Just a quick post to say how much I enjoyed being with colleagues at this event yesterday (17th March).
Here is the link to all of the resources on the Sunderland Website including my notes to accompany the session I did on using music to support language learning. To understand some of these ideas you would really need to see the slides I put up. I can't show all of them here as yet as they are subject to some copyright issues but hopefully will have everything up on my other site, www.souffler.co.uk, very soon.
My next blog post will contain some of those materials.
For those of you who were there and left me your email addresses I will be sending those freebies off to you in the next few days.
Clare Seccombe gave a very clear overview in her plenary of just how far we have come in the last 8 years and just how much we have to lose unless the status of Primary languages is settled very soon. Wait until 2012 and it may well be far too late.
Now, in the vain hope that someone with the power to influence current trends in CPD in Education might be reading this, this is precisely the sort of training we should be jealously safeguarding with continued funding.
If the agenda is to move everything closer to the local area, then this could hardly have been more akin to a local event. Delivered in a local centre, run by local, very highly skilled teachers who also happen to be really good at passing on their ideas to colleagues, attended by local teachers and most importantly, current trainee teachers, this is the kind of of contact with local experts I would have given my eye-teeth as a trainee teacher 30yrs ago to have had.
It needs to be in this more informal, localised setting too. As a young teacher, big events are quite intimidating and if you are trying to build a PLN (Personal Learning Network) building it with experts on your training doorstep is a big advantage.
And yet, as the government dithers in its response as to whether to continue the process to make primary languages a statutory part of the KS2 curriculum, many excellent people involved in this are losing their jobs. We are in grave danger of losing the people and the resources that have driven this initiative forward.
I'm afraid this isn't 'bureaucracy'. It is 'frontline' staff who are going and who will no longer be able to inspire that new generation of teachers to continue their excellent work.
One final point to the decision makers. The primary MFL initiative is having a positive impact across the primary curriculum. It isn't a discrete subject. If this goes, then with it go
- the improvements in literacy - reflection on the structure of a new language, the eytmology of words, the phonic patterns in a new language compared to one's own, these all encourage children to see the how their own language works in much greater relief.
- the international dimension - schools who have enthusiastically embraced Primary MFL have moved quickly to forge international links with all the attendent benefits to heightened cultural awareness, understanding and a sense of where we 'fit' into the wider world.
- the cross-curricular intiatives for languages and PE (Take 10 French / Spanish / German), languages and History/Geography (the various CLIL initiatives, languages and music (the work I do is mainly in this area but many, many language teachers are ardent songsters)
- the chance to integrate swathes of children from other ethnic communities. One of the by-products of having a FL focus is that it gives a 'space' on the curriculum for us to recognise and value community languages. I teach in 2 schools both of which have a fair percentage of children from Eastern Europe and Asia. Of course they have to learn English but when we do give time to try and learn some of their language and customs it really empowers them and raises their self-esteem.
- the chance to raise the self-belief of less able children. I know that learning a language can be difficult. BUT, taught properly it can give a new voice and sense of self-belief to children who have found it hard to be successful in the world of targets and tests.
I have TA's working with me who comment that often it seems that children who are very shy about coming forward in other subjects begin to shine in their French lessons. Why is that? You can tell me, all I know is that it is happening.
It has something to do with the fact that they are doing a subject where they and their friends all start from zero. That coupled with the fact that what we do is FUN, very ACTIVE, involves a lot of SINGING, involves a lot of GAMES, but also satisfies their curiosity about linking to other children across the world, and you have a heady recipe for success that can spill over into how they perform in other subjects.
All of this is worth fighting for. All of it has the potential to spill over into KS3 and really raise standards. All of it however is as yet a 'fledgling enterprise.
Kill it off at this stage and we may never see any primary Head Teacher being willing to invest time and effort into introducing primary Languages again. What would be the point?