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Eliminating Failure in Language Learning: Good Teaching meets Brain Research. Wellington College, February 2013

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1 Eliminating Failure in Language Learning: Good Teaching meets Brain Research. Wellington College, February 2013

2 An old problem (from Chaucer, G, Prologue, late C14 ) And frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly, After the scole of stratford atte bowe, For frenssh of parys was to hire unknowe.

3 Brain cells and connections (from The Learning Brain, Blakemore and Frith, 2005) As we learn, brain cells form connections with each other that build into networks. These connections are strengthened with practice.

4 Brain cell (from Neuroscience and Education, Teaching and Learning Research Project, 2007)

5 Brain cell connections (from Neuroscience and Education, Teaching and Learning Research Project, 2007)

6 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2012


8 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2012: Six months

9 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2012: Three years

10 The brain adapts itself to different languages Reading Aloud in English and Italian, evidence from brain scans (active areas in black) Left: reading system of English and Italian combined Centre: sound processing more active in Italian Right: word form area more active in English (fromThe Learning Brain, Blakemore and Frith, 2005)

11 The areas of the brain used for written and spoken language are interlinked and overlap (Dr. Matt Davis, MRC, Languages Today, Spring 2013) Hearing Reading Both

12 As we learn a new language… We add to and adapt the structures formed in our brain as we learned our first language. These structures influence the way we learn the new language, both the parts we find easy, and the errors we make (Swan and Smith, Learner English.)

13 English speakers need to adapt to: New relationships between written and spoken language, including spelling and pronunciation. Gender in nouns that have no physical gender, and in associated pronouns and adjectives. Greater variation in verb forms than in English (except for Mandarin!)

14 We promote the formation of networks in childrens minds by Understanding the adjustments they need to make to their thinking Explaining these clearly in terms children understand. Clear and attractive presentation Teaching spoken and written language together, so that children can see the links between them. Encouraging and answering questions Encouraging them to practice

15 We hinder the formation of networks by Copying, which requires children to switch their attention continually between the master version and their own. These jerky movements thinking and the formation of connections. Overloading, by presenting too much new written material at a time, or presenting spoken language that is too fast for children to understand.

16 Copying, c1700 BC (From The History of Writing, S.R Fischer)

17 Copying errors from a Year 7 mixed-ability class Quel as âge tu. Quel âge as-tu? O habite tu Ou jhabites-tu Où habites-tu? Où habite a Londres. Jhabite à Londres. Common tappelle tú_ Comment tappelles-tu? Je onzo age Jai onze ans Ja un douze Jai douze ans (experienced teacher, pupils had models of the sentences they were trying to write, from which they could copy.)

18 Excellent Latin Teaching in Year 11 (Ofsted, Maidstone Grammar School, 2004) This very high-attaining group was taking a full GCSE course in the time allocated for a half-course. This was made possible by the teachers deep knowledge and understanding of the structures of Latin, which he explained to the students with great clarity, following this up with printed notes and short exercises that were distributed to students and built up into a personal textbook. Each step built carefully on the students earlier learning, making it easy for them to adjust Their thinking to take on the new structures. At the same time, the teacher skilfully extended their vocabulary, carefully managing the level of support he provided to take account of the students limited time for the subject, while retaining a strong element of challenge. Written tasks were expertly designed to balance new learning with reinforcement, and carefully marked. Very effective time management left good time for students to work on poetry in the final third of the lesson, during which they applied their developing knowledge of grammar to work out complex, compressed language with a high degree of success. The teacher used his expert knowledge of ancient history to put the verse in context, and to ensure that the lesson contributed to students understanding of Roman culture as well as Latin.

19 Key Features of French… The French like their spoken language to flow, and their written language to be precise. All nouns have a gender. (Very occasionally, two – le or la professeur) The form of verbs varies more than in English, and the negative is tricky.

20 ... a suggested first order... Colours have key features – vert, bleu, rouge, blanc, jaune, orange, noir, violet, marron. Say together, study, look away, write on sleeve. Bonjour! (Gday). Drop the tongue to pronounce. Sing and point (to self and people) pronouns Sing and point être. I usually do negative first. Sentence building with family and pets introduces gender and avoir, positive and negative.

21 My First Steps in Spanish. Colours. Rojo, azul, verde, amarillo, marrón introduce most of the variations between Spanish and English pronunciation, and the accent. As with French, say together, study, look away and write on sleeve. Explain ¡Buenos Días! as a greeting, and what it means. Sing Ser to 10 green bottles, with actions, explaining how Spanish takes advantage of its word endings to omit the short words we have to put in front of verbs. Introduce masculine/feminine, via the idea of boys and girls words for younger children. Eg soy una niña/un niño. Build sentences about family/pets, around tengo/no tengo.

22 ... and beyond... Extend outwards from family and pets to other areas of interest. Encourage expression through recording, playbacks, blogging, podcasting. Make and cultivate links to a school in a country that speaks the language. Develop understanding of the shared Latinate and Greek words that are the foundation of much European public language. Explore software, internet connections and websites, Youtube, Wickipedia, Taught By Song, Little Tails, BBC sites, news translate...(discuss...) Introduce childrens books, make talking versions using Mantralingua (or other) talking pens, Mantralingua talking tablet, IPC. Set up a languages section in the library. Start a club. Please, start a club. And invite parents. Think about Flame/CLIL, perhaps beginning with Take 10 (Devon) Sign the staff up for British Council Comenius Courses in the holiday. Generous grants, good teaching, good food, good learning.

23 …and a way of teaching flow in French Explain that vowels are voice sounds, and that two together can be jerky – say je ai. Can they hear the jerk? Demonstrate the technique of dropping the first vowel and replacing it with an apostrophe. Write apostrophe on the board. Who thinks its an English word? Explain that apostrophe comes from the Greek word for gap, and that we have a gap when we take out a letter. So, we have jai. Have children study jai, then clean it off/minimise it, and have them trace it with their finger on their sleeve or desk. Nearly all will get it right. Praise. Write and explain the sentence Jai un chat, noting the letter at the end of the word that is not pronounced. Repeat the tracing.

24 With Clicker…

25 Extensions suggested by Y4

26 Sentence Modelling… Presents new structures clearly and simply Extends opportunities for study, explanation and questions Lets children compose written sentences as they do spoken ones, Eliminates the to-and-fro brain switches involved in copying Letting us teach written and spoken language together Allows children to say what they want to say Lets us present advanced language clearly and flexibly Raises achievement in reading and writing Is easy to use, and can be practised on mobile devices.

27 Year 7, girl, assessed as dyslexic, before sentence building work

28 Year 7, girl, assessed as dyslexic, after six weeks sentence building work

29 Year 7, boy assessed as dyslexic

30 Year 4, higher-attaining girl

31 Je (point to self, whole hand –finger pointing is rude) Tu (point to a friend, whole hand – they cant help smiling !) Il (point to a boy, not your tu friend) Elle (ditto a girl) Nous Big circular sweep with both hands Vous Point to teacher with both hands – explain that vous is a mark of respect to a grown up. Ils Point to two boys both hands Elles Point to two girls both hands French Verb song ( song copyright ©Joe Biswell and John Bald)

32 A possible order for verbs Pronouns only with actions Etre (negative with shaking of head) Etre positive (might try with nodding head) Some regular verbs - eg regarder, écouter, jouer, penser, manger (these bring out regular patterns) Any other verb the children would need to use to say something.

33 Some patterns in French verbs Tu ends in s ils/elles end in nt Nous ends in -ons (not nous sommes) Vous ends in –ez (not vous êtes and vous faites) These patterns recur in almost all tenses, including those made with auxiliary (helping) verbs, conditionals and subjunctives.

34 Footnote: Spanish verbs Spanish takes a shortcut – unless there is a need to emphasise it, the pronoun is incorporated into the verb. Spanish verbs can be sung to Ten Green Bottles, using the same gestures as for the French Negatives are easy – just begin with no. Tengo is a good starting point, as it can be used to say so many things, and the first person is easy to spell.

35 Some References brain Clicker 6 + Acapello voices + app +dropbox: The Learning Brain, Blakemore S and Frith U Blackwell 2005 Neuroscience and Education, TLRP 2007 Spell it Out. D Crystal, 2012 Learning Disabilities, Fletcher J et al, Guilford Press 2007 Learner English, Swan M and Smith B, CUP 2001

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