Monday 10 November 2014

Remembrance Day

Today I shared some pictures with the children to show them a little about Remembrance Day in France. All the children (from Y3 to Y6) knew why the poppy had been chosen as a symbol of remembrance but were fascinated to discover that in France it is the cornflower (bleuet) that is used instead of the poppy.
Here is the slideshow I used.
On the first slide, which has the words for poppies and cornflowers in French, I asked the children to use their detective skills to work out which word meant cornflower - bleuets or coqulicots. I was delighted that most children thought it was 'bleuets' because it has the word 'bleu' in it.
One or two of the younger children thought 'coquelicots' might mean cornflowers because it is a long word starting with c. This led on to a useful discussion about how we can't expect words in a foreign language to start with the same letter as the English word e.g. Green - vert

Monday 27 October 2014


I'm going to be talking about family in French with Year 4 next half term. I always avoid getting the children to describe their own families as this can cause distress for some. In the past I have often used the Simpsons as an example but this time I am going to use the royal family, having realised from my own children how little they know and how they don't tend to recognise anyone beyond the Queen and Kate. Here is a slide with photos of members of the Royal family, set out in a family tree.

Royal family tree

 You can use this to ask questions using "Qui est?" and "comment s'appelle?" such as "Qui est la mère de Zara Phillips?" or "Comment s'appelle la tante du prince George?" You could also play "vrai ou faux?" with various statements about the family tree.
I realised that, following the birth of Prince George, we need the word for great grandmother and great grandfather. They are arrière-grand-mère and arrière-grand-père respectively. Great grandchild is arrière petit-enfant.

Of course, you could also use this as an opportunity to do some cross-curricular work with whatever you are studying in history, such as the Tudors or Ancient Greeks. (Some caution is needed when presenting the family  tree of Zeus!). At ALL Language World in April I included this in my presentation on cross-curricular links. I wrote a mini play script in French called La Famille de Zeus. You can seethe play script and name badges here.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Autumn poem performances

Year 5 and I have been exploring sentence construction (word order, adjectival agreement) through the theme of Autumn leaves. They wrote some great sentences to describe leaves and turned these into beautiful posters.

Next I shared a poem with them, all about Autumn leaves. Here it is...

Petite feuille verte bouge dans l'arbre
Petite feuille jaune vole dans l'air
Petite feuille orange dort dans l'herbe
Chut! Voici l'automne.

This poem was almost exactly what they had been writing in their sentences to describe leaves (using grande / petite) before feuille and a colour word after it. We had also come across 'vole' when describing the actions of woodland creatures. We discussed the meaning of the unfamiliar words, using cognates and near cognates to help us, and discussed their pronunciation.
After reading the poem together it was then time to turn it into a performance, which Year 5 did brilliantly today.

I was fortunate enough to see the marvellous Janet Lloyd last weekend and picked her brains. Following her suggestions as best I could (and adding a little bit of my own) this is what we did...

We discussed the personality of Autumn. I said that I wasn't sure what Autumn would be like as a person whereas Summer and Winter are more obvious. We tend to imagine the sun with a happy face and the north wind as mean but what is Autumn like? We also thought about the last line of the poem and why we were being told to be quiet. The children had lots of suggestions, such as Autumn being a bit scary but most thought it was because it is a quiet time with leaves dying and animals hibernating.
The children then worked in groups of 4. They each took on the role of one item from the poem - the green leaf, the yellow leaf, the orange leaf and Autumn. They started by standing in a tight circle representing the tree trunk. Then it was up to each group to decide how to move and how to deliver the lines (changing speed and volume etc). One group even decided to repeat the last line several times, getting quieter and quieter.
Each group then shared their performance with the class and we had as many different versions as there were groups. The endings were especially creative and the way they chose to portray Autumn. Sometimes he (she?) would sneak up, or whizz in, or go to sleep, take a bow, etc. we saw Autumn as sleepy, playful and creepy. In one version he even captured one of the flying leaves.

The children amazed me at how creative they were, especially in such a short time and they absolutely loved this. I haven't done much drama in my lessons but have definitely been inspired to do more now.
Thank you Janet Lloyd!

Monday 6 October 2014

Putting ourselves in their shoes

I thought it was about time that I learnt a new language and so enrolled in a Beginners' Polish class at my local college. Why Polish? Well, I'll admit I was torn between Italian and Polish but thought Polish would be more of a challenge (and I wasn't wrong!!) as Italian would be rather similar to the languages I already know (French, Spanish and Latin). Also, I knew there would be some Polish children at the school where I've started teaching.

As well as learning the actual language I am also gaining a fascinating insight into what it must be like for most of the children I teach. It has put me in their shoes and it's not as comfortable as I thought so I decided to share some of my experiences on my blog.

1) Will I catch up?

Unfortunately I missed the first week because I was ill.  This meant that I had to turn up to my first ever Polish lesson (week 2 of the course) knowing that I was already at least 2 hours behind everyone else. It made me very nervous.
At the beginning it was a little daunting as the tutor and other students were all chatting away in Polish but they were all very friendly and made me feel welcome. The tutor went easy on me as it was my first week. She also asked me to sit next to someone who was particularly good and knew what he was doing.

2) How do they know that? I thought this was for beginners?

As the class progressed I started to realise that some people knew more Polish than others and that they knew things that they hadn't been taught in week 1. After making a few inquiries I learnt that 3 guys had joined the class as they had Polish girlfriends. They had picked up a fair bit of vocabulary but not phrases. It unsettled me at first that we weren't all starting at the same place - it wasn't a 'level playing field' and it made me realise that this is the situation faced by many of the children in language classrooms everywhere.

3) ¿Qué?
There were moments when I really hadn't got a clue what had been said. The first listening exercise sound like gobbledygook. Suddenly I heard a word (yes, just the one!) that I recognised. It was a fill the gap exercise and I had so many gaps I felt like giving up. Once the tutor went through the answers and then played the recording again it all fell into place like a jigsaw. Suddenly I could 'hear' the words. How many times have I told the children in my class not to give up and that it will come eventually once they learn to 'tune in'?
4) Performing a role play
At one point we were asked to practise and adapt a role play (from the text book) in pairs. At the end of the exercise the tutor asked who would like to perform theirs for the rest of the class. Not a single hand went up! Now that might be where an adult evening class differs from a KS2 class but even so, it reminded me of that sinking feeling when you are secretly thinking "I hope she doesn't ask me". I felt I was still a week 'behind' everyone else and so was more reluctant than I would normally have been to volunteer. Eventually we all had to do it and all got through it painlessly, but it still made me think how some of the children in my class must feel sometimes.
5) What on earth is she saying?
The thing I found hardest of all was grappling with the phonics of the new language. Polish has some sounds that do not exist in any of the languages I know and these took some getting used to. I kept wanting the tutor to repeat them so I knew that I had heard the sounds correctly. Even then, simply reproducing them was trickier than I had expected! In addition there are some bizarre (to a non-Polish speaker) phoneme-grapheme correspondences (sound-spelling links). Often 2 or 3 consonants combine to make a new sound, which seems so bear no resemblance to the letters themselves or the sound they normally make. It is going to take a while to learn them. Many of you will know my passion for phonics and that it is often as subject I speak on at local and national events. My experience at my first Polish lesson reinforced in my mind everything I have always believed about the teaching of phonics. It is vital to teach the key sounds of a language and their spelling links early on and, to begin with, the letter sounds are far more important than the letter names (alphabet).
I shall keep you posted how I get on....

Sunday 5 October 2014

Multisensory activity

Tomorrow I'll be practising colours with Year 4 and we'll be doing a multisensory activity. I learnt about this activity so many years ago that I cannot be sure of the source. I think it was first introduced to me on the CILT Methods and Materials course over a decade ago, in which case it should be attributed to Carmel O'Hagan. If anyone knows different then please let me know and I shall make amends.

The original idea was to get the children to use colour words, preferably from memory. The activity is first demonstrated using a volunteer. The volunteer is shown a pair of objects that are similar (but not identical) in size, shape and texture but which are completely different colours. You could use 2 toy cars, 2 teddies, 2 drinks bottles, etc. provided they can be distinguished by feeling them. Once the 2 objects have been presented to the volunteer, e.g. "une voiture rouge......une voiture jaune" and the  volunteer has had a chance to feel each one, he/ she is then blindfolded. The teacher then hands one of the objects to the volunteer, who must identify its colour by touch alone, saying "c'est la voiture rouge" or just "c'est la rouge".
The activity is then played in small groups.

I have taken it a step further by involving some of the other senses. I have some shower gel and some bath bombs to smell.....

some maracas to listen to ......

and some chocolate buttons (milk and white) to taste. I also have feathers to feel and some different fabrics - satin and velvet.

Of course, you could use this activity to practise all sorts of language - such as grand / petit.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Autumn / woodland activities

This half term we have an autumn /  woodland creatures theme to our French work.
Here are some of the activities each year group is doing...

Year 6

I decided that Y6 need to concentrate on verbs - learning some more as vocabulary items and also learning about different verb forms. After learning 7 woodland creatures (un renard, un lapin, un blaireau, un hérisson, un écureuil, une souris and une chouette) we added 7 verbs to describe their movements. I first taught the verbs in the imperative and we played Jacques a dit (Simon Says) to practise - courez, sautez, creusez, trottinez, grimpez, rampez and volez.

We then practised making some simple sentences matching the creatures and the verbs e.g une chouette vole, un blaireau creuse, etc.  I explained the difference in the verb forms as one was the instruction "fly!" "dig!" and the other was the word 'flies', 'digs' etc. We'll explore this more fully over the coming weeks but as a starting point the children accepted it as the 2 verb forms were different in English.
We will move on to writing simple sentences using this vocabulary and then see if we can work out a pattern for -er verbs (-ez for command, -e for he/she form). I would also like the children to be familiar with the term 'infinitive' and know this is the bit they will find in a dictionary.

We have also done some phonics work, playing the Phoneme-Grapheme Running Game last week and having a go at writing some of the new words using their knowledge of French sound-spelling links.
I decided that these skills would be the most useful thing I could teach Year 6 in preparation for secondary school, rather than lots and lots of vocabulary.
We have also revised word classes (with Catherine Cheater's mimes). I then asked the children to work in groups. Each group had a sheet of paper divided into 4 - nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. They then wrote down as many French words they could think of, under the correct heading. I wanted to see if my prediction was correct and that they would know more nouns than any other word class.....
The results were fascinating...
On the whole most groups, as predicted, had found more nouns than any other word class, although adjectives were a very close second. I also found that if I reminded the children of 'topics' they had studied (such as colours or classroom commands) this affected the results. In one class several groups actually had more verbs than anything else, simply because I had mentioned 'classroom commands'. The one group that was invariable empty was adverbs. I'll use this information to aid my planning and will repeat the exercise later in the year.

We plan to do further work on woodland creatures with the children creating their own mini books on the creature of their choice. For ideas / info on minibooks see Clare Seccombe's blog - Changing Phase (she is the mini book queen!).

Year 5

Last week, at the end of their first French lesson with me, Yr 5 must have thought I was a bit loopy when I told them they must leave their homework until the very last minute. "At the very earliest, do it the night before", I said, "or better still on the way to school in the morning". Their homework was actually to gather some autumn leaves in as many different colours as possible.
After briefly revising colours we have started to describe our leaves. We had a choice of sentence opener - either "voici" or "j'ai", both very useful phrases and ones which they need to know. I gave them an example and then drew their attention to the way I had pronounced the word for green and wrote it on the board - "verte". I asked them why I had added the extra e and then they made my day when they said "because it is describing a feminine noun". :-)
The children then worked in groups, presenting and describing their leaves to each other. They had really tried to find leaves that had more than one colour in them so they could use the connective "et" e.g. "voici une feuille rouge et jaune".

We then moved on to forming sentences in written form. I gave out large word cards (A4) randomly around the class, including some 'red herrings'. I then said a sentence and all the children who had a word in that sentence came out to the front to form a 'human sentence'. The first sentence was "Voici une petite feuille verte." We had some duplicates as some of the children with the 'red herrings' had also come out - such as "un", "petit" and "vert". It was fascinating to listen to some of the children discussing which word was correct, hearing the boy with the "verte" card telling the girl with the "vert" card to sit back down. We then discussed the different versions as a class and noticed the word order. We noticed that we couldn't translate the sentence straight into English but needed to change the word order. We also learnt that most adjectives, in French, go after the noun, except petit and grand.
Next the children are going to write their own sentences to describe their leaves and illustrate them.
We'll then work towards a structured poem about Autumn leaves.... watch this space!
Year 4
I discovered that Y4 didn't know many colours so that has been the focus of our 2 lessons so far. We have played the 'Repetition Memory Game'. I put a sequence of coloured cards up on the board and, as a class, we repeated them. One by one I removed the cards. The children had to remember which colour card had been where. This activity involves a lot of repetition but the children think it is a memory test and love it. The best bit is that afterwards you can use it to play a trick on another member of staff.
Once the colour cards have all been removed, make sure the children can remember where they all were by pointing to different parts of the board and asking them what colour it is. Next, invite another member of staff into the room and ask them to have a good look at the board and tell you what colours they can see. You can expect them to look bemused as they stare at a blank, white board. You can then insist that there are colours there and that everyone else in the class can see them. Point to a certain part of the board and the children will say the colour that they can "see". They love this game!!
Next week we'll be doing a multi-sensory blindfold activity to practise colours. More to follow...
Year 3
We haven't done very much work on an autumnal theme yet as I thought greeting each other might be more important first and prioritised "bonjour" over "blaireau". However, we have now built up to a little conversation involving greetings and saying how we are feeling and are now ready to act it out using some puppets. The next step is to make some lovely finger puppets of, guess what, woodland creatures. Here is a website I found with the templates for 3 different Marionnettes de doigts.
We have learnt some classroom commands (levez-vous, asseyez-vous) so I am planning to build on those with some further commands for the instructions to make the puppets (découpez, coloriez, collez). It will also be an opportunity to introduce a few colours.
I shall post again as we progress with our autumnal activities.
For more ideas on this theme see Janet Lloyd's fantastic blog - Primary Language Learning Today.


Wednesday 23 July 2014

Word of the day

This might seem a little weird to some people but we have a tradition in our house of having an ‘August switch-off”. It used to mean that the tv went off for a month but has now been extended to computer games, the iPad, wii, playstation, etc. - essentially, all activities involving sitting in front of a screen. The children tend to miss it for a couple of days and then never mention it again. It makes us do other things, spend more time outdoors, play games in the evenings and talk to each other more.
This year we are starting the August switch-off early…at 5pm today! This is so that we can switch back on again by August 23rd in time for the new episode of Doctor Who (which my hubby claims won’t be the same on catch-up!).

So, what has this got to do with the word for the day? I’ve decided it ought to be….


= la paix (in French)
= la paz (in Spanish)

Peace also seems particularly apt right now  as it is what we all wish for Gaza and Israel.

You’ll notice that the Spanish word is also the name of the capital of Bolivia. What a lovely name for a capital city. (It’s actually short for ‘Nuestra Señora de la Paz’ (Our Lady of Peace).

Tuesday 22 July 2014

wow word doughnuts

Wow word doughnuts

Yesterday I decided to help my son (8 years) to learn a few 'wow' words (as his school calls them). I found a lovely collection of free printables at Sparklebox where they had arranged synonyms on some images of Chelsea buns.

Next, the children and I made some tiny flags. We cut out lots of small diamond shapes from brightly coloured paper and then attached them to cocktail sticks with sticky tape. We then wrote a word on each tiny flag. There were 210 in total and I soon wished I hadn't started!

We persevered and they did look cute and colourful when finished.

Now for the fun part....

I bought a box of mini doughnuts and put a key word (big, good, etc) in each one. The children then stuck the other flags, with the synonyms, into the correct mini doughnut. (It would have been much easier with full-sized doughnuts but I needed 20 and there were only 2 of them eating them so it had to be mini ones).

Once all the flags had been stuck in they chose 4. We read out the words and checked they were in the right place before the doughnut could be eaten.

They really enjoyed this and still have plenty of doughnuts left for another day.

Those of you who know my passion for phonics will already have guessed how I'm going to adapt this activity for the languages classroom. I'm planning on having a French breakfast next term. We'll use croissants and pains au chocolat instead of doughnuts and, instead of synonyms, the children can group words containing a certain phoneme (an and oi words for the croissant and in words for the pains au chocolat). I'll post here when we've done it. Miam, miam!

Word for the day

Some people have already started, some people haven't, but everyone will have by the end of this week.......


= las vacaciones (in Spanish)
 = les vacances (in French)

I'd like to wish all those who read my blog, and all my twitter followers, a wonderful summer.

Thursday 3 July 2014

A la Plage

A la Plage - Seaside-themed activities

Last week Carmel O’Hagan @OHaganCarmel shared a wonderful Belgian tradition with myself and Janet Lloyd. The activity is described about 2/3 of the way into this blog post   - Belgian seaside activity. Children create beautiful flowers and set up a flower shop on the beach. They then ‘trade’ using shells as currency. So cute!

It was then up to Janet and myself to ‘run with the idea’ and create some teaching and learning activities based on it. Janet has already posted her fantastic ideas on her blog and here is the link….

Janet Lloyd’s Bloemenwinkel

I wanted to order some resources for what I had in mind and so I have had to wait a few days for these to arrive….

I ordered some fluorescent sand and some shells from Essentials for Education. Delighted with them! The sand comes  in a selection of 6 fluorescent colours and is in bags of 1kg.

I bought a large plastic flowerpot from Homebase for £1.99 (28cm). I could have used a washing up bowl but I wanted to re-use the sand-filled plant pot for my flowers at the end. I bought a large plant pot to minimise mess as the children would be searching for shells in it. You could use a smaller container or several small containers for this but I would recommend placing it on a tray.

I used 4 bags of sand but you could get away with less.
I then wrote some key graphemes (letter strings) on the shells . You could link them to those that have cropped up in some beach-related vocabulary if you have covered it, such as...

ge – coquillage, plage
eau – seau, château (de sable)
u – dune
oi – poisson
qu – coquillage

The shells were then buried in the sand.

You could use as many or as few graphemes as you like. You could include different graphemes for the same phoneme, as I have done (é, ez, er) or just one. If you want to simplify this, just choose 4 key graphemes and repeat them.

The children then take turns hunting for shells. As they find a shell they must say the sound.

This activity would work well as a group activity, with a pot on each table, or you could sit the children in a circle and pass around a bucket with the shells in and a little sand on top.

My son (Yr 3) LOVED this activity and laughed with delight as he discovered the hidden shells.


Next, tell the children about the lovely Bloemenwinkel tradition and show them the pictures from the website.

If time allows, discuss what the children know about Belgium. Perhaps, given the World Cup, they know the colours of the flag but do they know the languages spoken there?
The 2 main languages are Belgian Dutch (Flemish) in the north and French in the south but German is also an official language.

The next step is to create some beautiful flowers. Below are suggestions for 2 different methods of creating flowers and a different activity to accompany each.

Idea 1 – layered tissue flowers / poems and bartering

Here’s a link to some instructions for making different types of paper flowers…. and here’s one I made earlier!!

Layer some squares of tissue paper on top of each other. Fold them concertina-style then bend the whole thing in half. Attach a pipe cleaner or wire and twist to secure. Finally, separate the sheets of tissue paper and fan them out to look like petals.

The children can them set up a flower shop in groups and trade with shells, just like the children do on the beaches of Belgium in the summer. This is a great activity for practising numbers. You can also pacts phrases such as “je voudrais…” and, of course, colours.

Idea 2 – paper flowers / personal descriptions

I used a template and cut out flower shapes from 2 different colours of paper.  On each petal the children can write an adjective or phrase to describe their favourite person or celebrity. They can use all the petals on both layers or just a few from one of them, so the task is open-ended.

Next place one flower on top of the other and push the end of a long green pipe cleaner through the centre of both flowers and bent the tip to hold it in place I curled the petals of the top flower around a pencil so that the one underneath was more visible.  Finally, the children can stick a small picture of their person in the centre of the flower.
The completed flowers can be displayed in a bucket of sand or flower pot and the children can enjoy reading the descriptions.
Here’s one my daughter (Yr 9) did about Taylor Swift. Her opinion of the activity? “These would be well cool to make!"

Word for the day

Anyone who followed my tweets yesterday won’t be at all surprised that today’s word has to be…..


heureux (heureuse) in French

feliz in Spanish

A little note about the Spanish…. There are 2 verbs ‘to be’ in Spanish, ‘ser’ and ‘estar’. The former is used for inherent characteristics, things that won’t change, whilst the latter is used to denote location or a temporary state. Here’s an example…

She is Spanish  = (Ella) es española   (using ‘ser’)
She is pregnant = (Ella) está embarazada. (using ‘estar')

So, when talking about the lyrics of Pharrell William’s song ‘ Happy', you would say “Estoy feliz. Soy de Madrid.” (I’m happy. I’m from Madrid).

I discovered so many great videos from all over the world to accompany the song.

For those who missed yesterday’s tweets, here are some links…..

First of all, here is a map with links to each of the versions from around the world. This would be a fantastic resource for locating counties where the target language is spoken.

Now, here are some examples from the French-speaking and Spanish speaking countries….

Angers, France     Paris      Madrid     Tahiti      Valencia       Sevilla 

and my absolute favourite….   Martinique

Apart from providing a wealth of cultural information, these videos are a great resource when talking about places in a town. What can the children see in the background - a bridge, river, cathedral, beach, museum…? I also rather like the idea that you don’t just get to see the major landmarks, such as the Eiffel tower, but also what ‘normal’ everyday life looks like in these places. 

For some great lesson ideas based on places in a town and role-playing being a tour guide, see Janet Lloyd’s blog

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Word for the day

When I thought about what today’s word should be it seemed pretty obvious as, unfortunately, I have a cold. 

Here’s the phrase in Spanish….

estoy constipado (constipada) = I have a cold

There won’t always be a little anecdote attached to the Word of the Day but in this case there most definitely is!

During my year abroad I shared a flat in Spain with a friend from uni. Our landlady was lovely, gregarious, hilarious and, let’s say, larger-than-life character, who loved her food. One day she kindly invited us round for a meal. She had cooked an array of traditional Spanish dishes for us. I forget the starter - soup I think, but remember the main course vividly. It was 'cocido madrileño’. This is a traditional dish, which is like a type of stew. (Cocido means ‘cooked’ and madrileño is the adjective from Madrid). The dish consists of chickpeas, several types of meat, vegetables and potatoes, so you can imagine that it’s pretty filling. Here’s a photo of a typical cocido madrileño and a link to a recipe page.

Cocido recipe

The portions were huge and the meal was accompanied by wine, as I recall. My friend and I were feeling more and more full by the mouthful but wanted to be polite as our landlady had gone to so much trouble and so we ploughed on. By the end we could hardly move but were relieved to have eaten up. Then our hearts sank as our lovely landlady announced that she was off to fetch dessert! While she was in the kitchen we discussed tactics and decided that we would have to have some of the dessert but would only take a small helping. The next moment in came our landlady, proudly bearing a large, deep bowl of what looked like custard with whole biscuits floating on the top. Then we watched in horror as she set the bowl down not in the centre of the table but directly in front of me! She then returned with the same for my flatmate and a third for herself. These were individual portions! 
Somehow we got through it but the ordeal (and, trust me, by now it was most definitely an ordeal) did not end there. Afterwards there was dessert wine, chocolate and turrón (a typical Spanish sweet treat often compared to praline or nougat but actually unlike anything we have in Britain). It was delicious, but all too much.
We thanked our landlady for her hospitality and crawled back to our flat hoping that she hadn’t noticed that we were rather over-faced by it all.

We thought we’d got away with it until 2 days later when we bumped into her on the street. My friend and I both had a winter cold and had blocked sinuses, which I think was rather obvious when we started talking.

“Ahhh, pobrecitas,”(you poor things) she cried, “estáis constipadas.” 

We were horrified, thinking that she believed we were suffering from constipation after the feast at her place and so we vehemently denied it. However much she insisted that we were, indeed, “constipadas” (and she should know as she was actually a nurse) we insisted that we were not and that we were, actually, perfectly fine.

The poor lady must have thought we were idiots and that’s exactly how we felt when we eventually discovered the true meaning of “constipadas”!

Sunday 29 June 2014

Word for the day

Today’s word is…..

la poubelle = the bin

I don’t have to tell you why your KS1 and KS2 learners will love this word!

Saturday 28 June 2014

Word for the day

Back to Spanish for today’s word. I love the sound of it and I think it’s the longest Spanish word I know.

Here are some clues….

No. of letters = 18
No. of phonemes = 18
No. of syllables = 8

And the word is……

desafortunadamente = unfortunately

The learners will need to take their time and practise saying it but once they’ve got it, they’ll love it. It’s a very useful word but I think what they’ll enjoy about it is being able to show off with the longest word they know. I wonder if they know any English words that are longer? Or a word in another language?

Friday 27 June 2014

Word for the day

Following my little anecdote from yesterday here is the 2nd of the 2 words I mentioned….

un nénuphar = a water lily

Of course, you can’t think of water lilies without thinking of Monet. Surely this is a word that will come in handy if doing some cross-curricular work with art at KS2. I am thinking of some of the wonderful work teachers have done combining a discussion of Kandinsky’s work with simple adjectives and colours.

At KS4, of course, we are always encouraging the learners to include more unusual vocabulary. Teach them this and I can guarantee they’ll never forget it!

Thursday 26 June 2014

Word of the day

Today’s word is French but, like yesterday’s, has a little memory attached. I remember being in the Upper 6th (Yr13) at school and almost ready to leave and head off to uni. My head teacher was chatting to me one day about French (she was a French specialist) and told me that it is often the more obscure and unusual words that we remember in a foreign language. She was right! The 2 words that she shared with me have stuck in my memory ever since. I can even picture myself standing in her office…
Anyway, the first of the words is…

une libellule = dragonfly

I love the sound of the word. Admittedly it’s not the most useful in the world but I’m sure many KS2 children would love to know it and might use it in creative writing - especially if writing a little poem. 

I’ll share the 2nd of the 2 words tomorrow. 

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Becquer poems

Following my last post, with the little poem I’d written myself, I thought I’d go from one extreme to the other and share with you some of my favourite poems by the Spanish poet, Bécquer. I have used some these as a Valentine’s activity with Year 9 but I think they could even be used with KS2 children. Just one word of warning - they are very lovey-dovey so have the wax-lined bags ready for the boys!

Poems by Gustavo Adolfo   Bécquer  (1836-1870)

Hoy la tierra y los cielos me sonríen;
hoy llega al fondo de mi alma el sol;
hoy la he visto…, la he visto y me ha mirado:
¡Hoy creo en Dios!

¿Qué es poesía?, dices mientras clavas
en mi pupila tu pupila azul.
¿Qué es poesía? ¿Y tú me lo preguntas?
Poesía…eres tú.

Por una mirada, un mundo.
Por una sonrisa un cielo
Por un beso…, ¡yo no sé
Lo que diera por un beso!

Los suspiros son aire y van al aire
Las lágrimas son agua y van al mar.
Dime, mujer: cuando el amor se olvida,
¿sabes tú dónde va?