December 1, 2013
The London Branch of the Association for Language Learning hosted another Greg Horton Special yesterday, inviting Greg to speak about his inspirational and award winning project for getting pupils to use the target language spontaneously and in an authentic way – Group Talk.
Following his previous visit about 18 months ago I got together with our lovely Hanban teacher and put together the following presentation to teach pupils the key phrases for introducing the first stage of Group Talk to the my Year 12 learners. They responded incredibly well and with great enthusiasm; they were able to see how the core phrases could be used across a range of topics.
To begin with we gave them the following sheet of these core Group Talk phrases laminated for reference on the desk, but as they grew more familiar with them the support became less necessary. What is particularly gratifying is the fact that they will now come out with some of the core phrases at an appropriate moment during the normal course of a lesson. For example, I might make a statement about something and they comment with 真的吗?！ (really?!) or 我不同意 (I don’t agree) off their own bat.
October 2, 2013
Water, water everywhere is the theme of this year’s National Poetry day, an annual ”nationwide celebration of poetry for everyone everywhere”. It falls on the first Thursday in October which this year just happens to coincide with Germany’s National day, or Tag der deutschen Einheit, on October 3rd.
When I was learning German (many moons ago!) both my grandmothers, a maths and art teacher respectively, took great delight in showing me what German they knew by reciting a German poem – Die Lorelei by Heinrich Heine. I’m sure that the reason that they could remember it word perfect years after first coming across the poem was due to the repetition of sounds, rhymes and rhythms. They may even have heard and learnt the words set to music. If so that too would have helped to fix the words in their mind.
The story of the Lorelei luring the fishermen to their death on the Rhine whilst combing her golden hair fits perfectly with the theme for this year’s National poetry day, so if you are tempted to give it a go here are a couple of videos that could be used to introduce it to students. The first is a spoken version of the poem showing the text with the music of the song version in the background:
The second version the song version without text but is of a boat trip on the Rhine:
Of course is the weather is not so good on National Poetry day maybe a rain inspired poem might fit the bill rather better?
Having got into the theme of water poetry I had a look for French as well.
For younger and beginner learners of French how about this poem entitled La Mer by Paul Fort? Paul Eluard’s poem Poisson is also quite accessible. A wider collection of water themed or inspired poems can be found here as well as this anthology put together by a class from Grenoble. Finally I found some examples of water inspired poems written by French school children.
With the requirement for pupils to be exposed to literary texts under the new national curriculum there’s no time like an occasion such as National Poetry Day to get started…
October 1, 2013
Today (October 1st) is China’s National Day, marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It will be the start of a week long holiday, the so-called Golden week, when many Chinese go travelling. The BBC learning zone broadband has an excellent short introduction to National Day in China and customs associated with it. It’s perfect for showing to beginners as it includes basic greetings.
Talking this video clip as a starting point there are many ways in which the theme of National day could be exploited by linking it to the following contexts:
- Significant dates, both for and individual and a communities (historical events, birthdays etc)
- The significance of national identity – flags and anthems
- Customs and traditions, such as dance
- Travel and holidays - Golden week is a time when many Chinese go on holiday
- Food – family get-togethers and meals
For more advanced learners the Confucius Institute online has a couple of dialogues discussing National day and they could even look at the words of the National anthem.
April 23, 2013
Looking forward to meeting teachers at Anglia Ruskin University today for the event organised by Routes into Languages and OCR.
We shall be looking at ways of addressing some of the issues identified by Ofsted as being in need of improvement in the report Achievement and Challenge, and developing pupils’ language skills that do not rely on the use of the text book.
A .pdf copy of my presentation is also available here.
March 2, 2013
Did you know that Regional TV programmes are the second most popular type of TV programme that Germans like to watch? In the number one slot come news programmes with sport at number 3. Crime and detective series are number 4 followed by programmes about politics and economics.
All this is according to the statistics put out by Statista.de and comes from a section entitled Toplisten. This section of the website includes picture galleries of favourite snacks (fruit and raw food comes in at number 1), the most annoying things that women say (!), the actual most watched TV programmes in Germany, what Germans like to do in their free time and the most popular uses of a mobile phone amongst other things.
Statistics are an example of an authentic resource that can easily be exploited in the classroom:
- For giving a cultural angle to whatever topic is being studied.
- In a Group talk type speaking scenario; if pupils have been learning the vocabulary for food and snacks they could be shown pictures of Germans’ favourite snacks and ask to speculate which they think comes top and why and compare it to their own favourites.
- For practising numbers.
- As a comparison to the results of surveys that they carry out in the classroom.
- The short text that accompanies the pictures in the “Top lists” mentioned above could be used for introducing language and/or helping pupils develop strategies for working out the meaning of new words.
This website also has infographics which are ideal for use with KS5 classes, although some like this one on fast food could easily be used at KS3 and KS4 as well.
Sites that have statistics relating to France include Statistique publique and Insee, although neither of these present the information in quite such a user friendly way as Statista.de….
February 10, 2013
This week I’m planning to do some paper cutting activities with the Chinese club I run. This traditional handicraft is particularly associated with festivals such as Chinese New Year (celebrated today), both as gifts and as decorations. As ever I will show a video first and there are any number to choose from; this one from Hello China gives some information about the origins of paper cutting and the cultural significance of them.
Then there are a range of videos on Youtube which demonstrate how to do papercutting. This one shows some beautiful examples of some paper cuts before demonstrating a very straightforward and easy pattern to follow. Chinese Papercutting HQ has a wholes series of videos starting with a general introduction to papercutting, followed by specific videos such as the basic equipment needed and simple designs to cut out, such as the classic double happiness character. For the more ambitious there is the Monkey pattern and the Butterfly pattern.