Thursday, 3 June 2010

Raising Languages Uptake at KS4: Sharing Good Practice

One of the aims of our local Strategic Learning Network for Languages has been to look at different ways to raise language uptake at KS4 (post 14). Although it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes students opt, there are a variety of factors to consider, including friendship groups and the nature of the option system offered by each school to different types of students.

(Thank you to Demi Wild from South Chadderton High School, Oldham, for putting together a case study and for discussing a lot of these ideas with the other schools in our SLN. We had a lot of these ideas in common but as always, it was interesting to hear how each of us managed them in practice)

Quality of the Learning Experience

• Lessons are consistently good or better.
• Integrate PLTS (Personal Learning and Thinking Skills) into lessons to develop long-term language-learning skills.
• Develop group or pair work to make learning more student-centred.
• Encourage students to be more independent learners: let them find out rules for different tenses and find new language rather than presenting it to them.
• Ask students to find out what they enjoy about their language lessons/ not enjoy
• Use New Technologies in lessons, partly as they are motivational in their own right but they also allow students to be creative. Use recording software like audacity, Voki, Photostory, video conference with another school, book the local CLC and take them for an afternoon.
• Ensure that all students are being stretched especially in Year 8 and 9, when motivation traditionally starts to go down.
• Use authentic materials like YouTube, or adverts from magazines.
• Seriously consider using engaging contents from other subjects and teaching it through the medium of the foreign language (CLIL)

Use of Praise and Rewards

• Postcards home for good work.
• Celebration dinners for ‘always children’ though who always do their best, put on buffet / party food and write invitation in target language every half term.
• Put up students names on a display and write a little comment about what they have done well.
• Use points for success in individual classroom activities and give prizes at the end of term.
• Send good letters home and ensure that the whole-school reward system is used to acknowledge good work and effort in lessons (including oral contribution in class)
• Nominate a “star of the lesson” at the end of each lesson and keep tally of how many times students have been nominated.
• Make positive phone calls home.

Show students the importance of languages

• Make sure schemes of work take time to explore why learning a language is important.
• Students look at the culture of other countries where the Target Language is spoken. Students choose, research and present an aspect of the culture of the country like food, sport, a city or school life.
• Celebrate the European Day of Languages: take an assembly, give “freebies” to other Faculties and share examples or short activities for all to include in their lessons.
• Offer enrichment activities like Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese (this can be linked with martial art, food or Art), French film, European Food tasting, video conferencing and pod casting. Ideally this could be part of a Language Festival with some feeder primary schools taking part in shared activities.
• Get the school canteen involved in offering International food
• Invite local university students or past students to come into school and talk to year 9 about languages at university and in the real world before their options.

Raise the Profile of Languages

• Make the school reception look welcoming to the international guest: include flags, ‘welcome’ signs printed in different languages and displays about different countries and their cultures.
• Ensure language areas have vibrant displays
• Run trips, these do not have to be abroad. Take students to local Christmas Markets, Café Rouge or La Tasca for a meal, to local Universities for language taster days and local sixth form college language department.
• When trips abroad are organised, pre-trip organisation is essential to ensure that all opportunities for linguistic development are fully used. (support booklets, structured activities, quizzes, map reading, personal diaries, scrapbooks...)
• Make a film: Get involved with Creative Partnerships, local CLC film competitions and the LAFTAs .
• Let Year 9 work in groups to plan a 20 /30 minute lesson to a year group in primary school then let them go and teach it. They don’t have to go with you, a learning mentor or support person could take them.
• Let students sell teachers European food in the staff room once every half term or to other students in the school. Teachers need to use French to buy stuff from the students.
• Feed students at the end of terms, do European food in the lessons.
• Invite in primary school children for a morning and let a class organise, plan and help with the activities.
• Promote Cultural Diversity through cross-curricular events and enrichment activities like Islamic art, African Drumming or Chinese culture activities (calligraphy, music, martial arts, food...)


Helena Butterfield said...

Just reading this for the first Isabelle (hangs head in shame).
I can see me coming to you for loads of advice from September when I'm a HOD! Where do you get your praise postcards from? I love the idea of them but know I'm short of cash so am looking for a very cheap option!
Helena :o)

IC Jones said...

Dear Helena
Isn't that what twitter is for??
We are lucky that the postcards are a school initiative so we get some for free. We also send regular good letters home. You can make your own postcards but colour printing/ copying can be expensive. Why not ask students to design a black and white logo for your Languages Faculty as part of a competition? This could be a great way to get them involved-the winner gets their logos printed on all the good postcards home!!