Experimenting with French literacy in KS2 ? Practical ideas!

Teachers in Southampton have been looking at the research behind some of their practice and have been exploring it in their classrooms. For example, research tells us that giving learners a sense of progression will support language learning motivation. We also know that encouraging teachers to experiment in their classrooms with teaching and learning activities fosters a sense of teacher pedagogic confidence. 

SUPL teachers have been exploring both through engaging with FL literacy:

  • We’ve explored how teachers can work with familiar stories and exploit these known sentence patterns to understand the text in a different language and to engage in structured writing opportunities.
  • We shared the book “L’ours brun” (Brown Bear) and used children’s knowledge of the English version to elicit the meaning of “dis-moi ce que tu vois” (what do you see) and “je vois….qui regarde par ici” (I see…looking at me).

SUPL teachers have also exploited simple sentence patterns in texts to support independent, creative writing: 

  • We also contrast between the English and French literal translations!

Practical work from SUPL teachers in the classroom

Here Sarah (Blackfield Primary) presents her scaffolding patterns which involved identifying sentence patterns, working with existing knowledge of structures (voici + noun; il est + adjective; il aime + verb, brainstorming and research for novel vocabulary and WAGOLL. Each learner designed and produced their own ‘predators’ text.s

Here the children are brainstorming other adjectives they know (or would like to know) to describe predators. They are using their KS2 knowledge; the example sentences remind them about the language patterns.

And finally children used their completed  brainstorming sheets plus a WAGOLL example to write their own descriptions using these sentence patterns. An example is shown below. These could then be turned into a class book or scanned and uploaded to a storybook website such as www.storyjumper.com.

Alongside creative language use, we’ve also been looking at learning to recognise words and have explored how phonics might support this. We know from research that learning FL sound/spelling links is a slow process, that children will need plenty of practice and opportunities to try reading aloud in order to apply their new knowledge!

Becca (Liphook Junior School) created a memorable learning device to develop conscious knowledge about sound/spelling. She talked about ‘Franceformers’ and how the same letters transform to make different sounds depending on whether they’re being used in English or French!

Becca finds that the children really enjoy this activity and they use the idea of ‘Franceformers’ as a tool to remind themselves of the differences between languages when decoding words.

[Image Transformers The Ride – 3D by Praytino is licensed under CC-BY-2.0]

Michael (Highfield Primary) talked about his work with French story books which he uses to develop knowledge about language and reading strategies.

Here he explains how you can work with familiar stories to introduce children to reading strategies, e.g. looking for cognates and knowledge of genre. In this kind of activity, English literacy is playing an important role for children to access the foreign language.

Michael carefully introduces the children to far more complex, authentic text. He finds the children really enjoy these scaffolded attempts to read for meaning in a foreign language. Even though they’re beginner learners!

What do you do?

How do you experiment with literacy in your classroom?

Do you teach phonics and does it help with reading aloud unfamiliar words?

Have you used texts to support reading for meaning? Do you find that learners automatically use first language reading strategies or do they need support?

Can writing be linked to other skills development such as oracy? How have you combined skills in a particular lesson or activity? 

We’d love to hear from you!

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