If you are reading this then am guessing you care about languages… In that case can I suggest you may want to start saving up for Language World next year? It is such an amazing conference, I get so much out of it that I sincerely recommend it…
What about this year’s conference though?
The first session I attended was about the Language Magician. If you teach in a primary school and haven’t yet heard about this project then I suggest you check it out here: https://www.thelanguagemagician.net/ In a nutshell the children play an online gam, have fun but it is an assessment tool for you! When they do it again it enables you to assess progress too. Oh, and it is all free!! There are training sessions happening all around England; mine, in Consett, is on 11th June (please contact if you are interested) but you can check out others here: https://www.all-languages.org.uk/primary-2/primary-events/
My second session was with Nigel Pearson, an inspirational primary practitioner, about “Celebrating languages beyond the classroom context, including trips and extra-curricular activities”. The workshop was really hands on, interactive and full of great ideas. 2 of those ideas which I am going to implement are: naming the corridors in school with names of French streets; sending a soft toy to our penfriends in France and Spain so they can regularly send us photos and news from it!
Next was Rachel Hawkes’s plenary; she mostly shared with us the results of the research done through the Language Futures programme (more about it here: https://www.all-languages.org.uk/language-futures/language-futures/ ). What I took away from it is that “aspects of autonomy and project-based learning are closely associated with positive motivation”. It has inspired me to add more choice in my lessons when I can; for instance with my Y5 pupils, as we are learning about places in town, I will let them look up themselves in the dictionaries the places which they want to know; the challenge will for them to make note of the gender so they can use articles correctly when putting the new words in sentences.
After lunch, I attended a session with Paco Fernández from www.mflmusicmania.com : MFL music mania. Again this session was very interactive; what interested me most was that was he was suggesting we did with songs is what I normally suggest we do with stories! He has inspired me to use more authentic songs though, especially in Spanish. I strongly recommend you go onto his website to check out all the free resources he has there.
Afterwards came “Planning for progression and transition: KS2/3” with Liz Black. She gave us lots of ideas for transition projects and reminded us how important it is for primary and secondary schools to work together. One idea which stayed with me was the idea of getting pupils to vote for things in the classroom and justifying in the target language why they voted for what they did. So simple yet so effective to increase engagement and the use of target language!
The session which I ran was next; I feel it went well. You can find my presentation here!
On the Saturday morning, I first attended Clare Seccombe’s session: “Putting pen to paper”. You probably know Clare as the person who runs this amazing website: http://www.lightbulblanguages.co.uk/ but you may not know that she also has a blog, “Changing Phase” where you will find her presentation: http://changing-phase.blogspot.com/ . It was a thought-provoking session and really challenged the way I start children in Y3 with their writing. In the future I will start them earlier with very short tasks which will get them used early on to the different combinations of letters in French and Spanish.
Next, I went to listen to Helena Edwards “Flying the languages partnership flag uniting primaries, secondaries and universities”. Meeting Helena was special because we had communicated with each other so much on Facebook, in the Languages in Primary Schools support group (also known as LiPS, which I highly recommend); it was as if we had always known each other! I was truly inspired by the work which she has done in Liverpool. One idea which she implemented and I particularly like is this: she found out that a local secondary school still ran an exchange programme so she invited the French pupils, when they visited, to come and spend some time in the primary school. It was a huge success! I am now going to do my best to find out if any of my local secondary schools still run exchange programmes! Her main message was that if you do not succeed in creating links at first… then keep trying!
My last session of the morning was with Sue Cave: “Language detectives”. You can find her presentation of the project on her website: http://www.cavelanguages.co.uk/sharing-good-practice ; scroll to the bottom of the page for it. The best idea from it all (but there were others) is to make and have handy in the classroom some language detective cards; when a child makes an interesting connection, you can give them one. What a positive thing to do!
After lunch, I attended Janette Kelso and Dr Meryl James’s session about “Making creative and innovative business links with languages”. I have already made a note of local businesses which I think must have links with partners abroad and am planning to contact them in order to work on a project with Y6 when they have done their SATs.
Last but not least, Richard Tallaron (from http://lfee.net/ and https://powerlanguage.net/ ) was talking to us about “Embedding language teaching into literacy and numeracy”. We talked about bridges and I particularly enjoyed building my own with spaghetti and plastic cups then talking about it in French, Spanish and German! Oh and we ate marshmallows too! Always a winner…
I must also mention the great exhibition: it was fab to catch up with Sarah from European Schoolbooks and discover new books; to meet Benoît Le Devédec from the Insitut Français de Londres and chat about all that they offer, including the amazing Culturethèque resource; to meet the ladies from Bili which I use so that my pupils can correspond with Spanish children and they love it; to see again Stéphane from Linguascope; Brilliant Publications for giving away yet again the most brilliant freebies (see below)... to mention only a few!
Seriously though, I had so much fun meeting up with old friends, making new friends and learning, learning, learning… this is just a snapshot of the pages of notes and ideas which I took!
Were you there? What would you like to share?
Will you be joining us next year??