Snapshot of language learning ten

Meet Claire! If you follow our Facebook Page "Primary Languages Network" then you may already know Claire as she is the administrator of  the page. Claire is a primary trained PGCE French specialism associate language teacher.She was the MFL Subject Coordinator in a local school and now helps to support Primary Languages Network member schools and coordinators with 1 to 1 primary languages consultancy. Claire also coordinates the St Helens Local Network Meetings as part of our DFE KS2 MFL PoS project with WTSA. Today Claire was busy with her day job as an Associate Languages Teacher for Primary Languages Network  As part of their annual support and CPD I am carrying out a series of observations and feeding back the lessons via the blog posts to the other associates and also network member schools.Claire and the school will also receive a Feedback and Next Steps report too,

Every Tuesday Claire works in a school where the expectations of the school are that teachers and teaching assistants remain in class and work alongside her to enable effective provision for all the children.The coordinator works very closely with Claire and there is now quite a rigorous system of tracking and assessment that informs next steps and underpins the teaching and learning.Taking a look at their French books I was really pleased to see that all the children have the Puzzle It Out sheets from our PLN Assessment Tools dated,completed and stuck in. The activities are helping school to show the progress across the 4 core skills.I love the way the child here has phonetically tried to write the question he/she was able to say to their partner in nthe spoken activity! 

Staff receive support and training from Claire and Charlotte the coordinator during the year.I have been working with this school since 2008 via a language assistant programme for Warrington and have taught languages at the school myself too .What I was delighted to see today was just how much the school has grown in its understanding of effective teaching and learning of French and how embedded the learning is in whole school learning.

So what did I see today? Well we started with a song! One of my favourites "Jean petit qui danse..."!

The children knew the song and could sing the song well. Today Claire encouraged them to follow the words and practise their pronunciation and to "read aloud" and along as they sang.The children loved all the actions and were delighted when it was time to "just dance"! 

I have observed Claire quite a few times over the last 6 or 7 years .The atmosphere in Claire's classrooms are always calm and focused and the activities are well chosen and well paced.She gives the children time to think and discuss and keeps the learning inclusive. She asked the children to think about the key body parts they had sung and already knew.She asked if the children could explain to her what they knew about the French command "touchez" and what it meant.I noted down this interesting and thoughtful response from this Year 4 eight year old  child- the class have obviously been making steady and good progress in their ability to "explore patterns and sounds" in French  :  

Well I think it means “touch” and it is spellt like our word “touch” with an “ez” on the end but you say “sh “ for the “ch” and “ay”for the “ez” and it’s what you say when you ask others to touch something!

Claire asked the children to revisit and recall the body parts and use the command "touchez" in a simple stand up and work with a partner game.The teacher and the teaching assistant joined in too. Again what was noticeable was the calm and also the time to work through the activity that was built in to the  pace of the activity.

Claire walked around the room listening in and at the end of the activity praised the children who had made the challenge more difficult by adding the simple conjunction "et" so that they could use more than one body part,using language they already knew to do this! The children had sung the noun "le ventre" in "Jean petit qui danse" .Claire asked the children if they could match this to another noun on her flipchart "l'estomac".Now the focus turned to nouns ... as the children were about to work on their "aliens".

In my observations so far (you can take a look at snapshot of language learning 1-9 earlier in this blog) I have found it remarkable how the KS2 children are able to confidently consider,discuss and show "understanding of basic grammar" .They are able to apply this knowledge too and support each other as they do this.Today of course as we were looking at body parts we were looking at nouns in the singular and plural (definite articles/determiners). Claire asked the children what type of words had they had to remember for the pair activity and what type of words were written around the flipchart on cards. Below I have recorded the discussion that followed:

Claire: What kind of words are they?
Child 1:Things
Claire: What do you mean by “things”
Child 1”Nouns”
Claire:”What do these nouns do?”
Child 2: “They name the body parts “
Claire:”Ok, so what can you tell me about these nouns?”
Child 3: “Well le and la is for one thing and les is for more than one thing”
Claire: That’s right there are two words for “the” in the singular,le and la, and one word for “the” in the plural ,les. Have a look! And do you know that in France children learn this by saying the le or the la before the noun when they first say them “

In a previous lesson the children had explored writing their own descriptions of aliens to help them work toward the skills required to meet the DfE KS2 MFL PoS AT "describe people,places,objects and actions orally and in writing" .Today Claire was going to explore with the children their developing reading skills.....Here is a piece from one of the children's books of the written work they had done. 

Claire  reminded the children about their alien descriptions and then asked them to help her create a plural noun "heads" as her alien had four heads! Once again I recorded the conversation between Claire and the children.

So my alien had four heads .Mm heads is that singular or plural?

It’s plural


Well it is more than one head.

Okay, so how am I going to write this?

Use les and then put an “s” on the end of tête.

So it looks like this? “ têtes”
What can’t you hear when I say the word?

The s” .It has a silent “s” on the end.

Well done!When we write it we see it but when we say it we don’t hear it!

The class moved on to discuss adjectives  and the agreement and position of adjectives.Once again there were responses from around the classroom. Again please remember these are Year Four children ,eight year olds, and what I noticed, was the number of children with hands up that understood and wanted to share their knowledge. With our PLN SOW we have been working on nouns and adjectives for 18 months now  with Year 4 children  and it appears to be paying off" 

So my alien had four heads “quatre têtes” and it had orange fingers how did I write that?

Les doigts oranges

What do we call the type of word “oranges”

It is an adverb - no an adjective!

That’s right an adjective and why did I write it that way?

Because adjectives go after the noun in French

Always? No , no sometimes there are adjectives that you write before the noun.

Can you remember any?

Yes, petit and grand

Well done so how would I say big orange fingers?

Les grands doigts oranges

So far during the lesson ,the class had joined in had sung a song , followed and read aloud the text , looked at familiar and unfamiiar nouns, shared knowledge of sound spelling links, shared and consolidated understanding of nouns in the singular and plural and the use of silent letters on plural nouns.Plus the class had revisited and c0ntinued to explore adjectives and agreement and reminded themselves of the two adjectives they already know that precede a noun in French. Claire now set up the final task - a translation task which allowed the children to practise their reading skills , look for nouns and adjectives and  read aloud the text for a purpose and with accurate pronunciation, .The children worked in pairs on the text - to find out what the alien in the description looked like and they used each others' knowledge plus display, written and picture support around the room. The TA supported several children so that they were also successful as they worked through the text. Claire and Charlotte moved around the classroom and listened to the children's discussions and supported where necessary . The children loved this activity as they really wanted to know what Claire's alien today looked like plus afterwards they were going to draw the alien! Take a look here....

At the end of the lesson,Claire took feedback .Children read aloud the text bit by bit .Their pronunciation of key letter strings  of "ieds","qua" "jau" yeux" rouge" was accurate. they described the alien to Claire and identified the tricky bits.

Well it wasn’t deux becaiuse it was spellt des and so it is eyes

It wasn’t one eye because one eye is un oeil and the word is in the plural “yeux”

Ther alien has green hair and you have to think about it when you read it in French and turn it around to say it in English

It said “mon” and that looks like “mine” so we think it means “my”.That makes sense!

This was a lesson that made me think!

If Year 4 can do this now - just what will we be able to achieve with this cohort of learners as they move on in to secondary school in two more years time?