Snapshot of learning : Revision lesson: Personal information Q&A and colours with Year 3 at Barrowhall Primary School.


This morning I went to observe Robert Artingstall teach Spanish to a Year 3 class at Barrowhall Primary School – the Easter holidays are just around the corner and after finishing off this term’s topics including World Book Day and the Gruffalo in Spanish today was the perfect opportunity for a revision lesson.

As I arrived Robert was doing the morning register in Spanish: ¿Comida caliente? ¿Tostada? ¿Uno, dos? Some children answering in Spanish others in English. Then Robert started chatting across the room to Gonzalo, a native speaker from the class – there was no mistake, we were here to learn Spanish!

The lesson started with a greeting song and then another ‘action’ song that got the children moving and singing in Spanish.

Robert then explained that the children were going to do some revision work today.

They started with the ‘hide and reveal’ powerpoint from the Ready-made SOW (Year 3 > Spring 2) – the instruction is to try guess the phrase or the question as it slowly appears on the screen and before it’s completely revealed. Children were asked to quietly tell their partner what they thought the phrase or the question was. They did really well and it allowed Robert to do some consolidation work on pronunciation and mention question word ‘Cómo’ in Spanish and the fact it’s used in 2 different familiar questions (Cómo te llamas? Cómo estas?). The last slide on the powerpoint is then used as a support slide for children to make up their own conversation.

Hide and Reveal 'Personal Information' powerpoint

Hide and Reveal 'Personal Information' powerpoint

¿Cómo..... te llamas or ... estas ? Place your bets! 

¿Cómo..... te llamas or ... estas ? Place your bets! 


Then they moved on to colours. First Robert asked the children to recap as many colours they could think of and write them on their whiteboard, they checked their answers and Robert took the opportunity to do some phonic work particularly about the sounds ‘j’, ‘ll’, z’ which are very different to English. They practiced the colours with actions and then played ‘Simon dice’.

Lovely writing from memory.

Lovely writing from memory.

Robert going over sound/spelling link and key sounds in Spanish.

Robert going over sound/spelling link and key sounds in Spanish.

Finally Robert used the ‘Rainbow writing sheet’ where children have to think of and draw an object that corresponds to each part/colour of the rainbow (for example a strawberry for red, a banana for yellow, etc.).


This task allows for bilingual dictionary work as children have to label the thing they are drawing. Before leaving the children to work independently or in pairs Robert checked that the children were confident using the dictionary and did a whole class example also reinforcing gender (fem/masc) recognition and understanding.

First, find the line in the middle of the dictionary, on one side it's Spanish to English, past the line it's English to Spanish - know which side you need to use.

First, find the line in the middle of the dictionary, on one side it's Spanish to English, past the line it's English to Spanish - know which side you need to use.

a cherry is 'cereza' and it's feminine because it says 'fem' and 'la'.

a cherry is 'cereza' and it's feminine because it says 'fem' and 'la'.

** All the resources mentioned are either from Youtube or from the Primary Languages Network VLE.

Snapshot of learning - Janet Wallbank

Last Friday, I went to visit Year 6 at St Andrew’s C.E Primary School learning French with Janet Wallbank. It was the end of the half-term and the class was just finishing off the topic of ‘sports and how do you play this sport?’

As I walked in, the class was just getting organised for the lesson and I noticed straight away the neatly kept French books on the children’s table and Janet’s tracking sheets – I knew it was going to be a good lesson!

Whilst Janet was getting ready for the lesson she asked the children to work with their partners and practiced as many personal information questions and answers as they could remember – I listened to a few children and heard some interesting and details statement such as ‘Ça va bien car je suis en pleine forme mais j’ai faim’ – evidence that the children are learning to extend basic language and making (huge) progress.

Then the class warmed up to a really fun song that they seemed to be really familiar with

Throughout the lesson, Janet explained EVERYTHING in the target language: going through different slides on her powerpoint presentation and revisiting various questions and opinions about sports: Qui fait un sport ? (opportunities to recap jouer / faire ) Qui veut décrire un sport? Mon sport preféré est… car…

The class had a mini-debate amongst themselves about the sports they liked and disliked reacting to one another’s statements J’adore la gymnastique car….’ Ah non, je déteste la gymnastique car…’ – evidence of children being able to relate their language learning to their own lives and using it for a real purpose: talking about themselves! To support themselves some children spontaneously opened their French book to refer back to previous work and to check words or opinions phrases for example.

Janet then invited volunteers to come to the front and read out descriptions of sport they had written the week before using the written sheet for this unit available on the VLE. These sheets have had excellent feedback both from primary and secondary colleagues.

The rest of the class had to guess which sport was being described and some children had put a lot thought into this activity, adding a lot of details to their description and so the children had to listen very carefully.

As a follow up to this activity Janet asked the children to work in pairs and play a card game describing sports to their partners who had to guess correctly which sport it was – the first step was to choose the correct verb: was it jouer or faire ? then the equipment, where to play the game, clothes, etc. The children appeared confident and fluent with the content of this unit and so the whole class was engaged, on task and …speaking French! 

Finally as it was the very last lesson of the half-term the children referred back to their assessment cloud sheet (stuck at the front of their book) and highlighted what they had been learning during the half-term and managed to tick quite a few boxes. Well done Year 6!

Snapshot of language learning nine

This is Catherine, another of the wonderful associate language teachers, in full flow singing "Heads,Shoulders Knees and Toes" as a warm up and revisiting language song at the start of today's lesson.Catherine is PGCE Primary trained with a specialism in languages.She has worked as part of our associate team since we started Primary Languages Network in 2011.

Today I was with Year 4 Spanish - well with half of the class as the class is divided in to two and the other half of the class were out of class in "Book Club Time".The two halves of the class swap over after 30 minutes  and then Catherine repeats this lesson with the second half of the class.Tomorrow Year 4 have another 30 minute lesson with Catherine.So in total they receive 60 minutes a week. Catherine is supported by the class teaching assitant, who joins in and supports the children with their learning.Both Catherine and TA reinforce good work with lots of wonderful praise! Today I saw how languages and literacy can sit side by side and how this can play a role in reinforcing English and target language knowledge about sentence structure.

So as I have already mentioned ,we started with a song, standing up on the carpet space away from desks. Then Catherine discussed with the children what type of words are in the song.Catherine used the song as a springboard to a discussion of nouns.She asked the children what type of words were in the song? She asked them if they could tell her the words in Spanish.Could they divide them in to two groups - plural and singular ?.She asked the children to tell her what they thought the terms "plural" and "singular" meant and reinforced for them that plural was not only "two" of something but "more than one object or item".The TA reminded them to think about nouns in the literacy work they had been doing too. The children listend and named all the singular nouns in the song and made links such as "boca" almost rhymes with "tocad". They knew it was one of  Catherine's favourite phrases. I liked the way that pronunciaton, recall ,rhyme and of course grammar had all been involved in this simple discussion about the nouns in the song "Heads,Shoulders ,Knees and Toes".

Catherine introduced new body parts and mixed these up with the familiar nouns.Now she added the "el" and the "la" and asked the children to tell her what these words meant.They already understood "definite article" and some were able to identify that "el" was masculine and"la" was feminine. Wow! said Catherine"You guessed what I was going to talk about next- how we know when nouns are masculine and feminine!"Catherine  and the children discussed the general rule that nouns ending in "o" tend to be masculine in Spanish but then the children spotted a "tricky one"- "la mano" ."Watch out and remember the noun so you don't let the tricky ones catch you out" was Catherine's advice. The fascinating thing in all of this was that the children all joined in and contributed and none of them was anxious about the "grammar" being discussed! 

Catherine played "Pedro dice" (our Spanish version of "Simon Says") with the class and added new unfamiliar nouns such as “estómago” (stomach) and praised the children for using their "sounds like ....?" strategy to work out the meaning of the noun, beacuse it siounded very similar to English! Up to this point the focus had been on spoken language, nouns and language skills to recall, remember or identify target language.

And then the attention turned to both spoken and writte word as the children helped Catherine to prepare ther chart for the "Surprise Sentences" activity.

They had to help Catherine think of and write down 6 nouns with their definite articles.Catherine gave the children "thinking time" to self correct, if they said the wrong definite article and checked spelling with them as she wrote.The children were quick to recall and say accurately the familiar words and some of the new nouns from today. 

She added stars next to some of the nouns and asked the children to think why this was the case. "Singular? " came back the first answer."Mmm let's look more closely ...." "Oh it's masculine and feminine" came back a reply .They checked through the list with Catherine to make sure this was the case and yes it was!! Catherine asked the children to help her add adjectives and very proudly one child suggested the word for silver as the class had wanted to use gold and silver as adjectives last week and had looked them up in a bilingual dictionary!   

"One of the adjectives has a star"  said a child."Mmm yes and that's beacuse it has the special power to change its spelling when it is written with a feminine noun.Let's think about when we may have heard it said differently? " suggested Catherine.The children were able to suggest that sometimes they had heard "roja". "That's right".It is a  magical adjectival agreement! So now Catherine was able to add tthe additional spelling "roja" to the chart .(All the other colours the children had suggested didn't change spelling).

It was time to try out surprise sentences.Once the dice appeared , one little boy was delighted to say that he had wondered why there were numbers one to six on the chart and now he knew why. The dice helped them to select a noun and an adjective explained Catherine.However as she explained, this game is called "Surprise SENTENCES". She asked the class what was missing? Capital letter or a full stop were suggested and she agreed that these would be very important in a correctly written sentence but what very important ingredient was needed to join the noun and the adjective and make a sentence? The class suggested it was "A verb" ! Catherine shared with the children the verb for the day "es". Together the class ghelped Catherine complete her sentenc and  together they read  it out and demontrated understanding of the surprise sentence that the dice had helped them to create. “El pie es marron”.

The children were delighted to now be able to create their own surpirse sentences!They needed dice, whiteboards and pens.  All the children were able to create sentences and understand what they had written .

The TA and Catherine walked around and asked children to look carefully, to check their sentences and to share their sentences  with another child. I was delighted to see that every child could attempt to write surprise sentences using their dice, white board and pen and all children attempted to self correct. Some wrote three sentences......

Some applied the building block rules very carefully - noun, verb, adjective........

And some with support........

.......were absolutely pleased as punch to be writing sentences in Spanish and did notice the missing "E" at the start of the second sentence , which had been wiped off by a hand! 


And tomorrow? Well the suprise sentence game will be extended and the children will be learning the "Hokey Cokey" in Spanish using all the body part nouns that they have been practising! 


Snapshot of language learning eight

Meet Kate and her class of Y5 French learners straight after lunch, on what has been a very  cold wintry day .What enthusiasm from start to finish in this lesson! Kate worked with me when I was the Languages Consultant for Warrington, as a language assistant.She was a degree level linguist and worked for a drama school but had decided to try out primary "teaching" A year later she went off to train as Primary PGCE teacher and returned to us in Warrington  as a classroom teacher.As a mum , she now works part time,several days a week as a classroom teacher, and on a Thursday she works as an associate of Primary Languages Network in a local primary school.She brings to the learning environment all the "craft of the primary classroom",Everything was calm, well organised and well structured.The flip chart conversation was up already for the starter..... !

It was staight in to the class starter.Working in pairs the children had to ask likes,dislikes and give a preference using the phrases they could read and the fruits and vegetables the children had learnt in earlier lessons.Kate explained this in French and it was obvious that this was part of the normal classroom warm up routine, as every one understood the activity- just needed to recap the language they were using. Everyone focused and joined in.

I noticed self correcting , trying to remember not use the text on the flip chart and children supporting each other. At the end of the short starter, the class was asked "Who was  ready for the sticker challenge?" As you can see in the picture at the top of this blog post , hands shot up.It's regular routine and motovator! Two children were selected and shared their dialogue  with the class to win their challenge stickers! The class were asked to follow and listen and check how the two children delivered their dialogue.Kate praised the children for the way they added good expression to make it a proper conversationand used intonation to ask the French question.

She asked the class to remind her about what she meant by intonation and the French question and children explained that the spoken question goes up at the end. The curly line  above the question written on the flip chart and   the question finger with the flick at the end are two techniques Kate uses to help these children remember intonation and keep on practising this.

. The children volunteered to represent the boys and the girls in "Splat"  in this lesson and two other volunteers kept the scores.Earlier today I discusssed with a colleague the use of "Splat" in the language classrooom , not just to be a game for a game's sake but to have a purposeful learning intention.The challenge however was not just to splat an item , the children were listening for likes amongst a variety of spoekn sentences about fruit and vegetables linked to the starter activity.They could only splat the item if the sentence spoken by Kate contained a like .The second team were given a greater challenge to splat more than one item and only if it was a" like "statement.The third game swapped to splatting items in sentences using dislikes.Some of the sentences contained a like and a dislike so only one item could be "splatted" , the one in the clause were a like was mentioned.Simple effective way of getting the children to listen for specific words  and phrases.The children  in the class were kept engaged and involved by suggesting which French phrases were likes/dislikes/ counting up scores in French , listening to help their own team etc


Today the class focus was on "devising roleplays" .Kate shared with the class the PLN SOW AFL Clouds filled in last lesson and highlighted that some had confidently coloured in green the "say what you would like in French and how much it would cost" , but others had coloured this in amber.Kate and the class were going to explore this in more detail so that everyone would be able to go "green"! The class have been learning French for one year but this is the first year with a PLN Associate Language  Teacher.Kate is focusing on making sure learning is thorough and there is clear progression

What I liked about the next activity was that there was choice.You could either read and sort cards or try writing from memory on a whiteboard with a partner the market role play conversation that class had practised last lesson. Kate asked "Who was up for the challenge of writing from memory?". The card sort had an added challenge because it was in French cursive handwriting.It was the independent work that was noticeable and the fact that once the children had sorted the conversation or written a conversation from memory they just swapped activities or added a twist of their own. 

Conversation card sorting.....

Independent writing of the conversation from memory.....

Adding their own twist, finding in the French cursive handwriting text specific sounds and letter combinations and counting up how many times they found  these.

As the children were working. I walked around and asked the children to read aloud for me what they were reading or writing. As has been the case in the other snapshot lessons I have observed , the children read aloud with confidence and good pronunciation. Maybe the feedback approach Kate uses ,is one way of reinforcing accurate pronunciation.The children read the text that she had now blu-tacked to the wall with her and she picked up on items the teaching assistant ,who is in the classroom with her and working with the children had noticed - such things as "don't forget even  if the number is written as a figure we need to say this in French and it's ok to count on on your fingers until this is automatic!".  

Finally Kate set the scene for the "French market traders game"and the independent speaking activity ,devising roleplays. She showed the children a picture of a French market and drew their attention to the funny ways the numbers are written and to the names of the fruits and vegetables written in cursive handwriting that they already knew or had heard.This was the backdrop to their performances!

She divided the class into market traders .....carrying cards with fruits or vegetables on the front and price in euros on the reverse side

All the children had to walk around on the command "marchez!" and only pause when they heard Kate's bell ring ....

Then the children had to team up with a partner ,so there was always a trader and a buyer and devise role plays to buy the item,ask the price and then swap roles and get ready to move on.

She increased the challenge with additional items and prices and then held "spotlight moments" where the class stood still and listened to a pair deliver their own role play .Feedback from Kate and the class was given e.g "bananes" has a silent "s" or "loved the way you added a question etc ....".Another craft of the classroom routine moment here as the children applied their primary learning approaches and sharing learning to the target language classroom!   





Snapshot of language learning seven.

It's always a delight  to go back to a school I know well and to observe a colleague that I have been working alongside for quite a long time.Meet Joanne Hornby! I first met Joanne as a PGCE Primary ITT at Hope University probably back in 2006-7 and we have worked together ever since.Joanne has been working one and a half days a week teaching Spanish at this local primary school across KS1 and KS2 for four years.Last year I observed her with Year 3 and this year I observed her with one of the two Year 6 classes looking at opinion adjectives to describe and explain sports preferences.When I found out this was the lesson I would be observing ,I very much hoped it woud have a specific activity at the end ....and I wasn't disappointed!

Joanne's lessons always start with a song and today the children in Year 6 started with two simple greetings songs from our PLN SoW .It is Joanne's way of settling the class after lunch and announcing it is time to focus and they did just that! She followed this with personal information questions and answers in a random order and directed to children all around the classroom .The Year 6 children were self correcting, taking what one child said and then adding their own information, giving extended  reasons to their feelings and the whole atmosphere was relaxed and focused at the same time.Some of the children even tried to add a touch of humour - so responses to "How old are you?" were for example "tengo veinte tres ".Joanne picked up on this and asked the child whether if he was " un profesor!! "A professor?" came back the English query and this led to a discussion of the fact this one of those "false friends" that the class needed to be aware of and that the real meaning of the word here was "teacher"!

 Today the focus of the lesson aboiut "expressing opinions" and creating full spoken sentences, ready for next week and their challenge to "write from phrases memory and adapt these to create new sentences to express ideas clearly" about sports.The week after that they would be recording their opinions using a special APP

I was amazed how many sports the children knew too! Joanne rewarded children with house points when she noticed that a child had created a sentence to impress for example "odio karate pero me encanta el rugby".As you might expect with Year 6 the competition for those house points was fierce! To revisit the sports  ,children were given a 60 second partner table tennis speaking challenge , trying to remember more sports nouns than the other player.and then before the choldren began to explore the adjectives they were going to need, the class discussed with Joanne the difference between “¿porqué?” and “porque” and identified the use of stress to intonate the words accurately and convey the different meanings. The use of the "stress" in Spanish carried over in to an investigation of the new adjectives and/or familiar adjectives the children were going to be using to express likes and dislikes and give reasons.

Joanne shared a slide o the screen of adjectives.She asked the children to remind her of strategies for comprehension of the new words and also how to work out how to say the words too.The children  reminded her it was all to do with "los ojos" and "las orejas" and suggested the following strategies......

  •  sound the words and look for familiar letter patterns or for challenging sounds
  • watch out for stresses as you sound them out!
  • look at the word and see if it's a cognate or is there a clue in part of the word or the phrase
  • look at the word and see if you need a bilingual dictionary to solve the meaning

Joanne also reminded the children to remember to put the words in to the context you are working in- so today the words are all to do with liking or disliking sports. Given 60 seconds to discuss what they could see with a partner ,all the class set about discussing the meaning of the words and some got out mini-whiteboards to list their decisions!

When the children came back together againas a whole class,Joanne unpacked with them the meaning and the pronunciation of the words.I noted down some of the ways the children explained  that they had tried to solve the meaning.....

  • aburrido - has something to do with "boring" because i can see "burr" in it!
  • energetico - looks like energetic ,it's almost the same
  • divertido could be different because it's like "diverse" (Joanne reminded the class her of false friends and explained this word actually meant "fun")
  • cansado - we know cansado because we say to you (Joanne) "estoy cansado" or "estoy cansada" when we explain how we are feeling sometimes.
  • bueno para mi salud - I think this is good for my health , because the first word means "good" and the second word means "for" and people say it a lot "good for your health. 

And I joined in the next part as it was great fun !We looked at the use of stress in the words in the list and we "packed a punch" on the letters with a stress.It worked a treat and the children corrected themselves by adding the punching action on the stressed letter.Later in the lesson the children still added the stress in the right place and Joanne walked around and prompted them with  "pack a punch".

The children put the adjective together with the very important but little phrase" porque es" and acted out the  words - one action per syllable with a focus on challenging letter combinations, like “enertico”

An impromptu question led to a class explanation:

Pupil: If we are girls, do we say “a” so forexample porque buena para mi salud”

Joanne: What an excellent language question – a house point! Let’s have a look! Is it you that’s being good or the sport that is good for your health? Talk it through with your partners!

Pupils: It’s your health!

Joanne: so if health is “la “ ,check to see what tag it had before the noun then we say “buena”.Can we check ? Oh it’s …..


Joanne: So it has a ,masculine tag “el” not a feminine tag” la”.So here we say “bueno! “Bueno para mi salud”.Let’s try it with “la gymnasia”. Have a talk with your table!

Pupil : We think it is “Buena” because it is “la gymnasia”

Pupil :Does it matter?

Joanne: Well yes , if we want to be correct we need to make sure that the noun and the adjective “shake hands” - remember how we have made nouns and adjectives agree when we looked at clothes? Why don’t we set this as an additional challenge today! Make sure  adjectives agree with the sports nouns we are talking about!

Time for the table game ,to create sentences about sports preferences and to decide if the sentences the children made, were sense or nonsense! 

First they sorted the cards:

game cards.JPG

....into preferences,nouns and adjectives

Then they took a card of each colour, created their sentences .Some left a gap between the last two cards so that they remembered that very important conjunction and verb "porque es".Then they read out their sentences to their team.Did it make sense or was it nonsensical ?Could they get those 5 points or was it only 3 points?

And finally the part of the lesson that I had been waiting for .I remember how excited Jo had been last year when she trialled this for the first time.She came to one of associate teacher twilights so animated and enthused- she had created a "sports cafe contradiction conversation activity".Today she launched this at the end of the lesson ready to build on it next week!

She set the scene by asking the children to imagine that they were sitting in a cafe discussing sports.She introduced them to the contradiction phrases and added actions."Caramba" and the banging of hands on the table was certainly a favourite! Then she set up a challenge.She challenged the class to contradict her! 

Joanne: íOdio el cricket porque es aburrido!

Pupil 1: íDios mio! Aburrido .Me encanta el cricket porque no es aburrido, es interesante y divertido.Odio la gymnasia porque es aburrido

Pupil 2 ( The class encouraged the  gymnast in the class  to respond) Caramba!Me encanta la gymnasia porque es elegante. Odio el futbol porque no es interesante….”

….. and at this point in the target language, Joanne asked the class to tidy away and practise their phrases during the week ,ready for the big sports café contradiction conversation next lesson!

Snapshot of language learning six

Meet Janet - not me- but a colleague of mine , an associate languages tutor with the Primary Languages Network.Janet is what we describe as an associate language instructor because up until two years ago she was a TA in a school (with degree level qualifications in French and German and first year degree level qualifications in Spanish!) , who helped to deliver the primary French. Janet is now learning how to move from this role to be a teacher of primary languages and applying all the primary creative and supportive skills she has already gained through her invaluable work as a TA.

Today Year 3 French and Janet in her "Friday" school, were exploring carnival. First the children explored the ways they could dress up for carnival. and added actions to the possible fancy dress Janet shared with them .Le clown,le cowboy , la princesse, le roi and le pirate. Janet and the children discussed the nouns, the sound and the way they were spellt .The children were fascinated by the sound of le clown and le cowboy and wanted to remind Janet that in Year 2 ,last year with her, they had looked for pirate's treasure in French! Janet asked the children what type of French fancy dress they could already describe and encouraged them to remembr the animal nouns they had learnt with her last half term .And then she played them this clip and set them all a task , to spot the animals they know *(everyone shouted out when they saw le lapin) and to find out who was the pirate (mon papa est le pirate say the words of the song!).Plus several children spotted the phrase "le superhero" and explained to Janet that they were certain it was a superhero because of what the little boy in the song was wearing for fancy dress ,a cape and a mask! 

Recently the children in this school have just started their school focus on Rio 2016 and Year 3 have just made their "Rio masks" for a performance later this term to Year 2. As the class was celebrating carnival in  France in the lesson, the two teaching assitants learning the language alongside the chldren , handed out their special carnival masks. They used these for their "faces in the crowd " conversations  using their personal information bank of questions.Aptly renamed for today as  "Carnival Questions"

Firstly Janet revisited the questions and answers and reinforced the newest questions  about animals and preferences.

If you look carefully Janet's mask has questions on oneside and answers on the other.She asked questions and handed the mask to a child who ahd to look for and then read aloud the answer Janet had written on the other side of the mask ,What was remarkable was the accuracy of pronunciation and how the children could then change the language to give their own answers.this was especially important for the child who wanted to tell Janet that his favourite animal was a mouse and he was getting a new one next week! When the children struggled ,Janet encoouraged the class for example to help count up to a specific number for a date or encouraged the individual child to "phone a friend" for support.

Then it was over to the children .The children had to imagine that they were at carnival- they had already discussed fancy dress, danced along to the carnival song and now they had to be the faces in the crowd and hold simple conversations with a partner wearing their very special Rio 2016 masks!

Finally Janet showed the children pictures of a real carnival in Nice and looked with the children at pictures of Harlequin in the parades.She explained the story in english to them about how Harlequin's mother had made the young boy a suit which was made up of bits of cloth from the tailor's where he worked ,so that he could go to the carnival parade. This led very nicely to an introduction to the game for next week - the Harlequin Game! Janet intends to revisit numbers,colours and practise full spoken sentences with animals.Janet had prepared the board game on the flip chart so the children could see her harlequin colour card patchwork.

How will the game work?Well Janet explained to the Year 3 children that during the week they needed to be thinking about their French numbers,colours and animals and to try to practise that special little phrase they use for their age and also to say what animals they have at home "J'ai..." Why? Well, because next week the class will need to be able to ask for a colour, turn over a card , say a number if that is what they see on the reverse or to win the coloured card for their team they will need to turn over an animal picture.The child then needs to say a full sentence and match the picture to the correct animal noun from the selection on the flip chart. 

Snapshot of language learning five

Meet Steph Pierre, a native speaker French QTS associate primary language teacher working with the Year 5 class at St Benedict's Catholic Primary School, who are in their second year of learning French! Today they were building sentences with opinions and nouns in the plural.

Incidental target language is used throughout Steph's interactions with the children and as the class teacher pointed out "They all really love French and it doesn't frighten them!" The pronunciation is excellent and right at the start of the lesson the children were revisiting their opinion phrases both with a written starter refresher, a matching activity looking and talking through the same  phrases with a partner.(It also gave Steph time to set up as she had just left her previous class and walked in to this classroom and the Year Five 60 minute lesson).

This was swiftly followed by target language practise to "develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar phrases"

Steph has been working as an Associate Primary Languages teacher with the Primary Languages Network for 2 years.Steph was a Head of Department in a secomdary school and still works with GCSE and A'Level and also adults at the Alliance Francaise.What I have seen over the last two years is how much she loves teaching in the four primary schools we have allocated her and  applies her native speaker skills and apporaches to her Spanish teaching in one of our schools too! 

I like to find out what the class teacher thinks,when I visit the schools.At St Benedict's ,the class teachers are in class and are learning alongside the children.Phrases such as "Never puts children under presssure but still challenges them" , " They are all always so keen to join in",It is very inclusive and all the children are learning" "Great that I can join in and feel more confident in  how to speak the language properly" are  comments from the teacher today that reassure me that the programme is working well in the school.Steph works alongside Lucy the coordinator and using the Subject Coordinator Planning Tools on the network VLE together they have set up a reallly effective learning programme for the children and are this year tackling assessment together too. 

AfL ran throughout the lesson .Steph asked questions such as "Which is the strongest j'aime or j'adore? " .She gave them visual clues: "Watch my actions,look at my face" and ask them to listen to the emphasis in her voice as clues. She linked language back to prior learning.

Tocreate the opinion sentences and therefore  "Speak in sentences ,using familiar vocabulary,phrases and basic language structures" Steph had to practise and revisit nouns for fruits and vegetables (learnt last half term for the first time). What was also interesting here ,was how Steph and the children had had to investigate types of fruits and vegetables that the children weren't hundred percent certain about as actual foods. (Les courgettes and les haricots verts are matter of fact itens for Steph but necessarily for the children she was teaching).

Using target language she rvisted with the children "les trois groupes differentes de mots- le ,la ,les" and let the children take the lead in understanding what she was looking for (definite articles) and the difference between le,la and les.Here are some of the comments from the children as they worked out what they were sorting with Steph: " Are you putting them in three groups?".... "One is feminine" .....   "Oh banane is femine then because it is la!"..... "Does it begin with an "m?"....... "She means masculine!"....... "I think some of them are more than one" " ......"It's like the plural".........."It is the plural!"

The children,Steph and the class teacher practised the three different groups of words by using hand signals to indicate to which group the fruit or vegetable noun belonged  : le (hand pats head),la (finger on nose) and les (arm up in the air).

Steph's focus in this lesson was upon the use of plurals to express an opinion about an item.The discussion was led by French examples e.g "J'aime les haricots verts" and "je n'aime pas les chou fleurs".Links between languages were made by the children as they compared what happens in English too.Silent letters and adding an "s" just like in English on the nouns but not hearing them in French was another point raised and discussed.

I found the listening game the class played at this point interesting, startng with simple splat of named fruits and vegetables , moving to fruits and vegetables and colours e.g un fruit jaune and then extending to full sentence requests with more compex language ."Je voudrais un legume vert,long et pluriel!" or "Je voudrais in fruit noir,vert,rouge ...".It was great to see the children helping each other and exploring how they can now "listen attentively and understand mre complex phrases and sentences" (KS2 Framework Oracy)

The big team challenge - boys aganst girls works every time! And today the challenge allowed children to win points for their teams if they could select a picture on the screen, give a complete opinion correctly and use the plural version of the noun. The chldren could double their points by adding a conjunction just like they had been practising and using in Autumn term and linking two s[poken sentences together about two fruits. Conjunctions....? The class teacher made one of those great literacy links moments between one language and another - "Think orange!" .Think orange? Why? Well in the school from Year 3 onwards the children build up a sequence of orange words around the classroom which are link phrases,links words and  conjunctions.I took a photo of some of Year 5's orange words.

Now the children were thinking about their orange link words in French- "et .mais ,car .....!

Remember this is a 60 minute lesson and fpr the last 15 minutes Steph introduced a cultural aspect.Listening to authentic text with a purpose! Everyone (including me ) found the clip she showed fascinating.It was about "le makeover de la Tour Eiffel" .She set the secne by explaining to the childfren they were going to listen to the French news and that she had no doubt they would understand what it was about and waht was happening and that there were lots of words they would recognise.A short challenging clip from the annual " salon de agriculture "that fired the children's imaginations about building la tour eiffel from fruit and vegetables! 

And the task Steph left the children with ,was to think creatively and to design their own French language piece of Art .It had to be a monument or a character but it had to be exclusively made of fruit and vegetables!

Snapshot of language learning four

During this observation I saw evidence of children explorong verbs, teachers and teaching staff working in the classroom as a team and children being well supported in their learning. Christ Church CE have been part of our language learning programme for atleast seven years now .The school's language learning is organised by Lynsey McHugh the Subject Coordinator .Weekly input is divided beteween class teacher input (15 minutes a week- often follow up reading and writing)  and a 30 minute French language practise session per week with Jayne Dewsnip ,one of our associate language teachers.The photo above is of Jayne and the Year 5 French class I observed yesterday. It is part of my annual observations of the Associate Primary Language Teachers for Primary Languages Network. Lynsey and Jayne work closely together and plan together.They adjust the planning to suit the year groups so at the moment for example there is a Year 5 class ( here in the picture) and a Year 5/6 smixed age class too. We are sharing these snapshots as our own associate group CPD and also with our Primary Languages Network coordinators so that they too can take a look and see what language learning looks like- snapshots of actual lessons.

I am certain that some of you who read this  blog post recognise this spider! It is a verb spider and works really well with languages where the present tense paradigm of the verb has eight components - therefore eight legs.The Year 5 class were working on the verb "avoir" in the present tense with Jayne. Jayne was secondary trained and has worked in primary with me for five years and during this observation I realised to what extent Jayne has learnt her new craft ."The craft of the primary classroom" .It is very noticeable in her pace and approach and the way she adapts her planning and  supports or challenges the children's learning and works with thre teaching team around her. 

So the chldren had already begun their spiders ...for the class display .The teaching assistant in the class had prganised the display (apparently the children and her have called the spider "Gustave!!)

At the end of the 30 minute input from Jayne, the class continued with their class teacher completing their spiders and thei spells for the class display. Jayne moved on to her next class.The planning and time spent organising learning between Lynsey and Jayne is paying off and is enabling the school to find more focused French learning time.

The lesson allowed me to see how our children are coping with working toward the DFE Attainment Target challenge "Understanding basic grammar" .Over the course of the last couple of weeks the children have been exploring a wizard's spell with the verb "avoir".First they looked at the nouns in the text and annotated the text of a spell (from our PLN SoW:

Then the children had looked for the masculine and feminine nouns - a recap activity , as they children began to look at nouns in Year 3 and can now identify masculine,feminine ,singular and plural nouns. Jayne asked for class examples of nouns and definite articles as they started their work in the lesson too.The children were able to refer to their spell cauldrons. (part of the follow up work with the class teacher from a previous lesson) ...

First  the class looked at the simple paradigm Jayne had already written on the whiteboard.She worked with the children so that they could identify the phrases came from their spell and that the phrases were in a certain order.The class looked at the personal pronouns and then with Jayne read aloud the paradigm.I found this particularly interesting as all the children read well and were used to seeing and reading aloud in French and I could see that this helped the chldren's confidence in being able to say all the parts of the verb. Jayne elicited from volunteers which verb this is the equivalent in English and asked the children what title or important name we give to a verb when we  say "to have" or "avoir".Some of the children gave back the answer "infinitive".The children discussed English examples of infinitives with Jayne.There were a couple of responses such as "I have" or "I see " before the responses became   "to get"  "to see" and "to dance"  for example. I found this reassuring as the children were working through their own understanding and making links and connections.

The lesson challenged some of the children as they worked through the links between languages and links with literacy.The children discussed the personal pronouns they could see ( most already understand and can identify  je/tu/il/elle and nous).Jayne and Lynsey actively encouraged the children and Lynsey was on hand and actively involved around the classroom  supporting children. I loved her comment about being "brave" and linking this to an assembly the class had listened to in the morning.One child's response " I will have a try" made us all smile! So the children had discussed the verb, read loud the 8 components of the paradigm, looked at the personal pronouns and now in grouops created rhythm performances of the verb which they shared with the class.Each table or group came out and shared their rhythm performance and even Jayne and Lynsey performed their rhythm verb too!

I think this final section of my blog post should start with "Who says Year 5 don't like cuddly toys?! " It was the mouse, the bat and the spider  that made hands shoot up to be volunteers in the avoir sentence game! 

The avoir sentence game allowed the children to "Speak in sentences using familiar vocabulary,phrases and basic language structures" , to "develop accurate pronunciation" and "broaden their vocabulary" (une chauve souris was a new word and some of the components of the verb avoir were less familiar than others) and to explore and develop their "understanding of basic grammar".Jayne asked the volunteers to hold up their animals and the class were asked to suggest a number (associated with and written next to one of the component parts of the verb avoir" on the board) and to say one of the animals in French.The volunteer had to locate the part of avoir and say a complete sentence  using the animal noun too.The class listened and supported each other as they formed  their sentences. It was at this point thjay "courage and bravery" played a role and house points were won as one of the kless confident French language learners volunteered to create a spoken sentence using the verb avoir! One of those golden moments ...( I am sure you understand!)Jayne's time was up and it was over to Lynsey and the Year 5 class

Time for follow up and 15 minutes completing spiders and starting their own wizard's spell sentences........preparing work for their French "Gustave" the spider display!



Snapshot of language learning three

Here is the third  in the series of "Snapshots" of lessons I am observing this term , delivered by associate teachers of Primary Languages Network.Last week I observed two year three Spanish lessons and this week I have been able to observe Emilie and a year four French class.

Meet Emilie. I have been working with her since ...we think 2008 ....and she is a qualified secondary French MFL teacher who changed to primary language teaching in 2011 after spending one day a week working with me in primaries from 2008. Emilie in French,like Ana in Spanish, contriubtes so much to the new Primary Languages Network VLE and in doing so helps lots of teachers too . (Therefore you may already have heard her voice, used her French texts etc)

French for Year 4 takes place at 9.00 am on a Thursday in this local school and the class have  currently a full hour of French with Emilie .They have been learning French for 18 months now and the class teacher is not with Emilie in class but is keen to follow up and find out what the children have learnt in their lessons.It  was playtime at the end of the lesson and the teacher came back in to dismiss the class and let them go out to play by birthday months' order called in German and French!

The associates work with our SOW and adapt this to suit the classes and to take in to account that they are fluent target language speakers.So it was lovely to see so much delivered in the target language with English reinforcement to accomodate all the learners and abilities in the class. Remember this is 60 minutes and that Emilie is now an expert at delivering in a primary environment plus she is very confident with IT and using APPs in the classroom.She has built these skills over time and it is a pleasure to see! I think that for some of us it is about building up this repertoire bit by bit or trying out a new skill

Emilie is focusing on the Year 4 Spring 1  SoW and has already introduced the class to the alien family. Her focus today was to build the children's ability as Stage 2 learners  to "describe people,places,things and actions orally and in writing".

First she reinforced accurate pronunciation and intonation by reading aloud and acting out with the class our simple story about the alien family .The class have devised actions for each member of the family ,for example "sister" means that all the children pretend to skip with skipping ropes. There is a question too in the text so with  their  "question fingers" they draw the air question mark and remmeber to make their fingers going up in the sky at the end" so that their voices do the same.

The children explored parts of the face and discussed with Emilie ways to remember the nouns.We could see here that the children were quite naturally "exploring the patterns and sounds of language". I noted down some of the ways they shared:

  • "bouche rhymes with rouge and a mouth is red"
  • "The upside down "v" - isn't it called a circumflex? - well this looks like a hat over the "e" so I can remember the French word for head because the "e" looks like it has got a hat on it!"
  • You don't hear the last letter in "nez" and it looks a bit like a nose!
  • We said last week that les yeux sounds abit like "lazer" and you can use "lazers" to see things
  • Does les oreilles sound abit like "earring"?

"Understanding basic grammar appropriate to the language" seems to be developing really simply and often spontaneously in KS2 PFL.Today the children were also able to explain the pattern they knew about les yeux/les cheveux/les oreilles. They   knew that you said the sound "z" on the end of the word "les " with yeux and oreilles and some of them could explain that "cheveux" started with a consonant so you didn't say the "z" sound.Emilie asked a volunteer to explain why it was the word "les" and not "le "or "la" and the volunteer explained it was because there was two of something .It could be more than "two" said another volunteer.Emilie reinforced that this was how we say the plural in French. One of Emilie's targets today was to get all the children to be able to write a simple French descriptive sentence placing the adjectives after the noun and adding a plural "s" on adjectives to agree with les yeux and les cheveux ( because they were masculine plural nouns)

Emilie and the children created faces for the aliens and practised putting colours after the noun.Some children wanted to put the colour before the noun but were reminded to think in French not English. What I liked was the fact that Emilie  now has the confidence to say to the class "Well try it out! Does "bleu les yeux" sound right in French? " and to wait for their responses and take a variety of responses and let the class decide which is correct .Reminded me of literacy activities I observed a few years ago as a Primary Strategy Consultant.

Emilie works with one IPad (her own) in class .She is adept at switching from recording to displaying to sharing to changing activity with the IPad.Currently the children are recording descriptions of their alien faces and using Voice Changer Plus to convert them to alien voices.They obviously love this .Last week some of the children recorded spoken activities and these are now "alien voice" style .The class listened silently today to try to  be the first to spot parts of face and colours.There was a discussion of how "rose" and "rouge" sort of sound similar but different in French!  

The children engaged really well with the physcial domino card game , building sentences.Emilie encouraged them to look at punctaution as the sentences got longer.The eyse and the hair could only be one colour .The best bit was when she was counting out the cards for next physical domino card challenge.First we had three cards , then we had six and finally counting together in French we worked out the sentence would have nine cards...because Emilie had split up "j'ai" into component parts!!!!

Children completed their draft sentence descriptions from last week and checked for adjectival agreement .I liked Emilie's phrase to remind them to do this ..."as you are working I will be walking round with my "special pen" to check on your extra letter "s" on adjectives!"

All the children were invited to stand up and walk around the classroom whilst the countdown timer ran down from 5 minutes to read aloud their sentences to other class mates .They were all engaged in "speaking in sentences,using familiar vocabulary" and were trying to "develop accurate pronunciation and intonation".

They all wanted to be chosen to record their voices on the Voice Changer APP reading out their full sentences at the end of the lesson. Here's an example video clip of how well some of the children could follow their own written French and read  this aloud in the target language!

Below is a lovely moment I captured when a chld in the class tried to say from memory her sentence and was so pleased to receive praise from a native French speaker Emilie on her pronunciation and accuracy!  Bravo!

And finally was recording time! First record and then play back the recording "alien style" to the class! 

Snapshot of language learning two

This morning I was with a class where the Year 3 children have been learning Spanish for two years already with a language teacher who trained in Spain as an English teacher in primary schools and has been working alongside myself since 2011 .See my blog post Snapshot of Language Learning One.This afternoon my associate teacher observations took me to a class where the children are only just beginning to learn Spanish and where the language teacher is learning too as she moves from  secondary to primary language teaching and learning too! 

Meet Kate!

 Spanish ,French and Gerrman teacher to A Level and now loving teachung primary languages too! Kate is supported by ourselves , our lesson planning and colleagues amongst us with a primary teaching background and most imprtantly the school languages coordinator who happens to speak other languages and understands primary language teaching and learning practice .Today Kate was asking the Year 3 beginner learners to really look carefully and listen carefully and explore sound spelling links- hence the picture.Kate was making the children aware of tricksters ...where the sound you hear may not be written in Spanish like you immediately think because of the way it sounds to an English ear!

I walked in to a familiar greetings song but to the tune of Star Wars and found the children sitting on the carpet , supported by both Kate and the class teacher.Throughout the lesson the class teacher joined in and learnt alongside her class and offered praise when children met a challenge or tired their very best. Once again it's the team work and trust I mentioned in my first snap shot blog post that stands out.I wonder whether it helps build the supportive learning environment because the children  can see that their class teacher is taking the learning seriously too?

The learning was well supported and I  made the following observations.

  • The learning was staged.Remember Kate teaches languages so can very easily identify the stages in learning.she is learning how to do this in a primary context .So first it was say what you see , then it was word shapes and anticipating the word behind the shape . 
  • Kate has attended pedagogy CPD.She loved the Let's Read CPD delivered by Vicky Cooke  - hence the word shapes! In this lesson you could clearly see that she has taken on board and is applying what she is learning.It is giving her time to be creative too. The children loved air pens activities and silent "h" where our air pens don't say a letter just take a breath.(Other letters are written in the air and sounded out!)  
  • Children were encouraged to make the links between prior knowledge of sounds ( colours/ name phrase) to anticipate the "tricksters in the animal noun sound- spelling game.Kate had set up a game where   the children had to find the nounfor an animal in spanish but there were 2 choices of envelopes  for the "tricksters" amongst the common animal nouns.Only of the choldren picked the correct envelope would they found the picture of the animal inside the envelope-.conejo and caballo were two such nouns because as Kate kept reminding the children  "sometimes Spanish sounds can catch us out when we have our english ears switched on" .The children helped each other, phoned friends and loved it when they picked the correct envelope and spelling and found the animal inside.     


  • The English clues helped the emergent writing and reminded  us  that these children are beginners and are playimg with the spelling of words in a new target language. some children found this an easy activity whilst others required support but they all wanted to write and try  their very best in Spanish. What was noticeable was that a hesitant speller found putting words on paper more challenging than using the laminated wipe on wipe off boards that had been prepared to support this particluar group of children in the class. Take a look at the same child's paper work and laminated board work. Food for thought here I think .......


  • And finally the school , the coordinator and Kate the language teacher are building in familiar routines in each class and this is clearly supporting and engaging the children.Year 3 had not forgotten whose turn it was to "jump in to the imaginary box" and take a class question as a challenge!  The class were keen to remind Kate as she left that it would a specific child's turn to start this particular class routine activity next week!
  • Did  I say finally? well actually I happened to go in to observe on the day that for the first time Year 3 were introduced to another regular class routine activity- the chatterboxes! One per table with simple cuecards (apparently the cue cards exist for each year group and reflect their stage of learning) .In the Year 3 boxes are nouns and adjectives that the children have already met ,As a table they must try to win cards off each other by saying what they see in Spanish of course!  The children loved it!.Independently exploring how you retain and recall language they learn!


Snapshot of Language Learning One

Today is my first day of Spring 2016 observations of the Associate Teachers who work with me  in local schools.The associates work in 47 schools and deliver languages - French and Spanish each week in the schools.We have worked closely with schools to ensure there is a subject coordinator in place and that the school knows what the teachers are delivering and how the children are progressing. This is the first of my snapshots 2016 to allow us to reflect on what I can see developing in PFL  and to share this with others .

Meet Ana !

Ana is a native speaker QTS primary Spanish  teacher.

Today is 2 February. Ana  was working with Year 3 and delivering Spanish. The children in the class have been learning Spanish with Ana for two years (Year 1 and Year 2).They sound Spanish when they speak the target language and start their lessons with questions and answes in the target language - ranging from saying the  month, date , weather , how they are feeling, likes , dislikes, numbers for different activities and asking each other simple questions .They understand target language instructions and can quite easily follow Ana. Over the last two years the focus has been on spoken language. Ana follows the Primary Languages Network SOW and adds her own elements too .Now in Year 3  the children are revisiting some core learning and extending this.Currently they are looking at animals .Today they were completing their fantastical fold out animal booklets. These are three fold booklets where a part of three different animals makes the head , body and tail of the fantastical animal .I loved the imagination and creativity I could see and the care they were taking in the selection and drawing of animals! 


I have visited the school on quite a few occasions and have watched the relationship between class teacher and Ana as it has developed. The year 3 teacher confidently joins in as a learner from the start of the lesson and learns alongside the children .She is becoming a competent Spanish speaker and it was delightful to see her today supporting children in the use of the  bilingual dictionary and prompting children too. This has taken time and there is obvious trust between Ana and the class teacher.It's a marvellous example to the children too!

Elements of this lesson were not only exciting to observe but also made me think how far can we take these young children in their language learning in four KS2 years? Please remember that these Y3 are not absolute beginners however they are just 7 and 8 year olds in an english primary classroom. 

So today I made the following observations. 

  • Last week when Ana was poorly the class teacher had taken time to look at bilingual dictionaries and see that the words in english and spanish start from round about the middle .I liked her idea of a post it that the children had stuck in the middle at the start of the English Spanish section to remind them of this fact. I was impressed that children I spoke to could explain to me why this was the case.
  • All the children were revisiting and practising alphabet skills and lietracy skills in how to access words in a dictionary .this was a true languages and literacy moment .Thinking of the animal in English, thinking of the spelling, thinking of the initial letter, looking up the initial letter and then looking for the second letter in the word to find the noun in Spanish.It was obvious that some children found this process easier than others but they were all engaged and working on the activities. Ana and the class teacher were able to support too- and so did I !
  • Children were fascinated by exciting facts they found out and not just the finding of the word itself but facts such such as dragon is spellt the same in English and Spanish and its got a line over the o and if you say two dragons it  is "dragones" just like "los animales" ! 
  • Children had to think carefully about the "real" word they were looking for .The class helped Ana to help a child think about the real word for "bunny" and the fact we would need to look up rabbit , but as some of the children suggested - they already knew that word.It was el conejo!
  • The whole lesson involved the children applying rules and reading and writing in Spanish.
  • One little girl I observed,was delighted to sound spell the word "caballo" which she could already say and had already seen in other lessons but had to really think about because of the "ll" .She was then delighted with herself and her good thinking when she then looked up horse in the dictionary and found out she was correct! 
  • There was a complete range of ability in the class and Ana felt able to introduce the whole class to the position of adjectives after a noun in Spanish  .This is not something i often see with Year 3 , but the children were all able to apply the rule as they added magical colours to each animal .They needed to this before they started off on their colouring of their animals for the class display. Ana was correct to discuss this with the children because several children shared  work with her before this point where they had already placed the adjectives after the nouns.It is how they have heard them you see - so one little boy said to me "it is the way you do it in Spanish"! He had been really omaginative in the use of animal nouns- snail, hedgehog and lizard! Why did he select these ? Well these are the animals he is most interested in and you can find the words you want to use in the bilingual dictionary!           
  • And finally some children wanted to add more than one colour, so there was a quick class discus sion about what the word was for "and in Spanish and the class teacher reminded them that the letter was a "y" even though the letter sound in Spanish was an "ee"!!
  • As a celebration and a follow up the class are going to create their display .Following the discussions today we decided that the display needs speech bubbles around it explaining to anyone who looks just what the children have learned and what  rules they used to access words they want to use in a bilingual dictionary and to add the colours they wanted too!