In my previous post I described how much I was looking forward to the annual Language Show Live at Olympia and I was not disappointed.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends in the languages community and also to start planning ahead for the changes we are expecting in 2014, based on excellent inputs from a whole host of seminars speakers.


There was much talk of Primary Languages and the different models in existence.  Concerns about transition to KS3 are ever present and individual authorities and clusters of schools will need to work hard to find the best solutions for their learners. 

Friday started with a presentation from Peter Downes who advocates a mixed experience for Primary language learners.  This is not necessarily in line with government recommendations, particularly given the emphasis on progression into KS3, but the idea that learners would become more aware of how language works and have transferable skills is an interesting one.  This model could help to lay a good foundation for the learning of a language but I sense that most schools will opt to teach one language and it is felt by many that this will more than likely be French.


Network for Languages are working with the ALL and the Institut Français to develop some materials for use by non specialist primary teachers who are assigned to teach French from September of next year.  For more information, see:


John Bald, independent consultant, well known by many for his contributions to the Linguanet forum, also presented a session on Friday about the New National Curriculum and spoke about the work he has been undertaking in the Hackney area.  John spoke of the importance of linguistic competence and provided examples of how he believes we, as teachers, can help to stop failure amongst our learners.  John also alluded to the work of Dr Matt Smith who wrote an interesting article about brain science and language learning which can be found in the Spring edition of ALL Languages Today magazine. 

John is also a fan of Clicker software for beginner learners of a language – more information can be found here:

John’s presentation can be found here on his website 


Friday also saw an excellent session by Wendy Adeniji on Grammar, which seems to focus quite heavily in the new NC Programme of Study for languages 2014 (even though we have always been required to focus on grammar in our teaching!). 

Wendy began her session by stating that secondary teachers need to be aware of the KS2 NC for languages and how grammar, conjugation and high frequency verbs feature lower down the school.  Primary languages are ‘no longer just about exposure, fun and games’, even though grammar can be taught in a fun way, providing measurable progress is made by learners.

Language teachers have a lot to offer to whole school literacy when we really examine what it is we do in our lessons.  Literacy in MFL could be:


-language learning skills

-bilingual dictionary use

-modelling high level texts with a class

-training learners how to memorize

-the use of mnemonics (the link word technique)

-discussing language learning strategies

-the use of literacy mats to allow learners to independently extend their writing (and speaking)

Wendy also shared examples of how stories can be used to teach grammar using the example of a basic adaptation of the Aladdin story.  She also spoke of how the animated PPT story might then be acted out using masks. 

Wendy also reminded us that on the BBC clips zone website there are several animated stories which could be used for the same purpose.  See:

Wendy spoke of the power of song in language learning and how transcripts of lyrics can also be used to draw out key grammatical ideas and structures. 

We revisited the idea of ‘out of seats’ learning looking at human sentences (perhaps with your more visual and kinaesthetic learners in mind), allowing children to form sentences, allowing them to think hard about their (grammatical) place in a sentence.  From personal experience, this works particularly well in German when teaching ‘weil’ clauses.

We talk about using dice, for example via Smart Board Technology via the IWB, and also actual picture dice such as those available from Linguascope, alongside their excellent Talking Dice range.  See: and 

Another grammar idea came in the form of Quiz Quiz Trade, which is an out of seats game I have never played and so do not understand fully.  More information can, however, be found here. 

Wendy also spoke very highly of Kagan collaborative learning techniques which work well in the language learning classroom.  For anyone unaware of Kagan, see

Wendy also spoke about how (also available as an app) is proving to be very successful with her secondary language learners and how some will spend hours online competing with their peers, completing repetitive games.  Wendy also suggested that delegates might go away and spend some time looking at

All in all, Wendy shared  lots of really practical and often ‘fun’ / unconventional  ways of increasing the emphasis we place on grammar, which has to be at the heart of everything we do as languages teachers.


Watch out for The Language Show Live Part 2 blog (Saturday) … coming soon.