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Integrating phonics into your foreign language lessons

Jenny Bell, co-author of Physical Spanish Phonics, presented a fantastic and very practical talk on how to integrate phonics into foreign language lessons at the Language Show last weekend.

If you registered for the Language Show but missed Jenny’s talk, I recommend listening to the recording. (Search for ‘Simple but fun ways of improving phonemic awareness in primary’.)

Jenny showed how to give a phonic twist to games that you probably already play in the classroom, such as bingo, snap and 4 corners.
4 corners is a very simple game, but it has so many potential variations. The way Jenny uses it to teach phonics is that she prints out cards with four phonemes she wants to practise and puts these in 4 corners of the room. She then covers her eyes and counts to 10 (in the target language) while the children quietly go and stand in one of the corners. (Jenny says having a TA in the classroom helps!) Then, before opening her eyes, she says one of the sounds. All the children in that corner are ‘out’ and must go and sit down. The game repeats until there is one winner. To help keep the children who are no longer playing involved, she chooses one of them to do the counting and calling out of the phoneme. The other children can join in with counting in the target language.
Jenny says this game is so popular with her classes, she has to ration its use!

Do you support the re-introduction of compulsory languages at GCSE?

The Times recently did a survey on this question. Of the 460 respondents, 91% supported the re-introduction of compulsory languages at GCSE. Do you agree?

I always felt it was a mistake to make foreign language GCSEs non-compulsory, as there have been so many studies showing the benefits of learning a second language.

As the proverb (which some people attribute to the Chinese) goes: ‘To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.’

Do you remember what life was like before central heating?

When I was a student (many years ago) I had a landlady who put a heater on the landing outside our bedrooms, but then instructed us to keep our bedroom doors closed so as not to allow the heat to escape!

I was reminded of this because the gas boiler in our office has broken. We are all coming to work dressed in woolly jumpers and thick socks while we wait for the engineer to come and fix it. Fortunately the weather is fairly mild, but it is a reminder of what life used to be like. I hope you are managing to keep warmer than we are!

With best wishes for next week!
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