The first talk I went to was by Rachel Hawkes who recently came to Belfast to deliver a highly successful training day in conjunction with NICILT. Rachel covers so much ground in her talks that it was good to hear her again so soon after the last talk and process her many great ideas again.
Through LinkedUp , Northgate High School (Vincent Everett) and Comberton Village College trialled a scheme of mixed age language learning. Amongst the many advantages, Rachel commented that adults ask higher order questions, have high literacy levels, spot links and gently prompt younger learners to the right answer.Their pronunciation is better in that they try harder. By their presence, adults send a powerful message about language learning as they are giving up their own time. In terms of ICT they are behind the pupils, generally, but they generated competition and gave excellent feedback re clarity of teaching. Given their appetite for learning, Rachel and the CVC staff observed more learning outside the classroom.
This is where speaking in the language classroom is unplanned, where there is no script, where the questions and answers are unknown. Whilst as teachers we may worry about scaring the pupils, the CVC pupils commented that it‘shows what we really know’, and that they can talk ‘off the top of our heads’ There are many ways to promote Spontaneous Talk, according to Rachel, including:
o question routines
o 20 questions (Have you..? Do you like..? How..? Where..? Is..?)
o What are the questions? (give pupils a ppt with a series of answers, and they suggest the questions)
o Find someone who (great for practising the familiar 'you' form)
o using Piensas que…? for any statement, where their partner has to answer
o Say something else
o Pimp my language! (eg Juego al tenis – what can you do to soup it up?)
o Have I got news for you (blankfill) NB Personalising it makes it work better
Pure or impure (impure CLIL = still has the focus on the linguistic aim, language, but using new and interesting topics)
o Focus on ‘new knowledge’
o Authentic materials
o Challenging texts
o High use of TL
There are a vast quantity of resources available on Rachel's website, including her CLIL water module in Spanish, with resources from the Western Sahara. She suggests using BBC Clips which has loads of clips on different themes which you can use to make T/F and gapfills.
As always, this was an inspiring journey through ideas and resources which are immediately available to use in the language classroom. Since Rachel's talk in Belfast, we have already overhauled our KS3 Scheme of Work, but looking at her website would encourage me to go even further.