Let's harness all our skills

This is a snap shot .It's a moment in time! It has given me food for thought!

At our #PLN17 conference last week ,Dan Alliot and Joanne Hornby performed an example of  a lesson activity "Physical Puppeteers".

What's so special? Why is it a moment in time? Why has it given me food for thought?

Well it has made me reflect yet again on the question - just how can we harness the skills and knowledge of so many,gathered over a long period of time, to ensure that primary languages thrives? 

It is just a snapshot, a glimpse of bringing expertise together and making an effective and memorable learning experience.

Just what happened? Dan needed a volunteer to be the puppet for his language activity. I introduced Dan and Joanne  briefly at coffee time and ....

  • The performance was superb!
  • Dan Alliot is a national trainer and education consultant. Joanne is an oustanding primary languages practitioner.
  • 170 delegates watched this performance at our conference.
  • Amongst the audience were NQTs,HLTAs, MFL coordinators, SLT, Primary PGCE MFL trained teachers, PPA teachers, specialist and non-specialist language teachers,education consultants, former PFL local authority consultants and national experts in PFL. 
  • Dan and Joanne's example activity was based on lesson activities created by myself with a group of KS5 language students working with KS1 and KS2 language learners back in about 1997! Three of these students went on to do languages at university and atleast two of them are now teachers.One became an MFL AST.
  • Dan saw me deliver this at a national Primary Languages Show in 2002 , when I was a PL AST.  
  • Dan became part of the TDA team that organised the funding and contracts for PGCE Primary MFL ITT . (Joanne was one of these ITTs)
  • Dan visited us in Warrington in 2003 with the TDA to see how we were developing primary languages with non-specialist teachers. 
  • Joanne was a PGCE Primary MFL specialism student at Hope University in 2004/5 part of the programme funded by the TDA,where I delivered a workshop on Drama and Languages for the ITTs and shared this activity.
  • Joanne came to work as a primary school teacher in Warrington and continued her contact with primary languages and the work I was doing as the LA consultant for primary languages.
  • Since 2011 Joanne has worked with us,one day per week, as one of the 19 strong associate primary languages teacher team.  
  • Joanne is one of our team of associates who now train our Warrington TSA ITTs and delivers 1 to 1 coordinators' consultancy to network schools across the North West. 
  • In the audience were teachers who have already used these activities within their own language lessons and taken the activities and shaped them creratively to fit in with their own primary curriculum.
  • I have shared this activity with colleagues at CPD over many years , as it is a useful device to encourage us all to think of ways to explore ways to demonstrate languages as a vehicle of communication and to look at how we can deliver languages as parts of other subjects too. 
  • Within the Primary Languages Network since 2011 we have continued to develop lots of  physical language learning and explored drama and performance.These are now written in to the new Ready Made French,Spanish and German SOW.
  • Last year Dan shared the activity as an example of primary language learning at a national conference I attended with colleagues down South.
  • Two weeks ago ,Dan was my puppet, for a similar activity shared at CPD with teachers in Havering.
  • ....and then this week Dan and Joanne gave the best performance of the activity I have ever seen!
  • I know that amongst the audience there will be colleagues who will now go off and explore how they can use this with their classes for the first time. i observed colleagues sharing thier own experience of these activities with other teachers.They may not be experts in languages but they will use their knowledge and expertise of the primary learning environment to make primary language learning and exploring the world around us memorable and effective!
  • To help the schools in our network, we have used their membership funds to develop materials that mean they can have a go and try out activities for themselves.
  • Just this year we have generated C'est Emilie and Es Irene videos to help non-specialist primary school teachers to run confidently with thse ideas.Emilie has used this activity in lessons before and was the first video and helped our new colleague Irene to understand how these language instructions lead to a dramatic class physical performance back with the class teacher .Here is C'est Emilie and "les marionettes" language instructions video. It's on our open to all PLN Youtube Channel which everyone can access.


So yes maybe it was a small and perhaps insignificant occurence at the conference but it brought so much learning and teachers' time , expertise and schools' support together. Think about where this began, how this has developed, what skills and expertise we have hidden out there, how we can bring this together, why we need to make sure everyone is engaged be they linguists or not and how we move forward in PRIMARY language learning. 

The answer lies I think in bringing us all together again,networking ,sharing and asking the powers that be to empower us to do so.Out in the world of primary education and probably now back in secondary education are colleagues who can bring so much to the table Plus there is a whole new generation of teachers who bring fresh new approaches to this experience. Bring us altogether to create this PRIMARY effective language learning.! .

What do we need to achieve this?Time, money,collaborative work and support are required!