Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Regional Language Centres

Wondering what's happening following the Comenius network ceased to be in April?

TeacherNet have interviewed Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Links into Languages programme.

During the interview he explains

  • what Links into Languages is
  • how it aims to link up the provision of Professional Development
  • the Linked Up scheme
  • the aim of Routes into Languages to foster a more 'joined up' approach to language teaching and learning
  • the funding and organisational structure
  • transition from KS2 to KS3
  • accreditation including the Linked Up award scheme

You can watch the interview here and read the transcript too.
And also check out the Links into Languages site itself to find out more.

Friday, 24 July 2009


Thanks to the above tweet I've found this song that won't stay out of my head.

A lovely summer feel good song.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

School's out for summer!

The bell went at 3.20pm and another year of teaching was over.
I was enthusiastically hugged by 26 Reception pupils before making my way to the Juniors' building to be hugged and wet by the profuse tears of Year 6 and cheerfully 'Adiós-ed' by the Years 3-5.

What to do in the holidays? Well, I've got a to do list as long as my arm, beginning with a monumental tidy up and clean out of our home (boys, you've been warned!). It includes lots of laminating and preparing resources as well as preparing some of the presentations I've been asked to do before Christmas (very excitingly, there are several!), and completing some consultancy stuff too. And blogging.

And of course, I'll be spending lots of time with my family (boys, you've been warned!!)

Monday, 13 July 2009

Why language matters.

I read the above Tweet and decided to investigate.

It took me to Building Peace, the blog of Reach364, a Captain in the US Airforce and C-17 pilot, and a post that begins with a question -

Why should American military officers learn foreign languages? For that matter, why should Foreign Service Officers or any other representatives of the American government?

And whilst the context of the article is military, considering the situation in Afghanistan and Jordan, the comments Reach makes are relevant to language learning in general, not just in volatile situations.

Acknowledging that advances in technology and translation software mean that people can 'talk' to one another without being able to speak the language, Reach makes the following statement -

I still believe learning human languages the old fashioned way is important. Why? This is the crux: foreign language ability is not just about converting information from one format to another. It's about human relationships.

He talks of language as 'a way of building relationships, of winning trust.' Couldn't agree more. How many times have I been met with a beaming smile and extra special attention because I spoke in Spanish, French, Catalan, or even when I attempted to speak German in Switzerland? I see it as a mark of respect to attempt to communicate in someone's language, even if it is a job to get your mouth around the sounds and intonation. I've mentioned before that some of my favourite and most rewarding teaching experiences have been when pupils have led, sharing their experiences and language with joy and pride - and been amused by my efforts!

As Nelson Mandela said -

Reach concludes -
Language is extremely hard. We need as many language solutions as we can get, and technology certainly can and should help fill the gap. But no matter how good the technology gets, no matter how prevalent English becomes, old-fashioned speaking of a foreign language still matters.
Certainly with him there.

What do you think?

Primary Languages e-Zine - Summer edition

I received notification a few days ago that the latest edition of the Primary languages ezine is available on the Primary Languages website.
All about cross curricular links this time, Ruth Churchill from CILT says-

articles include integrating languages with work on mini beasts, keeping fit, growing sunflowers and music. There are also features on CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning) from the University of Nottingham’s Dr Philip Hood and a research project involving French and the Tudors. All this with the latest news and resources.

Visit the primary languages website to read the latest issues online and find out how to subscribe to automatically receive future issues for free:

Lots there to give you ideas ready for September - and links to more advice and ideas if you can't get enough!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Lavarse los manos con El Barrio Sésamo

With all sorts of bugs doing the rounds at the moment, here's another little gem that is
c)useful and topical.

El Barrio Sésamo in Mexico has made this little video to encourage children to wash their hands and advises them to sing part of the song 'Pin Pon' to help them judge how long it should take.

So let's see if the sinks will be ringing to the sound of children singing and washing...;o)

Los Patata

Just come across this lovely cuddly family - Los Patata on Youtube.

As the blurb says

Telemadrid emite todos los fines de semana, por la mañana, "Los Patata", una serie infantil realizada con muñecos, dirigida a niños en edad preescolar. Estructurada en mini episodios, pretende entretener fomentando conocimientos, valores, respeto e igualdad de roles... Además, la familia Patata, cada noche invita a los niños a irse a la cama con la canción "Hasta mañana, un beso". "Los Patata" también están a diario en la programación infantil de laOtra.

I love this goodnight song - very sweet and makes a change from Chris Jarvis on CBeebies with his mobile eyebrows telling us 'The time has come to say goodnight....'

Here's the short version-

And here's the 12 inch version ;o)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

What can eTwinning do for you? - Birmingham Primary Language Conference June 19th

Apologies to those of you who have been waiting for four weeks for this!

On 19th June I spoke at the Birmingham Primary Languages Conference along with Dr Lid King and Lucy Adamson of CILT amongst others.
Held at the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the conference was attended by many of those involved implementing and delivering primary languages in the area.
My talk was on eTwinning and the International Dimension, my main point being that looking outside the classroom and making links with others is a nobrainer for so many reasons.

Below you can listen to and look at my presentation. If you want further information, feel free to contact me via the comments, or by going to the eTwinning site.

World Cup 2010

As regular readers of my blog will know, I'm a big fan of sporting events and particularly football, and I aim to use sporting events to make language learning relevant to my pupils. For example, a couple of years ago we had a Spanish scheme of work for all of KS2 Autumn term based on the Rugby World Cup.

Therefore I was really pleased to read a blogpost on Talkabout Primary MFL by Clare Seccombe entitled World Cup 2010.

In her post, Clare links to a presentation she did recently in the NorthEast, offering ideas and links on how to integrate and use the World Cup in the Primary classroom.

Well worth a look!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Michael Jackson canta en español.

On the day of his funeral, here's Michael Jackson singing in Spanish. For a 2001 special edition of his "Bad" album, Jackson recorded "Todo mi amor eres tú," a translated version of his hit "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." He performed it as a duet with Siedah Garrett.

(Thanks to for sharing this)

Primary Language workshop - Plantsbrook School

Today I took part in a Primary Language workshop at Plantsbrook School.

My contribution to the day was called You and Youtube and addressed the use of video and slideshows to facilitate and enhance primary language learning. Below is my presentation. If you click on the videos or the titles, they are all hyperlinked to their source. I've added a few of the clips I used as well.

Additionally, to address some of the questions posed:

I was asked a few questions about ANIMATION - can I direct you to Oscar Stringer's wonderful site for guidance ideas and resources - particularly his useful PDF that gives directions on how to animate.

Putting SOUND in POWERPOINT - check out this post from the ubiquitous Joe Dale.

Good places to find RESOURCES - ready made - are Talkabout Primary MFL and TES Staffroom.

All my bookmarks are available to access here - so if you need some ideas on festivals, click on the link, then click on 'festivals' on the right hand side and you'll find all the sites I've bookmarked.

Learn Spanish hand gestures.

Spanish Hand Gestures, originally uploaded by KatsAsleep.

Just picked up the following from Twitter via @josepicardo who was alerted to it by @luciax.

Published by The Guardian in its Language Resources - Spanish area, 'Learn Spanish gestures' is a guide to some typically Spanish gesticulating that you could employ to look truly authentic as you complain of being fed up or tell your friend how busy the bar was at lunchtime.

Gesticulating is something that I can't help doing when speaking, especially in Spanish so this is just up my street. And I can see that this would be a useful resource for intercultural understanding activities, comparing typical gestures. I recall discovering the hard way that gestures that are innocuous in one country can cause offence to other nationalities - not my fault that Greece lost 5-0 in the football and noone had told me that holding up five fingers with my palm facing a Greek was rude!

20,000 and still counting :o)

Well, something exciting happened yesterday and I was too busy at the MFL Flashmeeting to notice.

My blog received its 20, 000th hit at some point - when I checked today the counter stood at 20,095 which shocked me rather!

Thank you to all those who have read my blog over the last 20 months. Hopefully you're still finding it helpful.

Monday, 6 July 2009

MFL Flashmeeting - tonight!

Just been reminded that TONIGHT we are having a MFL Flashmeeting, just like the one we had on May 4th! I was sure it was next week as there had been a suggestion of possible activities for Bastille Day due to the proximity to 14th July but it seems that it is today - 8.30pm - 10.30pm.

You can check out details here on the wiki and see who else is joining. There is a waiting list for places, but do not despair as some people may be unable to attend for thw whole time and others may have had to change their plans since signing up.

So why not pop along here at some point during the 2 hours and see what we're up to!

Heres the agenda!

  1. If you are a blogger, what is your favourite post and why?
  2. Getting into podcasting. Where do you start?
  3. Ideas for celebrating The European Day of Languages on 26th September 2009 using Web 2.0 tools or otherwise (How about a massive VoiceThread?)
  4. CPD opportunities for next academic year. Would anyone want to organise a one or two day face to face event somewhere in the UK? (@josepicardo - I am not able to make it tonight, off on a staff do, however, I would like to volunteer that we might be able to use my brand new sixth form center at Nottingham High School for a one day f2f probably Easter or October 2010. Discuss if appropriate. José Picardo)
  5. Cunning tips: how do you save time in blogging/podcasting/resource creating and so on, to keep work/life balance & prevent divorce/forgetting names of children, etc.?

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