Conjugating a verb : A Verb Artist Talk Walk

So we are now moving on with quite a few of our young learners in UKS2, particularly in Year 6.It's Summer term when we get back and it's time to explore verbs in more detail and consolidate the knowledge we have been gathering and see how the big picture fits together- conjugation of a verb! The DFE POS for KS2 asks us to work with our young learners on the "conjugation of high frequency verbs".

It is in my opinion really important that we strengthen children's own perception of "moving on" and "getting better" at language learning and that we help them develop positive self efficacy that will carry them on in to KS3 language learning . Below hopefully is an opportunity to support our children to do this.

My intention in the activities below is to  revisit pockets of prior learning, to unpack processes with the children and  to get them (not me!) practise the whole present tense conjugation of some high frequency verbs. It is in my opinion important that we make sure that UKS2 children can access identify and use infinitives in a target language,can create the stem of the verb and then are able to add appropriate  present tense verb endings which match if required (depending on target language) the correct personal pronoun.
When you think about this ,it is a process that has to be identified,explored,unpacked, practised and children have to be allowed to then manipulate and produce their own (not always accurate of course) versions.The production needs to be memorable and valuable and part of a creative whole activity.

I love using Art to bring language learning to life.If you have read my previous blog posts on 3D Art and a Renoir picture, you will know that we can use a painting to good effect to explore grammar and link this to purposeful creative communication and performance:

I have been looking around for a painting linked to lifestyle,history and culture  to do this and have decided to use this painting by Georges Seurat - "la grande jatte".It will work so well.....

It's all about a Sunday afternoon stroll,a walk in the park and an observation of leisure activities.Take a look at the picture! What can you see?

Remember the ultimate aim of the activity is to ascertain that the children are secure in:
  1. Finding/recalling and identifying infinitives of high frequency verbs  
  2. Can change an infinitive in to a stem to which can be added appropriate verb endings which match with an appropriate personal pronoun.(I wrote a blog post on personal pronouns and a photo shoot drama activity that may be useful as a pre-cursor to this sequence of activities Getting used to personal pronouns
  3. Can create and recall the whole paradigm (pattern) of a present tense high frequency verb .What do I class as high frequency verbs? Well the suggested list of high frequency verbs proposed by the Assessment for MFL in Primary Schools  from the government's Expert Subject Advisory Group suggests these verbs amongst others "drink,look,like,,carry,make" .They fit very well in to the activities below.  
Here are the activity steps
1. Picture Exploratory Walk
2. Talk Walk
3.Verb Artist Talk Walks 
4.Verb artist sketches 
5. Live park talk walk

  1. Go on a "picture exploratory walk".Share with the children the Georges Seurat picture.Walk  with the lady and gentleman on the far right of the picture. Look around with the eyes of these two characters, what can they see? Ask the class to call out actions that they can see in English .Walk with the children from far right to far left of the picture and talk about the picture.
  2. Write these actions as they are spoken  on the white board in English (e.g swimming,watching,talking).
  3. Can the children help you to change the actions you have written in to infinitives ?Discuss with the children how we form infinitives in English.Use two of the actions you have written up on the flip chart as examples- so if you have written "swimming" ask the children to explain how we would need to change this to an infinitive by removing the ending and putting" to" at the front so it reads "to swim".Can they help you with one other action on your chart? I think that this is an important discussion process in English to go through before we assume that all children understand what an infinitive is and how to identify one in their own first spoken language.
  4. Give out bi-lingual dictionaries and ask the children in pairs to write on strips of white card.On these strips of card they are going to write down target language infinitives of the actions.Firstly ask them to select one of the actions you have listed on the white board but has not been changed to an infinitive in English.So if you have written walk or walking  ....can the children think of the infinitive in English( to walk) and then can they locate the target language  infinitive of the verb and write it down.I think that this is an important  process to go through here and to allow the children to work out that they can think of part of a verb but they are going to fond the verb they need in a bilingual dictionary as an infinitive - so they need to convert the word in their head in to the infinitive form and look for that.
  5. Now ask the children to work in pairs and to convert all the actions however they are written in English on the whiteboard in to target language infinitives. 

  1. Now share a "talk walk" with the class.Display a large version of the Georges Seurat picture.Invite volunteer pairs to the front to mime  one of the target language infinitives they have found and to show the card strip with the written out infinitive and say the infinitive in the target language.Can another volunteer come to the front,locate whereabouts on the picture we can see the action and  blu-tac the infinitive to the Georges Seurat picture in the correct place.Repeat this with all the actions you brainstormed and different volunteers from the class.
  2. Ask the children once you have completed your "talk walk" to look for spelling links between the ending of the written words they have blu-tacked to the picture.Explain that these endings are the key to making the infinitives come to life and to creating stems of the verbs we can then use.   
  3. Let's focus on one group of regular verbs in the target language and by this I mean that the infinitives all have the same "endings".I have selected to talk,to swim,to jump,to walk,to look (watch) for this picture as in German that's easy as verbs in the infinitive end in "en" , in French I have selected  "er" verbs and in Spanish these verbs end in "ar" in the infinitive.Remember the focus is on can the children go through the process and understand how to conjugate a verb and not can the children recite a verb accurately .We are therefore keeping the activity to one group in French and Spanish as this will help us to focus the practise of the process around the skill of "conjugation" and less so on memory and recall.
  4. Verb Artist Talk Walks .Share with the children a small portion of the picture.Ask them to help you to decide which of the verbs you are now focusing upon fits this portion of the  picture (for example the woman looking out on to the lake on the far left of the picture).Can the children help you to bring the action "looking" to life? To do this you are going to have to find the infinitive, create the stem of the verb- demonstrate how you can form the stem.I like to ask the children to think of the letters we need to remove from the end of the infinitive as box lid  suggest that you are opening the artist's paint box.In the paint box are 6 personal pronouns and 6 important matching endings.Now take a "verb artist talk walk" with the stem of the verb! Can they help you to sketch the character from head (infinitive , first person singular etc)to foot as the present tense verb ...? The children must talk you through the process otherwise you can not add the next part of the verb and you can not complete your artist's sketch of the character and their action.
  5. Ask the children to work in pairs and take Verb Artist Talk Walks with other characters and their actions in the picture.Add a time limit to the activity - so some groups may complete two characters and other pairs may complete more or less than this.They need to talk through the process with their partner and show their "workings out" - infinitive, create stem, add verb endings and personal pronouns on paper.
  6. Can they create an "Verb artists sketches "artist's sketch of one of their verbs as a paradigm( in the shape head to toe of the character in the painting who is performing the action ?
  7. These "Verb Artist Sketches" would make wonderful concertina characters - head and feet drawn in the style of Geroges Seurat ( notice they way he uses dots and lines) with the paradigm of the verb written as a concertina for the body.Add a QR and a recording of the children or take a photo with Chatterpix APP and record the children saying their paradigm and you have creative evidence of the children conjugating a high frequency verb.Take a photo of the "workings out" and you have evidence of the children working through the process of creating a paradigm and conjugating a high frequency verb. 

  1. You can take this one step further and probably know what is coming next - as I love performance! Make this in to a "live park talk walk" ! Each pair is responsible for a verb and must speak and perform the verb as an interpretation of the type of action associated with the verb and in the style of the artist.One child speaks for singular and both children speak for plural .You are now Georges Seurat walking around the park ,looking for the characters for his picture!Actions and verbs may be repeated but ask all the children to freeze frame in their first action positions and as you walk around the classroom.When you  the artist stands next to a pair they should come to life and start to perform their paradigm.The class are helping you the artist to step back in to the picture and create a "live park talk walk"!

Putting all our eggs in one basket! Making simple sentences

It's really important that we look for and keep evidence of children's progress in language learning and that the children have something tangible to share and revisit as they make progress.
At the end of the first half term this year I encouraged my associate teachers to gather in leaves with children's writing on them.The writing  was based on the language they had been practising during that half term.Leaves? Well it was Autumn time. At the start of the next half term term the leaves were re-distributed amongst the class - could the class read out loud and remember the meaning of the sentences that had been written? Here is the original blog article Writing and reviewing a half term's progress

At the end of the Easter term I think that we can use the idea of "putting all your eggs in one basket" (in a positive way) to look at the progress children have been making with  grammar in Year 4 writing simple sentences (noun /3rd person singular or plural verb/ adjective).

In Year 4 we have been making simple sentences to describe aliens and monsters. So if we have three different types of coloured card eggs in a basket (several eggs from each colour) each colour can represent either nouns (part/s of the face or body), adjectives (colour with correct agreement) or a present tense part of  the verb "to be" ( either " is" or "are").

  • Can volunteers select three different coloured eggs and see if they can make a sensible sentences to create a spoken and written description of a part of the body - or is it impossible, because the verb or the adjective just doesn't fit correctly?
  • Ask the class to write out  a maximum of three descriptive sentences on an egg shaped card.
  • Collect them in and hand them out again at the beginning of next term .Can the children still read them?
  • Bring out those different coloured eggs in the basket- can the children still make sensible sentences with the eggs?

I Spy Nouns!

Tomorrow Emilie and I deliver our first session of intermediate French for teachers keen to know more about nouns, adjectives and verbs .
Here is a game that we are going to play with the teachers ,based on this poster I found on pinterest a while back!
It's a game that I think the teachers can then play back in school with the children they teach who are moving on in their language learning and becoming more independent in their use of bilingual dictionaries to find their own key language such as nouns.The game is simple and could be used in KS2 and then again in Y7 KS3 to ensure that children can and do access bilingual dictionaries appropriately and effectively.

This is the game "I Spy Nouns":

First a little warm up and revisiting activity ......

  1. Children to work in pairs.
  2. Each pair requires an "I Spy sheet".
  3. Children require either a piece of rough paper and pen or a mini-whiteboard between them.
  4. Each pair requires access to a bilingual dictionary - best if there is one between two.
  5. Ask the children in pairs to look for pictures of nouns they think they may already be able to say and write in the target language e.g cat/ fish, elephant.
  6. Ask the pairs to write down up to five of these nouns in the target language on the mini -white board.
  7. You could ask more advanced learners to try to remember if they have used the nouns  from step 6 before with "un/le" or une/ la".Ask them to write this next to the noun on the whiteboard
  8. Now ask them to find the target language nouns they have written down on their mini-whiteboards in their bilingual dictionary and ask them to check the spelling.If they have thought about the definite/indefinite article and also to verify if they selected the correct choice between either "un/le" or "une/la"
  9. Is there anything they need to change in the target language that they have already written on the mini-white board ?
Now they are ready for their I Spy Noun Explorers pair game

To play this game the children will need to create a two column simple chart for French and Spanish to record the nouns they find as masculine /feminine (and for German a three column chart with the additional column for neuter nouns)
  1. Ask the children to take it in turns to look at the pictures on the sheet and to take it in turns to find one of the items they can see in the bilingual dictionary.
  2. The child looking for the target language  noun must look it up in the English section of the dictionary and then write it out clearly for their partner on their mini-whiteboard.
  3. Now the other partner must read what has been written on the mini white board and then find the noun in the target language section of the dictionary.
  4. Once the child has found the English meaning and he/she must locate the item on the picture.
  5. Ask the two children together to investigate whether the noun is masculine / feminine or as well in German neuter using the clues in the dictionary written next to the noun.
  6. Ask the children to then write the noun down on their noun table under the correct category of masculine / feminine or neuter nouns.   
  7. The children swap roles and play the game again.
  8. Why not give children categories for example on this picture there are nouns to do with meal times, a season, weather, clothes, animals?

Writing and reviewing a half term's progress: les feuilles s'envolent

I have just seen this marvellous sketch and decide this is exactly what we need in UKS2 at the end of this half term for our KS2 children to use to write a message using the target language they have been practising.It will link well in to our Autumn focus at the end of the half term and will also allow us to review what we have produced at the start of the new half term.
It obviously doesn't need to be in French - could be German or Spanish or Mandarin etc....

It's a simple writing activity.
  • Each child creates their own Autumn leaf or receives a leaf template. 
  • They consider what they want to write about themselves from the language they have practised during the half term.

For example in our network schools the messages could be :
  • beginners: a greeting,name and feelings and a farewell
  • moving on: personal information about themselves and questions for a new friend 
  • advanced: personal information and emotions describing themselves as they feel on the day they write (and some information their class)

As these are Autumn leaves they need to be gathered up to stop the leaves blowing away and the class forgetting what they have learnt too! The teacher keeps the pile and at the start of the next half term shares the leaves and their written messages randomly with the class so that the children can read each others' messages and remember the language they practised  the previous half term!

How does your garden grow? Children's language learning records

Looking for a way to record language learning progress?
Well what about how does your garden grow?
(Even if you don't create these physical records with your class,I think for me it's a good image of what we hope to achieve with the children. Strong healthy language learners who have a bright,colourful, diverse and successful language learning career with us in primary school)

I know that quite a few of my colleagues like to keep a physical paper copy of the learning experience of their children in their own individual classes. I know that children too like a record of what they have learned, where they are going to do next and what success they are achieving throughout the school year. This simple graphic record will be something that the language associate assistants/teachers and myself will trial with some of our Year 3 children this coming academic year. Maybe this idea is something that you may like to use too…..?

Basically it’s a garden scene- flowers, a tree, sunshine with lots of rays and a flowerbed of weeds! Each child will have an A4 landscape piece of card, kept in their trays/ drawers etc. When they receive the card there will be a tree trunk (divided into sections), a flower stem (broad and long enough for children to write along the length of it) and an empty area on the right-hand side which is the flowerbed for our weeds.

Our flowers? 
Well every child will have a sunflower- the centre will be their faces (a drawing, cartoon or photo) and the stems will contain their own simple target language writing of a greeting and their name phrase. The petals will contain our exploration of content as we progress through the year e.g foods, days, months, numbers etc. Each petal will be added as a glued on petal as we progress and the children can add examples of the language from the specific focus in their own preferred style.

The tree.. where we will show the links we make .The stem will be big and strong and will be filled in over the four years we use the record. Here we will record the language structures we encounter, practise and grow more confident with e.g questions, answers nouns, adjectives, verbs: commands/present tense/near future/personal pronouns……the stems of my trees will be coloured in – colour coded and containing a title such as “nouns” to represent the different language structures we will meet. The children will add examples in written target language to remind them of what they have used, practised, mastered. The branches and twigs will be all the conversations and spoken language practise we have over the course of the four years – e.g. getting to know you talk, café talk,likes and dislikes etc, etc.

The sunshine?
This is where we will share all the wonderful opportunities we will have had to explore stories, songs, poems, games  ,drama, culture, links with schools abroad etc  and each ray will be another wonderful opportunity  that the children want to remember and record- written in English as a descriptive sentence .The middle of the  sun will be made up by a cut out circle of the globe – just reminding them how learning a language offers you so many world-wide opportunities and adventures!

Finally what about those weeds? 
Well the weeds are temporary and will all be kept in a list in a flowerbed to the right of the main pictures. Children can record at the end of a language focus something that they are not sure about or want to know more about and as we resolve these problems or find out more, then they can bit by bit colour the written statement in until it becomes a colourful stripy flowerbed of resolved questions about language learning.

Purposeful progress in Spanish

I have recently been keeping a record of the progress our children in the network have been making in their knowledge of the target language .I have also documented the visit all the Year 6  children from  Latchford CE made to Malaga in April this year . You can read about this here Building purposeful links with a school abroad. You read in this blog the positive impact that the Year 6 class teacher feels the visit and the preparations during the year have had upon all her class.

José is the school's Spanish Language Assistant and he has worked with the children for the last two years and has accompanied the last two Year 6 classes to Malaga- his home city.I asked him to  pop down in an email for me the progress he saw in all the children whilst they were in Malaga and now they have returned to Warrington.This is what José has noticed :

I have seen that Year 6 have improved a lot in their pronunciation.They want to say things correctly .They feel more confident now when they speaking and can say phrases that are really sueful to them and that they just remember from when they were in Spain. 
They also made  huge progress with simple things like when they have to order food, not just only in a restaurant, but even in the "kiosk" or shops and when they didn't know all the words they needed. They can all ask for the price, the numbers of items they want to etc. 
They were capable of giving their opinions when they liked, didn't like something for example a game , a book , a pop group when they were with their Spanish friends.
Now they are very keen to build  proper Spanish sentences and they really want to learn more Spanish.
And now they are ready to meet their Spanish friends back here in Warrington and to spend another week with them speaking Spanish and English.

Real transition and next steps forward

This is probably a note to self and also a reference blog for a cluster of primary schools and one of their local high schools, who are working together to generate real and purposeful transition.
These are practical points from a real scenario.I think that is important to understand should you read on,as it's a record of what is really happening and can be achieved and a solution for one set of circumstances .Below is a link to a blog which shares links to other possible solutions ....

A real way forward 

Today I have had the pleasure of considering the Year 7 Autumn term and the resources that the secondary department started to use last year.During our shared cluster/dept meeting in spring it became obvious a review would help to maximise the resource.The HOD does not want to just go over old ground and wants to extend and challenge the new Y7 arrivals from KS2 in September but also wants to be secure that all pupils get the same start.I am certain that there are teachers out there who recognise this scenario too. 

Transition does not happen overnight. 
Today though in this transition project the momentum is gathering pace and the primary and secondary schools together are taking over the reins.
Great news!

It's taken us three years and then "some" to get to the point where there is not just dialogue but effective action to address what primary into secondary language learning is beginning to look like.The "then some" are the five or six years prior to this that the y practice local primary schools and myself have been working toward what good primary practice looks like in their individual schools and circumstances (staff, timetable, resources). You will also notice that I wrote "beginning to.." as  things will continue to change and the organic nature of change is important. The last three years have been crucial......

 In these three years there have been: 

  • primary meetings of cluster teachers with myself
  • feedback to the HOD
  • meetings with the secondary staff with myself
  • reviews of progress
  • access to shared learning tools (the High School belong to our network and can access all the webiste materials and resources)
  • shared emails 
  • a "re-look" and changes to the  Autumn Year 7 materials at the High School
  • discussion of materials with HOD and myself 
  • sharing of Year 7 resources with Year 6 teachers
  • year 6 performance and sketch project 
  • year 7 taking the performance and sketch project and creating their own opportunities to develop and extend this
  • shared department and cluster meeting with real examples from KS2 and real examples from Year 7 and 8 that sparked exciting dialogue and real commitment to see the links.
  • a Summer 2014 Year 6 celebration project to be revisited and built upon in Year 7 Autumn first three weeks.... and don't forget the sketches from the sketch and performance project too!

It's not racing ahead. It's small sensible steps.It's not asking KS3 colleagues to approach language learning in a primary manner or to ask KS2 colleagues to set up listening comprehensions "secondary " style. It's been about fitting jigsaw puzzle pieces together and making room for additional pieces of the ever evolving picture..... It's getting exciting.

Reading this it may seem a naive blog but since the mid 1990s I have been working in both primary and secondary language learning. Each has it's own identity.What is required is a scaffold and someone to support the building of the scaffold. Different solutions will be needed for different local challenges and additional rungs and support keep on being required. KS3 does have the challenge of drawing together different primary school approaches etc but this happens or has happened across other subject areas too. 

So my review of Autumn Y7  today tells me that we don't necessarily need to throw the baby out with the bath water.That resources and approaches  in KS3 to meet the new POS requirements can fit alongside good primary practice.

How? Well,as always take simple strategic and achievable steps:

Next academic year KS3 needs to be (and some of this is already happening):

  • Be aware of the contexts and content your KS2 colleagues deliver
  • Understand how primary look at phonology - songs, rhymes, phonics activities
  • Understand be aware of the stories and exposure to text
  • Understand and be aware of primary creative outcomes and the writing that will take place
  • Understand and build upon the learning tools such as games to develop recall, memory , participation, communication

Next academic year KS2 needs to promote(and some of this is already developing):

  • the use of bilingual dictionaries
  • understanding of basic grammar - nouns, adjectives and some common verbs
  • the development of memory and recall
  • quality exposure to the written word
  • offer primary creative learning 
  • provide a platform in year 6 to secondary language learning- through shared learning or reviews of prior knowledge and skills

So today we are at our next point in this evolving journey and what the first term in Year 7 can really look like from September 2014 within this cluster.

I have been able to identify with the HOD at the High School September's next steps:

  • provide all year 7 staff next year with access to a brief resume of prior learning
  • apply the shared knowledge of prior learning sensitively and intelligently to the Y7 Autumn term learning resources (knowledge gained from cluster meetings,emails,access to  JLN SOW)
  • celebrate prior knowledge and skills and look for age appropriate revisiting and consolidation of learning through the spoken and  written word- familiar content in the existing secondary resources with unfamiliar twists! 
  • encourage and support continued use of bilingual dictionaries to create independent learners
  • continue to promote creative outcomes 
  • support the pupils to access secondary style listening comprehensions and to identify and apply skills of listening they have been developing in KS2
  • promote and encourage extended writing in age appropriate ways
  • expect and support the pupils to use prior learning particularly using memory and recall and see the links with new knowledge
  • have confidence to revisit and extend and also to move quickly through areas in which the pupils are very secure

Now we need to see what will happen next and how we will need to tweak , re-adjust and move on again next year!

Transition in a suitcase between year groups

This half term we are at the end of the year's academic study of the target language across both KS1 and KS2. 
The new DfE POS requires that substantial progress is made ..... we also need to take stock and enjoy what the children have learned and the games, songs, stories and language knowledge they have explored.
In a previous blog I shared how I was supporting a school to put together a cohesive start up programme so that KS1 can enjoy learning alongside KS2 and so that staff have shared strategies and learning tools.Here's the blog 

Transition  happens between all year groups. How effective this transition is supports how effective and successful progression for all the children will be.
As you head back to school for the final Summer half term's time to start packing those target language suitcases and sharing the strategies , learning tools and activities the children have enjoyed with the next class teacher!

Designer Suitcases
Ask the children to help you decide what your target language suitcase for the year's learning should look like?What have they learned this year?What content and contexts have you explored. Create the labels for your suitcase from this content and contexts. Your suitcase may be a folder with notes from the class to the next teacher , a virtual suitcase or a folder kept on the school VLE ...but it needs to look like you have all travelled on a language learning journey together this year- hence the labels!

Packing the suitcase!
Ask the children to share with you the games, songs and stories that have enjoyed this year.Revisit and use again some of the activities and resources and take a class vote on which to put in your class suitcase ready to set off for the next year of language learning.

Maybe it's your.....

and remember the books you have enjoyed reading too!

Don't forget those always useful items!
Discuss with the children the grammar that you may have explored. Add a noun treasure chest (facts about nouns and some key nouns from different content) and an adjective atlas (a picture on which the children can stick or add key adjectives they have met e.g colours/sizes/characteristics).Pop in a listening stick or two - so that the children with their new teacher can play some very familiar listening games and then build on these and move on!

Have you packed your phrase book?
What can the children now ask and say about themselves that means they are moving more toward independence in simple basic dialogue and conversation. Pack an example totem pole -if you made them- or create a cartoon strip or recording of a typical dialogue.
What's a totem pole? Take a look here!

Hurrah off we go! 
Celebrate with the children their success this year.Why not put on a class language exhibition to share with another class or parents what you have done this year?
Now it's time to check what's in the suitcase and pass it on to the next class they can unpack the suitcase with the class next year.

When are we there?
Once September arrives then the next class teacher has a reference point that can act as a prompt with the children and the whole class can have great fun unpacking their suitcase and explaining what they already have learned. The suitcase can come out throughout the year when content or contexts are supported by the prior learning.

What does this look like in practise?
Well the wonderful @EWoodruffe has been packing her classes suitcases this July and here is her blog all about this Let's pack our suitcases

KS2 and KS3 making links between language learning

This morning I sat down with the  HOF, Julie Sutcliffe, at University Academy  High School  to plan a link lesson visit to local cluster primary schools. Here is another “work in progress” transition project that JLN are working on.

First a little context , over the last 18 months the High School language staff and I have been considering the links between KS2 and KS3 .The school has access to the JLN SOW JLN SOW. The high school runs an alternate year French Spanish Y7 language learning programme with the option to pick up the second language in Year 8.We are looking for simple solutions to local transition here.

Julie is aware that some of the children are just setting off and other children are writing simple texts in the present tense.Over the next couple of years the children will all begin to work at a similar level

Last academic year Julie and I looked for links between KS2 and KS3 learning by using the SOW as our reference point. All Julie’s main cluster primary schools are working at an early or more advanced stage with this SOW in French or Spanish. We were looking for links – in language , structure and skills..

Julie and I then adapted the current 2013-14 Year 7 first term learning scheme, offering KS2 children the opportunity to share prior learning, access familiar games and songs and use familiar learning tools and approaches. We considered ways of sharing knowledge across the two languages of French and Spanish to bring children up to speed or to allow children to value the knowledge that have gained during their primary language career. Last Summer term we held staff training for the secondary language department to look at prior learning and development of skills.

There was a light bulb moment when we saw a way forward for this high school and its year 7 intake! How often do we as linguists move from French to Spanish to find key words or to understand structure or grammar? As linguists we can promote with the children in Year 7 some of our “tricks of the trade” and how we can reinforce “language linking skills” they may not as yet have realised they possess! We are therefore building on prior language learning and knowledge as the new DfE POS asks KS3 to do! 

The children in Year 7 this year have made the links between the language learning that took place (mainly in French in KS2) and the new language for most of the children in Autumn term Y7 in Spanish. Masculine /feminine nouns- much easier to develop , because there have been similar links made in KS2, foods, animals, days of the week ,months of the year  etc, etc– the children as “language detectives and explorers” are simply making links between prior learning of French and the new language of Spanish. 

The children who have arrived in Year 7 with Spanish are not being held back as the speed with which links are made between French and Spanish is allowing progression to happen quite naturally. I loved an email earlier in the year  from Julie that told me the children just conjugated the verb “tener” because they could already do this in French and they understood why and how!

So what comes next? Well that’s what we have been planning today. Next year the cohort arrive with French and learn French in Year 7 .So Julie’s challenge with this next  year’s academic  cohort is to look more deeply at the skills the children are bringing with them from KS2 and how to build on these in a language they are familiar with already We remind ourselves all the time that we are helping young language learners with competent basic skills become linguists. So what skills of a linguist have the children already developed? 

Reading this on paper or hearing it from me for Julie  is not the same as actually experiencing this. With limited time and finding days that suit primary and secondary, Julie is flipping the languages and trialling the following school visit to two cluster schools,where the children learn French. They are going to explore some text level Spanish… because don’t forget she also needs to promote the Year 8 second language option. After the trial visits she will be better equipped to inform her secondary colleagues about  what to expect of young year 7 language learners who are looking forward to becoming linguists!

The activities are based on this you tube clip ………….

And a  power point word document that one of the associate Spanish JLN teacher uses to help her KS2 classes in Y4 when they learn this song with both the words and pictures to explain the actions and body parts. 

Why have we chosen this?
All the children will have practised the parts of the body in Year 4 as part of the class alien building activities and throughout their language learning with songs such as “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes”. Take look here – Karen the teacher at one of the cluster schools presented her simple ideas about the use of Mr Potato Head to practise parts of the body with Year 4 French.
It is a song that the Year 6 class teachers can then follow up and practise and use as part of their end of year leaving assembly or as part of their World Cup                                             celebrations  and link to the Brazilian Crown making 
                             activities as a Spanish samba style dance!

It also allows Julie to get beyond word level quite quickly , allows her to engage with the primary style of language learning and to promote the liveliness, cross curricular nature  and effectiveness of speaking another language!

Below are the simple steps and activities that Julie will follow when she visit and works with the trial cluster primary year 6 groups .She should meet  approximately 90  children in total in the two schools and will feedback her simple observations to secondary colleagues that are written below in red.We will let you know in a later blog post how she gets on!

1.French – revisit familiar body parts language with a song e.g. Heads, shoulders , knees and toes/ Jean petit qui danse (nb You Tube clip)
Reinforce and practise/ revisit language so all children are comfortable with the key words for transfer activities.
Feedback : knowledge and retention of language
You Tube clips: Jean  petit qui danse / Heads, shoulders , knees and toes
2.Spanish key word cards / French key word cards- matching activity
Promote the skill : finding meaning of new language through second language knowledge
Seeing links  and patterns in words from different languages
Feedback : making links between la familiar and an unfamiliar language
Spanish body part word cards
French body part word cards
3.Finding the key words in the Spanish bilingual dictionary What else can we now find out about these nouns
Use of bilingual dictionary
Recognition of masculine and feminine nouns
Feedback : prior understanding of how to use a bilingual dictionary/are children aware of masculine and feminine nouns and how to use the (m) and (f) to find this out?
Spanish bilingual dictionaries – one between two – provided by high school.
4.Match the written word to the spoken word

Listen ,read, respond activity
Feedback :  listening for key  sounds /word recognition skills
Spanish word cards for children
Teacher to only use spoken word
5. Listen and watch the You Tube clip – which just show the words of the text. Spot the key words and point to the correct part of the body
Identifying and understanding key familiar words in an unfamiliar text.
Feedback : accessing sentence level text to find familiar language.
You Tube clip
6.Add the missing words to a text
Look for cognates / semi cognates in commands within text
Understand text by accessing picture and clue prompts
To feedback  : following a foreign language text and anticipating key language. Exploring unfamiliar text by context  
PPT of song with pictures on IWB – key body parts omitted.
Children have Spanish word cards
7.Perform the song
Recall prior knowledge and familiar language  
Listen, read, respond and join in
You tube clip
8.Leave text and song for follow up by class teacher as part of World Cup/ end of year celebrations
9. Children’s feedback
Children to complete simple slip of paper with 3 points that they have realised/ considered/ explored whilst exploring a new and unfamiliar language about their own language skills
Feedback to secondary colleagues

Paper for children

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. 

Laying the foundations for future language learning

Laying the foundations for future language learning…… 

Our Show Tell and Share

Yesterday we held our “Show tell and share” network meeting (24 April 2014) in Mandy’s language room at Stockton Heath Primary School, Warrington.

40 primary school colleagues attended the event .Eight colleagues had been invited to share  ideas, or a simple practical sequence of lessons in short 5-10- minute presentations.

It’s important to understand that the colleagues who were brave enough to show, tell and share are primary language practitioners who deliver languages in their own schools every week of the year- one Head teacher, three primary classroom teachers, three teaching assistants and a visiting teacher. 
They represent a cross section of  90 schools in the network and different stages of primary language progress (starting off, moving on and established practice). Most importantly the ideas were practical and replicable and teachers and teaching assistants in the audience  could take ideas for primary language learning back to their  own schools and try them out. 

Illness and monsters

Cathy, from Appleton Thorn CP shared all her creative ways of developing a unit on illness and parts of the body. She stressed the importance of sounds and recognition of the spoken word before showing children the written word. She explained how she feels that this is necessary  to enable all children to make the link smoothly between spoken and written language. Her focus on sounds and patterns and investigating the words helps her children to confidently use the words and find new language they want to say in dictionaries etc. Cathy encouraged us to ask children to look for cognates and near cognates and to link games and practical work with more creative art and design opportunities. 

In this sequence of activities Cathy was using work around fantastical creatures – Frankenstein type monsters to engage the children in learning parts of the body so that they could then develop role plays on familiar everyday matters – going to the doctors and explaining simple illnesses.

E Twinning Project with Spain

Ian from Cronton CE, one of our Knowsley schools, shared how the school had developed an ETwinning project with their new link school in Spain .The school already has an established link with a German school. 

The project was for Year 3 in their first year of Spanish and was based around learning simple weather phrases. Ian’s input was the language element and the coordination with the Spanish school. 

Every day of each week that the project was happening(Autumn 2013), the class TA worked with a different group of 4 children to record in Spanish the temperature, the weather and dressed in clothes appropriate to the weather to create a photo record . 

At the end of each week the group created the class weather report in Spanish plus photos via Pic Collage  and sent this by email to their Spanish school. 

The mail exchange of the Pic Collage reports raised all sorts of interesting points for example what were the Spanish  children doing roasting chestnuts in the playground for a chestnut festival instead of an ordinary school day! Ian’s project show how we are opening the door on new cultures and laying foundations and  interest in  purposeful practical future language learning 

The verb être

Sam from St Philips CE got us thinking about how easily we can integrate work around verbs into our everyday language learning in the primary classroom. She has just run a focus on the verb être  as part of the Y6 children’s work on “Who am I? We loved the video clip she sourced and used  and the simplified rap song she created with the children from the French language in this clip

The children created spider grams of the verbs for example using a sunshine and the beams off a sunshine to show the infinitive of the verb to be and its present tense parts

Sam organised the children in groups of 6 so that they could record themselves introduce one another using the verb être and all its present tense parts.She appeared in all the clips so that the children  could  understand why and how to use “vous êtes” accurately .We were impressed how all the children participated and could use the different parts of the verb! Simple effective use of technology which lays the foundations for future grammatical language learning in KS3. 

(Sam will share more from this project soon on network news )

Mr Potato Head transferable games

Karen from Cinnamon Brow CE talked with us about her work using Mr Potato Head to reinforce familiar language on parts of the body. The activities were obviously transferable and at this point teachers who work alongside visiting teachers were animatedly jotting down ideas they could use to follow up or reinforce language learning. 
For example everyone loved the Mr Potato Head photo shoot that Karen had created (and one teacher said to me “I will get my children to do this”). 

They liked the use  of the same pictures for simple hide and reveal – not high tech but practical and hands on , using A4 envelopes to slowly reveal Mr Potato Head. Karen suggested that the children can play this again afterwards on  their own. Taking the familiar primary “hide and reveal” technique again , Karen shared how she would ask the children to anticipate what missing facial parts there may be on Mr Potato Head in each new game .Simple, effective and activities we could transfer from one  core focus to another and that encourage the participation of all children and understanding ways to make learning fun.

Everyone shares!

Then it was time for us all to share- something that they use in their everyday work as primary practitioners of foreign languages!

I love this photo of Ian and Emma deep in conversation. Emma is a French coordinator
and she was keen to learn as much as possible about E Twinning and next steps for her school!

Human sentences and position of adjectives

Christine from Westbrook Old Hall had taken the time to consider a sequence of five lessons on monsters she delivered in the Autumn term 2013 with Y6

The children in Year 6  revisited their prior knowledge of  body parts, number, colours from previous years in KS2 and discussed and demonstrated their understanding from Y5 of the position of adjectives after the noun .Her focus in Year 6 was to look at the position of adjectives such as grand and petit before the noun  and to encourage the children to speak and write accurately using their knowledge of adjectival agreement.  She used Singing French and the monster song to reinforce prior knowledge and to encourage performance. The children looked at the adjectives grand/petit and the position they appear in French sentences and worked out what was different here to adjectives of colour. 
Christine read Grand Monstre Vert with the children and they investigated  the position of the adjectives in the sentences .

They  played human sentence games ordering 
the words in  French human sentences.The slide  shows how she used a ppt slide to first ask the children to create verbally sentences in French from an English stimulus and then revealed the sentence written correctly on the monster slide.

At this point Emilie,our native speaker visiting teacher- formerly a secondary teacher tweeted ……….

Really nice to hear primary MFL teachers / assistants mentioning grammar & dictionary skills as part of their teaching #showtell

 Town investigations with young learners

Lis from St Ann’s CE and Mandy from Stockton Heath CP talked about the town and how they created their two sequences of lessons based on shops in the town and directions.
What was fascinating was how both of them identified key points to consider – very practical primary points. They considered the experience, maturity and age of their primary learners carefully as they planned the activities.

Firstly that the children need to be guided to think of names of shops as they automatically when talking about a town would say H+M, Tescos  etc and not butchers, cake shop , bakery. 
Lis spent time talking about the town her children know best – Warrington-and then guiding them to talk about the names of the types of shops they had mentioned. Mandy shared with them various maps of French towns and pictures of buildings you would find there so she could  then hold a discussion with the children about which shops they might need to ask for in French. 

Both Lis and Mandy reinforced the cultural differences – how in France you still go to the bakers, butchers etc. Simple discussion maybe... but really important in laying the foundations for future cultural understanding that bridges the gap between what the children have experienced and what we might want them to learn about. Both Lis and Mandy worked with the children on directions and developed physical activities – Lis had a human street and used follow me cards to create role plays. 

Mandy had the children moving to visuals around the room and then she generated with the children a class map and display of a French town. Each child was given a cut out character and had to write a sentence  to give directions to a partner on where to place the cut out character on the  display.

The ideas were simple, effective and   addressed familiar matters  and useful questions and answers laying  the foundations upon which to build more detailed role play and transactional conversations.

Activities which reinforce good practice and language skills

 Last but not least was Jayne @Dewsnip_Jayne, a visiting teacher for JLN. Jayne explained that she was a secondary languages teacher. However over the last three years working as part of the network in 5 primary schools she had found the freedom of the primary classroom a revelation! She has learned so much from her primary colleagues and the children about how children learn a primary foreign language. 

She shared with us her bilingual dictionary work based on Arcimboldo with UKS"2 children.

They investigated what the mystery letters after the words in the dictionary mean (m/f/pl/nm etc) so that they could create their own written and art posters of the Arcimboldo face(link to Jaynes arcimboldo pics) Jayne could see that this would help the children in KS3   language learning. 

Jayne shared her simple game “guess the combination” where from a table of 9 key words e.g. fruits the children guess the combination of three she has secretly written down . Jayne identified that she focused on accurate pronunciation and perhaps without realising this Jayne is once again encouraging good habits before KS3 .

Her puzzle game- simple cut up pictures is easy to replicate and use across all language areas. You need a minimum of two pictures from a core focus or a mixed focus , with a number and colour on the reverse .Children must ask politely for a number and a colour so that  a part  the puzzle can be revealed .Can the children guess and name the item correctly with the definite article or indefinite article?  

The final activity she shared was her work on adjectival agreement when describing a   male or a female and how easily she was able to reinforce this with her mother’s day flowers.  

Working in primary and developing creative primary approaches ,Jayne is reinforcing and encouraging good language skills and knowledge so that KS3 can build upon quality foundations laid in primary foreign language learning.

The overwhelming impression from this event is   that we are making  good  “practical primary progress”. It’s not rocket science and it’s not always all singing and dancing. My colleagues are developing a curriculum in their own schools that is fit for purpose.

In the range of presentations we heard about the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing and combinations of these skills to move the children on in their learning in every lesson and consolidate prior knowledge! We were asked to consider culture and links abroad and ways to link language learning to other subject areas in the primary curriculum and colleagues shared how they were encouraging the children to consider the structure and grammar of the language.

A journey worth the taking: as a little girl I remember my Grandma sharing with me Miss Hilton's suitcase. This was no ordinary suitcase as this was the suitcase of a distant relative who had travelled and had been on "European Tours" at the start of the 20th Century.

I was fascinated by the labels on this suitcase which told me a story of places she had visited.

Yesterday on Twitter I received this tweet below.....  

Next half term with our Year 5 children we will take them as tourists on a journeys around target language (French , German , Spanish) cities and places. 
Using the picture above as a model and referring the children to globes,class atlases  and going on Google Map journeys we will be able to link geography, culture and language learning together to create our own artistic versions of the journeys and the cities and the experiences the class share on their learning journey.

Let's use country maps, zoom in with city maps , take print offs of google map,track where we can visit on Google Maps and add imaginary postcards . We can add items to touch and feel and smell associated with the city e.g.Sevilla - orange blossom.