#nalasat2

Yet another great Show and Tell event! This time, the second NALA Show and Tell, which took place at the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester.

For a comprehensive review of the day, obviously Dominic McGladdery’s blog is the place to go, as ever.

My contribution looked at finding accessible, authentic reading texts for learners, and I shared the links below. There are probably more, and better, sites available, but these are the ones I’ve been looking at recently.

Literary texts

News items

Callington TILT event

It was a pleasure to be the keynote speaker for Sanako’s TILT (Technology In Language Teaching) event on 26th June. It was different to be talking about something other than my employer’s stuff for a change!

There are so many excellent ways to use technology in the classroom or for planning lessons, so I decided to limit myself mainly to websites, which are available from just about anywhere.  I also included The Hat, though, as I can’t ever seem to talk about technology for teaching without mentioning The Hat!

If you’d like to see the links I mentioned, you’ll find them all in this link.  I owe a huge debt of thanks to all the #mfltwitterati, through whom I have discovered many of these sites – all mentioned by name at the event if I could recall who introduced me to each particular link🙂

Just a small question

A combination of catching up with all things Language World and a conversation at work has raised a question which puzzles and perplexes me.

Just a small question.

What constitutes ‘great literature?’

The Languages programmes of study: key stage 2 clearly states that pupils should:

“… read great literature in the original language.”

nostalgic_books_and_picture_2_166374

I know that in my head I have a definition of what constitutes great literature for me.  Other opinions are, of course, available, but I would expect a combination of some of the following:

  • addresses issues of significance to the reader
  • explores aspects of true human experience
  • may provoke an emotional response
  • contains beauty in the language
  • makes the reader consider something they have never thought of before

To be able to read a text which does any of the above, then I need a certain level of language knowledge, skill and ability to access it. Now, even as an adult with a GCSE in Spanish, I’m not convinced that I can read ‘great literature’ in Spanish – even if I truly want to.

Which is why I am struggling to make sense of the two halves of the phrase “… read great literature in the original language.”  I am all for using authentic songs, rhymes, stories and poems when teaching foreign languages at KS2 (or at any age, for that matter).  And although many of these items could well be called ‘classic’ (classic fairy tales, classic nursery rhymes etc), I can’t see how this constitutes ‘great literature’ as per my own definition.

So I wonder if my personal definition is limiting my ability to understand what is meant? Do I have a misconception of ‘great literature’?

 

What’s really interesting, though, is that the English programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 only contain the word literature twice –

Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development.”

“… to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.”

Not ‘great literature’. Just literature.  In English lessons, KS2 pupils will not be required to study great literature, they will only have to read for enjoyment. This, I get. This, I understand. This works for me in the context of foreign language learning too.

So why the difference? And how to address it?

As I said, puzzled and perplexed. Clarifications most welcome!

#nalasat

At #nalasat, an MFL Show and Tell event held in Manchester on 9th November, I shared an idea for helping improve listening skills through reading, making a link between the sound and the look of a word.

In brief, this is the idea:

  • At the start of the lesson, give pupils the text you want them to listen to later on, but don’t tell them that is what is going to happen.
  • Give them a few seconds to look through the text.
  • Tell pupils that you are going to read the text aloud, and they should join in with you when they know what you are doing. Repeat this several times, changing the pattern each time. Suggestions are:
    • Read every other word
    • Read every third/fourth word
    • Start reading from the end of the text
    • Read the first word of each line, then the last word of each line
    • Read the first word of the text, then the last word of the text, then the second word of the text, then the penultimate word of the text etc
  • You can make it as complicated or as simple as your own brain can manage!
  • After a few minutes of fun, put the text away.
  • Later in the lesson, conduct the listening activity, without saying that pupils have already had access to the text.

If you would like a comprehensive overview of everything that happened on the day, you could do worse than read this post by Dominic McGladdery.

It’s Show and Tell time!

If you’re a language teacher in the North West, and you don’t know what a Show and Tell event is, then that means you have to come and find out!

If you do know what one is, then you’ll want to come!

If you want to read about my previous experiences at such gatherings, then there are some posts here.

And if you want to sign up for the Show and Tell event on Saturday 9th November at Instituto Cervantes in Manchester, then you need the link below.

Did I mention it’s free?

Sign up herehttp://nalanwmflsat.pbworks.com/w/page/68992051/FrontPage

Consultation on GCSE subject content and assessment objectives

I have just thrown a VERY cursory glance over the document entitled Modern languages GCSE subject content and assessment objectives published today on the DfE website along with similar documents for other subjects.

jackinabox

The general tone of the ‘proposed’ content strikes me as being similar to the O level. It could be the frequent appearance of the phrase ‘literary texts’ which brings to mind a mini Gove jack-in-the-box, popping-up every time a sentence contains mention of  ‘contemporary  culture’ so that it doesn’t become too modern-sounding.

It’s not that I object at all to the use of literary texts in the appropriate place, but the specific reference is just too, well, insistent.

Oral examinations (not speaking tests, I note, which is perhaps too modern?) are to be internally conducted but not assessed – some pressure relieved there?

There is a hint of CLIL in the phrase “make appropriate links to other areas of the curriculum to enable bilingual and deeper learning, where the language may become a medium for constructing and applying knowledge“.

My “Award for Raised Eyebrow” was won by the reference to “translate sentences and short texts from English into the assessed language to convey key messages accurately and to apply grammatical knowledge of language and structures in context. 

And the “Two Steps Backward” trophy goes without question to the equal weighting for each of the 4 skills. Again.

As I say, it was a very quick viewing, and I’m sure there’ll be other things which occur to me in the weeks to come.

Responses required at DfE by 20th August.

York Show&Tell 1st June 2013

I was one of the people who volunteered to present a quick slot at Suzi Bewell’s Show&Tell event in York today.

I shared a few ideas for using song in the classroom, and here are some links to the things I mentioned.

  • Firstly, there’s the ‘Adapting Familiar Tunes’, where we sang the time in German to the tune of Eastenders.
  • Then I referred to LyricsGap, a site where there are ready-made exercises in several languages, but where you can also customise your own based on the lyrics.

LyricsGap

  • For Germanists, there’s this great website where a guy called Alex creates videos of popular songs which he’s translated into German. One of my current favourites is Preisschild, a version of Jessie J’s Price Tag. You can find some activities to go with the video on this site.
  • I also referred to a post I wrote having seen Greg Horton speak at Language World earlier this year. Greg had some more excellent ideas for using song – take a look and feel free to get in touch if you want more of an explanation.