Friday 7 June 2024

Adaptable Activities for your Language Lessons


I'm delighted to announce the publication of Adaptable Activities for your Language Lessons.

This pdf download contains 120 different activities that can be adapted to any language and to most ages of learner.  There are activities for listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar and phonics.

So if you've ever found yourself in a planning rut, wanting to try out something new but not sure what, then this is the publication for you!

Available now in my Sellfy shop:

Monday 11 March 2024

Dictation across the key stages #LW2024


On Saturday I attended day 2 of this year's Language World conference.  I gave a presentation about dictation, giving lots of ideas to use from Key Stage 2 (age 7-11) all the way up to Key Stage 4 (age 14-16) and beyond.

It was much easier to make a video for you in order to share it than to paste all the slides into this blogpost!  Here is the video:

Other links:

Sunday 10 March 2024

Language World 2024 #LW2024


"Language World" by Pixlr AI Image Generator 

Yesterday I returned from ALL's annual conference, Language World, which this year was held in Kenilworth in Warwickshire.  That's a good four-hour drive from here in the north-east, but it's always worth it for the content and for seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  I only attended one of the two days this year due to a family birthday, but of course it was worth it.

Here are the sketchnotes that I made from some of the sessions that I went to.  I'm afraid the scanning has gone a bit wonky with some of them!  I spoke about Dictation, and will post about that separately.

By the way, if you are wondering about the image at the top of this post, inspired by the theme of AI at Language World, I asked the Pixlr AI Image Generator to create a "Language World" image.  As you can see, it needs work!

Language Education in an AI enabled world: the challenges, the opportunity and the future
Prof. Kate Borthwick

University Challenge: how working cross-phase can provide support and capacity to raise aspiration and develop learning outside the classroom
Jane Driver and Sarah Schechter

Translation: the key to growing flexible, imaginative linguists
Jess Beeton

Cognitive Science in the language classroom and learning language through images and physical representation
Saleh Patel

Promoting International Links: a practical guide
Lisa Stevens

Possibilities and practicalities of ChatGPT in languages teaching and learning
Joe Dale

Monday 30 October 2023

Sentence Builder Bingo


I'm always on the lookout for more ways to drill and practise vocabulary and structures.  During the summer holiday I had the idea of using sentence builders to play bingo with.

One unit of learning that I have used it with is Pets, in particular saying that you have more than one pet.  I used the bottom half of this sentence builder:

and drew up the above grid as my checklist so that I knew which sentences I had said.

Altogether with this sentence builder it's possible to make 36 sentences.  I asked Year 4 to choose 5 sentences and write them in their books.  Then I read out the sentences one by one in a random order.  I repeated each one twice, just in case, and then went straight on to the next one.  The children needed to listen carefully and constantly check their sentences, ticking off any sentences they had that I said.  When they had ticked off all 5 of their sentences they had to call out "Bingo" and then to check I asked them to read their sentences back to me.  I used my grid to check they were right.

We then continued until most children had heard their sentences.  Some children were frustrated at the end because they had missed one of their sentences and so didn't get bingo.  I did point out, though, that they had heard and identified 4 out of their 5 sentences, so not to get hung up on just one.

The classes that I tried this with said that they enjoyed it.  I liked it because they got to hear over 60 sentences all in one go.  

You may well have been playing this game for ages!  I don't remember having heard it from anyone else.

Friday 8 September 2023

Listening Chests


One of my schools was extended recently and has increased from single form entry to 1.5 form entry.  This year, for the first time, there are 45 children in Year 2 and 45 in Year 1.  Also for the first time, there is a mixed age class - Year 1/2 - alongside Year 1 and Year 2.  Previously I have always taught "pure" Year 1 and Year 2, so now have had to formulate a new scheme of work with 2 cycles, to cater for the mixed class.  I'm teaching it to all of Key Stage 1.

I'm beginning with a brand new Pirates unit, using my maxim of "the usual in an unusual way".  The children in current Year 2 can already count to 10 and know 6 colours, but the new Year 1s only started Spanish this week.  This term we will be learning greetings, saying your name, numbers to 10, and 11 colours, using Pirates as the theme.  Therefore the Year 1 children will learn what they need to, and the Year 2 children will recap some learning and learn something new, using a different context to before.

I've had to think of some different activities to usual for this reason.  One of them is Listening Chests.

I'm going to give each pair of children one of these cards with treasure chests on.  Definitely 4 chests for Year 2, 3 for Year 1 and we'll see how the mixed class gets on.

Let's use colours as an example, and 3 chests.  Ask the children to tell you which chest the colour red is in.  Then you say 3 colours: amarillo, rojo, azul.  You said rojo second, therefore the colour red is in the middle chest.  The children listen and point to the chest where the colour is.

This can be used for all sorts of different language areas.  I can see it being useful for phonics: show children a grapheme, then say 3 different phonemes or words, and they have to say which chest the grapheme is in.

You also don't need a special chests card to do this activity.  It could be as simple as the children quickly drawing 3 boxes on their mini whiteboard and using those instead.  A low tech and low prep activity.

If you are interested in my Pirates unit for Key Stage 1, I have already uploaded the first resources: