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Modern Languages - Language leaders

What it's all about

Britain's monolingualism is often deplored. But some language students are so enthusiastic, they sign up for an out-of-hours programme to expand their skills and use them to teach other children, writes Rachel Hawkes.

Working with a colleague, I developed the Routes into Languages East Language Leader Award, a year-long programme for secondary pupils to develop leadership and linguistic abilities. Taught over three terms, it culminates in them teaching a one-hour class over three successive primary school visits. I never expected it to teach me valuable lessons too.

On one visit, the enthusiasm of the Year 9S2 leaders was infectious, and the care with which they had planned their lessons was clear. But they had created an original teaching idea so good that other teachers could adopt it.

The notion was simple and easily adapted. After teaching the Spanish vocabulary for snack foods and drinks to a P45 class, the S2s gave each child a paper plate, on which they had to draw what they wanted from the menu. Around the edge of the plate they wrote "Para mi ." (literally "For me", meaning "I'll have"). When their dinners were ready, they took turns playing the waiter and carried out cafe conversations, ordering what they had drawn. It was active and engaging, and the plates were very effective aide-memoires.

When you mentor trainee teachers, you expect to benefit from new ideas. But I was surprised to see something so inspirational from 13-year- olds.

What else?

For a creative approach to teaching drinks vocabulary in Spanish, try charlou56 `s lesson. Revise food and drink while practising sentence building with rhawkes' interactive whiteboard dice activity.

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