A network for all who teach languages to children
I gave a presentation to the Teaching Schools Alliance for the TDA on Tuesday, and have uploaded the powerpointat this link.. The idea is, I think, a new approach to primary languages, beginning with the first person pronoun, supported by a gesture, and working out from there to other people, then negative and positive forms of verbs, supported by songs. I'm trialling it in Hackney, and it appears to be working - children are remembering things from one week to the next and, once I've got a foundation established, we can extend in any direction we wish.
The gift of time seems crucial. There is so much pressure at KS3 that children who don't grasp things first time round often never do. In primary, though, we can revisit things, so that partial understanding and connection don't represent failure, but a basis for building and consolidation. So, if we introduce gender in the first lesson (as I do, as a point of curiosity), we can practise the idea over several weeks, until it becomes obvious. One Year 3-4 class I work with are now rock solid on the idea of recognising a word's gender from the articles/pronouns/adjectives surrounding it, and we've moved on from the notion of boys' and girls' words to masculine and feminine.
I teach classroom language in the context of grammar. So, I don't just do lève la main, but teach the difference between this and levez la main. This is easy, as there is only one point of difference between the singular and plural. But then when I add lève-toi and levez-vous, quite a lot of children still put their hand up, and it takes a few weeks of practice before they can adapt to this new information. In primary, we have time to do this, and all three classes I taught last week that were a bit hesitant over it - ok, got the d..n thing wrong! - just needed a little extra prompting this week, and I'm sure will be solid next week.
We have the time - not great chunks of it, but time to do things little and often. It would be good to investigate other effective ways of using it.
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