Wednesday, 31 December 2008

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

(I know - the picture that's used as the screenshot of this clip is bizarre!)

Wish I was there tonight...

Puerta de Sol, originally uploaded by lisibo.

Having visited Madrid in November, I have now stood in the Puerta de Sol, in front of this clock which will be the focus of festivitis in Spain much as Big Ben is in England. The square will be full of the level of chatter and hubbub that only Spaniards can produce - oh to be there! Hopefully I'll find it online somewhere!! Got my grapes ready...

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Día de los Santo Inocentes

28th December is el Día de los Santo Inocentes in Spain (and other Hispanic countries - found a clip from Venezuela too) - their equivalent of April Fool's Day. I think it's a great time of year to have a day of practical jokes as it's in that awkward 'lull' period between Christmas and New Year, and also as it's the time when people are visiting relatives and friends so gives much more scope for 'inocentadas' or jokes.

Have a look at this description of the day and for some ideas, check out this site which offers suggestions of jokes you might like to play! Here's another list of suggestions - one of which involves salt to make people think you have dandruff!!

Other 'bromas' might include some of the following-

And here's a clip from The Simpsons where Bart plays a joke on Homer - (sorry video quality is poor - Twentieth Century Fox have had most clips removed!!)

That's a bit extreme I guess!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


This Christmas is going to be different in my family as my Dad is not here to share it with us, and I have to say that I haven't really entered into the whole Christmas thing this year with the gusto I usually do. I've not sent any Christmas cards and don't really feel as I normally do at this time of year, a time that I usually adore. Being ill last week didn't really help I guess.

However, when it all boils down, this is what Christmas is all about for me - the celebration of the birth of Jesus (whenever it actually took place). And, because of Him, I believe I will one day see my Dad again.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas xxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

El Gordo

Yesterday saw the biggest lottery of the year - El Gordo (the Fat One) - in Spain. As far as I know - and I think I would know - my Aunt didn't win and nor did anyone else I know, but I still like to check it out as it is drawn and called in such a quaint way with children singing the numbers and prizes.

As The Guardian reports;

The Fat One showered €2.15bn (£2.02bn) in prize money across the country. It brought tears of relief to some winners and champagne-soaked pledges to pay off mortgages and meet debts from others.

The world's biggest lottery payout has ushered in the Spanish Christmas season for almost two centuries since it was first drawn in 1812.

Rarely has the prize money, spread among tens of thousands of people, been so eagerly welcomed. "Everybody says they are going to use it to get themselves out of problems," said Madrid lottery seller Rosario Rueda.

So, congratulations to the winners, and to the losers...there's always next year.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

¡Feliz Navidad!

Reception loved this song this week, and were all bopping along so for your delight and delectation, here's Feliz Navidad accompanied by the film Rudolph.

You're noone if you're not on Twitter!

A rather amusing song about the progress of social networking! Rather tongue in cheek I feel!

You can check out the French translation and the lyrics by going to Ben Walker's site.

NB I know it's been around since August, but I've only just found it and it amused me in my bunged up state so indulge me ;-)

Friday, 19 December 2008

Stephen Fry on Catalan Christmas traditions :o)

Now I've broken up for Christmas holidays, I'm ill - isn't it always the way with teachers? So, to get myself in the Christmas spirit, and because it is very funny - and true! - here's the inimitable Stephen Fry explaining a couple of rather particular Catalan traditions. Perhaps not the clip to use to explain it in class though!!

Warning - these clips contain coarse language that may offend.

And here's a clip of children attacking their Caga Tio!

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Snowman - El Muñeco de Nieve

Following on from El pequeño petirrojo, here's another idea for Christmas that is adaptable to a variety of age groups.

Courtesy of HGfL (Hertfordshire Grid for Learning) comes ideas for using Raymond Briggs' Snowman in French, Spanish and German.

You can download a set of flashcards in the form of a Powerpoint, and also the script of the story in the above languages. Here are instructions for how it's suggested you might use the resources:

The basic idea is to show the DVD, which (apart from the introduction) has no words, accompanied by a reading of the script. Some confidence and competence in the chosen language is required as the text, although in the present tense, presents some challenges as you need to understand when to pause to allow the film to tell the story. Some ideas:
  1. Introduce key words with the flashcards.
  2. Play flashcard games.
  3. Develop actions for each flashcard. Children repeat the actions whenever they hear the words in the story.
  4. Distribute flashcards. Children wave flashcards when they hear the appropriate words in the story.
  5. For older children you may want to introduce the written word and distribute word cards which the children show as they hear in the story.
  6. When the children have watched the film and listened to the script in the appropriate language several times, they could act out the story as it is being read (first of all with the film and then without the film).
  7. Older children could be given a simplified text, cut up which they then need to put in order. A similar activity could also be carried out using the smartboard or something similar.

I think this is a marvellous idea! Not only do you get to watch a classic, it also serves as a teaching resource.

And in case you haven't got the DVD, here it is from Youtube - in three parts!

And here's just the song - Walking in the Air - which I have just discovered was not originally sung by Aled Jones.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Stuck for a Christmas present?

Stuck for a present for Christmas? Don't want to waste your money on a present that will be discarded as soon as you've left? Want to give something with that will have a lasting value?

Here's an idea, presented with all the cheesiness of a ripe Gorgonzola as only Mr P can ;o)
(Congratulations on the European Podcast Award win)

Alternatively, check out Oxfam Unwrapped or Send a cow :o)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

You know you're doing something right when..

You know you're doing something right when you ask a class to write a Christmas poem and several kids ask you for a Spanish dictionary - in a Literacy lesson!!

I have to explain that as well as teaching Spanish, I teach other subjects too and whilst I like to integrate Spanish into other areas of the curriculum, on this occasion I had meant them to write in English. However, I wasn't going to discourage them so off they went to fetch the dictionaries. I did advise them to stick to a simple structure and suggested 'Navidad es....' as a repeated line but otherwise left them to it!

Most of the class did write poems in English - although several finished their English one then wrote in Spanish too - but there were three or four Spanish ones. We shared our some of our poems and, using an Easispeak microphone, we recorded some of them (sadly didn't have time for all of them but we'll do it next week!) Then, at lunchtime, we made them into Voki. They're on the school website, but here are two Spanish ones.

One is written as an acrostic using Regalos as its theme.

Get a Voki now!

The other was written by a lovely girl who finds literacy very tricky so I was really proud of her!

Get a Voki now!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

French is a game for tiny têtes.

Just read an interesting article in The Telegraph Education section with the above title. It reports on a group in the Harrogate area called French for Fidgets (a great name for the group!) that teaches French to toddlers through song and games. Taking kids as young as 18 months, their philosophy is -

"... to make it fun. When devising these classes, I asked myself what children this age enjoy doing and the answer was singing, eating and rolling around the floor. So that's what we do. It just happens we speak French while we're doing it."
I've taught Kindergarten at a previous school and also had pupils as young as 18 months, so I can completely agree with and endorse the benefits of catching them early. In fact there were children with emergent speech who had as many words in Spanish as in English - and all that from 20 minutes first thing on a Monday! The analogy 'little sponges' is a very apt one.

And research backs this up - Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith of the Birkbeck Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development in London is quoted in the article saying -
"Right from birth, the brain has the capacity to learn three or four different languages and in many countries that's what happens," she says. "In fact, the majority of children in the world are bilingual, either because their country has a number of borders or because their parents speak different languages.

"The typical pattern is for a child to learn one language from their father, one from their mother and another at school or in the street. As for brain capacity, I know children with Down's syndrome who have three languages simultaneously. The truth is that languages shouldn't be introduced at primary school, but at nursery school."

And she concludes with a radical idea-
"Teach a language at nursery school and you won't need to teach it at secondary," she maintains. "By that time, the children will already be able to speak it."

It's a thought - what do you think?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

El Pequeño Petirrojo.

At this time of year I am regularly greeted at meetings in the West Midlands area with 'What's that story you told last year ?' or 'You're the one who tells that story about the robin, aren't you?'
For the last three I've promised to put it online. And I've finally done it!

I first came across this story on a Tweenies video from Spain - La Nochebuena. In this particular episode, Santi Claws, as Jake calls him, picks up the Tweenies from their houses on Christmas Eve and takes them to the North Pole where he tells them the story of 'Los chalecos del pequeño petirrojo', a translation of Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley.

It's the story of a little robin who washes and irons his seven warm vests the week before Christmas. Each day he puts on a different coloured one and goes out into the cold, only to meet another animal who complains of being cold. And each day, he gives away his vest to the other animal, until he is left on Christmas Eve with no vests left, cold and alone! The story ends happily though as Father Christmas comes along and takes the robin to the North Pole where Mother Christmas knits him a very special red vest that will always keep warm.

I immediately saw the potential of this story in my classroom. I taught Kindergarten to Year 6 at the time and could see how it could be used with all these age groups. Initially, I downloaded clipart pictures of the animals and made flashcards, then drew different coloured vests. I laminated them all and told the story with these, moving the vests from robin to rabbit, mole, frog etc. It's a great story as you can count the vests over and over, discuss the colour of the next vest and guess the next animal. It's good for repetition - the refrain 'Tengo frío' is soon taken up by even the youngest children, who also like to join in with Gracias (good manners!) and it encourages concentration and memorisation as the children try to recall what happens next. And there's the 'moral' element too - the robin showed the true spirit of Christmas by giving selflessly to help others, and was rewarded with his very special red vest.

As I said, I've used my laminated flashcards and vests for the last few years and every year am availed upon to repeat my performance at RSGs. And finally, inspired by a request from Jo Rhys-Jones for help, I made the long awaited Powerpoint presentation, complete with animations and sound files. It took AGES to make so I hope you like it. I've uploaded it to Slideshare and embedded it below.

El Pequeño petirrojo
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: story spanish)

I've also uploaded the scanned flashcards and vests in case you want to laminate them and tell the story that way.

I think it would make a great assembly with masks and vest, and I did spend a while today in charity shops looking for different coloured vests or T-shirts.... but I didn't find any so I'm working on my next plan - do PE bibs come in pink and purple??

Monday, 1 December 2008

Resources for Christmas.

Well, it's December 1st and as much as I've tried to be strong, Christmas has finally got me! School is full of Christmas plans for plays, parent partnership days, activities, assemblies and the like, and home is likewise in Christmas mode as littl'un plays the lead in the Infants' play tomorrow as The Little Angel - if his temperature doesn't get any higher :os

And, obviously, plans for classroom activities are turning Christmas-ward too!

So, I've been through my files and found some Powerpoints that might help you - and me! to get our classes in the Christmas spirit as well as ticking a few Intercultural Understanding boxes!
I am not claiming responsibility for all of these as lots have been kindly shared by people on Yahoo! MFL resources group, or the Consejería.

So - to start you off, why not try learning how to say Merry Christmas in 10 languages other than English? Perhaps you could take one each morning for the next two weeks?

Here's a Disney video from Youtube if you want more languages - and it's even got the pronunciation for you!

Then perhaps have a look at some Christmas vocabulary in Spanish? If your room is decorated for Christmas, why not label the decorations - or use them for a game of 'Búscame...' ?

Christmas in Spain is very particular and the Ministerio de Educación y Cienciain conjunction with the Consejería de Educación en el Reino Unido e Irlanda have produced a great powerpoint presentation choc-a-block with authentic pictures of the events in December and January - not all of which are religious.

La Navidad en Espana
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: christmas spanish)

They have also produced a presentation about El Belén - the traditional Nativity scene that decorate Spanish homes at this time of year. I usually use my ELC nativity scene to retell the story of Christmas from the Biblical perspective completely in Spanish. Kids understand because it is a story with which they are familiar and also because I'm very dramatic in my retelling - the Head of the Catholic Prep, School where I used to work was rather taken aback by my reenactment of Mary being told by an angel that she was pregnant with Jesus ;o)

I also uncovered this very comprehensive presentation about Spain at Christmas complete with more photos and information in bite size chunks. It includes details of El Gordo, el Caganer (in ploite language!) and el Roscón de Reyes.
Navidades En Espana
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: traditions spanish)

I've also found a presentation I did a few years ago at Birmingham Council House (I think it was!) about ideas for Christmas in the MFL classroom. It includes ideas for French, Spanish and German, and the ideas are suitable for right across the age range. I posted it last year too but in case you didn't catch it....hopefully something for everyone! (hope the links still work!)

to be continued!!

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