Ideas for teaching language.

I saw this great piece in the TES so must share in its entirety as it is difficult to work out which piece to leave out. Even better is the resource to help teach Welsh using Bart Simpson – the children will love it.

 

Role play and toy telephones can help children to learn languages

How do pupils learn a language at school? One topic at a time, with plenty of time to think. But in real life we draw upon several topics at once, thinking on our feet. Revision followed by comedic role play gives children excellent practice in this. Select two or three language points to revise, then set up a brief role play with simple props. Plastic money and toy telephones work well.

Divide the class into groups of three. Each group has a parent, a shopkeeper and a small child who asks irrelevant questions such as “Beth ydy’ch rhif ffon chi?” (Welsh for “What is your phone number?”) The parent and the shopkeeper must finish a task – buying bananas, for example – despite these interruptions.

But they must also answer at least five of the child’s random questions. The others can be answered with expressions such as “Wait a minute”. On the board, list topics that the child could ask about: anything from big noses to boats.

Telephone role play is also fun, and helps children to listen. Pupils sit on their chairs back to back. When shown a flashcard nominating a new conversation topic, speakers must change the subject. This could be as silly as switching from sweets to elephants.

Afterwards, get pupils to write down any words it would have been useful for them to know. Give them the words and get them to write notes on how they could have used them in their role plays. They could even draw simple pictures, with the new vocabulary in speech bubbles.

All these activities practise the target language without the soporific effect of rote learning – though, of course, some repetition is required. But some neuroscientists now suggest drilling in varied ways rather than simply repeating the information in the same format, which can bore the brain. This replicates what happens when we speak a new language in real life, when we adapt to new situations at high speed – just as pupils must do in their role play.

Even panicking in a safe environment can be very funny, while burning the target language into the memory. It shows pupils that they are capable of finding the words when they need to make themselves understood. Children have a natural fearlessness and we should take care not to educate it out of them.

What else?

Talk to Bart Simpson in Welsh in Louisa28’s activity.

bit.ly/WelshWithBart

Teach German numbers in a fun way with a PowerPoint shared by alemanjana. bit.ly/EasyNumbers

Using rhawkes’ resource, introduce pupils to colours and to the verb haben through songs and gestures.

bit.ly/ColoursAndHaben.

Consultation – draft National Curriculum programmes of study

Yesterday the government in the UK put out a draft National Curriculum consultation.  One of the programmes of study included is Foreign Languages at KS2 and 3.

Here is a brief summary of what is says please do join the consultation and let them know as teachers what you think.

Consultation – draft National Curriculum programmes of study:
Draft 2014 National Curriculum by subject

Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides and opening into other cultures. A high quality language education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world.

Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages equipping pupils to study and work in other countries.

Teaching should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one of the following languages French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin or Ancient Greek.  (No mention of sign language)

Teaching should provide a balance of written and spoken and lay the foundations for further foreign language teaching. It should enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings in speech and writing, focused on familiar and routine matters, using their knowledge of phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary.

The focus of study in Modern languages (ML) will be on practical communication whilst the focus in Latin or ancient Greek will be to provide a linguistic foundation for learning modern languages and for reading comprehension.

I think I have blogged before that I learnt French at LLantarnam school but what I probably haven’t said before was that I studied French from yr 7 to 11, German yr 8-9 and Latin yr 9-11. All from a ‘bog standard Comprehensive’. This built on my bilingual assemblies, signage and occasional lesson in primary school in Welsh.

I don’t think without my expectation for another language to always be present that I would have taken up the languages so easily in my secondary years.  Without the teacher enthusiasm of taking myself and a few friends who sung at a French singing competition where we competed against A level students I would have been disinterested.

What is also abundantly clear to me now is that the Latin that I learnt has probably been the thing that I fall back on and use the most. It is this linguistic background that I can work out words in other languages and have confidence to try.  NB I find that in my work with so many languages on a  daily basis it is actually Italian that I wish now I had learnt as every time I look at it I feel comfortable and it seems natural. Yet as a teenager I would never have even thought of learning it.

So for me these changes are welcome as long as we always remember there are children at the end of any policy/strategy that we deliver to teachers and pupils. A teacher interested in a language is far more motivating and inspiring than one who wishes they could teach Spanish yet are teaching French because of the outdated belief that well if you know one language you must be able to do this as they are only children. I think the tide is turning on this one and its nice to also see a recognition that currently Chinese is the largest language in the world so that to equip our youngsters for the world of work it gives them a real chance to be a global citizen.

Update on machine translation services

Intel discuss their translation services

Intel doesn’t develop its own machine translation systems. We utilize  commercially available technology or technology  to create  our capability.

They see the following areas developing the use of these machine translation services.

Social Media is going to grow tremendously and machine  translation capability, in terms of supporting a global audience, is going to  become more and more important.

The other area is the phone environment. I see a lot of growing focus in that  area. This is not only from a commercial point of view, but also from the point  of view of government and the military.  A lot of the initial research on  all of this technology has been done by the U.S. military and the intelligence  community. The intelligence community had developed some mobile technology for  the field, where an English-speaking agent can go in and have a conversation  with an Arabic-speaking Iraqi. As long as they kept to some basic, simple  sentences, they could have a real-time conversation in the field with this  technology.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/mobile-apps/making-a-mobile-translation-app-0396747#qSVG93aDBesgvtzH.99

I think that these systems will be integrated into all areas of translation as time and the development of these apps improves.

Welsh children should all have a chance at bilingualism

Further to my post last week I see this press report from Wales Online again about ESTYN’s findings and the writer supports my belief that we should encourage bilingualism but the policy and strategy for ensuring this including the training of teachers with the level of Welsh needed to be more fluent in English-speaking Welsh schools.

As a parent I for one was pleased that Welsh schools were embraced and that I had the choice of sending my child to a Welsh-speaking school even though English was our main family language. Just as important for my other family members was the choice not to send their child to a  Welsh school but to and English school that taught Welsh. I am sure this is still a really good compromise for most of the Welsh people.

This is just food for thought unless everyone just speaks Welsh in Wales then dual language and the balance between the two must always be measured against the needs of the children and society and not a group that wishes just to promote the language.  Whilst there is a place for this they can alienate if they try to impose their wish. My family members are mainly happy that they speak English and have no wish for their children to learn Welsh apart from an awareness of it and an acceptance of bilingualism.

The report finishes on these notes to which I totally agree.

Whatever action the minister decides to take on the basis of the findings, he  needs to ensure that the excellent work done by his Government doesn’t slip  between the cracks.

 

The Welsh-Medium Education Strategy is a case in point, as are the powers in  the School Standards and Organisation Bill. At long last, the framework is in  place to hold local authorities to account in terms of their Welsh education  strategies – so please, let’s not abandon ship now.

 

For those still young enough to soak it up, to those of us a little more  advanced in our years, including all school staff, the support needs to be in  place to give everybody the opportunity to grasp bilingualism with both  hands.

Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2013/01/31/all-must-have-chanceto-grasp-bilingualism-91466-32713956/#ixzz2JdY5Kj5I