all 4 skills

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.)

Seeing progress in action!

I want to call this blog post - "you can always learn more!"

It's a post about progress and observations in the primary classroom from a school visit yesterday.

I am certain that many  of you who read this do achieve similar success in classes across the country.I think it's so important to create a written record of your successes to help others.
Firstly the record can celebrate what is taking place. 
Secondly it's a tool by which to share practitioners and learners progress.
Thirdly it is hopefully a fair record of what school are achieving across year groups and across the school academic year in primary language learning.

A little bit of background knowledge to set the scene
If you have followed my blog posts you probably already know that I work alongside a group of really committed and enthusiastic teachers and that we work every academic week of the school year in 37 schools to support the delivery of French ,Spanish and German. Part of my role is to guide and support the teachers and the schools as the project in their individual settings develops.

Yesterday was one of those wonderful days when I went in to a school, to observe a practitioner delivering language learning and to support the school to see how best to support staff and children with their language learning.
Below is an honest account of what was observed - simple language learning content and context that became one of those rare magical moments !Less about the teacher and more about the progress of the language learners

Ana is one of our Spanish native speaker QTS practitioners. She has worked alongside me now for four years and has worked in this specific school for just over two years. Her relationship with children,staff and SLT is excellent. Ana works with a core programme of learning across KS1 and KS2 and is happy to change or adapt learning to suit school needs and special events.
The core programme is in line with the network JLN SOW ,which means staff and especially the language coordinator can access the core language,activities and  resources and develop simple assessment opportunities with Ana.Ana has provided sound files for our SOW ,which help staff to listen again to those core words and structures too. Ana shares medium term planning for all year groups from YR to Y6 with the coordinator and staff.......

............but didn't I say you can always learn more ? !

Yesterday the observations made,were about the balance of the four skills in accordance with the new DfE POS and also about what progress young learners in the school are really making.
The Head and I observed two lessons.In both lessons the class teachers and TAs are always present and encouraged to participate.The school is still working toward what this participation will eventually look like and how the school, Ana and the staff can support different groups of learners.It's a case of positive SLT supported and staff implemented "work in progress".Spanish is now becoming an integral part of the learning curriculum across KS1 and KS2.

A lesson of two halves with Year 4!

Now here is an interesting thing! 
With Y4/5 mixed age class Ana was looking at the family and creating descriptions using familiar language of a new family- our alien family. She was concentrating also on our New Year's resolution to encourage children to apply rules of pronunciation to new language, applying knowledge of prior learning and to look for those semi- cognates and cognates.You may have read the blog post Look! Think! Read The children are in their second year of language learning and it was in the second half of the lesson,after we asked Ana to deliver everything in the target language- instructions , questions to the children and the speaking card game  to "describe people" (a DfE learning objective!) that the lesson came to life! 
Why? Well the children, it seemed to us, became really keen to engage with the learning through Spanish.It was great to see them all sat on the edge of their seats, listening for clues in the language Ana was using,with Ana carefully selecting the key language she used and actions to support what the children had to do e.g "Para" ,"Movea".......With not a word of English spoken the class wanted more!! 
What is important to remember here is that the children work every week with Ana, know her well and are used to her speaking Spanish with her - and she knows what they know too! 

It was this second half of the lesson that was most remarkable as every child was engaged ,some supported by teacher and TA  but all the children were trying to understand what Ana was saying....and the teachers were too!

The Head and I wanted to take this further so ....

A Year 3 lesson to remember!
The Head and I followed Ana to her next class and asked her this time to speak only Spanish from the beginning to the end of the lesson.These were Y3 children who have two years language learning with Ana, behind them. 
Ana wanted to teach the class how to read and write names of animals, some familiar spoken language and some unfamiliar language in preparation for the work on animals they see and find around them.
She asked the children to  put on their Spanish brains and to travel with her in their heads to Spain.From this moment on she explained everything in Spanish.They were Spanish children in a Spanish classroom with a Spanish teacher for the duration of the lesson.

We observed normal routine warm up language- questions and answers  about the date, month, what day was it yesterday or would it be tomorrow,personal information, favourite months, days , weather on the day , etc etc! 
When she asked the children where they lived,she reminded them that they now lived in Spain( all explained in the target language) and my favourite response had to be "Vivo en Real Madrid" !! 
Although most of the children wanted to live in Malaga, Barcelona or Sevilla- all places that Ana will have talked with them about when for example she talks about her home city Sevilla , or Gaudi and colours and Barcelona and Malaga because we have link schools in the city! 

Then  something magical happened..... one of those "goose pimples" teaching and learning moments which you want to keep forever !

Ana asked the children about their favourite animals and The children were able to tell Ana about the sea creatures they liked -pulpo, tiberon etcetra, without prompting ,from their Y2 language learning focus and recalled  farm animals from their Old Macdonald work in Y1 !! 
All the children were busy thinking about what they could say and remember....

From this point onwards we observed the clearly identifiable progress these young learners are making in language learning.
Ana asked children to come to the front and share how they thought these favourite animal words were written .Hands up all around the classroom! "Casi" said Ana as children added too many consonants or forgot that a "h" sound could be a"j" in Spanish! They weren't put off - the whole class wanted to help sort out the spelling! "Pez" was interesting and the child writing self corrected himself .It's not "th" it's "z" he said "because it's like diez"! Definitely a WOW moment!

Ana introduced new animal pictures and asked the children if they already knew the word for the animal and was it un or una....? Could they write the word if they already knew it? And the new animal words - well could they listen, repeat and then decide from prior learning of numbers , colours, etc how to spell for example "caballo" ( amarillo link) , conejo, pajaro (rojo/ jueves link) etcetra.

The children were applying prior learning to new language and making sound -spelling links and confidently coming to the front to volunteer the written word.Meantime the class teacher and TA were observing and  identifying the confidence of hesitant writers, happy to share their clear and exact writing in a different language and the way that the more able learners were being stretched by challenge of the target language.

These young language learners are inquisitive,keen to learn the language and confident that they can succeed.The thoughtful class practise of the pronunciation of "v" for "vaca" ,the additional information offered about the animals e.g.the impromptu spoken language from some of the children with the colour of the animals in the pictures and trying to describe this in a sentence and the links the children could make with their own experiences e.g raton- oh that's like "ratoncito Perez" said one pupil.(Her Spanish friend told her about this story, she added).

And Ana - well Ana was thriving on the engagement of the children and as an experienced primary classroom teacher and practitioner, using only target language, was being guided by the children and drawing the children further in to their application of language learning skills.

This was a lesson not to forget and needed to be recorded.
Progress of 7 year olds with some prior learning in Spanish across listening ,speaking , reading ,writing, culture and grammar.
Thank you so much Ana for a remarkable snapshot! 

What have we learned? 
Well  there is always room for improvement - perhaps more talking partner opportunities  and use of mini whiteboards ...... but truthfully it was the impact of the learning through the target language and the way the children naturally made those sound -spelling links, recalled language with ease and began to want to engage in sentence level activities outside the learning context that have caused Ana,the Head and I to stop and think!

Next steps?

  • To allow staff time to shadow Ana and see this progress in different year groups and the links the children can make between prior learning and new learning.
  • To begin to plan for Spanish learning which can support teachers and TAs with their own everyday learning skills observations of children
  • To plan for as much use of the target language as is sensible and supportive for the young  learners
  • To plan for staff CPD time to discuss what they have observed and what they think are the next achievable steps! 

A Christmas context ,transferable activities and some shared learning approaches for KS2 and KS3

On Friday last week I spent a glorious afternoon by the seaside in Southport with a group of eleven primary and secondary teachers considering activities  with a Christmas language learning focus that rehearsed and explored a range of language learning skills .The activities can easily be transferred to other language content and context.Most importantly my intention was to link the activities and the                                                 learning to the objectives of the new DfE POS.

  • Each teacher was asked to consider whether an activity was suitable for beginners /moving on ( more than a year of exposure to language learning or advanced learners (UKS2 with more than two and a half years of language learning or KS3 non beginner learners)
  • We discussed how the objectives in the new DfE POS need to be considered on a sliding scale so that we consider how stage by stage we rehearse and strengthen and extend the objectives
  • I asked my colleagues to consider ways of extending the activity or adapting the activity to suit their learners or different contexts and we unpacked the learning objectives or parts of the learning objectives and how there would be stages to achieve mastery of specific learning objectives

What was very noticeable was how the mix of primary and secondary colleagues worked so well.Together we were able to consider how we could ways to build progression in language learning!

Here are some of the activities we practised, performed and identified as possibly learning approaches that all colleagues could use in different ways with different stages of  learners. 
Remember these are all festive in theme but most could quite easily be changed to fit a new context.(It's a bit like a bag of tricks ...or in this case a bag of Christmas presents for language learning ......)

Bell ringing and Christmas greetings
This activity is centred on listening,responding,joining in and spoken performance activity which also involves reading.
The objective we identified for this activity is :
Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
We discussed and extended the activity described by looking at how we could actually take this activity further and listen for key words or miss key words out or listen for specific sounds
Here we identified a new objective as a focus:
Explore the pattern and sounds of the language

Open and reveal four corners
I dusted off a well loved activity here to look at how we could move the activity from just a game to practise sounds and key language and question responses to "unwrapping our Christmas present" 
The objectives we identified for this activity are:
Explore the pattern and sounds of the language
Ask and answer questions
All  the teachers felt that they could apply this to their KS1,KS2 or KS3 language teaching and learning before Christmas and that the children would enjoy creating their own Christmas present in language learning for friends to unwrap in a game!

Starry Night
This activity is centred on revisiting and practising familiar language and asking questions. In this instance it is based on revisiting colours and numbers and asking and answering simple questions:What is it?/How many are there?
The objective we identified is: 
Ask and answer questions
We created our own starry night of numbers performances ,using the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,and KS3 colleagues added additional language and a performance twist based on a dance routine. KS2 colleagues looked at how we could challenge children to create performances based on number sequences etc.
We considered how we could then hand the reins over to children ask them to ask the questions on the starry shape guessing game and how this could then be a board game.The expectation would be that the more language the children know , the more it should be used during the board game.

Triaramas and festive meal sketches
This is a listening,speaking,reading and writing activity when I designed this activity I presumed this would be a moving on or advanced activity but the LKS2 colleagues at the CPD felt they could adapt this with simple rhymes, songs and language to be a LKS2 beginners activity too .We often worry about can the children write accurately and now we need to concern ourselves with can they write from memory.The sequence of activities here can encourage your moving on and advanced learners to practise these skills for a creative purpose.
The objectives we identified as central to these activities are:  
Speak in sentences using familiar vocabulary
Read carefully and show understanding of words,phrases and writing
Write phrases from memory
Describe people ,places ,things and actions orally and in writing
Different colleagues felt that different objectives would be their core focus at this moment in time with their specific language learners 
KS3 colleagues felt that the activities were transferable across the whole of KS3 with a variety of reading comprehension texts (plays,poems, songs)

The magic of Christmas
The activities here are about asking the children to explore a non verbal stimulus and to participate in speaking,reading and writing activities to create their own advertisement (either orally or a written text) about a specific event.It's about finding the right clip and here the clip allows us to explore Christmas nouns, verbs, adjectives and the to revisit the context of weather , clothes, daily routine, emotions, play .....
The objectives we identified as central to these activities are:
Present ideas orally to an audience 
Describe people,places ,things and actions orally and in writing
All  the teachers felt that they could apply this to their KS1,KS2 or KS3 language teaching and learning before Christmas and that the children would enjoy creating their own Christmas present in language learning for friends to unwrap in a game! however our LSK2 colleagues once again thought of ways of using a picture or a one context focused clip to rehearse core familiar language to the children. 

Twinkle Twinkle Little star with a twist of Grammar
I took this well loved international song and considered how with older children we could create a grammar game and our own new verses of the song!
The objectives  we identified are:
Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words
Understand basic grammar
The activities are for moving on and advanced learners but once again the KS3 colleagues could see how they could use the core activities with new texts in KS3 and revisit and practise core grammar and structure focuses with their learners 

An all in all delightful afternoon before Christmas by the seaside!

Language Learning Tools to Share

This year I have the very exciting opportunity to support local high schools as they work through what primary progress in language learning means to their own MFL departments in KS3.I am going to be helped to achieve this by a wonderful colleague, who has just started to tweet and who will keep a running record of how she is able to use these tools in her own KS3 language learning classroom @JoBeeG73 
(As I am meeting with the teacher on Wednesday I thought I needed to put down in my blog what I mean by  "Language Learning Tools to Share").

I see these as "shared approaches to learning a language ,which can put the learner at ease and allow the learner to scaffold their own progress as they recall and use familiar techniques and possibly language and upon which they can  build and explore new and more challenging language you may start off with simple word recall and mve to phrase, sentence and text etc or perhaps you have started with simple questions and answers but you want the children to build in conversational asides or to listen as a thrid party and report back in the third person 

Here are some shared learning tools we know are working well.
By this I mean tools/ resources/ prompts/ ways of recording language and revisiting language  that allow children to use familiar approaches and  activities to explore more challenging use of language in listening , speaking , reading and writing.

...and here is a new tool that I think the learners and teachers will enjoy trying out this year