Modern Languages - Topsy-turvy learning

11th January 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

Recently, we made a short film in Spanish with a small group of Year 4 (P4) pupils. It won a competition and caused a stir. Now we have a learning epidemic, with children leading the way, writes Heather Martin.

Such is the seductive cinematography of the director that at every showing, whether to a class of 16 or an assembly of 500, the children watch spellbound, caught up in this alternative reality. Learning spikes massively, with pupils of every age group now able to express scepticism (No creo en el martin pescador, no existe!), disappointment (Que triste!), horror (Es horrible, un desastre!), relief (Que tranquilo!) and admiration (Es tan bonito!) with total conviction. They didn't learn these things from their teachers, but from the actors. In choir we learned a Spanish hymn for our harvest festival celebration. Sing up, I urged the children. How do you expect your teachers to learn unless you enunciate words clearly?

When I circulated information about online courses offered by the Instituto Cervantes, no fewer than 10 non-specialist staff stepped up to the plate. I know many want to contribute to our integrated learning programme, spearheaded by a group of enlightened nine-year-olds in the design and technology workshop.

At morning registration we interact with the children in Spanish. It's exciting to see the pace accelerate as they spark off each other. But the words that resonated most when I left one classroom recently were those of the teacher. "I learned something today," she said. "I'll be trying it out later."

What else?

To start a new language, try the TES MFL primary collection. bit.lyPrimaryMFL

Use Spanish songs to develop pupils' vocabulary in Malena113 's musical lesson. bit.lytesSpanishSong.

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