Well, if Radio 5 Live is where football lives, then following Saturday’s trip to Olympia, I am pleased to report the passion for languages is most certainly alive and kicking at the Languages Show Live.
I enjoyed meandering around the different stalls for an hour or so, stopping at Flashsticks for a quick chat with VeeJay and the team. Early on there were freebies from the EU stand (Europe maps, door hangers etc). I particularly liked the ‘Passports to the European Union’ and especially the ‘Languages Take You Further’ publications.
I called in at Better Chinese to check out resources for our upcoming G&T Mandarin lessons. I also spent time with Tony at Pro-Verbs as I am always fascinated by how different languages view the same proverbial situation with a different turn of phrase.
Went to the AQA seminar to hear about the iGCSE qualification and was impressed by what I heard, particularly bearing in mind how much classroom time is currently lost in CA preparation. Grades achieved seemed to be higher on the whole. Worth considering. Any thoughts?
Who can resist stickers? Well, not many of us language nuts, judging by how many of us were crowding the SuperStickers stand like bees around a honeypot!
I went to 2 seminars and the MFL Show and Tell:
1) Wendy Adeniji (@wendyadeniji)- How can your teaching be consistently good or outstanding?
This was an exhausting, but quite exhilarating ride. I tried to tweet and keep up, but it was hard to do effectively as there were so many excellent points made and practical examples given.
The main points for me were:
1) Knowing your class: Where they are, what they can do, what their targets are, where to seat them, what interventions they need.
2) Assessment and response: Feedback is VITAL. Showing students how to progress over time. Giving them the signposts but then ensuring that they respond to the guidance provided. I particularly liked the empty highlighted box drawn in the exercise book, which then has to be filled by the student (during DIRT – Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) in response to the feedback given by the teacher. Any boxes (whether empty or completed) immediately have attention drawn to them and they act as clear evidence of student engagement and response (or lack of them). Time was given over to the use of transition matrices and flightpaths to visually represent progress.
Verbal feedback can also be recorded. Staff at Wendy’s school have a stamp for this now ‘Verbal Feedback given’ which can be put into the student’s book on delivery of verbal feedback. The student then has to write about what this feedback entailed and any future implications this might have for their learning.
3) Questioning: This must be effective, probing and differentiated according to the pre-established knowledge of the group. Invite students to respond to another student’s response. Do they agree? Can they extend or improve the answer already given? Promote active listening in the classroom. Students should be engaged in the discussion going on in the classroom and ready to participate. Classroom routines for use of target language (as part of this) should be embedded. Classes need to be trained in their understanding of target language so that it is not just brought out for lesson observations to quizzical looks between students and the embarrassment of the teacher.
4) Classroom activities: There were too many ideas here to go through each in detail. However, Kagan activities were mentioned as well as ‘Fan ‘N’ Pick’ and ‘Quiz Quiz Trade’. The key element of each was high-challenge engagement. The use of mini-whiteboards was touched on (remember to pick up on those whose answers are incorrect) as an effective classroom tool. I liked the idea of ‘Talking Counters’ where students are given (say) 3 tiddlywinks each and when they say a sentence as part of a group discussion, they place one of their counters in the middle of the table. This shows at a glance who has been speaking, who has not and also stops the chatterboxes in their tracks at the end of 3 contributions! Differentiation in these activities can be shown through interaction with students and does not necessarily have to involve the creation of a raft of different worksheets.
2) Rachel Hawkes (@RachelHawkes60) Making creative use of authentic resources at KS3
The presentation in full can be found here
Again, there were so many ideas here and (as someone outside said, in an unintentionally overheard conversation) they all make you go ‘Well, why didn’t I think of that?’ True, but often we need a bit of inspiration and Rachel provided it.
The introduction looked at the NC documentation and that ‘authentic’ only occurs once in the whole thing and it is mentioned regarding MFL. For us, we should be providing opportunities for our students to learn about the cultures and traditions of the country / countries where the language that they are studying is / are spoken. Authentic resources (in all their varying forms) provide ‘a window into this new culture’ as Rachel indicated, with many already in use at KS2.
These resources, whether paintings, poems, songs or adverts, can all provide opportunities for a response, either with an opinion or creatively. They show the language and culture of the country for what they are and they are not ‘airbrushed’ to remove any tricky language. They are the original and genuine article.
Poems provide ample opportunities for gap-fills, but will rely on students falling back on their knowledge of phonics to work out the answers. To appreciate the poem itself however, requires a transfer of skills from English lessons. It is from this base that a creative response in the target language (with assistance provided as required) can arise. From here on, the possibilities are endless.
Never underestimate the power of committing a poem to memory. It can stay with you for a lifetime, as Gabriella O’Neill (@yogaone1) later testified to with Chanson d’automne More mundanely, they can assist with the reinforcement of grammar rules (Rachel referred to the use of articles in Spanish).
Songs can live long in the memory too and be the source of much classroom enjoyment and mirth. Add gestures and the reinforcement can go to another level.
Adverts (of all types) can open up more opportunities. Give the transcription and students have to work out what the product being advertised could be.
Authentic materials can help students to engage with many of the big ideas of the world (global hunger, the environment) in a way that page 67 of the text book may not.
3) MFL Show and Tell (apologies – I did not get all the names and activities mentioned)
This was compered and curated wonderfully by the ever-enthusiastic Helen Myers (@HelenMyers) with Joe Dale (@joedale) more than ably assisting with all things tech.
Joe pointed us towards a directory of authentic resorces
Sandrine Pac-Kenny(@sandrinepk) pointed us towards Kahoot and then gave us a demonstration. It got a bit competitive.
Then we were treated to the Foux Du Fafa Song and the Italian Hand Gestures Rap
The wonderful Prim (@chapeluser) extolled the professional virtues of Twitter to all MFL teachers and particularly recommended the worldwide MFL family which is the #mfltwitterati, before suggesting the bringing of teddy bears to class can promote the use of the 3rd person singular in questions and answers.
I think it was the team from Ashcombe that brought us the Post-it activity. 2 teams, 2 sets of different-coloured post-its (each team member has a different number on their post-it) and 2 boards to go to. The teacher calls a number and that member of each group runs to their board and has to write a nominated sentence with the other team members shouting assistance. Sounds like a recipe for equal amounts of fun and mayhem to me!
Zondle was recommended as a source of much student addiction as they complete MFL games in attempts to gain ‘zollars’ to trade in for prizes.
My recommendation was the ‘Finished? Try these’ activity stations around the room, originally designed by Kerry Tait (@misstait_85) and adapted for use in the MFL classroom for those early finishers. Students are trained to go to a different station when they have finished their written work and complete an activity which helps them to reflect on their learning from that lesson (compose a Tweet / text / crossword clue etc) The MFL templates can be obtained from me (@trekkiep) via a DM with your email. I will look to upload it for easier access too and let you know where I put it!
So, come 6 o’clock it was time to retire to the local hostelry for a chance to mix and mingle with many MFL colleagues over a glass of our favourite tipple and a language-based pub quiz. A great day, made all the greater thanks to sharing it with (amongst others) @lauraannesimons, @FatimaDuerden, @SylvieBRawlings, @sghani, @HelenMyers, @joedale, @chapeluser and @dawson_serena
Until the next time.
And remember (as Rachel Hawkes shared so wonderfully):
Let’s not make 58 resources and share none. Let’s make a different one each and share it 58 times.
Share, save time and make friends.
You know it makes sense.