From policy to practicality.Primary languages and beyond!

Last week at CPD in London delivered by Lisa StevensSylvie Bartlett Rawlings  and Julie Prince and myself ,we shared with colleagues some effective and creative ways to bring story,cross curricular learning,technology and phonics and literacy in to the primary classroom.
In the room with us were primary and secondary colleagues, all of whom identified with what we had to share and could see pathways forward for their own learning environments! Thank you Lisa,Sylvie and Julie! 
Lisa made Sketch Notes of presentations and here are her Sketch Notes of my presentation.....and below listed in point form are the points I raised.

Policy to Practicality Points to Consider and Reflect Upon.....

  1. What does language learning and thought of it make you feel? How was language learning for you at school? Why should this inform your approach in the primary classroom? 
  2. If you are a secondary languages teacher - how can you make sure that your language teaching practice in the primary classroom is language learning for all and not those who pick it up quickly or in certain way?
  3. If you are a primary specialist teacher then look for all thse wonderful links to literacy that you bring so readily to the classroom.
  4. If secondary linguists and primary non speicialist language teachers talk and share - it will make and does make already in certain instances magic! 
  5. Are languages a bit like driving a car? I learnt in a Fiat Panda and when my father asked me to reverse the Rover off the drive to pop the new Fiat Panda on the drive - I froze! why ? Well I had learnt in a Fiat ~Panda....could I really reverse a different type of car? Of course I could - slowly and stutteringly but safely .... I had learnt to drive a car hadn't I? What a sense  of pride I felt once I had done this! Even to this day I know that I can drive cars- albeit stutteringly at first in a new or strange vehicle!!
  6. Pupils want to move forward .Self efficacy makes learning a "self" perpetuating need as learners achieve and want to learn more and get better.They like feeling successful- that goes withoit saying really! What we need to do is provide the tools so they can be successful.
  7. Self efficacy demands that we listen to what the children want to say and we must consider what age and stage our learners are at and what they can already do.A young child for example wants to tell you that he /she has hurt his/ her knee or his/her head hurts and not that he/she has a temperature or may have a stomach upset! Young children generally want to talk about things that are relevant in their lives: sweets,toys, family and  today and tomorrow and probably not talk about things that have no relevance in their own lives.
  8. The Purpose of Study in the DFE POS  is a powerful paragraph.The opening line about the "liberation from insularity" is our green light to explore the World with the children.It's the WOW factor!Tasting,investigating,meeting,speaking,singing ,dancing, understanding more about the world and moving away from the small world of the child in some instances! Breing the world in to the classroom - virtually or with real experiences and make it age and stage appropriate!
  9. Balance the learning between "Listening,Speaking ,Reading and Writing". Acknowledge that not very many people are purely auditory learners.Sometimes the best primary practitioners are those that have to find lots of ways to facilitate learning of limited language because they themselves have got to re-learn or learn for the first time the language they are teaching- which helps them to understand the needs of the learners very well.
  10. KS1 practitioners are fantastic at seeing the links between basic building  bkocks of sentence building in english and the transfer of these activities to KS2.They all seem to love the Sandcastle Sentence Building that we do with our KS2 Y5/6 learners in the network! It seems to me we all have so much to learn from each others' expertise!
  11. Our young learners told us in a school learning journey programme a few years ago that they wanted to be able to talk to other children their own age and they wanted to hear what they have to say about their lives.This was how they saw being successful in language learning.Age and stage appropriate,this is a wonderful way to engage the language learners of the future! Personal information is still important and we need to provide them with the scaffold of questions and answers and show them how to constrauct dialogues and conversations.
  12. Be imaginative and creative.I have most certainly been asking children to be "language detectives" all my teaching career with what ever stage or age of learner I have been working - indeed with adults too! Make the learning memorable.
  13. Problem solve - not you but facitate problem solving for the children .I know of course  that not all children want to "do drama" (even though I love this approach!) and I advocate providing a very mixed diet of learning.
  14. Encourage reading for pleasure and listening just to listen - don't always look for results and progress ....Maybe it happens without us noticing sometimes?
  15. Link language learning across the curriculum - embed the learning in the curriculum and take time to  share this with the wider community.Are you looking at pirates as a school theme? Well what about going on a treaure hunt in languages and  go on a word treasure hunt as pirates gathering new treasure from their "pirate bilingual treasure chests - the bilingual dictionary".
  16. Take time to meet the demands of "emerging, meeting and exceeding" statements we so often here now.Notice that I am suggesting we take time! Let's make learning accessible to all.Remember languages spiral up and spiral down- like Maths - as a learning process.If you rush it, you will lose some on the way! Share the magic tricks (if you are a linguist) - explain that you don't know every word or you don't know how to say every word or get the gender right every time.Share the tricks of phonics, synthesis , bilingual dictionaries, watching , mimicking, having another go , tryong to use new language in different circumstances, memory skills, jusing our voice machines....language learning skills ( any one remember those?) .If you are a non -specialst then go on a languages learning strategies journey with your children.Give them time to share and discuss these strategies - as this will help them if they swap languages too.(Remember my analogy -the Fiat Panda?)
  17. Plan for progress.In KS1 we look at "education of the ear".In KS2 plan for progress with grammar.Make it one of the most exciting and memorable journeys that children take .I mean -how exciting is it to find out that there is more than one word for "THE"!!! ??? And if you are a languages' expert I believe that with a little help all faciliators of language learning can facilitate  basic understanding of grammar- we just need to hep others! 
  18. Moving on in to Year 7 consider the progress and build on the foundations laid.Talk (perhaps work) with your primary colleagues.Don't knock the building blocks down, but review, reflect and then build upon the language explorations the children have taken part during their primary language learning journey.  

Let's not try to square the circle.One Key stage is different to anothet ,but let's enable each of us to put building blocks in place,so that children can move forward and access joined up thinking that takes our young language learners on a very exciting skill development journey ...becoming a linguist!

 Some of us remember the last time we felt the "language learning train had set off  from the station" ... this time in my opinion we must all keep going on the journey!
I picked a lego train on purpose (left) because we all have something valuable to contribute and we must join up the dots to make progress.  
Linguists like recurring patterns,problem solving, puzzles and communicating with others - so we should be able to do this!

Spin the wheel with German nouns and articles!

This is a simple game for UKS2 or KS3 German language learners who are exploring the relationship between articles and cases in German.

All you need are pictures of nouns you are practising e.g foods and a "Spinning Wheel" made of card - see my diagram- with an arrow that can move and is fixed to the centre of the circle.

Step One
Divide you class into differentiated ability teams of 6 children

Step Two
Place a picture of a noun or place the object itself in the centre of the Spinning Wheel Circle.
With the arrow at 12 o'clock invite a member of a team to say the noun  for the class (1 point)
Can the team decide and say the definite article that goes with the noun? (1 point)

Step Three 
Turn the arrow to one of the other written phrases.Can the team now say the noun after the word or phrase with an accurate definite artcile in the correct case? ( 2 points)
Can a member of the team explain why they have used this definite article  e.g it is how you say it after "ich habe..."  (1 point)
They can double the score if they can say what "case" they have used- Accusative or Dative  

Noun Nets and German

The challenge of nouns and definite/ indefinite articles in German and cases with young learners can seem like a huge challenge but I think we need to break this down and look for small steps of progression over four years.
The beauty of German is that there are very clear rules as qe use nouns in the nominative, accustaive, dative and genitive cases
I think that over four years we can help the children in primary German rto have "basic understanding of nouns"
What I am describing below will take the four stages ( four years of primary language learning to develop.

  • Let's go catching nouns , like you would catch butterflies.Preciuous , to be looked after carefully and to be  examined and observed!
  • Let's make it exciting - I mean how exciting is it that there are three types of nouns in German masculine , feminine and neuter.Let's make it an exciting exploration!!
  • Let's make sure from the beginning that the young learners do not asscoaite thes three terms with sexual gender but see the titles "masculine","feminine" and "neuter"  as tags or labels.The blog post here on tags and labels for nouns may help you too .Nouns, definite articles,indefinite articles and colour card tricks
  • Let's keep on talking about nouns, revisiting and reviewing nouns with our young learners too- across content and contexts and year groups and stages of learning.
  • Let's put our nouns and finding about nouns as we explore the four cases - Nominative,Accusative,Dative and Genitive in to noun nets and let's reviit and explore them throughout the year and then across the year groups as we find out more! 

Noun Nets One!
In our first noun  net with stage one / beginner German learners Let's just collect singular nouns  and let's collect tags or labels.
Let's put the nouns we are learning (e.g. animal nouns) in to one large net as written word cards with the definitie article
Let's take the nouns out of the net one by one and examine the nouns carefully.Can we spot the different definite articles? 

Why not use my idea of the magnifying glass for this? 
The mysterious World of grammar and the maginfying glass

Let's add a new category and add plural nouns and the definitie article "die"
Let's explore plural endings and how we can spot the difference between for example "die Schlange" and "die Schlangen" 
Let's catch and sort our feminine nouns in two different nets! 

Noun Nets Two!
Let's sort our nouns! 
Can we categorise the nouns and place them in three nets - "der/ die and das" nets.
Let's be honest with the choldren and explain that the nouns have speical titles "masculine,feminine and neuter" 
Let's right from the start explain that the masculine does notr mean male etc
We can continue over four years to gently remind our learners so they have lots of chances to understand the "basic grammar facts "

Let's sort nouns using the game in this blog post I Spy Nouns- we can revist this activity many time too! 

Noun Nets Three!
With stage two , moving on learners on Year 4...
Let's look at nouns after the verb "haben".
Let's be positive and let' use "ich habe...."
Can we spot the difference in the spelling of the definite article 
Can we  create four new nets and place these below the first four nets that we already use. 
Where are we going to put the nouns now?
Ich habe den Hund
Ich habe die Schlange
Ich habe das Kaninchen
Ich habe die Katzen

Let's apply the rule we have made as a class and see if it works with a question..."Hast du....?"
(Maybe at this point you want to talk with the children about the "object" of the sentence... answering the question "What item are we talking about?" )
Remember it will be important to keep on talking about nouns, revisiting and reviewing nouns with our young learners too- across content and contexts and year groups and stages of learning.

Let's apply this rule to indefinite singular article nouns too now ......
Bring out I Spy Nouns again- a familiar activity but a new challenge to ask and answer questions with the verb "haben" and to use indefinite articles with the nouns....before sorting in to "noun nets"!

Noun Nets Four!
With stage three, moving on learners  at the start of Year 5 ....
Let's introduce some important prepositions and the effect that these prepositions have upon the definite and indefinote articles....
Break this down - don't bombard them- start with an accusative preposition "für"and investigate and apply the rules the children already used in"noun nets 3 
Now make it exciting....spot the changes and track the family of the nouns definite article- introduce a dative preposition "mit".
Can the children create the next layer of noun nets - "dem / der/ dem/ den!".

Take time over the year to explore some more useful prepositions and their relationships with definite artciles - zu / von / nach .Try to keep these  explorations to prepositions that don't change from Accustaive to Dative.
do talk with the children about these fascinating words "Nominative" "Accusative" "Dative " use them just like with UKS2 you might use the term"Algebra" or "Fraction"
Give your learners the chance over a period of time to just see these words as labels and signposts and useful as list headings for prepositions.....

You may like to use the Spin the Wheel Game to practise use of Nominative,Accusative and Dative Definite Articles.

Noun Nets Five! 
With stage three or four , moving on learners  at the end of Year 5, moving in to Year 5 ....
Let's explore the Genitive case ....
Let's once again use all our apporaches from Noun Nets 1,2,3,4 and let's make it an exciting discovery .
Ask the children if they can define for you what power the definite article in the Genitive has .... Can they suggest a sense of belonging or ownership? Lead them to see this relationship 
And guess what set up your Noun Nets again!

Shades of meaning,building vocabulary in a target language

I have just seen this tweet from @JaneConsidine .Thank you Jane! 
You can find this and more on The Training Space website
Such an effective tools for literacy but also such an effective tool for target language learning- "shades of meaning from "subtle " to intense" 

Time to get those bilingual dictionaries out again and this time pose the pupils individual  tasks to find "shades of meaning" based on an adjective that they may or may not already know.
You will need 6 adjective cards and sufficient of these cards for one card each .The pupils will swap cards as they repeat the activity three times with different adjectives.
(Immediately adjectives such as small / big/ naughty/ beautiful/ sweet/ lively.....come to mind)

  1. Give them a blank piece of paper
  2. Ask them to draw the "shades of meaning scale" on the left handside and ask them to help you to locate the descriptors for "intense" and "subtle" in the bilingual dictionary.Can the pupils help you to work out how to say "subtle" and then ask all the class to put the key language on the scale but in the target language .(in this instance in a foreign language I think "subtle" means - a gentle type of adjective and "intense" means a powerfuland strong adjective.
  3. Now give each pupil an adjective card.They mjust decide whereabouts on the scale they would place this card - first of all they may need to find the meaning of the adjective!
  4. Set the class a time limit for the next search and ask them to think of 3 adjectives that mean something similar and then find these in the target language dictionary.they must record them on their scale by writing them down in the target language.
  5. Set up a new "shades of meaning" challenge with a new piece of paper and ask the children to swap adjective cards.Can they find 3 adjectives they think have similar meanings to this adjective? (e.g big - tall,large,huge).Whereabouts on the chart do they think these words fit?
  6. Repeat the activity one more time.
  7. Now invite pupils to give feedback as you read out one of the 6 adjective cards. Can they say whether the adjectives they have found linked to the original adjective are more or less subtle or more or less intense- in their opinions? 
  8. How many different words have the class found? 
  9. You could record these on a class "shades of meaning" list in the target language. 
  10. Now you can encourage the pupils to alternate and use these new adjectives when describing people, things and places in speaking and writing.

Seaside Sequencing Story.Languages and Literacy

In sharing this animated sequencing story, I have to thank several people! 
Firstly Ana Lavado Garcia for her drawings and the original story power points some of us have used as part of the resources for JLN member schools.Secondly Ana and Emilie Woodruffe for their native speaker voices and time to put together authentic language in the simple story .Thirdly Little Red Languages for their work alongside WTSA/JLN to bring the "Alien family at the Seaside " story to animated life!

We love our extra terrestrial family and their adventures.
This year as part of our third local network meeting for the DFE funded WTSA/JLN language project "Language Learning for Everyone " we met the family at carnival for our "Carnival Triarama Conversations

Thanks to all the wonderful people above we are able to share this animated sequencing story about the seaside with you all.We hope you will enjoy exploring the story with your children in French and/or Spanish the following DFE KS2 POS learning objectives


  • listen attentively to spoken language
  • speak in sentences,using familar vocabulary,phrases and basic language structures 
  • read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
  • appreciate stories ...in the language
  • broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words
So here is the story - a short sentence or two per page with animations and sound files.
Take a look......

Thanks to Little Red Languages - you can pause the script, conceal the script, replay the sound file , go forwards , go backwards and watch the characters appear on the screen!

Spot the "space " theme throughout the pictures ( starry glasses, planet ice creams ,rocket sandcastle etcetra....thanks Ana!)"

Ways I would use the story file!
(Well it links so well with story telling in Literacy to be truthful!)

  • Share the front page and look for cognates in the story title.
  • Brainstorm words we may already know about the seaside and might expect to find in the story.
  • Categorise the words- nouns, adjectives, verbs, masculine/ feminine etcetra.
  • Encourage the children to look up words they really hope are in the seaside story.

  • Explore the instuctions on the second page and look up the key words forst in the bilingual dictionaries before actially clicking in the icons to see what they do and therefore understand the instructions 
  • Discuss and identify which words are adjectives, nouns and parts of verbs.

  • Listen to the story all the way through with the text and add actions for each page on a second hearing.

  • Listen to the story to explore the text on each page- show the text on each page, pause on key words, hide the text , practise as a class re-telling the story orally trying to be as exact and true to pronunciation as possible.
  • Explore replacement words and phrases- can we change the weather for example or describe dad's sunglasses or baby's enormous ice cream in more detail?

  • Spot the sequencing words.
  • Discuss the role of the sequencing words in the text.
  • Give out strips of card with the sentences written on the cards
  • Can the children in pairs put the story back together in order.
  • Listen to the text but this time conceal the words- can the pairs wave the correct sentence strip to match the sentence they hear?
  • Ask the children to rewrite the text in the order they want it to happen - moving the sequencing words around and therefore changing the order.

Of course as you may know I love drama - so.....
  • Let's learn the text and let's act it out 
  • Let's change the text and tell the story as a performance
  • Let's draw our own story and add our own sentences and sound files! 

We really hope you enjoy using this story and are able to join us next term if you are in the North West for one of our Local Network Meetings.
More details here

Going to the Seaside and exploring DFE POS Learning Objectives

We have had the brilliant fortune over the last year to work with WTSA to develop a DFE funded project to support teachers as they get to grips with the DFE POS and the learning objectives of the KS2 PoS.

Each term we have hosted and led a series of local network meetings around the designated NW area and had as a core theme "seasonal content" for whichwe have created packages of learning linked to the DFE POS Learning Objectives.If you are a teacher in the North West then you would be very welcome at our LNMs next term (Autumn 2015).The dates of the twilight meetings held in local schools during the first half term will appear here DFE Training Schedule

This term our theme has been "Going to the Seaside" .We try to share ideas that are suitable for beginners ,moving on and mofre advanced learneres.I have tried this year to share these ideas with a wider audience through my blog posts.The ideas and activities are intended to  help primary and secondary teachers understand more about the approaches and types of activites which will support progress in primary language learning 
Here are some of the activities "going to the Seaside" activities and the DFE POS Learning Objectives I think you can try to explore in more detail through the activities:

DFE POS LO: Explore the patterns and sounds of words

Seashell sounds and sand treasure hunts
(Thanks to Jo Shore for the pictures from her network meeting that she leads in Mid Cheshire.Brilliant!)

Fishing for letter strings and sounds
(Jo added additional ideas of her own with this game.I love this as it is about networking, growing and sharing etc)

DFE POS LO:Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words
DFE POS LO:Understanding basic grammar

Sandcastle Sentence Building

Jo tried it out in Italian too!

You may also like the following activities too:

DFE POS LO: Speaking and writing in full sentences

Under the sea triarama for speaking,writing and a puppet show

DFE POS LO:Describe people,places,things orally and in writing

Seaside geography comparison,verbs and sentence structure
An interesting way to not only look at the seaside and language about the  seaside but also to compare two towns not far from each other- one is French (Biarritz) and one is Spanish (San Sebastian) 

Now it's over to you!
How do you want to use these activities in your work around the theme of "Going to the Seaside"?
Or maybe... how do you want to to take the idea and change it to fit different content and contexts, but still explore the specific learning objective with your language learners?

Language Learning for Everyone .Second term's report

Summer term is upon us and hopefully like myself you have had a good Easter break.The DFE WTSA/JLN project Language Learning for Everyone is about to deliver the final Local Network Meetings of the year.These are CPD twilights based on the DFE POS Learning Objectives with a specific primary context focus.This term it's all about "Going to the Seaside".You can find out how to register for one of these twilight CPD events if you are a North West primary classroom practitioner or a secondary colleague interested in primary language learning here Going to the seaside LNM event calendar

Firstly a huge thank you to absolutely everyone who has taken part or trained or supported us on this CPD journey so far!

We are delighted to say that we have secured the DFE funding for next academic year too and that these LNM CPD twilights will continue once per term in at the moment 8 different local venues throughout the next academic year.This is just one part of the CPD that we are offering as part of the DFE WTSA/JLN project. 

It's time to review last term's CPD and reflect on our success, next steps and  what we can do to improve the CPD.We have now reached over 500 local North West teachers and have run local network meetings each academic term this year as well as upskilling in French and Spanish and pedagogy and cross phase CPD.Each meeting is different and the size of the audience varies, but the enthusiasm,determination and commitment is obvious!

Local Network Meeting Review
We have realised that it suits teachers and schools to have the LNM CPD if possible in the first half term of an academic term.The coordinators that attend these meetings can then go back to school and plan to share and use the resources and activities effectively in the second half term. 

Last term our LNM focus was "Carnival and World Book Day".Thank you so much to all the schools that hosted one of these meetings and to Jayne,Emilie,Jo and Claire for their time and effort as they learn how to be lead trainers at these events as part of our "teacher led" CPD.Thanks also to the teachers who presented at the events - to Carmelina, Capenhurst CE and Fran!
As always the opportunity to network and share is popular.

Below are two examples of how activities we share at the CPD has an impact on the local delivery of languages in primary.The activities we share are intended to help all colleagues focus upon the ways that they can adapt and use the ideas to deliver effective language learning back in school in line with the Learning Objectives from the DFE POS.

Our carnival stretchy balloon to focus on sound spelling links proved very popular .I loved the fact that teachers at later CPD events brought their class stretchy balloons to show and share - where they had taken the original content , changed the content and created their own learning resource.Brilliant! Exactly what we hope will happen!

Here is one teacher's take on this idea- based on fantastical animals! She shared this with me at our Literacy and Phonics session in March with Julie Prince .Thank you!

The carnival triaramas to develop speaking and writing in full sentences were a great hit!

So many of your children created their own versions!Everyone reported that the not only was the activity enjoyable but you found links with culture and primary creativity.some of you felt that the activity allowed you the chance to demonstrate and collect evidence about how the children could independently say ,write and understand purposeful target language. Here is just one example of children's own work!

Language Upskilling Review
As well as our local network meetings we offer teachers from the North West the opportunity to attend CPD with our native speaker primary specialist language teachers.We have offered Beginners and Intermediate French and Spanish during Spring term.(In the first term we offered Beginners French and Spanish and Intermediate French)

Teachers take away  from this CPD a year's worth of language teaching and learning resources too - for themselves and also so that they can help their staff back in school to make a start or progress.

The teachers at the sessions practise the spoken language with Emilie and Ana and then take sound files and pod casts back to school so they can listen to Ana and Emilie independently and revisit what we practise.

It's been a delight to watch Emilie and Ana grow in confidence as teacher CPD trainers! The response from the teachers at the Beginners French (delivered solo this time by Emilie) was overwhelmingly positive-  a native speaker starting right from basics and making sure that the CPD is linked to effective primary practise!

Intermediate upskilling is really rewarding as teachers go away feeling confident about their understanding,use and  ways to explore in a primary context nouns, adjectives and frequently used verbs in the present tense.
Below is our Cinderella and the verb "to be" dice game that we play.

Making a potion with the verb to have and animals to create our wizard allows the teachers to explore how they can use a variety of content to link grammar with a primary approach! 

We delivered sessions in French and Spanish at intermediate level during Spring term.Here is a review of what we explore.

We look forward to working with colleagues next year as we roll out the second year of Beginners and Intermediate French and Spanish.Some of our colleagues have requested conversational upskilling too! 
The great news is that we are now establishing a German primary sub-network too, run by one of our local colleagues,Barbara Foerster,a native German primary language teacher and teaching assistant at a local primary.Barbara has worked with us for seven years! The first informal meeting is planned for this Summer term ,so do get in touch if you would like to go along to the meeting!

Pedagogy and Cross Phase CPD
We want to bring KS2 and KS3 colleagues together.We have established dialogues with secindary schools and colleagues and Jo Gierl has begin to keep a record of her observations,conversations and reflections in her blog: JoBeeG73.
To bring primary and  secondary together we are offering CPD that we feel ,has value to both primary and secondary colleagues.In Autumn term we invited Joe Dale to share his vast knowledge of APPs and technology and how we could use this as ,a shared language learning tool between stages and ages of learners. 

Cross Phase Spring Term CPD 
This term we invited Julie Prince to share her vast knowledge and understanding of phonics and literacy.she helped us to look for a continuum in skills and learning activities and helped us make those links between key stages of language learning.Brilliant sessions! I say sessions because we offered either and afternoon or a twilight session to keep numbers at a level where the teachers could be really hands on and engage with the activities! This picture shows a primary and a secondary  colleague learning together! Thanks Julie!
Here is my Storify report of all the wonderful activities Julie shared.Phonics and literacy in KS2- KS3 .Easing transition and JoBeeG73 wrote her own secondary blog post on the CPD too An afternoon with Julie Prince   

We all received training and our developing trainers and native speakers learned so much too.Can you spot Emilie and Beatriz? If you know who they are of course! 

Ensuring Primary Progress CPD 
This term we ran a repeat session of "Fit for Purpose and getting started with the new DFE POS". I then delivered a more in depth and "moving on" session for coordinators on progression.
I have to say that I am always amazed by my teaching colleagues determination to make sure that primary language learning is effective and addresses the needs of the primary language learner.We have been working closely with our Warrington colleagues as a network since 2011 and before that as a Warrington network led by myself as a Primary Strategy Consultant.I think in total if you add in the years when I was a Primary Languages AST,it's actually over 14 years- if not more! 

Over the course of this time we have watched some young linguists flourish and are now in the position to be able to share how we track,collect evidence across 4 skills and assess progress.Our Ensuring Primary Progress CPD was oversubscribed and we had atleast 42 delegates in what was really a small room (sorry!).

It was however a chance to consider what progress and the assessment of progress can look like in line with the new DFE POS (and without levels).
We shared ways we track and record progress.Here is a blog post on keeping a creative spoken record of progress

It was CPD that posed and raised questions and what was wonderful was that some colleagues felt confident enough to ask difficult questions and challenge ideas!
We were all learning and sharing!
It's led to us setting up a small working party to look at what and how we assess work.It's also led to  colleagues being able to go away and set up activities that allow schools to make a start with primary language tracking and assessment.It meant that we were able to take a look at how the DFE POS ,the CEFR, the KS2 Framework Objectives can all dove tail together to create a more comprehensive picture of progress- even if we need longer to reflect upon best ways forward in our own school settings.

Here is one simple activity we tried to see if we could use this to demonstrate and collect evidence of progress  with more advanced KS2 listeners:

This CPD will be offered again next academic year and we hope to have new elements that we can offer as follow up CPD for example to feed back from the small working party or to share ways local schools have been trialing assessment as an integral part of the classroom teaching and learning.

Making Links Abroad
We will also be offering "Making Links Abroad CPD" a second time too! Thanks to Erzsi Culshaw, Graham Butler and Odette Hunt for making this twilight CPD so effective and informative.

Teachers learned so much in a short time about Erzsi's ETwinning projects....

Opportunities to take part in Erasmus Plus CPD in the target language countries......here is Odette and PQ France

.....and ways to link classrooms and schools through funding from the British Council , through the International Schools Award, Connecting Classroom projects and global learning CPD. Thanks to Graham of course for sharing his immense knowledge! 

I think it's really important to share the key CPd more widely so i have been Storifying our guest speaker events. Here is the Storify report of the session Making Links Abroad.

Once again thank you!

So my reflections as we set off in to Summer term 2015 and begin to plan for "Language Learning for Everyone" for the next academic year are:
  • We need to keep sharing, and the network meetings will allow us to do this.
  • We need to keep on supporting colleagues to feel more confident in their ability to deliver or reinforce a specialist teachers delivery of the target language - so we look forward to offering language upskilling next academic year.
  • We need to keep moving forward,so the CPD in "Ensuring primary progress" and a possible follow up session for those that attended the CPD this March are both really necessary.
  • We all need to keep learning and to keep on exploring language learning.New teacher led CPD trainers need to continue to be nurtured so that fresh approaches are shared and also the impact of projects like this are long lasting and ensure that language learning from age seven is sustainable! 
  • We need to keep primary language learning "primary" .Creative activities and outcomes appropriate to the age and stage of learner will remain a key focus of this project.
  • We need to share our CPD and learn from others too,so links via social media- Twitter,Facebook, blog posts and You Tube are vital.
  • We need to continue to strengthen our cross phase work.Languages need to be seen as  a learning continuum from KS2 Y3 to KS3 Y9 and beyond.Content,context and skill development needs to be age and stage appropriate.To this end  we need to be continue to offer discussion seminars and workshops to  strengthen dialogue and "listening"/ "sharing" between KS2 and KS3 colleagues. 


Progress in Writing Year 3 to Year 6

Just recently colleagues have been sending me examples of  written work from children who are Year 3 beginner language learners, children who are moving on and are mid way through Year 4 or Year 5 (so with one and half to two and half years of target language learning) and from children who are now in their fourth year of learning a foreign language- Year 6.

The DfE MFL POS asks teachers and schools to set as one of their aims that children learning a language can :

Can write at varying length and for different purposes and audiences,using grammatical structures they  have learnt

As a practitioner it is a joy to look at these examples of target language writing.The joy is in the primary approach to target language writing and the fact that all the children are contributing to the writing.As an education consultant it is a marvelous way to reflect on what real teachers in real classrooms across a range of primary schools are achieving with their young learners.(I am preparing for a CPD session with primary language coordinators to look at how we ensure progress across four skills and so this blog post is also a way of creating a visual record of what this progress looks like. We will be sharing,discussing and  assessing such examples at the CPD .You can find out more here if you are interested in attending Ensuring Primary Progress 19 March 2015- it's part of the DFE WTSA/JLN project Language Learning for Everyone). 

Within our network we have been considering for the last two years how to assess the progress of the skills of our young language learners to try and offer secondary education something tangible as data on entry in to Year 7.We are linking our skill descriptors to the CEF (Common European Framework).You may want to consider the descriptors for Writing here as you look at the real examples I am sharing below.I think that the examples give us evidence that demonstrates progression towards and in several instances into B1 in Y6 after 4 years of language learning.(From the examples I am shown teachers are able to achieve A2 with most children by Y6)

Writing (CEF)
A1: I can write a short simple postcard for example sending holiday greetings, gill in a form with personal details.....

A2:I can write a short simple notes and messages....I can write a very simple personal letter.....

B1: I can write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.I can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions 

As we are also working with the DFE KS2 POS learning objectives I have mentioned the appropriate learning objective too that the children have been exploring ,whilst producing their written work.

Super heroes!
In Year 3 the children create display with personal information about themselves. The children are supported with a template that means they are adding information to a formular:

 and as the children move in to Year 4 we now have evidence that at the start of Year 4, the children can "write phrases from memory" (DFE POS LO) 

Making guessing games
In Year 3 children who have been learning a language for five months are now beginning to write phrases and independently in the target language. The children here have made a guessing game-  to see if you can find the three animals mixed in to one animal. they have been practising using the question "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" in French.They have been "linking spelling and sound" (DFE POS LO) of a challenging phrase to write down.

Giving opinions and agreeing adjectives
With the children who are moving on in their target language learning and have been progressing through a learning programme based on or loosely following our JLN SOW, we have evidence of children who can "understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied" (DFE POS LO).In this short piece written as display work to celebrate children's work last half term on fruits and opinions ,w e can see accurate adjectival agreement and the use of a negative first person singular present tense verb.This is a very accurate example but all the pieces I saw demonstrated children working toward a good understanding of the change in spelling of adjectives and the position of adjectives with nouns in French.

Writing  using reference materials
Primary colleagues are keen to use bilingual dictionaries and reference materials with their classes and are trying to introduce the use of these from Y3 onwards. Here is an example of how one child in Year 6 has been adding "uplevelling" in Spanish what he writes so that it is a truthful description of himself.Notice the three phrases he has found an wants to add at the top of his piece of writing.....He is trying to "broaden...vocabulary and develop ability to understand new words ....including through using a dictionary" (DFE POS LO) 

Alice in Wonderland and three levels of writing in Year 6!
I recently wrote a blog post about Alice in Wonderland and one of my colleagues tried out the writing activities in the blog with her advanced learners - a Year 6 Spanish class.She sent me lots of examples of work and I have selected three to share.They demonstrate the natural curve we might expect in these learners- one piece working at A1 , one piece a secure A2 and one child potentially on the cusp/one piece entering into B1 on the CEF. What is wonderful is that all the children are writing in the target language and being creative too! They are all engaged in "describing people,places,things and actions" (DFE POs LO)

Adding Drama to Language Learning

Drama and Language Learning and reasons to explore language through performance

The aims of the new DFE POS for languages encourages us in both KS2 and KS3 to develop learners who can :

  • Understand and respond to spoken and written languages from a variety of authentic sources
  • Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity,finding ways to communicate what...want to say
  • Write at varying length for different purposes and audiences,using the variety of grammatical structures they have learnt
  • Discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied
During this session at Ililc 2015 I intend to look at how we can develop communication skills in language learners from KS1,KS2 and KS3 and provide learners with a vehicle of self expression and creativity adding drama to language learning.I hope also to suggest APPS and use of IT to enhance the drama/language learning process and outcomes along the way too.

Drama and dramatic devices used in language learning promote:
  • Better and more confident communication skills
  • Inclusive participation
  • Team work and appreciation of each others' creativity and performance
  • An understanding of why intonation and pronunciation matter and how these can enhance character and covey meaning and emotion.
  • Importance of the links between dialogue and actions to convey meaning
  • Platforms upon which to develop independent creative writing
  • Understanding of the importance of punctuation and accuracy in the choice and use of written language.
  • Deeper and more creative understanding of text
  • A purposeful reason to explore the skills of memorisation and  tools to support the recall of language

Early language learning
  1. Voice Machines - sounds of the language and our voice machines (Audio Boom to capture those sounds!)
  2. Sunflower song active learning of simple language- numbers 1-10 linked to Springtime and growing plants. (Story Creator to capture the sunflowers growing taller and taller)
  3. Colour mimes and word association .Practising new language and finding ways to remember the sound and feel of new language. (Yakiyt for Kids)
  4. Stretchy sound and letter string balloons  (Audio Boom balloons) 

Exploring instructions and simple language. 

  1. Parts of the body and puppeteers - listening, responding.
  2. Using Educreations APP to generate physical performance
  3. Mirror mirror on the wall (Step Five )
  4. Creative spoken language
  5. Flowing mime machines with rhythm and beat accompaniment and spoken word.

Asking and answering questions,speaking in full sentences and engaging in conversation

  1. Paper Puppets
  2. Superstar sketches.
  3. Puppet Pals APP to bring our conversations to life
  4. "Fancy dress" Quiz Quiz Swap (I-FunFace APP)
  5. Stage set triaramas  with cultural speaking and writing attitude .Use of I-nigma APP to create spoken speech bubbles for the characters.

Now let's get dramatic!

  1. If a picture paints a 1000 words Anticipation Emotions displays (FotoBooth1 to generate our own emotions and feelings)
  2. Silent Movies , back stories and a taste of great literature (Capture the performance on Camcorders and IPads)'
  3. Going on an Autumn walk with poetry
  4. "Six characters in search of an author performance  and  a PicCollage to create Story Boards written outcome.
  5. 3D Art (Tiny Tap APP) (stage one, stage two, stage three.)

Active conjunctions

Thanks to Vicky Bruff on Facebook for sharing with us this picture of an activity from Teaching Ideas
It is a very simple and effective way of explaining visually the use of link words in sentences.

I am currently working with the wonderful Julie Prince on ways to make grammar in primary foreign languages "active and kinaesthetic" plus how we can link the activities to learning objectives from the DFE KS2 POS. 

The picture inspired a really simple "active grammar" learning idea that could be so effective!

In this activity I am concentrating on conjunctions (connectives ) to link two sentences together to  make a more complex primary foreign language sentence.
In doing this we could explore with the children one or more of the following DFE POS KS2 learning objectives:
  • speak in sentences,using familiar vocabulary,phrases and basic language structures
  • read carefully and show understanding of words,phrases and simple writing 
  • broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words
  • understand basic grammar .....how to build sentences
What's the idea?
Well just as you probably already do,ask the children to draft write simple sentences on mini white boards that are linked to the content you are currently covering .Effective contexts for this activity may be: the market, describing a monster, clothes, the weather ........

e.g. here are some fruit examples.....
les pommes sont rouges
les bananes sont grandes et jaunes
moi j'adore les raisins

moi j'aime les oranges

First activity

  1. Ask the children to write a simple sentence using language content you have been practising with them.
  2. Ask the children to share their sentence with a partner and take turns to proof read each of the sentences.
  3. Ask the children to write the sentence on to a strip of paper or card- large enough for other people to be able to read from a distance.
  4. Stand the children in a circle with the sentences on card facing in to the circle.
  5. Take it in turns for each child to read out their sentence still holding the card facing toward the other children in the circle.
  6. Share with the children your conjunction cards.You can decide which are appropriate conjunctions for this activity- but I suggest that you have at least 5 options.
  7. Place the conjunction cards in the middle of the circle .
  8. Check with the children that they are confident about the meaning of the conjunctions and how to pronounce the words.I would play a "sounds like game" here.Can they make the word sound like the job the conjunction does in the sentence e.g contradicts/ joins together/offers another option etc....
  9. Invite a child to read out his/her sentence and to select a conjunction ,pick it up from the floor and walk over to  a second child and ask him/her to read out his/her  sentence.Now ask the two children to stand in the middle of the circle and say the whole new complex sentence together. 
  10. Repeat the activity with two more children and a new selected conjunction.
  11. How many sentences can the children write independently when they return to their tables that include a conjunction to connect two sentences together?  
Second Activity

  1. Blu-tac the conjunctions to the whiteboard or flip chart so they are visible to all the children .
  2. Play the "Sounds like" game" from above.This time though ask the class to say for you a conjunction that "contradicts" or "joins together" etc- do they all select the same conjunction?
  3. Divide the children in to groups of four.
  4. Can they connect each of their sentences to the other sentences using some of the conjunctions they can see on the board? They can not use the same conjunction twice in a row.
  5. Ask the children to write their "long" sentence containing conjunctions out on a mini whiteboard.
  6. Ask the children to practise speaking their sentence together.Can they remember how to say their complex sentence without looking at the written word?Ask them to add actions to help them with this.
  7. They must create a spoken performance of the class to include actions and a connecting movement  and "sounds like" performance of the conjunctions between clauses so that each of the original sentences flows via a conjunction on to the next sentence.
  8. Ask each group to perform their complex sentence for the class

Reading and Writing in the Primary Foreign Language

Yesterday I delivered an afternoon of CPD based around reading and writing in primary foreign languages.
The CPD was based around DfE KS2 POS Learning Objectives:

First of all we explored how all four skills (listening,speaking,reading and writing) are interconnected and support the development of each of the other skills.
This was a light bulb moment for some of the delegates and led to group discussion about how much,when,what to introduce in different skill areas.

During the CPD we considered  these objectives from the KS2 POS specifically:
  • Explore the patterns and sounds of the language and show understanding by joining in and responding.
  • Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing.
  • Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language.
  • Broaden their vocabulary and develop the ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written materials, including using a dictionary
  • Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
  • Understand basic grammar……….how to apply these, for instance  to build sentences.
The highlighted key words and phrases helped us to discuss and explore the links across skills (so for example "show understanding of words"  can be explored,practised and  demonstrated across all four skills). 

Consideration One 
 We considered how the four skills can be interlinked right from an early start using some of the activities here in this blog post Stretchy sound and letter balloon .All linked to this learning objective
  • Explore the patterns and sounds of the language and show understanding by joining in and responding.
And we discussed how the development of this skill is always important to the linguist no matter what level of language they may be able to operate with.We looked at how the types of activities here could be adapted for different stages of learning and new content/contexts.

Consideration Two
Our next consideration was the use of bilingual dictionaries and the teachers discussed ways they might introduce dictionaries for the first time to young learners and the suitability of certain types of dictionaries and pictionaries for different children.
  • Take some time to look at alphabetical order and play some alphabet sorting games
  • Pop a variety of dictionaries from different languages in a basket in the reading area perhaps including home languages of children in the class or school 
  • Let the children explore the"mystery" book on their tables with no information or clues.What do they think it is? How does it seem to be organised etc?
We discussed how bilingual dictionaries can play such a key role in  language learning across all types of activities and how children need to see the resource as a valuable language learning tool which they will use and refer to often .
This led to discussion of the use of simple pictionaries with younger children, the use of junior dictionaries with KS2 children and the introduction of more detailed dictionaries with Year 6 UKS2. 

I was really impressed by the way the teachers wanted to explore how the language was presented in the junior dictionaries, the colour -coding and the way that examples supported or could potentially  confuse the young learners.
We decided that 15 bilingual dictionaries could be sufficient for a class activity (pairs for example) and that schools could have a signing in and out process on the staff room so that the dictionaries could be booked in and out. Most of the teachers felt 30 copies would suffice across KS2 (Y3/4 and Y5/6 split).

We considered  the activities here in this blog post as introductory activities or 10 minute revisit activities to familiarise the children with how to use a bilingual dictionary.

Bilingual Dictionary Wizards

And the teachers tried out the sequence of activities that they could take back in to school and link using a bilingual dictionary to the exploration of nouns

I spy nouns

Really importantly we identified that bilingual dictionaries are not just to 

  • "broaden ... vocabulary and develop the ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written materials, including using a dictionary".
Bilingual dictionaries could become an integral available resource whatever the language learning taking place and we considered how we may use the dictionaries in any of the objectives being considered in the CPD session.

Consideration Three
Our next step was to explore this learning objective:
  • Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing

and to do this we looked at how the learning objective can be a driver for a series of activities that are very "primary" and "age appropriate" linking language learning across the curriculum.
We explored: the activities in this blog post .What is important to understand is that the activities are not just linked to the context and content described in the blog post but that the type of activities and stages of learning can be lifted and used in other contexts and with other content.We were able to identify the progression and deeper learning that potentially is taking place and how all four skills are interlinked and support development in of the other skills.

Consideration Four
We looked  at the learning objective below from the immediately obvious viewpoint of authentic books, rhymes and songs for young children and how they bring " authenticity and colour" in to the language learning classroom.

  • Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language.

  • I shared a range of materials that could be used as a  resource to listen to or read for pleasure, maybe because the resource links to the content being practised or also because it allows the teacher  to explore and reinforce another curriculum focus but in a foreign language. We thought about how we could create our own mini versions of books and create written sentences about characters and link our reading in a foreign language to World Book Day for example. Here are three examples we discussed: 

    We also looked at how poetry could be a resource to support literacy and creating written images ,an example of this is here in the blog post on a French authentic poem which allows us to engage with French poem painting of a Summer's Day.
    Familiar nursery rhymes can be used as a listening and reading resource to link all four skills together.Here in this blog post Dame Tartine we are able to link phonics,listening,joining in,speaking,singing, reading writing, APPs and DT!  I felt that this was really important to consider this as some colleagues were uncertain as to how in short limited language learning time all skills and progression could be catered for .Here  in Dame Tartine is just one example of how this can be planned and catered for over a series of lessons and week.

    Consideration Five
    And finally we were able to bring all our considerations together and look at how if we focus on developing progression in the other four considerations we can work toward Year 6 learners in their fourth formal year of learning becoming competent writers in the target language, who are able to .....
    • Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
    • Understand basic grammar……….how to apply these, for instance  to build sentences.
    Perhaps by looking for real writing opportunities that link across the curriculum then the writing has a dynamic purpose ?
    Here is one recent topical example that some of my colleagues are working on: 

    Stretchy sound and letter string carnival balloons

    I am getting ready for the first of several local network meetings where we will look at some of the new POS learning objectives and put these in to real language teaching and learning contexts.Our theme is "Celebrating Carnival" and our learning objectives look at how a young learners develops the skills of communication in the target language.We are considering help young learners to move on and become independent users of their developing language skills .Each session we take time to consider an activity  which supports the learners to explore these learning objectives  from the new DfE POS: 

    Explore the patterns and sounds of the language
    Develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases.

    So here is my carnival theme idea! It's based on "The blue balloon" by Mick Inkpen.
    This interactive book encouraged the children to see the balloon as having ,magical qualities - you could stretch , pull, squash , fly with this blue balloon but you couldn't pop it and in the end it becomes a rainbow balloon.

    Here is my magical colour stretchy sound and letter string balloon.On one side it has the colours and on the other side it has the letter strings that make up the colours.It starts off as a concertina with just the single picture of balloons and then it stretches to become one very long balloon of either the colour words or on the others slide blocks of colour in the same order as the colour words.

    To make a balloon like mine, you will need four A4 documents for six colours.I have shared two my templates here.The templates  have two lines- one of colour filled blocks and a second line which has letter strings from the appropriate colours. These are the letter strings from key familiar colours (or any language content you prefer- although I think colours and balloons fit best together here)

    You need to cut out the templates and stick the 4 strips together end to end to make a long continuous  strip.
    Fold the balloon template length ways between the solid colours and the letters
    Fold the strip in to a concertina using the external thin solid fold line and the internal fold lines.
    The children will either be able to see all the coloured blocks or all the letter strings when it is pulled out as a stretchy balloon

    Now you are ready to share your magical carnival balloon
    1. Remind the children of all the key colours they know in the target language and ask them to think about how some of the key sounds are written in the target language. Write these up on the whiteboard and then remove these letter strings before playing the balloon games
    2. Share with the children your very special carnival balloon and explain its magic qualities 
    3. Show the children the first picture on the word side of the stretchy balloon- it's some balloons - but what colour do they think your balloon may be?
    4. Explain that the balloon is stretchy and long so how many colours might it be made up of and what colours might it be? 
    5. Can you ask the children to stretch out the sounds of the colours in the target language , to squeeze the sounds of the colours in the target language , to twist the the sounds of the colours in the target language, to wave the sound of the colour in the target language  etc.... - just like the magical balloon
    6. Time to investigate the colours as letter strings.... only reveal one letter string at at time - can the children say what they see, discuss with their talking partner and then anticipate the next letter string and the colour.You may like the children to write down on mini white boards what they anticipate as the next letter string.
    7. Can the children remember the colours ? Squash up your balloon again and this time ask the children to whisper the letter string to a partner and then the partner can give the thumbs up if that is the letter string that is revealed.Partners to take it in turns to be the speaker or the listener here.
    8. Now fold up your stretchy balloon one more time and ask the children to write down on their whiteboards the order in which they think the colours will be revealed - as you open up the colour block side of your balloon.Ask the children to read aloud their lists to their partner or volunteers to read out loud to the class.
    And finally .....
    Ask the children to create their own letter string word balloons so that they can play partner and table games with their classmates to anticipate target language familiar colours.