Snapshot of language learning nine

This is Catherine, another of the wonderful associate language teachers, in full flow singing "Heads,Shoulders Knees and Toes" as a warm up and revisiting language song at the start of today's lesson.Catherine is PGCE Primary trained with a specialism in languages.She has worked as part of our associate team since we started Primary Languages Network in 2011.

Today I was with Year 4 Spanish - well with half of the class as the class is divided in to two and the other half of the class were out of class in "Book Club Time".The two halves of the class swap over after 30 minutes  and then Catherine repeats this lesson with the second half of the class.Tomorrow Year 4 have another 30 minute lesson with Catherine.So in total they receive 60 minutes a week. Catherine is supported by the class teaching assitant, who joins in and supports the children with their learning.Both Catherine and TA reinforce good work with lots of wonderful praise! Today I saw how languages and literacy can sit side by side and how this can play a role in reinforcing English and target language knowledge about sentence structure.

So as I have already mentioned ,we started with a song, standing up on the carpet space away from desks. Then Catherine discussed with the children what type of words are in the song.Catherine used the song as a springboard to a discussion of nouns.She asked the children what type of words were in the song? She asked them if they could tell her the words in Spanish.Could they divide them in to two groups - plural and singular ?.She asked the children to tell her what they thought the terms "plural" and "singular" meant and reinforced for them that plural was not only "two" of something but "more than one object or item".The TA reminded them to think about nouns in the literacy work they had been doing too. The children listend and named all the singular nouns in the song and made links such as "boca" almost rhymes with "tocad". They knew it was one of  Catherine's favourite phrases. I liked the way that pronunciaton, recall ,rhyme and of course grammar had all been involved in this simple discussion about the nouns in the song "Heads,Shoulders ,Knees and Toes".

Catherine introduced new body parts and mixed these up with the familiar nouns.Now she added the "el" and the "la" and asked the children to tell her what these words meant.They already understood "definite article" and some were able to identify that "el" was masculine and"la" was feminine. Wow! said Catherine"You guessed what I was going to talk about next- how we know when nouns are masculine and feminine!"Catherine  and the children discussed the general rule that nouns ending in "o" tend to be masculine in Spanish but then the children spotted a "tricky one"- "la mano" ."Watch out and remember the noun so you don't let the tricky ones catch you out" was Catherine's advice. The fascinating thing in all of this was that the children all joined in and contributed and none of them was anxious about the "grammar" being discussed! 

Catherine played "Pedro dice" (our Spanish version of "Simon Says") with the class and added new unfamiliar nouns such as “estómago” (stomach) and praised the children for using their "sounds like ....?" strategy to work out the meaning of the noun, beacuse it siounded very similar to English! Up to this point the focus had been on spoken language, nouns and language skills to recall, remember or identify target language.

And then the attention turned to both spoken and writte word as the children helped Catherine to prepare ther chart for the "Surprise Sentences" activity.

They had to help Catherine think of and write down 6 nouns with their definite articles.Catherine gave the children "thinking time" to self correct, if they said the wrong definite article and checked spelling with them as she wrote.The children were quick to recall and say accurately the familiar words and some of the new nouns from today. 

She added stars next to some of the nouns and asked the children to think why this was the case. "Singular? " came back the first answer."Mmm let's look more closely ...." "Oh it's masculine and feminine" came back a reply .They checked through the list with Catherine to make sure this was the case and yes it was!! Catherine asked the children to help her add adjectives and very proudly one child suggested the word for silver as the class had wanted to use gold and silver as adjectives last week and had looked them up in a bilingual dictionary!   

"One of the adjectives has a star"  said a child."Mmm yes and that's beacuse it has the special power to change its spelling when it is written with a feminine noun.Let's think about when we may have heard it said differently? " suggested Catherine.The children were able to suggest that sometimes they had heard "roja". "That's right".It is a  magical adjectival agreement! So now Catherine was able to add tthe additional spelling "roja" to the chart .(All the other colours the children had suggested didn't change spelling).

It was time to try out surprise sentences.Once the dice appeared , one little boy was delighted to say that he had wondered why there were numbers one to six on the chart and now he knew why. The dice helped them to select a noun and an adjective explained Catherine.However as she explained, this game is called "Surprise SENTENCES". She asked the class what was missing? Capital letter or a full stop were suggested and she agreed that these would be very important in a correctly written sentence but what very important ingredient was needed to join the noun and the adjective and make a sentence? The class suggested it was "A verb" ! Catherine shared with the children the verb for the day "es". Together the class ghelped Catherine complete her sentenc and  together they read  it out and demontrated understanding of the surprise sentence that the dice had helped them to create. “El pie es marron”.

The children were delighted to now be able to create their own surpirse sentences!They needed dice, whiteboards and pens.  All the children were able to create sentences and understand what they had written .

The TA and Catherine walked around and asked children to look carefully, to check their sentences and to share their sentences  with another child. I was delighted to see that every child could attempt to write surprise sentences using their dice, white board and pen and all children attempted to self correct. Some wrote three sentences......

Some applied the building block rules very carefully - noun, verb, adjective........

And some with support........

.......were absolutely pleased as punch to be writing sentences in Spanish and did notice the missing "E" at the start of the second sentence , which had been wiped off by a hand! 


And tomorrow? Well the suprise sentence game will be extended and the children will be learning the "Hokey Cokey" in Spanish using all the body part nouns that they have been practising!