More innovative – and useful – approaches to language revision can untie students hands in exam settings – UK MFL

Rote learning of stock phrases short-changes language students and ties their hands in exam settings. More innovative – and useful – approaches to language revision can change that, says Jane Jones.

From my experience learning in context is always more advantageous for learners rather than stock phrases that need to be put together. This can make for clumsy answers which no doubt decreases their performance on the fluency scale. In my teens I struggled to learn French but learnt by rote all of the sentences turn right, turn left, brother, sister etc, etc and was then shocked when I got to the exam and needed joining words.  I am hoping that this advice from AQA will be really useful to all language teachers. Also despite it being written for MFL teachers I think this is also the case for any language teaching including EAL, ELL, EFL etc.

It can be found below at http://cerp.aqa.org.uk/perspectives/revising-revision-mfl

The semi-apologetic phrase ‘only doing revision’ devalues the highly skilled teaching and formative assessment involved in good revision. It can provide opportunities for pupils to practise, hone and demonstrate their linguistic knowledge and skills; yet  some revision activities in modern foreign languages (MFL) seem to close down options for students to use their language fully and flexibly.

 

The focus becomes fixed on paradigms, lists and formulaic expression that can paralyse comprehension and leave students lost for words in exam settings. Mindful of this, I set a challenge for my trainee teachers to devise revision activities for Key Stage 4 pupils that would provide structure as well as opportunities to diverge and to be creative.

 

Engaging with assessment Revision is most productive when it reflects regular classroom learning, teaching and assessment styles (albeit more intensified), and a classroom culture of challenge and collaboration. The student teachers were very inventive in their ideas for quality revision. Their work was underpinned by a strong belief in the basic tenets of an Assessment for Learning approach, providing activities to progress learning and ensuring students took responsibility for their learning and gave support to their peers. The revision activities were collaborative and mutually supportive, the learners benefiting from helpful questioning and feedback from each other. The aim was for them to know what ‘good work’ looked and sounded like – crucial in MFL.

 

Newly qualified teacher Nicola provided an example of revision activities on the topic of ‘healthy lifestyle’. Following some initial recall and practice exercises using the mark scheme as a guide, pupils in her German class had to come up with an answer to the question ‘what makes a healthy lifestyle?’  After a few lessons marking each others’ work and scrutinising sample answers from the exam board to generate success criteria, the pupils attempted to answer the question in groups. The criteria were: use three tenses, give your opinion, and use complex language.

 

Nicola provided a hint on how to tackle the question to achieve the highest possible marks, but the students then took over, adapting previously learnt language and creating new language to hit the success criteria. The students then swapped their answers with other groups, got out their mark-scheme checklists and awarded grades, highlighting aspects of language which scored points based on the success criteria and also the GCSE exam marks. They became quite expert, says Nicola, and sample responses were written up as exemplars and shared with the class.

 

This example shows how pupils can engage deeply with the assessment criteria and come to an understanding for themselves through peer- and self -assessment of what they need to be able to do.

 

Furthermore, such activities can wrap around any aspect of assessment. This provides a huge confidence boost and enables pupils to become not just skilled test-takers, useful though this might be (McDonough, 1995), but expert examiners for themselves. In this way, summative assessment can be very formative (Jones and Wiliam, 2008) and can generate creative and contingent use of language as well as consolidating known structures and vocabulary.

 

The student teachers felt that intensive periods of challenging revision could be integrated more regularly into normal MFL teaching and learning as part of pupils’ self-guided learning and assessment awareness. In such a way, revision is not confined to an end of year activity but becomes a central driver and enabler of learning in a continuous cycle of revision.

 

Dr Jane Jones is Senior Lecturer in Education and Head of MFL Teacher Education at King’s College London

 

References:
  1. Jones , J. and Wiliam, D. (2008) Modern Foreign Languages inside the Black Box. London: GL Assessment.
  2. McDonough, S. (1995) Strategy and Skill in learning a Foreign Language. London: Edward Arnold.

Bilingualism alive and well at the 2012 Olympics.

It never ceases to amaze me when out and about that some people, often in positions of importance, seem to miss the whole point of bilingualism altogether and just focus on ‘they must learn English’ …. whoever ‘they’ are.

No notice is taken of any prior learning and often in education then use their trump card what if they don’t write …..Tamil, Portuguese, Chinese… and think that this lets them off the hook with everything else and along their merry way they go continuing to do what they have always done and not embracing change or any other ideas.

It was therefore great to see the  2012 Olympic opening ceremony bilingualised as is the Eurovision Song contest languages are spoken alongside each other and everyone is included.  Critics are quick to point out that other languages are more common or should have been used but again it goes back to complacency and not willing to embrace change and finding the one area that it doesn’t work and hanging your hat on that. What I feel is more important is that everyone is able to communicate and be part of it together rather than being the one person in the corner who is looking on. Sadly some of my educational colleagues do not feel the same and some have argued ‘I only have 1, 2 with EAL,ELL’ and are quite happy for that child or those children to just sit and the teacher waits until they catch up  whilst teaching using often out of date methodologies.

Perhaps with the constant use of the flags and this bilingualism being televised they will start to think differently and embrace what those who speak Welsh and Gaelic and many other languages already know it is a strength not a weakness and should be nurtured.

Candy in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and French

思想語言 | Thinking About Languages

It’s always important to continually learn new words and review old ones. I’ll try to do so by posting a word a week. The words are not going to be of any particular difficulty, just whatever comes to mind. I’ll start with a word in one language (most likely Chinese because that’s what I need to review) and then try to find the equivalents in the other languages.

The first word, in honor of Halloween, is the word for candy.

Chinese: 糖果 – tang guo; 糖 is the character for sugar, 果 means fruit.
Japanese: 飴 – あめ – ame
Korean: 사탕 – sa tang
French: un bonbon


Credit: Free images from acobox.com

View original post

Chinese character 204 Strawberry. Just right for the Olympic tennis Strawberries and cream with Pimms.

思想語言 | Thinking About Languages

One day the word ichigo came to mind, but I could not figure out the meaning of the word. It means strawberry!

Chinese: 草莓 [ㄘㄠˇㄇㄟˊ]
Japanese: 苺 (イチゴ) (ichigo)
Korean: 딸기 (ddalgi)
French: une fraise

Remember to visit my other blog Learning Traditional Chinese Characters.

View original post

Nomination for Inspiring Blogger Award

Today I have been nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Thanks very much to http://italkyoutalklanguages.wordpress.com for this.  I am learning a lot about Japan and am able to support my readers who want to learn Japanese.

Seven things about me: I love

  1. The beach
  2. Sunsets
  3. Flip flops
  4. Beach hut
  5. Cross stitch and quilting
  6. Olde fashioned flowers sweet peas and lily of the valley
  7. Small pink and yellow roses

The blogs I nominate are very small because I have only just started:

  1. http://italkyoutalklanguages.wordpress.com/       all about teaching and learning languages
  2. http://languagerichblog.eu/            multilingualism for stable and prosperous societies
  3. http://beachtreasuresandtreasurebeaches.com/  one shall at a time
  4. http://thinkingthrulanguages.wordpress.com/  learning traditional chinese characters
  5. http://thisworldthrumyeyes.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/off-it-goes/  sharing my vision of the world
  6. http://beachtreasuresandtreasurebeaches.com/2012/07/27/location-location-location-baker-beach-san-francisco/ beach treasures and treasure beaches
 
Very inspirational Blogger

” renewed focus on language skills at school is needed” John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce

Sometimes when engaged purely in Education it is easier to forget the wider world and the wider implications of why were are teaching a particular subject.  I was always aware being a secondary teacher that my students would possibly be working in Design, Programming,Engineering or Architectural type areas, not least because as well as teaching GCSE, A Level there was always NVQ teaching of skills that was part of my teaching role.  However for some they never think beyond the next exam and in primary often thought only about primary tests and not about the whole child and their future prospects.

With that in mind I thought that this information may be of use for those looking outside the box for reasons that languages should be taught and bilingualism and multilingualism should be embraced.

This is current from the Norfolk Chamber of Trade and shares the benefits to businesses about the importance of communicating with exporters in their language. Here is the link to the article:

http://www.norfolkchamber.co.uk/export/export-news/boost-exports-further-improving-businesses-language-skills-and-international

I am pleased that the Primary Languages Classroom Awards supports language developement to enable or children to be able to function on the world’s stage. Below is the article in full.

A survey of over 8,000 businesses released by the British Chambers of Commerce, shows that exporting activity continues to increase. However, the findings also suggest that providing firms with more training in foreign languages, and increasing their exposure to international companies would encourage more business owners to export. Economic growth relies upon British businesses being able to export more, so the British Chambers of Commerce is calling for more support for firms to help them trade internationally.

Language skills are vital to exporting

Knowledge of other languages is an important skill for exporters. 61% of non-exporters that are likely to consider trading internationally consider a lack of language skills as a barrier to doing so.

However, of those business owners that claim some language knowledge, very few can speak well enough to conduct deals in international markets. French is the most commonly spoken language, with 73% of business owners claiming some knowledge. However, only four percent are able to converse fluently enough in French to conduct business deals. This number drops significantly for those languages spoken in the fastest growing markets. In 2012, the IMF projects that the Chinese economy will grow by 9.5%, but just four percent of business owners claim any knowledge of the language, with less than one percent confident they could converse fluently.

Re-establishing foreign languages as core subjects within the UK national curriculum and in workplace training would mean that the next generation of business owners are ‘born global’ with language skills. The BCC is calling for the National Curriculum to be revised so that studying a foreign language is compulsory until AS level. Businesses could also be helped in training staff in new languages, if the government offered additional financial incentives such as tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses that make a significant investment in language training.

Businesses with stronger international connections are more likely to export

Businesses that do export are more likely to have stronger social connections with overseas markets. When asked what led them to export, the top three reasons cited by current exporters were:  collaboration with overseas partners (71%); a chance enquiry from outside the UK (57%); and previous work experience abroad (52%). Those business owners that have lived abroad are more likely to export. 11% of current exporters have lived aboard for five years or more.

The BCC believes that creating opportunities for employees to work in overseas companies could help expose firms to more international opportunities. For example, an international business exchange programme, perhaps modeled on the well-known academic Erasmus scheme would allow employees to complete placements in companies abroad, and bring back their experience to their employer. A scheme that covered BRIC economies, as well as Europe, would mean that businesses could take advantage of fast growing markets as well as the eurozone.

Commenting on the findings of the report, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Exporting is good for Britain, so it is right that we should encourage current and future business owners to develop the necessary skills to trade overseas. We’re encouraged to see the percentage of firms exporting in our survey has increased from 22% in January 2011 to 32% in January 2012. Exports are equivalent to nearly 30% of UK GDP[1], but more can be done to help businesses take the first step to exporting. Encouraging companies to boost foreign language skills with incentives like tax credits is just one way of making sure we continue to export best of British products and services around the world. A renewed focus on language skills at school, as well as helping companies forge new connections overseas, could help ensure that current and future business owners are pre-disposed to thinking internationally.

“We are already the sixth largest trading nation on earth, and the third largest service exporter, but to really secure our future as a leading exporter we need to help companies take advantage of new markets. Giving businesses the opportunity to forge links with international firms, develop employees’ language skills, and providing compulsory education in languages for young people will transform many of the great businesses we have in the UK into success stories overseas.”

 

School in Devon reports its language teaching to parents

For anyone not sure how to report to parents here is an example from a school in Devon. I hope thy enter the Primary language awards this autumn, they look like worthy competitors.

http://www.moretonhampstead.devon.sch.uk/parents/reports/MFL%20Report%202012.pdf

MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGE CURRICULUM REPORT FOR PARENTS

2011-2012

French continues to be taught weekly by Mrs Holding in Easdon, Shapley,

Mardon and Butterdon.

This term the children will be hosting a visit from a parent who is a native

German speaker. A native French speaker has already visited and took an

active part in some French sessions. The children enjoyed sharing an

afternoon with two visiting children from France this term.

The twinning link with Betton has provided a great opportunity for the children

to develop their cultural understanding and the purpose of learning French.

There has been the opportunity to correspond with the Betton children, giving

a real purpose to writing French. The more able Year 6 linguists have been

required to write more fully and act as a role model in terms of eg accent for

the other children.

The school’s assessment procedures have been developed and regular

assessment is now made on the three strands in the Framework for oracy,

literacy and intercultural understanding. This ensures that the children’s

learning is meeting their particular needs.

For the next academic year, the school plans to:

  • Develop its teaching of French phonics through a new resource called Take 10 Phonics
  • Continue to strengthen the link with Betton and use this as a meaningful learning resource.

June 2012

 

http://www.moretonhampstead.devon.sch.uk/parents/reports/MFL%20Report%202012.pdf

Science lesson taught in French

Here is news that Chelmer Valley high school taught a science lessons about rockets in french.  Well Done.  Have you taught your subject through another language?

See more here:

This week Year 7 students have been treated to demonstrations of different types of propelled “rockets”, with a twist! The MFL and Science departments joined together again to show the importance of languages within a scientific setting.

The session began with the Ariane rocket countdown carried out in French. Mrs Hammoudi, ably assisted by Mr Harper, then went onto introduce vocabulary in French for students to carry out their own experiments involving “un conteneur en plastique, un chronometre, un alka seltzer, des lunettes de protection et de l’eau”. Instructions were given in French and … up the rockets went!

Students created their own rockets for Mr Harper to “fire”, pumped up water rockets dodging the showers with Mr Smart and Mr Watts, and worked on making helicopters with Mrs Gold.

A good time was had by all and we are looking forward to even bigger and better next year!

http://www.chelmervalleyhighschool.co.uk/news/?pid=4&nid=3&storyid=32