Saturday, 28 June 2014

European Day of Languages activities

We celebrate the European Day of Languages every 26th of September in my Spanish lessons. EDL is like your wedding, you need to plan it well ahead!
3 months before the EDL:Find an eTwinning project!
Register on the eTwinning website right now, and sign up for an EDL Project. Last year, we participated in one where we had to send cards to other countries in Europe saying Happy European Day of Languages in our native languages. We made the cards in our first two Spanish lessons in September, they were 10 minute activities at the end. We received cards from all over Europe, we loved reading them and finding the countries on the Internet. Look at our display:
2 months before: Order freebies - "Passport to the European Union" and "Languages take you further"!
These passports are great for rewards. They describe the countries of the EU, they have stickers, and a small map.
The "Languages take you further" book has a cartoon on each page, some useful expressions and numbers 1-10 . Order them from here! They are free but take a while to deliver, so get them now.
1 month before: Get the "I love languages" resource pack from Routes Into Languages. It includes posters, badges, certificates and calendars. The pack is not free but very reasonably priced.Currently these resources are unavailable, I have tweeted Routes Into Languages to ask about the stock, and will update the blog when there is an answer from them.
text speak badges in German, Spanish and French, can you guess what they are?
calendar in 12 different languages
"I love languages" certificates, you can write the chid's name on the back

"I love languages" badges
"I love languages" poster- we added why it's useful to learn a language
1 week before: Language challenge - A week before the big day I took the pages out of the "Languages take you further" book and made a display out of them for the classroom wall. I set a challenge: the pupils had to learn to count up to 5 in a foreign languages, learn to introduce themselves or say hello. They got a prize the following week if they said their words in class in front of everybody.
1 day before: Video about the importance of languages - Download this video from YouTube, no explanations needed:-). In class watch the clip and ask the children what happened! A very popular video, the pupils demand it all the time.

And download a popular Disney song in multilanguage version, I am sure Frozen will be a hit! Here I have my favourite, from Pocahontas:-)

On the day: Raid your kitchen cupboard and find food you can relate to the 5 most spoken languages. Show these in class and ask whether they can guess where they come from.
Mandarin Chinese: rice
English: marmite
Spanish: tortilla wraps
Hindi: Turmeric to season curries
Arabic: couscous
I know my friend Sue is planning a food tasting session , good luck to her:-)!

For more information and interesting facts, check out the BBC Languages page. 
If you need more ideas on how to celebrate, visit the CILT EDL webpage here.

And while I was talking about prizes so much, here is a competition: Where did I take this picture? Write your answer in the comments and I will send you a badge/sticker/ or certificate!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tengo, tienes, tiene: Mission Impossible with Greg Horton

In April I went to  Greg Horton's  ALL Active Learning session, where he showed us fantastic activities for the languages classroom. I have already blogged about  his tense dance  before, now I will tell you about how I adapted the Mission Impossible conjugation for my primary pupils!

The new Languages Programmes of Study states that children should understand and apply high frequency verbs by the end of KS2. In Year 6 all my pupils know three singular forms of the verb "tener" (tengo, tienes, tiene), this week we added the plural forms. I made a PP with the following sentences:

Tenemos un canal. ( In Burscough there is one!)
¿Tenéis calor? ( We are in a very warm classroom in Year 6:-)
Tienen una playa. (Our penpals have one in Spain).

We have added some actions for the verbs :
Tengo:we point to ourselves with one hand
Tienes:we point to the one sitting next to us with one hand
Tiene:we point to somebody who is sitting in the other end of the classroom with one hand

Tenemos:we point to ourselves with two hands
Tenéis: we point to the ones sitting next to us with two hands
Tienen: we point far away, to the other end of the classroom with two hands and think of our penpals who have a beach in Spain.

I played the "Mission Impossible" theme song and they had to walk around, do the actions and say the words. The first word (tengo) comes in the 23rd second of the video, then the rest follows with the same tune. You will understand me once you listen to the song! After the first minute I stopped the music because it changed and it was no use, and also, there was a bit of overexcitement in the classroom, and we needed to calm down. The pupils were allowed to shoot with their hands while pointing, they loved it, even in first person singular! It would work better with 4 verbs in each singular and plural, but I just let them do an extra shooting after tiene and tienen.

More Greg Horton on my friend Barbara's blog: Back to Back, a very entertaining way of "testing" the pupils.
Thank you Greg Horton, and also, thank you ALL (Association for Language Learning) for organising high quality CPD events! If you are not a member of the ALL yet, join now on their website: , £36 only. Because I am an ALL member, Greg Horton's training session cost me £10 (a whole morning), and I learnt so much! What are you waiting for?:-)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The first West Lancs Primary ALL Hub

In April me and my friend Sue (French teacher) went to the ALL Language World Conference in Lancaster where we listened to very inspiring presentations, and on the train journey back home we decided that it was time to act and set up a Primary Hub in West Lancashire!
The Association for Language  Learning has several of these hubs in the country, but in my area there aren't any...I always travel hours for CPD, but who knows..... maybe there is a language teacher in every corner of West Lancashire waiting to share good practice! We are hoping to meet up every half term/term to support each other, share ideas and resources.
Learning a language in primary schools will be compulsory in England from September, it is such an exciting time for everybody now!
Here is the flyer:
(The first one is hosted by me only, Sue has a training and will join us later.)

If you are local, please come along, it would be nice to meet like minded people.
If you want to give me advice on how to run a hub, feel free to do so! I am very enthusiastic but have no experience at organising meetings/events. I have already been contacted and given lots of help by Vicky Cooke and Sue Cave who run primary hubs. Thank you ladies!
If you can't come, please spread the word about this hub, you can share this blog post on Facebook and Twitter if you scroll to the bottom of the page.
And finally, if you wish to donate a prize, freebies, send some leaflets or be a speaker in the future, get in touch, you will make us very happy!

Find out more about the Association for Language Learners here.
I have been a member for years, and I have attended great CPD sessions, received the Languages Today magazines and attended the very inspiring Language World Conference at a discount price. All this for £36 a year! Bargain!

See you on the 9th of July, in Burscough!
I am this excited about meeting you:-)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Breaking News: eTwinning Quality Label

A week ago I found out that our fruit recipe exchange projects with our partner classes in Valladolid  were awarded with the eTwinning Quality Label!!! My partner Natalia and I had to apply separately , we both achieved the label and we are very happy and proud of our work.
When we got in touch for the first time in July last year, we never thought of getting any recognition, we just wanted to have more fun in our classrooms, so it is great news that our joint work reached a high standard and won an award.
On Monday Jane Hegedus, the Primary Languages Consultant in Lancashire, asked me to do a presentation on our international work at the Primary Subject Coordinators meeting in Chorley, and while I was putting the presentation together, I just couldn't believe the amount of videos, photos and penpal letters we exchanged. Here on my blog I am not allowed to show the images/videos of the pupils, so I just copied some slides where I talk about eTwinning.


Next week we are going to celebrate and give the pupil certificates out in Year 3 and in Spanish club. I asked the children what they wanted to do, and here is the wish list: lots of music, games and fruit salad:-) And like in a real award giving ceremony, we will say thank you to everybody who helped us:

-the pupils of Colegio Compañía de María in Valladolid
-their teachers Natalia and Sandra (yes, we call them by their first names, like in Spain:-)
-our teaching assistants: Mrs Rice and Mrs Krajewski
-the student teacher: Ms Tittle


If you haven't registered on eTwinning yet, do it right now! It will only take about 5 minutes. Go to the partner finding forum, and see if you like any projects. Some of them are short, while there are long term ones. Or just start your own project!Write about yourself on your profile page. The European Day of Languages is coming up (26th of September), this time last year the forum was busy with postcard exchange and language celebration projects.

Good luck!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Building blocks sentences

Wednesday morning is my very official PPA time, my daughter is in nursery until lunchtime and I have about 4 hours to sort my lessons out. After finding my laptop in the most impossible places, like the ironing basket or behind the radiator,I spend most of the time on Twitter or Facebook, looking for new ideas and sharing what I can help with. Today I have realised that I no longer have Office on my new computer, and can't open PowerPoints, so I thought it was a sign that I had to do something completely different. I looked in my Twitter box (ideas taken from Twitter that need adapting to my groups) and found these buildings blocks I had put away after reading Dominic McGladdery's blog.
They will fit in with our activities very well, because at the end of the school year we are looking back at "old" topics and skills, and we create sentences. We come out to the front of the class and act out the different parts of the sentence, we change each other if we know a different or better word and we try to make the sentence as long as possible. The building blocks will be used as part of the "sentence celebration" activities.
As I said, no Microsoft Office, so I invented the kitchen whiteboard Powerpoint, it is very easy to use :-)
These are the sentences I have written on the blocks. After reading them and discussing them, the class went to sleep for a minute on their desks (they just put their heads down), and I put a block in front of everybody. When they woke up, they had to find where they belonged to and stay together. We did this activity in Year 6 only so far, but I will show you the Year 5 photos, too:

 The activity went really well in Year 6, the pupils read the sentences first on the whiteboard, practised tengo/tienes/tiene, then they were given a block and had to find their sentences without the whiteboard. It was a bit messy and noisy but they were saying the words and trying to work out where they needed to be. We did the last few words together, as a class.I have blank blocks and next week we will add more words to our sentences.

Another possibility is to make our own movies on the iPads with "Lego movie maker", this was Joe Dale's idea on Twitter. I have downloaded it and we will definitely use the app once it is on the school iPads.

And if you are feeling sorry for my daughter/son because I have taken their toys away, I can assure you that they won't even notice, they have so many. And anyway, who do you think enjoys Lego most in my family? :-) 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A movie : "Carlitos y el Campo de los Sueños"

A few months ago I saw a movie recommendation by the lovely Fatima Duerden on my Facebook Timeline, and I immediately bought "Carlitos y el Campo de los Sueños" on the Spanish Amazon site.The DVD was delivered very quickly but it took me weeks to find the time to watch it; with two young children I don't have a 100 minutes to sit in one place:-). Today I am off sick,on my own all day, and to cheer myself up, I watched Carlitos first thing in the morning. Well, the movie ended in tears for me, so much about cheering up, but I have enjoyed it a lot and found it useful as a language teacher.
The short story is here. I am not a film critic (imagine all the tissues I'd have to buy), so I will just list some ideas I could use the movie for in the Spanish classroom. Before watching it with your class, please make sure your school has the necessary permissions to show the DVD. Here is the trailer from YouTube:

I would recommend the movie, because...
  • football is the main theme, which is great  with all the World Cup activities in the classroom.There is no time to watch the whole movie, we will focus on the football/school scenes, a few each lesson. Football is a good way to engage boys, and even I lost my breath when the Real Madrid star Raúl appeared in the movie!
  • the pupils are about the same age as the children in the movie, and they speak in Spanish! It is good for them to see that all the words, sentences and skills they learn are actually used by others and not just by us every Thursday.
  • it teaches vocabulary. We could look out for football words like fútbol, portero, jugador, la selección, España, Francia, cero-cero, penalti, el balón, el campeonato, disparar, pasar, etc. Personal qualities like fuerte, alto, potente, rápido, generoso,egoísta. Expressions like Somos un equipo,  Suerte amigo, A por ellos, A ganar . Places in the school like la biblioteca, la clase, la cocina. Jobs like entrenador, director, jugador, padre,cocinera. The names of the main characters have special pronunciation rules: Hipólito, CaRlitos, GutiéRRez, NaCHo. If you want to be very informal, you could teach  A qué mola, tío/tía, Eres una máquina.
  • It teaches them that they don't have to know every single word to understand a situation, they can make guesses based on clues.
Enjoy the DVD and please let me know what movies you have used in the classroom!

More football ideas on my blog: