Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Starting to write in a new language

In September my Year 9 daughter started to learn German, and she has now opted to take it for GCSE.  My languages are Spanish and French, and in the past I have studied Latin and Catalan.  All Romance languages and no Germanic languages!  So I undertook to learn German myself, which I am, slowly, mainly via Duolingo.  I understand enough now to be able to make resources for Key Stage 2 and Year 7.  Daughter has progressed much further!

As I start each new section of Duolingo, I write down in a little book the new words that I am introduced to.  To begin with I found the new combinations of letters and the new characters hard to get right.  My pen was having to make shapes that it wasn't used to, and my other languages were interfering.

This is what faces our students, particularly the younger ones, as they start to write words and phrases in their new language.  The letters are in sequences that they haven't seen before and there are strange little lines and squiggles on top of the letters and sometimes underneath.  Sometimes the punctuation looks different.

It's worth taking a step back and spending a bit of time practising these new letters, "squiggles" and combinations of letters.  I have created some resources for Spanish and French which allow children to have a go at making these shapes (I do sometimes catch them turning the sheet upside down to do upside down questions marks!) before they start writing "for real".  This alerts the children to the fact that there are different characters to write, and that the accents such as tildes and cedillas are important parts of the letters which need to be included accurately.

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