Saturday, 18 October 2014

Are the words important?

Earlier this evening, before I went out to play the Joanna and conduct at a concert, I watched Celebrity Pointless with my family.  The first round was a good one (countries with A as the first vowel in their name) but the second round was truly inspired: misheard song lyrics.  I am well chuffed that I knew all the answers, probably because they were nearly all songs of a certain age.  It reminded me of this book that I've had for a while, which is full of misheard lyrics, malapropisms and "other linguistic gaffes".  Right up a word nerd's street.

Here, for your entertainment and amusement:  From which songs do these misheard lyrics come?

  1. Listen to the rhythm of the gentle boxing gopher.
  2. Sparing his life for his mum's sausages.
  3. No Dukes of Hazzard in the classroom.
This reminded me of something that my elder daughter told me last week.  She said that when she was in Year 6 (last year) one of her jobs as house captain was to operate the hymn words in assembly.  This meant sitting next to the Year 1 children.  One day, as they were all saying the Lord's Prayer, she heard one of the little ones say:

".....And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us by email...."

Yesterday I spent another day at Manchester University with the primary trainees.  We spent a lot of our session looking at storytelling, now an important part of the new Key Stage 2 programme of study.  We practised and told five stories, among them Le Navet Enorme (lesson 7)  I think songs, poems and stories in the primary languages classroom are great, as they offer learners the opportunity to hear and speak passages of extended language and let them hear the music and rhythm of the language.  If you do the Navet Enorme, you can have children with very little French speaking confidently for a five-minute stretch because of the repetitive nature of the story.  One of the trainees asked if, when teaching stories, poems and songs, we should explain to the children what the words mean and make sure that they say all the words properly.  In other words, should we take steps to avoid our pupils delivering us by email and listening to gentle boxing gophers?

Last week I taught my Year 1 Spanish group a new Adiós song from this book.  They sing all the words, some of which are pretty complex - "Me dio mucho gusto/Estar con vosotros", with gusto, do all the actions enthusiastically, and their articulation of the words is pretty good.  They enjoy the song, but they don't know what most of it means.

Some of the songs, poems and stories that we use in the classroom are designed specifically to convey and practise a specific grammar point or structure, and so it is important that the children say the words correctly and know what they mean, if they are to understand the structures and use them in their own speaking and writing later.  For example, my Year 4 Spanish class need to be able to say accurately and understand those little, repetitive pages in the middle of La oruga muy hambrienta  when we are telling the story together, as they then go on to adapt the story using those little pages as the basis for their writing.  The same children happily belt out Chiquirritín at Christmas time without understanding all the words.

It seems to be a careful balancing act between enjoyment and participation, and ensuring understanding where necessary.  I would be interested to hear your thoughts!

  1. Petula Clark, Downtown
  2. Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall

Monday, 15 September 2014

European Day of Languages

September 26th will be European Day of Languages.  Over the last couple of weeks I have been saving a lot of links for it, and so I thought I would share them with you here.  In no particular order:

Monday, 8 September 2014

French and Spanish Pocket Cards

I first started making these a long time ago, but I couldn't find a good way of having them printed or of selling them online.  I started using Sellfy to sell resources online last month and realised that it would also be a good way to sell the Pocket Cards.  

So far I have finished two sets for Spanish and one set for French.  You can find out more here in my Sellfy store.

Samples and two free Pocket Cards are available on my website.

So how can you use the Pocket Cards?  I have laminated them, punched a hole in each (the hole is marked on each Card) and put them on a binder ring.  The idea is that children have the Cards as a reference on their desk to use during the lesson.  You could also stick individual cards into children's books or give them cards for home learning.  The best thing is that they are pocket sized, ideal for any language learners.

Friday, 5 September 2014

LinguaTALK Spanish

I mentioned over a year ago that I was working as an author for Mantra Lingua, the people that brought me the talking pen.  Well I have been writing a Key Stage 2 scheme for Spanish and French, and the Spanish is finished!

LinguaTALK Spanish is a series of 31 sound-enabled charts, whose sound you play using the PENpal, the successor of my original talking pen.  It's fully new-curriculum-compliant and is ideal for the non-specialist KS2 teacher as well as KS3 teachers who have Year 7s at lots of different levels.  Here's a little clip of one of the charts in action:


Each chart has a presentation layer, where teachers and children can listen to the new vocabulary and structures and practise them together.  Then each of them has "game layers" built in, which can be used with the whole class, or children can use them individually, in pairs or small groups.  It's something that children can use at any time, so useful when time on the timetable is at a premium.

All the Spanish is spoken by native speakers, so it's ideal for the "pronunciation and intonation" part of the new curriculum.  It also starts children off with reading and writing, building them up from simple word level to short texts at the end.  There is a Phonics chart, as well as two charts with information about Spain and the Spanish-speaking world.

The pack also contains an interactive whiteboard version of the charts, the software and paper with which to make talking minibooks and flashcards, and a sound-enabled bilingual dictionary.

I'm really pleased with the result - there's nothing quite like it on the market, and I hope you like it.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Spanish and French Challenge Cards

Nearly every resource that I have made since 2002 can be found on Light Bulb Languages (formerly MFL Sunderland) where they are, and always have been, all available for free.  Sharing, as I have mentioned before, is my thing.

A wise Twitter friend once said to me, "You won't ever get rich by giving all your resources away for free," and that is very true.  Now that I work for myself I have to think about where the pennies are going to come from.

Last term I started to put together a set of Spanish Challenge Cards for my classes, mainly to have something to give to those children who finish work first and want something else to do.  Thinking up all the activities, finding all the language and pictures and putting the cards together took a long time, and so I decided that rather than add these to Light Bulb Languages I would make them available for sale.  I looked into various different ways of having them printed and wondered how I would work out the orders and the postage and so on (my web building capabilities don't run that far!).  Then I became aware of a website that would allow me to sell them electronically in PDF format.

You can find all the information about the Spansish and French Challenge Cards, which are suitable for Key Stage 2 and lower Key Stage 3, on my website.  Each set of 50 cards is only £8.99, and you can download the answers and the overview for free.  I hope you like them.