The Linguist

The Linguist 59,4 - Aug/Sept 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 27 FEATURES practice in many secondary schools of taking no account of prior language learning and starting again from scratch. The aim was also to enable youngsters to achieve high standards by the time of GCSE, especially in light of the new, more challenging examinations. The trust chose Spanish because some schools were already teaching a bit of the language, albeit in a rather unstructured way. Secondary schools were encouraged to continue to offer a wider range of languages too. Every school came on board, whether local authority-run, voluntary-aided, a free school or an academy. It was a visionary and brave step. Schools released primary staff once a half term to receive the training necessary to deliver Spanish in the classroom. This support at the top level has been crucial. In addition, twilight language classes are available, and we look for other opportunities to improve staff language skills. Many native Spanish speakers have been attracted to the borough, providing expertise and good language models. To support teachers unused to teaching a language, a detailed Scheme of Learning for KS2 has been produced and is freely available. Schools often use this as a starting point and adapt it to their specific needs. Importantly, the skills and outcomes expected for each year group (Years 1-6) have been agreed. This is used to track the progress of every child and to make a judgement at the end of Year 6 about their attainment. Primary Spanish teachers add this to the KS2 data, which is transferred electronically to secondary schools in the summer term before the new cohort arrives in September. The modern foreign languages (MFL) departments at each secondary then know how long each child has studied Spanish and whether they have achieved most of the Year 6 objectives. This enables them to plan, in detail, how to build on previous attainment in Spanish. MFL departments are also given information about their major feeder schools, and what level of the Hackney Primary Spanish Award they have achieved: bronze, silver or gold. Working together Observing each other's lessons has also been a good way for teachers to see what is being taught in each sector and how. Many secondary schools are training pupils as Language Ambassadors to teach lessons in their feeder schools. This has a major impact on the secondary pupils, as they need to plan carefully how to impart knowledge and engage the younger children. They begin to understand the complexity of the teaching process. In one notable example, pupils from Parkwood Primary taught Spanish to their peers in local secondary schools. "They planned the lessons well to ensure they included a variety of activities and were not at all shy in telling the secondary pupils what to do", says their teacher, Raquel Tola Rego. "They corrected incorrect pronunciations and made the pupils repeat after them. The secondary pupils seemed to really enjoy the lessons and commented on how advanced the Spanish was of their small 'teachers'." Our belief, especially in the primary setting, is that language learning is the responsibility of all. For years, the practice of 'Spanish and vanish', where a peripatetic teacher visits once a week and all is forgotten between lessons, has provided a poor model of learning. As part of the criteria to gain Hackney's bronze level award, a school must hold in-service training (INSET) to show all staff how to reinforce language learning through everyday activities, such as taking the register and discussing the weather. A school also has to commit to planning at least 45 minutes of Spanish a week. Many primary Spanish teachers have appointed pupils as Language Captains to remind class teachers of their daily responsibility to reinforce the learning of Spanish. Other requirements are for Spanish to be included in reports to parents and for whole school activities, such as assemblies, to promote the language and culture, as well as an internationalist ethos. Pupil feedback is part of the criteria, as are the submission of Year 6 data and a link with a local secondary school. To gain the gold award, schools need to able to track their pupils' progress into Key Stage 3 (KS3), be working towards the British Council Full International School Award and have a partner school in a Spanish- speaking country. Positive outcomes In February, 19 primary and secondary teachers participated in the Hackney Erasmus+ CLIL course in Tenerife to find out how schools there implement the CLIL approach, and to develop aspects of this back in Hackney. The small sección bilingue, where CLIL is practised, comprises three schools and will be expanded to another three secondary and eight primary schools. Each school will implement a small Unit of Work in the summer term to deliver another subject through Spanish. The outcomes of this practice will inform future CLIL developments in Hackney, and form part of the impact assessment of the Erasmus+ project. Research into the Hackney Spanish Initiative is being conducted by academics at King's College and the Open University through the Language Acts and Worldmaking project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). One area they are exploring is to what extent the primary learning has ensured greater progress in the secondary phase. A survey of secondary colleagues will form part of the report. The initial signs are looking positive. Data from the primary provision and Year 6 outcomes, and the numbers who opt to take Spanish at GCSE and A level, will continue to be monitored to ensure that improvements are maintained and uptake increases. SCHOOL VISITS Language Ambassadors from a local secondary school teach Year 5 (below); and (bottom) a storyteller from the Instituto Cervantes visits the whole of Key Stage 2 in one school

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