‘Immersion’ – chances are that anyone who has ever taught or studied languages will have heard this word a lot! In the realms of language education, ‘immersion’ refers to being in an environment in which only the language being learned is spoken. ‘Immersion’ in technology, meanwhile, refers to blurring reality and the digital. Through immersive technologies, it is possible to simulate the real world, and real-world situations, without the need to travel.
“To become a leader, you must first become a human being.” Confucius
I started this post just as we awaited the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize winner 2017. Nobel Peace Prize winners are leaders who, through their passion, determination and influence, fight for causes close to their own hearts - with much wider societal and global benefits. They are inspired and moved enough to insist and persist, leading a cause with fire and enthusiasm for the good of humanity. This year’s award was to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “ICAN” – what a hugely important cause, and a great campaign name which embodies a leadership attitude: “I can”.
As the late, great Nelson Mandela once said, “If you speak to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you speak to a man in his own language, it goes to his heart”. And for me, at least, there are few better ways to express just how valuable learning another language can be - by opening hearts, we open minds and by opening minds, we open doors.
We have been using Word Aware as a structured whole-school approach to promote the vocabulary development of all our children. It is primarily focussed on whole-class learning and we have found it is of particular value for those who start at a disadvantage – including children with Developmental Language Disorder, Special Educational Needs and those who speak English as an additional language. It has had such a major impact on word recognition and understanding within English, we decided to extend it to French and Spanish as an approach for learning new, contextualised vocabulary.
Here’s the thing about teachers. I think we all secretly want to be Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie Dangerous Minds (or maybe not even in the movie!). Our job is the hardest, most grueling job out there. And yes, it is rewarding – but often our influence is noted, absorbed and internalized within a student but we don’t ever get the satisfaction of being told by a student what actually made a difference (although I’m pretty sure my jokes have).
Leading language company uTalk will be marking its 25th anniversary at this year’s Bett Show, by showcasing an exciting range of multi-platform products for schools and colleges. The MFL gurus will be meeting educators at Stand E280A during the event, which will be running at the London ExCeL from 25th-28th January. Bett 2017 will also see the launch of the this year’s Junior Language Challenge.
Storytelling in the classroom can be a powerful way to support literacy. Children can be so absorbed in the tale, they are inspired to retell what they’ve heard to others, motivated to read it for themselves and encouraged to take it further and write their own parts or versions. The National Literacy Trust advocates that ‘speaking and listening skills underpin all learning’.
Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum is encouraging pupils from across the UK to take part in its Battle of the Somme poetry competition, with entries being accepted until Friday 17th June. Part of the Royal British Legion, the Arboretum is the UK’s year-round Centre for Remembrance. KS2, KS3 and KS4 pupils are being asked to submit a poem on the theme of the hornbeam tree, which was the only one left standing in Delville Wood, Longueval, and became a poignant symbol of hope during the Battle of the Somme.
Teaching a foreign language in Primary school is often a bit of a misnomer. French and Spanish are the standard options and you as the teacher are typically in one of three situations:
You’ve just been gifted 120 iPads by a very kind benefactor. Which department would you give them to? For me, the answer is a real no brainer: the Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) department. Some would say I’m biased, and maybe that’s true, but I have put my impartial hat on to answer that question and although Humanities came a very close second I still maintain that MFL naturally lends itself to technology use.