3 children have been learning Spanish for two years already with a language teacher who trained in Spain as an English teacher in primary schools and has been working alongside myself since 2011 .See my blog post Snapshot of Language Learning One.This afternoon my associate teacher observations took me to a class where the children are only just beginning to learn Spanish and where the language teacher is learning too as she moves from  secondary to primary language teaching and learning too! 

Meet Kate!

 Spanish ,French and Gerrman teacher to A Level and now loving teachung primary languages too! Kate is supported by ourselves , our lesson planning and colleagues amongst us with a primary teaching background and most imprtantly the school languages coordinator who happens to speak other languages and understands primary language teaching and learning practice .Today Kate was asking the Year 3 beginner learners to really look carefully and listen carefully and explore sound spelling links- hence the picture.Kate was making the children aware of tricksters ...where the sound you hear may not be written in Spanish like you immediately think because of the way it sounds to an English ear!

I walked in to a familiar greetings song but to the tune of Star Wars and found the children sitting on the carpet , supported by both Kate and the class teacher.Throughout the lesson the class teacher joined in and learnt alongside her class and offered praise when children met a challenge or tired their very best. Once again it's the team work and trust I mentioned in my first snap shot blog post that stands out.I wonder whether it helps build the supportive learning environment because the children  can see that their class teacher is taking the learning seriously too?

The learning was well supported and I  made the following observations.

  • The learning was staged.Remember Kate teaches languages so can very easily identify the stages in learning.she is learning how to do this in a primary context .So first it was say what you see , then it was word shapes and anticipating the word behind the shape . 
  • Kate has attended pedagogy CPD.She loved the Let's Read CPD delivered by Vicky Cooke  - hence the word shapes! In this lesson you could clearly see that she has taken on board and is applying what she is learning.It is giving her time to be creative too. The children loved air pens activities and silent "h" where our air pens don't say a letter just take a breath.(Other letters are written in the air and sounded out!)  
  • Children were encouraged to make the links between prior knowledge of sounds ( colours/ name phrase) to anticipate the "tricksters in the animal noun sound- spelling game.Kate had set up a game where   the children had to find the nounfor an animal in spanish but there were 2 choices of envelopes  for the "tricksters" amongst the common animal nouns.Only of the choldren picked the correct envelope would they found the picture of the animal inside the envelope-.conejo and caballo were two such nouns because as Kate kept reminding the children  "sometimes Spanish sounds can catch us out when we have our english ears switched on" .The children helped each other, phoned friends and loved it when they picked the correct envelope and spelling and found the animal inside.     


  • The English clues helped the emergent writing and reminded  us  that these children are beginners and are playimg with the spelling of words in a new target language. some children found this an easy activity whilst others required support but they all wanted to write and try  their very best in Spanish. What was noticeable was that a hesitant speller found putting words on paper more challenging than using the laminated wipe on wipe off boards that had been prepared to support this particluar group of children in the class. Take a look at the same child's paper work and laminated board work. Food for thought here I think .......


  • And finally the school , the coordinator and Kate the language teacher are building in familiar routines in each class and this is clearly supporting and engaging the children.Year 3 had not forgotten whose turn it was to "jump in to the imaginary box" and take a class question as a challenge!  The class were keen to remind Kate as she left that it would a specific child's turn to start this particular class routine activity next week!
  • Did  I say finally? well actually I happened to go in to observe on the day that for the first time Year 3 were introduced to another regular class routine activity- the chatterboxes! One per table with simple cuecards (apparently the cue cards exist for each year group and reflect their stage of learning) .In the Year 3 boxes are nouns and adjectives that the children have already met ,As a table they must try to win cards off each other by saying what they see in Spanish of course!  The children loved it!.Independently exploring how you retain and recall language they learn!