Sunday, 28 September 2014

European Day of Languages 2014

What a week....we had lots of fun celebrating the European Day of Languages! My blog post about our previous activities was very popular (click here), so I have decided to share what we did this year and you might be able to use some of the ideas next time.
Here is the list:
Food tasting:
I walked in Burscough Tesco and asked the community outreach worker (Jill) to donate some food for our international food tasting activity. I had done some research on the Tesco website before and these were the products I asked for:
Dates from Egypt- Arabic
Breadsticks- Italian
Spring rolls- Chinese
Tortilla crisps- Spanish
Poppadoms- Hindi
Pretzels- German
Croissants- French

And.... I bought snails from Amazon, for those who really wanted a different experience-an idea from the Facebook Primary Languages group. Most pupils had a go, even the head teacher came in to try some and the class teachers had a small bit as well:-)
Around the world in hot air balloons:
From the book "Languages take you further" the pupils had to learn to say "hello" in 3 different languages, write them down on post its, stick them on spoon or stick men and put them in hot air balloons. The pupils made the mini men, I made the hot air balloons. This idea was inspired here (by @dominic_mcg) (The Culshaw family are sick of eating yogurts by the way:-)



A balloon visit to another school
 After making our hot air balloons, we visited St. John's Primary School and we gave them to the pupils there:-) They made us some hand made cards and stickers. Mrs Murphy, the Spanish teacher in the school prepared a fantastic assembly with all kinds of activities: singing together, learning a German tongue twister, acting out/saying the numbers in Japanese, singing a song in 3 languages, reading a story in Spanish and telling us interesting facts about languages. It was such a lovely experience!

Etwinning project-postcard/song exchange

Three of my classes participated in this project: we made cards, wrote "Happy European Day of Languages!" on them and posted them to 18 schools around Europe. We are still receiving them and they look great on our display. Also, part of the project was to record/upload Frère Jacques in our own languages on the eTwinning website, it is fun to hear the song in Portuguese,Latvian, Polish, Spanish, etc... we will listen to all in the next few weeks:-)


Chinese/Spanish Skype with a class in Birmingham

This was absolutely amazing! Simone Haughey (a lovely teacher I know from Twitter) and I had agreed to do a short Skype session with our classes and sing a song to each other. The test call failed before the lesson but Simone messaged to say we should try it, and it worked!:-)) Now the whole world knows that I will hardly get an Oscar for Best Director as it took me ages to work out the camera on the iPad, and quite a while to realise that the screen is showing them and not us... we were all wearing the same uniform! Simone played the ukulele and sang "Twinkle, twinkle little star" in Chinese, and my pupils repeated the lines after her! She was great!  We sang the "Cómo te llamas?" song and taught them Me llamo, Hola +Adiós
Simone's blog is here:
My class teacher colleague wrote about this event on our school's website

A surprise video from Grangetown Primary School

After Simone's Skype call I thought that things couldn't get any better, but the same night I got a message on Twitter from Carmen, another Spanish teacher from Sunderland... she and her class made us a really nice video, check it out here: They knew that we were learning about expressing likes/dislikes, so in the video they showed us some really good words on big papers and sang us a song! I was in tears after reading the post, seriously! By the way, Carmen's blog is a gold mine for language teachers, I "steal" something from it every week:-)
Stickers, books, passports.... all freebies: you can get them through the link from my previous EDoL post.

Some"I love languages" class displays

 Video clips

Frozen in 25 languages- it was a big hit!

Lego movie song (mulitlanguage)
It won't upload on my blog, but here is the link:

So that was our week of celebration.... But there is no time to rest, we are ready for the next big event: Columbus day in a few weeks' time:-)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

My article in a REAL paper!!!

This week I have been extremely busy getting ready for our celebrations for the European Day of Languages. As I have said before in my EDL blog post, my lessons need just as much organising as a wedding...  We are participating in an eTwinning postcard exchange project, I am preparing an "Around the world in 80 languages" balloon activity, a food tasting stall, EDL displays and a lot more!
I didn't want to skip this week's post so here I am recommending an article I wrote for the Sanako Platform Language Teaching Newsletter. I talk about how to get the most out of eTwinning, hope you will like it! I am very proud and honoured to have been asked to contribute:-)

On the way to the post office with 36 eTwinning EDL postcards

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

New blog for my classes

As I said before, we are living big moments in England, languages are compulsory in primary schools! I only teach 1 lesson a week to each year group but I would like to reach out more:-)
Here is my action plan:
  • 5 A DAY Spanish: where pupils have to sing a song or play game every day in school
  • chocolate cake in the staffroom to celebrate Spanish:-)
  • and today I have created a new blog in case the pupils want to show their families what we do in Spanish or sing the songs at home (they do that!). Here we go: . I am planning to add another one tomorrow for my second school. I will show pupils' work, as well. For now I have put the songs and the new words/expressions on the blog. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas! And you can leave a message for my pupils in the class blog, they would be made up if you could leave a comment:-)

Update 12/09/14: I have just created my other school's blog, it is here:

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Have you had your 5 A DAY?

We are living big moments in England these days: languages are compulsory in primary schools from this school year! Schools can decide on the time allocation-  in my two schools I teach each year group once a week.
We are aiming for "substantial progress" by the end of Year 6, and I was wondering how to make the most of the input my single weekly lesson provides. Spacing out is so important when learning a language, the children could really benefit from more Spanish on the days when there is no lesson, so I have come up with the "Spanish 5 A DAY" idea.
It is practising Spanish for 5 minutes a day by singing a song or playing a game. It will be pupil led, I will pick the leader(s) every week. I know how busy class teachers are and I don't want to put extra burden on them by asking them to think of activities to do. They will "just" have to make sure they can fit in a song or a game in the day. I always have the new vocabulary on the display, they can take the flashcards off for a quick game of "Heads down thumbs up" or they can read the numbers while playing the "secret signal". I will leave a CD and YouTube videos on the class laptop in case the children want to sing a song. The leader(s) can wear a badge for a week and get a reward at the end.... which will have to be chocolate if I really want them to remember the 5 A DAY Spanish practice:-)
This is the poster I made for the classroom display:

You can find a lot of ideas on how to build in language activities in the school day on Clare Seccombe's blog:Time for Languages.

More about pupil participation in my lessons:

10-minute teachers

Spanish leaders

The cupboard - new game

Wish us good luck:-)!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Activities for KS1 (the little ones)

Today one of my best friends messaged me asking for advice on what to teach to KS1 pupils. She is making the transition from secondary to primary, and I have some experience teaching KS1 from the past, so I have offered to share what we have done. 
First of all, get  the¡Español! ¡Español! CD (by Carole Nicoll), it is available on iTunes, too. It has lots of songs you can use with older children later (transport, sport, days of the week, etc.)

Sing ¿Cómo te llamas tú?(first verse only) from the ¡Español! ¡Español! CD , while a teddy is being passed around. When the song stops, everybody asks: ¿Cómo te llamas? and the child with the teddy answers.They sing the song and pass the teddy until they get bored! 


Sing ¿De qué color es? from the ¡Español! ¡Español! CD, make pom poms and ask the pupils to raise them when they hear their colours. More ideas on my blog: colour games.

 La Vaca Lola: an all time favourite! Do the actions, point to the body parts (cabeza, cola) and shout MUUUUUU!!!!! Read game ideas for this topic on my blog.

More songs:
En la granja de mi tío 

Un pulpito:
I printed/laminated pictures for the pupils to hold while singing it:

Sing "1, 2, 3" from the ¡Español! ¡Español! CD.

Sing ¿Qué tiempo hace? from the ¡Español! ¡Español! CD.
Sol, solecito


Soy una taza

Las verduras


Cabeza, hombros...  on the ¡Español! ¡Español! CD or here is the video:

Con mi dedito (you can add more body parts)

Chuchua (you will be singing it ALL DAY once it gets in your head...)


La voz misteriosa: blindfold a pupil, ask another one to say something in a changed voice: (like ¡Buenos días!) and the blindfolded pupil has to guess who is saying the sentence.

Esquinas/estaciones: Put 4 different flashcards or words in the 4 corners of the classroom. Play some music (a Spanish song from the list above, and they will all sing it), ask the children to dance or walk around, and pause the song after a while. Tell the pupils to stand in a corner, and a volunteer to pick a word from an envelope (with the eyes closed). Those who are standing at the corner the volunteer picked  have to sit down, they are out. The music starts again, and when you pause it, the pupils have to pick a corner again. Choose a person from those who are already out to pick the next word from the envelope. Pick the pupil who sits well and sings well, that will encourage them to participate after they are out. The last one standing is the winner. But we are all winners, as we all play and participate:-). Little ones take games very seriously....
Hot/cold hiding game: send a pupil out and ask somebody else to hide a toy/teddy/fruit...whatever vocabulary you are learning. When the pupil returns, the whole class has to say the word (la vaca) quietly if he/she is far away but they have to get louder and louder as he/she is approaching the toy.

Musical statues: we all know the rules... sing a Spanish song, ask them to dance or walk around, and when you see someone moving when they should be statues, say ¡Siéntate! be cont. with STORIES and EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES.
If you can offer any advice, have a favourite song/game for KS1, leave a comment!