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Children learn their mother tongue through actions, play and story, and this is no different when it comes to a second or even third language.
Language play labs are designed to emulate natural language acquisition using props and play equipment so that children hardly notice that they are learning. With outdoor games like l'elastique, c'est fantastique! (French skipping), French Dress Up Whispers, Giant Guess Who and Murder most Mystère, children will go beyond the very basics to ask questions like "who is it?", "which one?" They learn prepositions of place and time, how to describe people and places as well as how to give and respond to commands.
I also invite children to see the world from a different perspective and play with cognates and loan words. eg. la robe = dress and etiquette = label (ticket). We look at how language has travelled and influenced our culture.
These positive experiences of a second language are the foundations which lend pupils the confidence to opt for a second or even third language at GCSE.
Play labs can be booked in blocks of sessions or as a one off for events such as a languages day.
Using a range of text types such as beautifully illustrated French children’s books, poems and fairy tales, the children are assigned the role of translator. They are given detailed glossaries and the real life task of translating a section of the text. There is no need for any previous experience of French or any other language, but it may well be a useful tool (and easier!) for those who are speakers of other languages. Employing word and role-play games to enhance comprehension of the source text, groups work together roughly decoding the original text, then work hard to hone the target text. Once they have their honed target text, they are then free to let their creativity fly. Children produce a ‘tableau’ or role play using narration and ‘dubbing’ (hilarious!) and sound effects with props and dress up to bring the whole scene alive. They perform this all within a huge golden ‘tableau’ (picture frame), mais oui, bien sûr!
These translation workshops were designed by the Translators in Schools initiative and fill many aspects of the current MFL and English language curriculums at KS2.
These are tales of both wildly heroic and downright foolish acts, the births of strange half-lings, and more kings, queens, princes and princesses in folklore and legend than you can shake a stick at. But beware, these are not quite the sanitized fairy tales we are accustomed to. Myth is elusive and wily; sometimes it lurks in the thicket letting out a raucous cackle, it rides through dark forests on a bear’s back, can freeze a young maiden to stone or come face to face with the terrifying Baba Yaga witch herself. Invariably there is often a great wedding or celebration to make it all worthwhile.
This workshop is particularly effective in forest schools, when children can gaze into the firand access that deep inner rich part of their imaginations. We work with the story in English using visual memory technique to reveal the advice buried within the story. This in turn enables children to find their own voices and lend power to their own stories.
I have taught English as a foreign language, French and Spanish as MFL in a wide variety of contexts - to students as young as six up to the age of sixty-six. I also translate, write stories and tell folk tales from around the world. I believe that more than ever it is time to be outward facing; to meet our European neighbours in the spirit of friendship. Charlemagne said "To have a second language is to possess a second soul", I believe that another language not only improves brain function, but increases awareness and empathy for others. Being able to make friends and work effectively with people from another cultural background is an increasingly important skill. My mission is to foster a love of language, to enable young people to speak another language and to speak eloquently in their own.
I hold an enhanced portable DBS check, but also positively encourage school staff members to get involved with the lexical antics!
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