Snapshot of language learning eleven

As a Germanist I am truthfully very sad that only a handful of schools now teach German in KS2 .This morning I was therefore thrilled to be back in a local school were German is thriving! The school established German as their primary language  back in 2006/7 and ever since has pioneered the work in this language.Meet Barbara! I have worked with her since 2006 when she became a language assistant with Warrington LA. She later became a teaching assistant at the school and still works at the school as  both a teaching assistant and the German language teacher. Barbara works alongside the Year 6 teacher and Primary Languages Subject Coordinator.Today I was in school to discuss assessment but Barbara asked if I could observe her too.Delighted ! (Barbara helps me to support a couple of other local North West schools develop German materials.We now have a comprehensive KS2 German SoW and you will hear Barbara's voice on the teacher support sound files too!) 

It was Year 4 German with the class teacher and the teaching assistant as well as Barbara supporting the children with their language learning.Strong coordination ,clarity of vision and support from all staff really makes languages part of the whole school drive and I saw this here today.

The lesson began in German and stayed in the target language for most of the lesson .From "Hallo Kinder, heute ......."   onwards the children were comfortable with the language. They began with practise of a key question and answer ( a familiar question and answer about birthdays and months of the year). Rapid responses and good accents and pronunciation ( as Barbara said they have only heard her speaking in German) .I loved the way they said Geburtstag and perhaps spotted slight Black Forest sounds too- Barbara! comes from the area! The phonics focus here was on the "J" sound and she praised the children as they all remmebered well how to pronounce Juni ,Juli .It was as important that the children asked the question as gave answers as Barbara is building a bank of conversation questions and answers on the class German board. Later in the lesson the children referred  to this bank on the board as they devised their own roleplays.

The main focus today was describing what was wrong with them and devising roleplays to explain this. Over the last couple of  weeks the children have been practising body parts and they love the song "Heads,shoulders ,knees and toes" and  sang it faster and faster. Barbara took the nouns from the song and unoacked with the children singular and plural. they looed at Augen . Ohren,and compared Knie and Kopf to this.the children saw easily how Augen and Ohren were plural nouns. Knie stayed the same explained Barbara when we talk about one knee or more than one knee. Barbara looked first at singular ailments . The new phrases today were "tut weh" and  "tun weh" .,It was introduced so simply and I noticed that all the children accepted the change from "tut" to "tun" and coud use this accurately!

First children practised saying to Barbara with feeling that an arm or a long or tummy hurt.she let them decide what they wanted to say .She wrote clearly on the board an example "Mein Knie tut weh" putting the new verb phrase in red marker. Then once she felt the children were confident she changed to plural nouns the children knew and for one minute I thought she  was going to write this incorrectly "Mein Augen tun weh". She used the red marker pen to show how when we use "mein" to talk about two or more of something....we add a  missing "E" on "mein.." in red!

Time for a dramatic moment! A simple pair activity where the children had to act out and say with feeling where they were hurting.WhatI loved ,was to see the class teacher joining in with great enthusiasm too! It was a classroom full of gentle praise and after the activity Barbara complimented the children on the way they had use expression to say their phrases.she asked for volunteers to share what they had said and was delighted when one little girl said "Es geht mir schlecht , mein Bauch tut weh!" After the lesson we discussed when and how to add subirdinating conjunctions and decided the time would be next year ... maybe next lesson  Barbara will try asking the children to use "und" as an easy to use conjunction.     ,

Barbara now explained that the children were going to pretend to go to the doctors and tell the doctor that they were poorly .She set the scene and suggested that the children think about questions and answers they may need in this context - name, how feeling, age , and don't forget the birthday question as the doctor can check on computer files for a patient's records with birthdates etc! I liked the fact that the start of the lesson and the birthday question and the fact that Barbara is building bank of simple questions and answers was woven in to the lesson theme "devising roleplays at the doctors".Barbara suggested a less challenging scenario too - in the playground ,saying hello , asking how someone is , finding out they are hurt... As you would expect the children loved this and set about performing the roleplay too ! 

Once again Barbara,class teacher and teaching assistant supported the children.

And finally there were the performances - always supported by Barbara if necessary. 

These children are learning the skills of learning a language.They are thoroughly enjoying learning German.Some of the children already speak other languages too. As has struck me so many times in the snapshot lesson reports in my blog , the learning was appropriate for the age and stage of the children and progress was made and we are laying firm foundations upon which KS3 can build whether children stay with the same language or change languages.They  were fully engaged and understood the purpose of their learning.The learning encouraged the practise of language learning skills: memory, recall, pronunciation, accuracy ,exploration and udnerstanding of basic grammar and progress in three of the four core skills: listening ,speaking and reading.