new DfE POS

La chandeleur games to practise familiar language in speaking and writing

Have been looking for ideas for la chandeleur - 2 February (French pancake day) and came across this part of the "momes" site with lots of wonderful coloured and shaped pancakes.
You can access the recipes and the ideas on this part of the momes site blog momes here

This got me thinking about some very simple and easy to make activities for celebrations in schools  for la chandeleur!
I have added the new POS learning objectives that could be practised or reinforced with these activities too !

Pancake spelling collection challenge
A pancake team challenge for beginner language learners who know their numbers, colours and with children who are moving on who also know fruits,vegetables and possibly flavours) 

POS:Explore the patterns of language- link sound and spelling

  • Cut out four sets of five coloured circles( each represents a  crepe).
  • Ask the children to count the pancakes for you and to say the colour of the pancake. 
  • Make four piles of the pancakes - one from each colour in each pile.Each of the piles will ultimately belong to  one of the four teams.The teams have to win the pancakes
  • Divide your class on to four teams/
  • The aim of the game is to win the crepes.Each team nominates a "writing" chef.
  • This chef must come to the front and write what you say.You could say colours, number, fruits, flavours (language linked to the umber and colour of pancakes and fillings).
  • The aim of the game is to win for the team one of each of the five coloured pancakes that you have cut out of paper.The chef must write clearly and correctly the spelling in the target language of the word you say.
  • You could play this as a speed challenge with two team's chefs up at the front at the same time
  • Which team will have their coloured pile of pancakes first?

Spoken flip the pancake 
A challenge for language learners who have practised flavours (of ice creams) and can use the phrase "je voudrais"

POS: Speak in sentences ,using familiar vocabulary
POS: Broaden their vocabulary

  • Remind the children of the flavours of ice creams.For us this will work well with Year 5 as we learn flavours of ice creams in Year 4.
  •  Discuss with the Year 5  children other possible flavours made up of the fruits and vegetables we are practising in our healthy eating module at the moment.
  • Share these as a written record on the board.
  • Give the children chance to try to memorise the phrases you have written on the board.
  • Ask them in pairs now to play flip the pancake (just like verbal table tennis) where they take it in turns to say a flavour "e.g je voudrais une crepe au chocolat"
  • Make this a time challenge 
  • How many flavoured pancakes can they flip in 2 minutes?
  • Make it a "head to head" game and invite volunteers out to the front to  play the "Spoken flip the pancake" challenge!

Dingbat pancake flips! (Say what you can see)
A game for all stages of language learners

POS: Broaden their vocabulary
POS:Speak in full sentences
POS: Describe things in writing

  • Give each child a piece of A4 paper and ask them to  fold the paper into four and to draw four circles on the paper.
  • Each circle should be shaded on one side a different colour buy the children
  • They need to cut out their four circles.
  • The children now need to turn the circles over so the white empty side is facing them.
  • They must think of a flavour association with the colour (e.g red - tomato/ pink- strawberry etc)
  • In pencil on the white blank side they need to draw a symbol ( a Dingbat) to represent the flavour
  • On the coloured side they need to write the flavour in the target language.
  • Can other children guess and say the flavour accurately in the target language by looking at other children's "Dingbat pancake flips"? 
  • Can children ask for each pancake politely using a full  sentence target language request?
  • Once the have guessed they can flip the pancake to the coloured side and see if they were correct.

Alice in Wonderland and describing people in speaking and writing

What a gift these new commemorative stamps are to celebrate 150 years since Lewis Carroll told his first story about Alice in Wonderland!

In the new DfE POS we are asked at KS2 to offer children the opportunity to:

"speak in full sentences"

"ask and answer questions"

"engage in conversations"

"describe people in speaking and writing ""

The article on CBBC news about the stamps is clear and child friendly with brilliant pictures of the stamps.

Click here!

Here is a perfect way to engage our young learners in speaking,writing and creating descriptions... and as I write I am about 7 miles from Daresbury ,where the village celebrates its connections to Lewis Carroll. Indeed there is a strained glass window to celebrate Alice in wonderland in the church and our local town Warrington has a stone table statue celebrating "The Mad Hatter's tea party"

Thanks to Ana and Emilie here are some of the main characters' names in French and Spanish


Alice - Alice

Madhatter- le chapelier fou

Cheshire cat- le chat du Cheshire

The white rabbit - le lapin blanc


Alice- Alice

Madhatter- El sombrero loco

Cheshire Cat -- el gato de Cheshire

The white rabbit- el conejo blanco

So first of all let's have a tea party! 

Of  course we could act out what we see and hold a simple food, cafe or at table conversation.  

We can use all the language we have practised based on foods, likes, dislikes and if you follow our SOW table language from Year 6 to animate this picture of the table with speech bubbles and to create the perfect menu too.....  

Now let's create our own stained glass window

Let's investigate the series of stained glass windows in Daresbury church with characters from Alice in Wonderland.Take a look at

the stained glass window here


  • Let's change the speech bubbles and add our own questions and answers between the characters - as simple as necessary of course ( ranging from greetings,farewells, feelings, likes, dislikes, the time etc)  
  • Let's make it a piece opf Art with tissue [paper and clear glue and add our speech bubbles and writing
  • Let's bring the pictures to life by importing the pictures in to APPs such as Tiny Tap  and adding a recording of the children's voices as sound patches over the  the speech bubbles in character.Can they say the words in character too?

Let's explore the characters!

Show them the film trailers in the target language! (Alice et les pays des Merveilles is French version and Alice en el pais de Maravillas is the Spanish version and the German version is Alice im Wunderland)

Show them the stamps and the images

A simple description:

Ask the children who are moving on learners (Year 4 /Year 5) to use bi-lingual dictionaries to write two simple sentences using the verb to be and two simple sentences using the verb to have about a character.We could record our spoken language on

Yakit for kids

. Here is an example......

Alice est jolie

Alice est petite

Alice a les cheveux blondes

Alice a les yeux bleus

Adding challenge to the description

Let's see if the more advanced young learners (Year 5/6) can complete some present tense sentence descriptions about the characters and add at least one independently written sentence of their own.Here is an example :

le lapin blanc est..............

le lapin blanc porte..........

Le lapin blanc n'aime pas .........


Now let's bring the characters to life with animation using 

Funny Movie Maker

 where you import your picture of the character and add spoken words (so the children's description).There is an android version of this too.


nd let's keep a written  record of the descriptions 

  • as posters in a class book of Alice in Wonderland or 
  • as our own commemorative A4 stamps with a picture of the character and the words and sentences around the character that the children have written in the target language.
  • as PicCollage posters with imported additional pictures of the book in the target language from the web!

Carnival conversations in speaking and writing with triaramas used as stage sets

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 how we move from 

asking and answering questions
engaging in conversations
 describing people places and things orally and in writing

The activities described below will allow children who are moving on in their language learning - so in their late second,third or fourth year of learning to practise their use of questions and answers and to move on  to possibly develop conversations accurately.

We are basing these activities on our "Aliens at Carnival"  power point where we will investigated the language required to share some simple facts about a target language carnival -(the sounds , the sights,  the fun , the fancy dress etc).

We are going to create stage sets and put our "aliens on the stage" as puppets/ actors, which the teacher and the children can decide to make "live" ( spoken) performances between alien characters or "freeze frames" (written speech bubble) frozen conversations between two characters.

Here is a step by step guide top how I made my "stage set"

I printed off the stage set ,using a slide from our alien ppt.I think you just need to find a similar background colourful picture if you can't access the ppt

I cut the picture down to a square shape,folded the picture  to make the Triarama and inserted a cut from the bottom right hand corner to the centre of the square

With blu -tac(or with glue ) I crossed over the bottom left and right triangle to create the stage in my triarama.

I now printed off the ppt slide a second time, but this time on card and cut out two alien characters that I wanted to talk to each other on my stage set.I made sure that there was a small strip of empty card below their feet , so that I could fold this over and stand the characters upright on set and secure  the characters to the set with blu-tac.Blu-tac  so that I can change the characters and therefore move from questions and answers to a conversation and maybe introduce other characters too and asides and and additional opinions!

And now I thought of the text I wanted to write on two card speech bubbles.These are secured with blu-tac to the characters om the reverse of their heads so that I can change the questions and answers and again create a sequence of questions and answers that would in turn create a dialogue which could lead to a conversation .

Why do I like this and how might I take this further in KS2 learning?
  • Well this strikes me a s a learning device that can be used with children in KS2 who know basic questions and answers based around likes and dislikes.
  • It's a physical way of developing role plays that can be dynamic and can be changed and questions and answers altered,adapted  or given to other characters   
  • It can also be an opportunity to offer more independent speaking and writing opportunities to children to describe people,places and thing and to add opinions  
  • There is the opportunity here to set the scene, so one pair writes the speech bubbles and gives these to a second pair.The second pair reconstructs the dialogue using the  characters they have and creates the dynamic conversation using their characters and their triarama  stage set.

And in to KS3?
This could be an opportunity in Y7 to revisit the carnival and look again at the alien story of the carnival , but this time to write a past tense dialogues, asking what was seen, heard, eaten , likes, dislikes etc or a near future dialogue about what the characters are looking forward to seeing etc! 

Language Learning For Everyone:First Term's Report

It's been quite a term with our new project "Language Learning for Everyone"!
A successful, enjoyable and very busy term!

Thanks to all who have contributed and supported the project so far - here is a review of what we have achieved - as a partnership between WTSA and JLN - bringing together colleagues from our local North West area and helping to develop primary languages and Y6-Y7  links with high school modern foreign language departments.

During the term we have trained over 300 delegates from 152 schools across the North West Area.


In early September we held  our first leadership planning meeting for the WTSA /JLN. We were very clear that this project had to be very much "language learning for everyone" and  we had to make sure there was CPD to suit different needs and stages of language teaching and learning:CPD and support for the class teacher,the TA, the language specialist, the non-specialist, the coordinator, SLT, KS3 colleagues and local initial teacher trainees.....

Our project is very much teacher led with active primary practitioners taking more and more of a leading role as  the project progresses.
So our first step had to be to make sure that we up-skilled and shared good practice and made sure that we were confident and ready to lead or part-lead CPD.
We held our first training and sharing good practice day in early September too

  • We spent time considering and reflecting upon the teaching and learning of primary languages alongside the new DfE POS.
  • We considered in detail the role of the coordinator and our roles and responsibilities within this team of trainers to support individual schools. 
  • Then we were ready for a new year of primary languages teaching and learning and we were excited about being able to share our experiences with colleagues through teacher led CPD! 
You can meet the team here 
  • WTSA held a launch of the project "Language Learning for Everyone" breakfast briefing where delegates who attended  found out more about the project, how to access support and they were able to sample types of CPD we intend to offer.
  • WTSA contacted 700 schools across the target area and invited them to participate in the two year project 
  • Primary schools were invited to complete a questionnaire (5 minutes on Survey Monkey) so that CPD can be tailored to schools and individual teacher needs.You can access the questionnaire here

October to December Local Network Meetings

We have held eight local network meetings across the local target area in  Wigan, Warrington, Knowsley, St Helens, Halton,West Cheshire and Mid /East Cheshire.The meetings have been hosted by wonderful schools and staff and we have met teachers across the region.
We have really enjoyed meeting all the teachers who are keen to re-establish links or learn more about how to implement primary languages or become part of a supportive group .

Our first LNM was at Rainford CE in St Helens. Thanks to Steph Stewart at Rainford CE for helping to get the local network meetings rolling!

  • At each meeting there has been time to get to know each other and discuss local challenges with primary language teaching and learning.
  • We have established a pattern of considering specific elements of the requirements of the new DfE POS

  • We spend time to explore learning activities that can provide quality teaching and learning activities linked to objectives from the new DfE POS. 
  • Teachers have  the opportunity to engage with a range of resources ,activities  and native speaker  provided sound files for different stages of language learners.
"Super ideas to take back to the classroom and to use with both key stages!"
"Great to see there's support out there for beginning of the language journey,to spread this throughout a team of teachers!"
Brilliant ideas and clearly delivered!Great to go through the DfE document.Really good to establish a local network."
  • The activities so far have been based on "Fantastic Fireworks" and "Christmas and all that Jazz".We have taken care to share ideas that allow for progression in language learning and that can be easily used by all colleagues.Ideas and activities are downloadable and some of the activities can also be accessed on the Primary Language Learning Today blog for example: 

All our resources and materials are being collated and shared here and will be accessible throughout the whole project on this training resources' page.

Teacher led CPD 
As the networks grow we are finding new colleagues to work alongside us to support the training and CPD of teachers .
Here is Jo Hilton at Kingsmead CP, now working with us as a network coordinator for Mid Cheshire.Jo was sharing some ideas based on triaramas and Italian language learning.

The local network coordinators are now establishing their networks:

St Helens: Claire Deprez
Mid Cheshire: Jo Hilton 
Halton: Jayne Dewsnip
Knowsley:  Emilie Woodruffe 
West Cheshire: Rob Hughes 
Wigan/Bolton: Catherine Simms and Joanne Hornby
Warrington: Janet Lloyd

The dates of LNMs can be accessed here in the left hand menu bar

Language Upskilling
We have held three Beginners French CPD sessions and one Beginners Spanish CPD session and an Intermediate French CPD session.

All the sessions are delivered currently by Janet Lloyd and either Emilie Woodruffe or Ana Garcia. Having native speakers working alongside a trainer really helps delegates build their own confidence.Here is the reaction from one delegate at Beginners Spanish:

"Lovely to speak with native speaker .Ana!"  

Next term Emilie will run the Beginners French as the trainer and Barbara Foerster and Janet Lloyd will offer twilight German beginners CPD. So next term we will be offering French,Spanish and German CPD!

The comments in the evaluations of CPD show us that the sessions are helping teachers to have a better understanding of the language  and we are pleased  to see that the teachers have chosen the relevant training for their own ability in the language.

"Exactly what I needed, looking forward to Intermediate up-skilling in December. Will be recommending training to colleagues. Many thanks"

"Enjoyed interactive activities / games / songs that can be applied in the classroom, good to be able to ask questions to French speakers, good to see how to access materials"

"Fabulous, great reinforcement of key elements of Year 3 SOW. Very enjoyable afternoon session. Thanks"

"Beginning to feel a bit less overwhelming - thank you, excellent"

"Fabulous - really practical ideas, loved hearing pronunciations (authentic), super resources"

"Wonderful - useful language & pronunciation. Lots of ideas to engage children"

We start our Beginners French and Spanish with greetings,numbers and colours and finish our beginners session with a look at nouns.
Here is a sample activity

We start our Intermediate French with question and answer forms and then move on to a more focused look at nouns,adjectives and some commonly used verbs.

"Much improved understanding of grammar! Merci!"
"CPD delivered in a super informative and enjoyable way!"
"Excellent ideas for teaching grammar"
"Nice to know I am doing the right things!"
"Very helpful and makes an area that can be quite scary more accessible and exciting!"
"Really informative,great lesson ideas,broken down into manageable chunks. "

Here are some sample activities 
Rudolph and your nose so bright

For all the language up-skilling delegates we have set up pinterest boards so that everyone can access additional materials and support.These boards will be added to as the two year project progresses. All you need to do is go to the home page of JLN and click on the pinterest link and select the correct board: Beginners French/ Beginners Spanish and Intermediate French. 

The courses mentioned above plus intermediate Spanish and a German twilight CPD are scheduled again next term and you can find out more here. Hope you can join us!

Pedagogy and the new DfE POS for languages

This term there have been two "Fit for Purpose" twilights in Warrington and in Nantwich, both well attended.The aims of the sessions are to support coordinators  and high school colleagues working with KS2 to consider the strategic planning in school to meet the requirements of the new POS and to ensure sustainable language learning in place in school.What is really pleasing,is to be able to train KS2 and KS3 colleagues together.

"super insight into POS and assessment"

"Just what I needed to consider next steps"
Very useful and online resources will be very helpful to guide me 
in direction for language learning"
"Really informative.Lots of ideas to help enhance MFL in school."

Now we are ready for next term and our "progression" CPD,looking at building progress across KS2 and into KS3 to help schools ensure that they can "lay the foundations" that KS3 "can build upon".

Looking at the foundations we are building in KS2 and supporting KS3 to be able to build sustainable and effective links in Year 7.
The project has allowed us to work alongside Penketh High School to investigate how we can develop shared language learning tools that benefit Y7 KS3 language learning.

A wonderful secondary colleague Jo Gierl,ex HOD  at the school,now works with us one afternoon a week in KS2 teaching Y6 French and is working with Janet Lloyd to investigate positive ways forward with KS2 - KS3 language learning.

Jo is writing a blog of her experiences.This term she has reflected upon her own skills as a KS2- KS3 teacher. She has observed and considered three primary language lessons French, German and Spanish in local schools. She has met and discussed challenges and issues with local HODs and has begun a blog on her investigations. Her blog is called MFL: From Primary to Secondary bridging the Gap.She will be drawing upon her growing knowledge and experience and the work she has completed this term to support KS3 colleagues to consider ways to bridge any gaps between KS2 and KS3. The first KS3 twilight will be on 10 February at Penketh High School.This will be the first twilight seminar for KS3 colleagues to share their current position with regard to KS2 - KS3 language learning challenges. 

Bridging the Gap Joint CPD Sessions 

During the course of the project we will host "Bridging the Gap" CPD sessions where we hope to bring together primary and secondary colleagues to look at the ways to "bridge that gap"!

We held our first twilight bridging the gap session in December - thanks to Joe Dale and his CPD on "Using APPS and technology in MFL. We shared Joe's notes and APP links here 

55 colleagues attended the CPD from primary ,secondary and ITT and we set the ball rolling for cluster contact and CPD using APPs and technology in language learning.

This blog post APPS and achievable links between KS2 and KS3 language learning will hopefully allow colleagues to begin to explore ways forward.

"Great training that was useful and applicable in our schools"
"A useful insight into using APPs as part of an assessment tool within Primary MFL.Will certainly be incorporating them into lessons"
"Excellent ideas for APPs and ideas to link with the local high school" 

Quite a first term! Once again thank you to everyone who has been involved, attended, showed positive interest and hopefully enjoyed building new links!  

It all starts again in Spring Term 2015, we look forward to meeting you  and working with everyone!

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!

The washing machine grammar device

It's almost time to go back to school - some people may already be there!
Twitter continues to throw up wonderful ideas and yesterday I found this brilliant young primary teacher's tweet,sharing his creation of a "prize box/super wish-wash miracle machine" Thanks Craig Birch for your great idea and look forward to following you on twitter  @TheMrBirch

So how do I think we can use this idea during the course of the year. 
Firstly I love it when there is a tool or device that can be used over and over again to explore a specific concept or to use a familiar tool or device to explore new ideas. Children love the familiarity too - it gives them something to hold on to!

Here is the "prize box/super wish-wash miracle machine" that Craig Birch shared......

It's a cardboard box that looks like a washing machine  and it's going to be a "super wish-wash word miracle machine" that can be used in lots of different ways to help UKS2 children  create sentences and texts in primary languages
It's a different device to practice age old sentence construction in a target language. The activities aren't ground breaking but the device adds a new dimension! 

Why do I want to try this? Well so often in my opinion children are fine at taking in and recalling words but when the "moving on and mixing up content elements" take place i.e.the construction of target language sentences or texts with an element of the unknown thrown in for good measure  then a lot of children (indeed adults!) panic.Perhaps that's why I like the idea of the washing machine - it's a different approach.It's entertaining and purposeful and it may perhaps help to stop some of those mental blocks..............

Here are my ideas:

  1. Putting  the washing in...simply going on a washing hunt,where just like you only put in the "whites" or "woollens" when washing,we only want to put in the adjectives or the nouns we can find in a text.All the children need to do is read a text,locate the key component(s) as defined by the teacher e.g verbs,write them on pieces of paper fold them up and add them to the washing.
  2. Taking the washing out - well then we can take out the washing and check if any "nouns etc" got in our "verbs" wash.
  3. Sorting the washing- maybe the activity is based on a basket of cards with words written on them and the children have to sort the washing . Only put nouns and adjectives in the awash or only put in verbs and personal pronouns. when the washing is complete, can the children create pairs (just like pairs of socks) but this time it will be matching adjectives to nouns or personal pronouns to parts of verbs   
  4. Sentence making - ask children to find and bring to you key parts of a sentence that you have pinned or blu-tacked around the room e.g. ask the children to find for you the nouns/ the adjectives/ the verbs/ the personal pronouns.Invite children to add the individual components to the "wish wash machine" and hang up your washing line- an item most primary classrooms already possesses! Count to ten and then one by one bring out the cards and ask the children to help you to create a sentence or sentences on your washing order so that it makes sense.
  5. Programme the washing machine- why not have a menu of programmes (simply written on the front of the machine)- sentences/ verbs/ imperatives/adjectives and nouns/ tenses (present, near future)? You can bring the washing machine out and add words, select the programme cycle and then challenge groups of children to take out the "washing" and put the washing together so that it matches the selected programme.  
  6. Miracle theme washing powder! Craig's name for his machine has an element of surprise to it I feel and so I think we can add miracle washing powder to our wash?!Whatever we have put in the machine when we hang out the washing to dry, the miracle washing powder gives us the confidence to be able to reconstruct a dialogue with punctuation pegs or put together a poem that rhymes- just using the word cards that we put into our washing machine!
So thanks to Craig and his brilliant tweet... I now have a new approach to reinforcing grammatical points, to sentence and text construction in the target language and a simple cardboard box that has become my re-usable and fun focus device the  "super wish-wash word miracle machine"!

Something old ,something new

I have called this blog "something old, something new" because the new DfE POS certainly has elements of the previous approach to primary language learning and also has laid down a requirement that there is joined up thinking between KS2 and KS3
There are few new tools but there are new challenges 
There is little new direct advice but there are documents and measures we can use to see how the development of this new seven year language learning continuum develops in individual schools.Below is one possible solution to getting the message out there loud and clear and supporting/ being able then to offer strategic support to local colleagues who need to grapple the new challenges. 

A few months ago one of our local schools shared with me a grid of subject self evaluation descriptors for foreign languages.
The grids were taken from the descriptors that some of us were already familiar with from the subject specific grade criteria on the OfSted website.
What I found interesting was that the school wanted to consider their own progress in primary language learning against this grid . It was probably the first time that the school had been made aware of self evaluation descriptors for primary language learning and the subject coordinator wanted to use these to monitor her own strategic progress and how well the school was addressing the requirements of language learning in the school.
At first I was concerned - concerned for those who haven't started and concerned for those who may find some of the descriptors challenging .
So I contacted Elaine Taylor, HMI,National Lead for Modern Languages,  and asked her for her advice. Should I share these descriptors with my local network schools? Below is her initial response.

This document is nothing new. It is the subject specific grade criteria that have been around for years, but they have been presented differently - in a grid. They are free on the Ofsted website.

The statements are aspirational, but they have the health-warning that they be used as ‘appropriate to the age of the pupils concerned’. They are emphatically NOT to be used in inspections, so the interpretation of ‘appropriate’ is up to the school. The accompanying notes state: ‘It is important to note that this guidance is intended only to inform the judgements made by specialist inspectors carrying out subject survey visits. It is not for use on section 5 whole-school inspections.’ There are not likely to be any subject inspections in foundation subjects for the foreseeable future.

After reading her advice I decided that schools did need to be aware or reminded of these descriptors and that the primary colleagues I work with would want to have or be aware of strategic guidance.
What I didn't want to do was over egg or frighten schools as they grappled with first steps or next steps in primary language learning.

Below is a check list questionnaire I generated from some of the descriptors to help schools to consider whereabouts they would put themselves using OfSted criteria in the development of primary language learning.I have found that this has become a useful document to develop dialogue with SLT and coordinators and to support and guide colleagues to determine next steps.It works best where contact already exists and a good working relationship  has been established. 
I always share with them Elaine's comment above and make it clear that these are descriptors to be used as guidelines taken from a much larger document and should not currently be used in an inspection.It is also really important that as Elaine points out the descriptors are considered in an age appropriate context , which in my opinion means also a stage appropriate context too.

SLT are not daunted or frightened if you ask them to identify where they are currently and what their own next three or four steps from the questionnaire. 
They welcome the fact that they have something on which to build their own individual school's strategic language  learning development and feel that the descriptors allow for profitable exchanges,conversations and next steps  between SLT and subject coordinators and then also between subject coordinators and staff.What is very important is that the school considers the points as appropriate to the school itself.We can offer solutions ,support,networking and we share the good practice we find so the document becomes a two way conversation and not purely a focus on what still needs to be done.In every school there are SLT,teachers, teaching assistants and governors- non specialist and specialist language teachers alike- who bring language knowledge, great ideas and good pedagogical approaches to language learning.In every school there are instances where guidance and support from in house,within the network or beyond is required.  

Here are the main points and statements I selected.Certain points needed adaptation for example "inter" cultural understanding as the new DfE POS talks about culture rather than inter-cultural understanding.

Teachers communicate the value of modern languages to pupils very effectively.
Planning is informed by a good level of subject expertise.
Teachers routinely use the target language for classroom communication and generally insist on pupils responding in the language.
Pupils willingly participate in activities that require them to use the language to communicate orally and in writing as a result of good teaching.
Text is used well to improve pupils’ pronunciation and as a ‘cue’ for speaking and writing. Imaginative use is made of a breadth of listening materials to develop pupils’ understanding of the spoken word.
Reading is used to develop (inter)cultural understanding and pupils read for pleasure.
Curriculum planning is responsive to pupils’ prior learning, including for pupils transferring from primary to secondary schools.
The curriculum is broad, balanced and well informed by current initiatives in modern languages .
Curriculum planning ensures pupils have opportunities to develop all four skills equally. All pupils are provided with first-hand experience of the culture of the country where the language is spoken through visits or visitors or through the use of ICT.
Pupils’ learning is enhanced through productive links with other subjects.
Leadership is well-informed by current developments in the subject.
Subject leaders encourage other stakeholders to make a positive contribution to the promotion of language learning.
The subject makes a good contribution to whole-school priorities, including literacy and numeracy policies.

The descriptors in yellow create purposeful discussion from the outset:
  • Are SLT aware of the new DfE POS and the demands of the new curriculum?
  • How can we make all staff  aware of the importance of learning an language. How can we support staff to find ways to celebrate what their children are learning in a language even if they themselves are the not the deliverer of the language teaching and learning?  
  • How can all staff promote language learning and be aware of the activities and progress the children make?(This can be in the way they watch, listen or ask the children to share an activity they have practised with a language teacher or because they themselves are teaching the language learning).
  • How an the learning environment in the classrooms promote languages? Perhaps this will be appropriate for the age ,stage and teacher's approach through display, reading corner access to text,use of songs and games as five minute follow up activities, revisiting spoken language with sound files, class assembly focuses etc.This is important in my opinion  particularly if the school opts for a visiting teacher to deliver primary languages.
  • Are the teachers of language learning in  school aware that children need to make equal progress in speaking and writing in the new DfE POS.Do the teachers feel confident to explain and teach grammar in an age and stage appropriate manner.What will progress look like in language learning and how will children , teachers and SLT be made aware of progress?
  • What does substantial progress should look like in pupils' learning?
  • Both primary and high schools need to take stock.What has happened before?What languages might they meet in KS3 and KS4 ?Are schools aware at KS2 and KS3 that in primary language learning is asked to lay foundations of language learning and at KS3 colleagues should build upon the foundations even if there is a change to another language?
  • What skill development is taking place ? Do schools have guidance to support the development of skills in a language learner and where can support be accessed and utilised? 
This is dialogue document I am finding generates purposeful discussion and allows primary schools ownership of next steps.Used properly and strategically it can allow the school to move forward with their implementation of language learning.It's a document which  needs to be shared with staff and with visiting teachers and language assistants to enable a clear  path in language teaching and learning to develop.
It's about using what exists to support schools to find ways forward and in lots of cases to celebrate  what they are already striving to achieve.

So how do we work together to address or enhance descriptors above? Take a look here

Abstract art and beginners target language learning.

Sometimes the simplest things inspire! Take  a look at this simple but wonderful book that I have just bought  myself ! I love "Art" and particularly abstract art. 

Simple ideas that many of us already consider and ways that many of us already plan for and use to generate additional language learning.These ideas work just as well where the class teacher delivers the language learning or where the class teacher engages with the languages teacher, be it a visiting teacher or a PPA swap.In these instances there is definitely the scope to add five and ten minute "class teacher ownership " learning opportunities.Why not go cross curricular?

So how do the book at the top of this blog and the article about time allocation link together? Well this book is just one example of how we can create effective cross curricular links with language learning ,.... (and possibly use authentic target language literature as well)

Take a look inside! Go to here

30 cercles

 and get a taste for this very simple book which could be used in target language learning for five minute additional activities to 

  • practise numbers, (Maths)

  • colours, size, (Maths)

  • commands like "find","touch","draw" (classroom communication skills)

  • explore famous Art and artists. (Art)

For example why not google the paintings mentioned here

Vassily Kandinsky cercles concentriques 1913 (concentric circles)

Kasimir Malevitch cercle noir vers 1923 (black circles)

I am certain that primary minds are now buzzing... why not create your own abstract art books with colours or squares or lines?????

Mondrian comes to mine and Kandinsky once again....

Steps and stages to the use of monolingual dictionaries

An interesting debate has started this morning on Twitter via @vallesco (find out more here) about children learning how to use monolingual dictionaries in target language learning in KS2 foreign language learning.Fascinating!

As with all things new and certainly in primary languages I think we need to unpack the sequence and stages of the skills required to use a monolingual dictionary. We need to consider the limitations of language and the stages of  skill development so that as many of the children as possible can use a monolingual dictionary in the target language successfully with limited confusion! 

It's surely about steps and stages! 

Do we need to learn from  primary colleagues approaches to introducing young learners to monolingual dictionaries in Literacy?Are there approaches and strategies we can copy and transfer to primary foreign languages and using a mono-lingual dictionary? 

I remember observing a KS1 Year 1 teacher working with the class on dictionary skills. she waited and timed the looking up of words at just  the right time. She supported children to make sure all children were engaged and could access new words and most of all she made it into a special quest... the start of a new  way of exploring words and finding words.

Well planned for steps and the stages in the skill development of accessing a target language mono lingual dictionary will support our learners from beginners to moving on to advanced learners.As a class primary languages' teacher you will know when to reinforce, move on etc and which content and contexts lend themselves to you revisiting the steps. Slow and sure steps,revisiting the activities,making activities games with a purpose will help to develop secure understanding and skills.

Step One (beginners- very limited language)

Seeing the target language word and identifying it non-verbally as the object or descriptive word or verb etc.Organising the words alphabetically .Able to recall target language words they want to define or find out more about  able to look up words alphabetically.

Why? Well isn't there a skill to seeing that the word has meaning and that the picture defines the meaning or helps us to understand the true meaning of the word and it's use in a sentence.Won't this enable the learners to see that as well as collecting vocabulary and content ,we are looking for reinforcement of what we think the meaning of a word or phrase or sentence may be?

How  can we help the children to achieve this first step? 
Here are a few suggestions that come to mind that work and are very familiar activities in the primary languages classroom to practise and learn vocabulary! 

Matching words and pictures
  • playing games such as Splat as pair,table and class games 
  • generating a Splat game of their own- where the children have to decide which words , which picture definitions and also perhaps which alphabetical order or pattern they want to lay out their game.

Developing dictionary skills with pelmanism card games 
  • simple pair pelmanism games, where there has been prior discussion of how we make visual definition pictures in our heads of the meaning of words.
  • a pelmanism card gallery- simply laying out the cards from the game above as word-picture and again encouraging the children to place the words in alphabetical order.
  • a pelmanism card gallery challenge.Ask the children to turn over the picture cards- picture side down- and leave just the words in alphabetical order.Show the class a picture card. Can they recall the word, say it  and locate it? Which is the fastest and the slowest pair to do so?  

Word ladders
  • constructing a velcro class ladder of target language nouns/adjectives/ verbs and pictures that the Year 3 (stage one learners) can access and arrange.Muddle them up at the end of the day and let the children try it again the following day.  
  • an alphabetical velcro class ladder - with a mix of nouns,adjectives and verbs takes this a step further...simply add A at the top and Z at the bottom
Picture dictionaries
  • target language picture dictionaries in the reading corner and accessed as table top books or for independent reading
  • mini book picture dictionaries made by the children- in alphabetical order 
  • lift the flap picture and noun/adjective /verb books constructed by the children and shared with others in the class- of course in dictionary alphabetical order!

Lightbulblanguages (@vallesco) have now created two mono-lingual picture dictionaries on numbers and colours with can be accessed on-line as a turning page book. Inspriation perhaps for your own class turn the page online dictionaries too? Take a look monolingual dictionaries in Spanish

Step Two (moving on learners- able to understand and use simple present tense sentences)

Looking up the target language word and being able to locate it alphabetically and understand a simple definition.

Why? May this help our learners to be able to describe an item for which they don't know the word? May it hep our learners to check spelling of the key word?

How  can we help the children to achieve this second step? 

Here are a few suggestions that come to mind that work! 
  • Matching meaning:matching the nouns/adjectives and verbs with very simple present tense target language descriptions(for example we teach animals in Year 3 and animal noises ... so in at the end of year 3 or in Year 4 let's revisit familiar language creating simple descriptions)


le chien  
il a quatre pattes et fait ouaf ouaf!
  • Play this as a challenge game of  "The word in the corner" Give a table or a pair a  key description.Can they read it?Can they identify the target language word and locate it in one of the corners in the room where you have blu-tacked in each corner four or five key words.Each correct selection wins points!
  • Now swap the activity around. Give the children key words and send them on a treasure hunt for meanings  to collect the meanings of the words that are posted around the room.  
  • Make it a spoken challenge Call my Bluff .Offer three descriptions and only one matches the key noun/adjective or verb.These can be very different descriptions where two are obviously wrong but as the children develop their knowledge of language, pop two descrptions in which are quite similar but only one is correct  
le chien  
il a trois pattes et fait ouaf ouaf!

le chien  
il a quatre pattes et fait ouaf ouaf!
  • Create Call my bluff flap books- three descriptions on top of flaps and only one flap reveals the picture of the noun/adjective /verb.This is a  pair to pair challenge - where one pair creates a call my bluff flap game for the other pair and vice versa. Share the flap books and the challenges with the whole class via a class display.
  • Again increase the degree of challenge by asking the children to create three very similar descriptions but only one being exactly correct

Link this to wonderful story books where the children are posed a question and have to anticipate the key noun or adjective that is revealed under a flap or on the next page.

Step Three (advanced learners- UKS2 secure young language learners)

Looking up the target language word in a monolingual dictionary and being able to understand simple definitions and find out the grammatical information about that word to use it correctly).

Why?The children will have been using bi-lingual dictionaries to find words from English to the target language and for cross reference of words and will have been developing these skills throughout KS2. Now is the time to begin to share with the children the treasure trove of information about words that can be fond in a monolingual dictionary in the target language . they can make comparisons and see similarities between the mono lingual use of dictionaries in English communication and  in foreign language communication.

Maybe we need to start here with a monolingual child friendly picture dictionary that is context driven.....

...... before jumping off at the deep end and looking at monolingual dictionaries for children. Just one between the class allows the chldren to make the step between games to practise dictionary skills and applying skills to a monolingual dictionary.

Introduce the children to mono- lingual dictionaries, sharing a visual from a mono lingual dictionary on the big class screen or whiteboard.

Can the children help you by becoming "word spotters!"(The children may also need access to some bilingual dictionaries to support them to understand all the words in the definition) Circle the word being defined, underline the words we immediately recognise in the definition, nominate a bilingual referee - that's a child who checks  in a bilingual dictionary any key  words we struggle to understand in the monolingual dictionary definition. 

When the children are introduced as a whole class to the "class monolingual dictionary" which can be kept for reference alongside the other class dictionaries,again share by big screen or large copy a page .Go structure spotting. Identify and discuss other key points such as (plural in brackets) (gender and definite article)( how do we denote if the word is a noun/adjective or verb?).Keep a tally of how many verbs, nouns, adjectives you can see on the page.

Let's make our own!
Let's consolidate the skills and the specific format knowledge we now have .... 
alphabetical , 
short precise definitions, 
grammatical category identified
plural spelling shared

Can the children make their own mini books as mono-lingual dictionaries focusing on specific content e.g. clothes or food would be good content. 
Allow them to write very simple sentences using language they have met through their language learning career so far.

It has two sleeves and  buttons. I wear it when it's raining : rain coat 


It has two sleeves. It is warm and woollen. I wear it when it is cold : jumper

Ask the children to make sure their monolingual dictionaries look the part! 
Is it alphabetical?
Can we see if the words are nouns,adjectives, verbs etc. Can they add the plural spelling .Add challenge....can they write an example sentence to explain the word's use?

Step Four (advanced learners, ready to move in to KS3)

Monolingual  dictionary explorers!

Looking up the target language word in a monolingual dictionary and being able to understand simple definitions and find out the grammatical information about that word to use it correctly and independently.

Your class is now ready to go off on an key word expedition to find key words and come back and share these with the class!
They must be set tasks to find a useful adjective, a useful  new noun and an exciting verb. 
Send them off to the monolingual dictionary in pairs or small groups in the reading corner.
Can they read the definitions? 

They must return from their expeditions with completed word cards that they have written out clearly- that have on them the nouns or adjectives or verbs as they found them in the dictionary, plus a separate card with the definition written out in the target language. 

Now they must act out the definitions and ask their class mates to read and match the key words and written descriptions from the visual performance they watch?
Can they then share a spoken sentence or a sequence of sentences that contain their noun, verb and adjective?

Grammar and language learning. Bringing it altogether

Over the last academic year and within our network we have been considering the requirements of the new PoS
One of the key elements that we have begun to address is the need to develop an understanding of how to deliver grammar with our young language learners and how to support all teachers who may be delivering primary languages with this.

In KS2,the new DfE POS expects young learners to..... 

 "understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including(where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English."

Last week was the first of two Subject Coordinator sessions where we brought together what we have learned about Grammar in the context of the primary learning environment
We want it to be ……..
  • appropriate and part of good primary  teaching and learning practice
  • clear and useful for the age and stage of the learner
  • inclusive and offer all the children the chance  to make progress and move from using words to construction meaningful sentences
  • structure and planned for and have clear links with primary  focuses on structure and grammar in English
  • supportive of their  growing knowledge of grammatical structures and terminology 
  • effective and enable the learners to apply rules to the new target language successfully 
  • creative and active so that the learning is meaningful and memorable.
To this end the Grammar Stepping Stones  created earlier in the academic year can help to guide us toward meaningful and stage appropriate exploration of grammar that the class teacher can deliver or support with. The  Grammar Stepping Stones are written in the voice of the child learner to remind us of the developmental stage these young children are at in their own understanding of how languages function.

So the Grammar Stepping Stones can guide us but how do we support staff who feel lacking in confidence? Well last week in discussion with a young coordinator we discussed a post box system. The  post box means that staff and children can post a question or a perhaps the solution they have come to in target language post box and receive a clear answer from the teacher or teaching assistant in school who has a better understanding of the basic grammar conumdrum they have. This certainly works where the subject coordinator takes time to upskill themselves or has the knowledge already but isn’t teaching in every classroom and year group . This will  also work well where a visiting teacher delivers language learning or the school has an FLA. Not every question and query will happen during direct language teaching and learning. Want to know more then have a look here.

We are finding that the grammar learning journey is creative and exciting and supports and underpins children’s growing understanding of the grammar and structure of English and their other home languages.Have a listen the wizard's potion here 

This is our timetable for Grammar over four years .
It doesn’t mean we don’t touch on the specific areas in other year groups or at different stages but this seems to be developing as our most natural fit.

Year 3 /Stage 1
Year 4 /Stage 2
Year 5 / Stage 3
Year 6/Stage 4  




Verbal phrases

How are we trying to keep it primary, effective and creative?
It’s through games, exploration, meaningful contexts using familiar language and children being language detectives. Children are demonstrating that they are enjoying physically participating and using the visual to find solutions and to show their understanding.
So bringing it so far altogether ….Here are some of the techniques and activities we have used or are trialling this year in the network.Click on the links to read more! 

Treasure chests (also look at the blog post Ready, Steady, Go!)

Advanced adjective fisherman's trawl ( using verbal phrases)
Creating magic with personalities  :Agreement of adjectives when describing a male or a female person

Wizard's potion  (verb- to have)
Cinderella  masked ball (verb- to be )
3D Art  ( the verb- to be called) 
Personal Pronouns.
Personal Pronoun Photo Shoots


Being creative and playing with structure
Simile silhouette sentences

Moving potentially in Year 6 to talk about events that have happened in the past.
Playing with the simple past tense and watching the world go by

I am sure that we will find more ways of working with the grammar we intend to cover and will add to this blog as we go along , however hopefully the activities above will support teachers in developing primary creative approaches to the new focus on structure  of the target language. 

Making a drama out of grammar (1)

I am passionate about the use of drama to explore and consolidate language learning.Over the course of this academic year I have been considering ways to use drama to practise and consolidate young learners knowledge of grammar in a target language.This is my first bulletin on simple drama activities linked to grammar in the target language.

I think that drama can help the primary child to meet the demand below of the new POS for languages at KS2......

"understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including(where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English."

On 17 June we will be holding our annual network conference.I will be encouraging teachers to consider simple ways to engage children in the physical  learning, practising and reinforcement of simple grammatical structures through drama and performance.

Here are a few simple ideas for you may like to try to out with your young learners and encourage them to use their bodies and imaginations to bring grammar to life!

They are simple performance activities that can be attempted either in the classroom or in a hall space or in the playground.


Noun Collectors

In the early stages of learning a language we introduce children to collections of nouns. 

Can we engage the children with the collections of nouns and understand the ways we can use these?

Noun collector nets (learning and recalling nouns)

1 .Practise the key nouns related to the content and context focus with your class

2. Encourage the children to hold an imaginary net (like a butterfly net). Can they either stand up away from their chairs or move   freely around the room or the hall and catch the nouns you have practised one by one. 

  • What do the nouns sound like as they are caught- are they long words, soft words, large words, squeaky words etc? 
  • What do the nouns look like? Are they nouns high up in the air they are hard to catch as they float by or are they nouns to be found sliding along the floor or hiding around a corner or under a chair ? 
The children’s voices and actions and ways they catch the nouns in their imaginary nets should reflect how they hear and perceive/ see the nouns in their minds.

3. Can the children share their nouns  that they have caught in their nets with a partner?Each noun should be released from the net as an action and a sound and should disappear back into space as they were found e.g.floating away, under a chair , hiding , sliding quickly away.

Noun collector’s treasure (masculine , feminine , neuter)

  1. Practise the key nouns related to the content and context focus with your class.

  1. The children work in pairs with the written nouns on cards and they must fill their own treasure boxes with these precious nouns
  2. The children could pretend to be pirates or Kings or millionaires. What they must demonstrate is how much they "treasure" their items and want to put them away carefully - just like we need to store the nouns carefully in our memories and remember the genders of the nouns correctly.They have two imaginary treasure boxes in French and Spanish and three imaginary treasure boxes in German( masculine, feminine and neuter singular). One child mimes the noun on the card and the second child must remember if it is masculine, feminine or neuter and place the treasure (as if it was the object) itself into the correct treasure box. Children might need to wrestle with jungle animals, or carry food items carefully … without eating them   or fold up clothes items appropriately etc .The children should swap roles every third noun.
  3. You can use this activity with singular and plural or with indefinite articles too.


Adjective actors

As the children develop in their language learning from stage one into stage two of language learners they l begin to create simple sentences describing objects. 
Can we encourage the children to internalise and recall key adjectives through physical performance? 
Can we allow the children to physically explore and demonstrate how adjectives change depending on what type of noun they are describing?

A fisherman’s trawl of adjectives 

1.     Working in a large space,paste six to eight adjective word cards on a wall opposite to where the children are standing in pairs.The children should work on this activity with their partner. Each partner takes it in turn to pull in their "imaginary" fisherman’s net and share with their partner the adjective they have caught. This child reads silently all the adjective cards and selects the adjective that he/ she wants to catch and pull toward their partner in the imaginary net.To do this he/she will need to pull the net at least four times towards themselves and after each pull must portray by actions and sounds a meaning of the adjective e.g. cold ( shivering then saying “brrr” then putting on a piece of warm clothing then rubbing and blowing on their hands) . 

    Can the other partner guess, identify on the cards and say the key adjective as the imaginary net is pulled right up next to them? 
    The children then swap roles and pull in another net with an adjective they have “caught”

2.Make this a more challenging activity by mixing up noun and  adjective cards on the wall opposite the children . Can the child who has to perform the mime , select an adjective from the nouns and adjectives they can see?Can s/he mime this for the partner and can the partner go to the wall and select/point at / write down or collect the correct word card for their fisherman's net.

3. Make this two team race- who can collect all their adjectives first? 

If you enjoy these activities with your beginner learners then maybe you can revisit the activity with more challenge later in their language learning development . Take a look here at Advanced adjective fisherman's trawl

Different sides of an adjective.

  1. Once you have practised with the children the agreement of adjectives with masculine , feminine , singular , plural nouns ( and in German neuter nouns) the children will be able to take part in this four sided activity.

  1. Divide your children into groups of four. Ask them to stand in a square facing outwards. Each group of four is working in the first instance with one noun e.g. if you have been looking at clothes then each group has a clothes item. They must create a moving 4D image of the noun and four adjectives that can be used with then noun. Each child in the square is responsible for the performance and the utterance of the noun with their adjective. Remind children to think carefully whether the noun is masculine, feminine, neuter, singular or plural. Remind them that you will need to hear the correct agreements on the adjectives.
  2. Now swap the activity over. Give the groups one adjective and four pictures of items (e.g. animals/furniture/foods)   – each one is a different gender or singular/ plural. Can they create a speaking sculpture of their adjective used with different nouns? Each member of the sculpture is responsible for the spoken utterance of one of the nouns and the adjective with correct agreement and the performance and depiction of the noun and the adjective.
  3. There is an opportunity here to film the performances and fade one performance into another so we see and hear four “different” sides of an adjective!


Across the four years of KS2 children will come in to contact with verbs.There are  many ways that we can explore verbs through drama. Here are two simple examples to use verbs physically in drama and language activities.

Powerhouse Machine Imperatives!

1.Practise verbs of action – run, jump, hop, skip, dance, walk with the  children
2. In groups of six ask them to create a “powerhouse machine “. The machine must move around and must be made up of the imperatives and the actions and the sound of the actions. The children can use one action as many times as they want but all actions must be included.How high ,low, far, fast and slowly can their powerhouse machines move? All six children must be included in the performance.
3. Share this with the class
4. Join the machines together and create a class powerhouse machine!

Robot routines

  1. Practise with the children the phrases they would need to use to describe a sequence of activities they may participate in e.g.own daily routine in the morning or activities on a day trip to the beach.
  2. Sit two children opposite each other and ask one child to be in control of the daily routine phrases they want to say.This child needs to say a sequence of sentences describing specific activities.
  3. Can the partner respond with the correct actions? 
  4. Can the partner then remember and repeat the sequence of phrases with the correct actions. This child is now "the robot"-programmed by the first child.
  5. Can the robot adapt the actions and the phrases to generate a robotic type speech and actions?
  6. Can the robot move to another partner and share the sequence with the new partner who then adapts the sequence back to a human voice and human actions?

city running commentary

This half term with Year 5 in French, Spanish and German we will be working on language we may need if we visit the target language country .We will make virtual tours of a famous city and explore the sights and buildings of the cities.

We go to Paris , Sevilla and Berlin.

I have used this idea of a running commentary with KS2, KS3,KS4 and also with adult intermediate learners at primary French Upskilling that we offer as part of our network support.

It can be organised and delivered on a variety of grammatical levels. 

  • To recap familiar nouns
  • To practise adjectives
  • To create a present tense description of a city using the phrase in the target language for  “there is / there are…”
  • To give directions and add prepositions of place to descriptions
  • To talk about a virtual visit you have made etc
Take a look at this famous you tube clip of a tour of Paris: 

Here’s how we will be using this activity with our Year 5 and our intermediate French upskilling group this half term…….

 Stage One
Let your pupils or students watch the clip and enjoy the sights and the sounds.

Stage Two

Now all you need to do is create cards that have the key nouns for the buildings you can see in the clip. 

Here are three French examples

Le pont
Les magasins

With beginners I would use maximum of 10 cards and we would have talked about the cards and what they could mean first. With Year 5 and intermediate adult learners we would look up unfamiliar nouns   in a bilingual dictionary and discuss gender and whether the nouns we can see on the cards are singular or plural.
If you colour code the words they can see the patterns more clearly e.g. green for masculine singular / blue for feminine singular nouns/red for plural nouns/
Ask your learners to familiarise themselves with all the key nouns which they have spread out in front of them on the desk.

Stage Three
Now play the clip again! Can the pupils sort the noun cards into the order they see them or notice them in the video clip?
Here is the Spanish clip we will use:

Stage Four
Ask the pupils to work in pairs and share their order with a second person, comparing their orders. They will need to use the phrase for there is / there are (il y a …../hay……/es gibt …….)
It’s not a case of being right or wrong as they may have missed an item the first time it appears on the screen.

Stage Five

Can the pupils now change the nouns in the descriptions they have created from definite article nouns to indefinite article nouns. 
Share examples they will need – masculine singular/ feminine singular and plural indefinite articles.

Stage Six
Now play it again Sam! 
Here is our German video selection for a tour of Berlin: 

Invite volunteers to create the running commentary for the video clip. 

Turn down the sound and the volunteer just like a tour guide should describe what they can see, using their descriptions and saying the key phrases as they see the items on the screen.

Further Development?

This activity could be an activity that bridges the gap between UKS2 and KS3 because in KS2 we could add adjectives, directions or add prepositions to develop and enhance our descriptions.

And in KS3 there’s the opportunity to use a familiar resource, familiar nouns and a familiar activity to , change tenses  , create dialogues, add adjectives  and intensifiers, create more complex sentences using relative clauses and make comparisons .

Thanks go to Julie Prince too @PrinceLanguages who alerted me to these wonderful city tours to the tune of Happy 
Take a tour round  Paris and Sevilla!