Sunday, 27 November 2011

A card for Christmas

Every Christmas in the primary school where I teach Spanish, I like to make Spanish Christmas cards with the children.  There are a few reasons why we do this.  Firstly, they always ask to do it.  Secondly, it ticks some Intercultural Understanding boxes, and thirdly, it's something from Spanish for them to take home and share with their families.

This is the third year that I have had to think of a design for a card. It wasn't easy!  I decided to base it on this card.  Please feel free to download it and have a go at making it with your students:

German (thanks to Alex Bellars for supplying the vocabulary!)

Also still available if you fancy something a bit different:
2010 Christmas card (Spanish)
2009 Christmas card (Spanish) - crib scene
2009 Christmas card (French) - crib scene

We are also going to be making stencil calligram cards (as described here) for the children at our partner school in Madrid.

Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sing a song of Spanish phonics

In recent months I've done a lot of phonics work with my KS2 Spanish students.  However, a fortnight ago, at the end of our Family and Pets unit, I noticed that they were still having a problem with the [x] sound (the ge/gi/j sound that we can't write in English!)  So I decided to have a lesson about just that sound.  They like singing so I set out to make a song with as many words with that sound in as possible.  I later decided to add words with the [g] sound so that we could work on the rule for when you say each sound.

I collected all the words that we have covered that had those sounds (there were more than I thought) and thought up a tune.  The song has ended up having four verses and is a nonsense song due to the diverse nature of the words involved!

You can have a listen to it here.  It had its debut with the children last week and they seemed to like it.  I've also done a "th" sound song, which I'm going to use with Y4 as they do more phonics work.  You can listen to that one here.  I have also uploaded the resources that go with both songs (scroll to the bottom of the page).

With Y3 I have worked on the vowel sounds by doing a chant, which you can hear here.  The lyrics are:

a - a - a, Gran Canaria
e - e - e, Té en el café

i - i - i, Lidi y Pili
o - o - o, ¿Loro o lobo?

u - u - u, Purucú, Perú

I recorded the songs using Songsmith, which I think gives a really professional finish for something I have recorded on my laptop in my front room.  The difficult thing was recording the vocal in one take, as I am still suffering from a post-cold "viral chest"!

I wrote the scores with a very reasonably priced and easy to use program called Finale NotePad.  I made the backing track for the chant using Aviary Roc and then recorded the vocal using Audacity.

Are there any other Spanish sounds that you think would benefit from having a song made in their honour?

Friday, 18 November 2011

#ililc2 - ICT and Languages Conference 2012

In the summer of 2009 I left the security of the secondary school where I had been teaching for 13 years, and the AST job that I had there, to take up a post teaching primary Spanish and to become my LA's advisory teacher for primary languages.  I went from being part of a department, with the structure and support that it and the school offered, to being a lone practitioner, and an adviser who was expected to be at the forefront of language teaching.

The network of teachers and education professionals with whom I connect daily via Twitter have been, since then, an invaluable source of inspiration, information and innovation.  And I have been honoured to meet many of them in person at the MFL Show and Tells that have been held over the last few years.  The icing on the cake was attending #ililc - the ICT and Languages conference in Southampton in February this year.  Not only were the presentations excellent, but I was able to spend the whole weekend learning from the language luminaries over various dinners and drinks.

The brilliant news is that it's all happening again, in February 2012!

25-26th February 2012
University of Southampton, Avenue Campus
Whether you want to find out how to use blogs and wikis to trying out digital voice recorders, you’ll be inspired to try something new! A range of speakers will demonstrate tried and tested models for different skill levels. You don’t have to be an expert in ICT to attend!

Plenary speakers:

Joe Dale - Saturday 25th February
José Picardo – Sunday 26th February

Workshop speakers:
Annalise Adam, Wendy Adeniji, Alex Blagona, Vanessa Burns, Joe Dale, Catherine Elliott, Stuart Gorse, Esther Hardman, Isabelle Jones, Helen Myers, Carole Nicoll, Juliet Park, Bertram Richter, Jo Rhys-Jones, Amanda Salt, Clare Seccombe, Lisa Stevens, Jenny Turner, and Sara Vaughan.

You can take part too! Don’t miss the Show and Tell event on the Saturday evening, to be held at the Highfield House Hotel.

Standard: £175 for both days / £125 for one day
Concessionary rates available for Postgraduate students: £100 for both days / £75 for one dayWe will require the name and contact details of your tutor when submitting your registration form.

For more information please contact Languages South East on or call 023 8059 9135.

So what are you waiting for?  Come along.  It'll change your teaching life and give you a new spurt of energy in what can be despondent and disheartening times.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Tarsia again

Following on from previous posts about Tarsia, the puzzle-making software, I have created a "how-to" guide for MFL teachers.  You can download the guide in PDF format here.

Image by the brilliant Bev Evans