Continuing and developing KS2 pedagogy in KS3
Much of the success of Primary Languages can be attributed to the QCA (now TDA) Schemes of Work for KS2 and the KS2 Framework for Languages, both of which have directly influenced many of the resources and schemes of work which are available now. The methods used in KS2 language teaching share the features of many other areas of the primary curriculum.
Below is a list of some of the aspects of KS2 language teaching which typify current practice, and which would ease Transition in KS3 as well as enlivening KS3 lessons:
Giving language a rhythm and a tune often makes it "stick" better, and enables you to tackle much longer passages of the language than you might attempt otherwise. The language used is necessarily repetitive but not boring, and therefore more motivating. Learning through song accesses different learning styles and enables students to interact with the language in a different way, within a dynamic and social environment. It also provides a safer environment in which to explore and experiment with new sounds, with students' participation increasing as their confidence grows. Children are naturally interested in music and songs anyway, so it seems a sensible thing to include in MFL lessons in all key stages. If you can find songs from other countries where your language is spoken, it's an easy way in to Intercultural Understanding, something that Ofsted says no key stage does enough of.
The KS3 Framework recommends the use of songs to help students with their speaking:
1.1 Understanding and responding to the spoken word: (Y7) "identify gist and some detail in face-to-face exchanges, spoken passages and songs"
Use of rhyme and song - information plus video clip examples
The use of mimes or actions engages students in the speaking and in the composition process. Repeating language while making a physical response aids concentration and engages the learner. Using actions avoids the need to use English in the classroom, and gives students clues and a means for recall later on. You can involve students further in the process by inviting them to make up the actions for certain words.
The use of actions is also an ideal tool for memorisation (KS3 Framework LLS 5.2) and working out meaning (KS3 Framework LLS 5.4).
Mimes and music - practical blogpost by Samantha Lunn
Children first meet puppets in the Early Years classroom, and puppets then become a part of life in the primary school where they can be used with great effect in primary language lessons.
So why use puppets?
Puppets are an ideal way to approach certain objectives of the KS3 Framework for Languages. For example:
Using pencil puppets with Year 7 - blogpost by Dominic McGladdery
Los animales hablan español - example of work with KS1 using finger puppets by Lisa Stevens
Link to video presentation by Lisa Stevens about using puppets in the MFL classroom
Year 7 using puppets - video by Fiona Joyce
Year 4 practise simple greetings using puppets
The relationship between sound and spelling is a key component of the KS2 Framework for Languages. KS3 teachers should be aware that their new Year 7 students will have had experience of Phonics from Early Years in English, and from Year 3 in their KS2 foreign language work. Confidence in reading and speaking aloud in another language comes from having the ability to decode the sounds that are written in each word. It would be naive to expect any learner to absorb and make these links independently.
A number of objectives in the KS3 Framework for Languages refer to Phonics:
Knowledge about Language - 4.1 Letters and sounds: (Y7) "apply knowledge of common letter strings, sound patterns, accents and other characters"; (Y8) "identify and recall common exceptions to the usual patterns of sounds and spellings"
Language Learning Strategies - 5.1 Identifying patterns in the target language: (Y7/8) "identify patterns of pronunciation, word formation, word order, grammatical structure and sentence structure in the target language"
Language Learning Strategies - 5.6 Reading aloud: (Y7/8) "read aloud written texts with increasing fluency, accuracy and expression, showing awareness of meaning"
Some key questions for KS3 teachers:
Spanish sounds that make it different to English
French sounds that make it different to English
Phonics presentation by Suzi Bewell
Interactive phonics activities for French
Presentation by Jo Rhys Jones with loads of ideas for teaching Phonics across the Key Stages
One of the Language Learning Strategies from the KS2 Framework for Languages is "Practise new language with a friend and outside the classroom". This objective appears in all four years of KS2. Students need to have the freedom to practise new language with their peers and teachers need to have the confidence to allow them to do that. They will often learn just as much from the learning conversation that they have with their classmates as they do from you the teacher. Language is, after all, about interaction, and this gives them the opportunity to interact with their peers and use their language for a real purpose. Different students respond to different ways of learning, and those who don't have the confidence to speak in front of the whole class will often be happy to speak with a partner.
There are many different sorts of activities that students can do together in pairs or in a group. For example, they could do a card sort, a puzzle, a role play.... Primary classes respond particularly well to anything that has a kinesthetic element and anything that involves working together to solve a problem.
Pair and group work with video clips
Many primary language lessons involve reading a book together. Sometimes these are authentic children's books in the target language, often they are translations of books with which the children are already familiar, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Rainbowfish. It's true that for secondary-age students it's more difficult to find something of the right maturity level, but often traditional stories work very well.
Stories present us with a rich source of learning. Students can get involved on a basic level, giving physical responses to sounds, words or phrases, acting out parts of the story or joining in a refrain. Stories present a good model of pronunciation and a good example of sustained use of language. They enhance students' ability to listen and concentrate, as well their ability to understand new language without having to use English. Stories are also a good way to embed new structures, in particular high frequency words and structures.
In the primary classroom it is relatively easy to share a book with the children, but the secondary classrooms have different challenges, in particular a lack of space. There are several internet-based programs that you can use to make your own stories to present to your class, and of course PowerPoint is always useful for this too. The links below will give you more information.
The MFL Storybird Wiki compiled by Fiona Joyce
Low-tech methods like flashcards have fallen out of favour in the secondary sector in recent years. Teachers are encouraged to use their projectors and IWBs as much as possible. However, this can lead to whiteboard-fatigue for the students. Flashcards are often preferable since they are so tactile, kinesthetic, portable and immensely versatile.
Flashcards - getting children to remember language
classroom is a treasure-trove of equipment to use. The language teacher
can find many imaginative uses for number fans, multi-link cubes, number
lines and dice, just to name but a few. Again, new Year 7 students will
be used to this kind of cross-curricular approach, of seeing in their
language lessons materials and equipment that they use elsewhere too.
Linking MFL with other curriculum areas can only be a good thing, and
will help to validate the subject.