EAS MFL Conference 2017



Today I was very fortunate to be able to attend the EAS MFL Conference held at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni. I was able to attend only because I am currently working with the Spanish and English department at my school on a Triple Literacy Project and we were invited to share our progress with the conference. This was the first EAS Modern Foreign Languages conference and it was an absolute pleasure as a Welsh Second Language teacher to be a part of the amazing sharing of good practice with fellow linguists and stakeholders. Thank you for the opportunity.

Following the introductory presentations from EAS and head teachers of Cwm Rhymni and Blackwood, lead schools in developing this collaborative approach to address MFL within the consortium, we were given a superb keynote speech from the Chair of the MFL Steering group. The main thrust of his address was that languages open doors and opportunities and that we as language teachers can change lives. I found myself nodding and laughing along with the anecdotes from the classroom and the wonderful journey of the presenter. I was already completely enthused and excited even before the workshops begun.

There were 6 workshops during the day in 3 sessions and some additional talks from ESTYN and Welsh Government and opportunities to network with stakeholders. The following workshops were available.

  1. Language Futures and Literature
  2. Spontaneous Speaking and Primary Transition
  3. Growth Mindset in MFL and MFL cross-curricular projects

I was only able to attend 2 workshop as I was co-presenting in workshop 3.  It was an absolute privilege to attend the Language Futures and Spontaneous Speaking and I found both sessions very informative with a range of ideas I could implement tomorrow.  During the 3rd workshop, I was also able to listen to how other schools were approaching the cross-curricular projects and the level of creativity and innovation was outstanding.

Below are my highlights and takeaways from the event:

There are innovative and engaging ideas for addressing learning such as Project Based Learning approaches like Language Features which can foster aspiration in language learning.

Language learning/acquisition should focus on high frequency words and phrases used in real life.

Developing the learning skills needed for language learning – learning to learn – so skills can be transferred across languages and learning is important to developing well rounded students.

Adaptations to how projects could be run could serve to generate interest and aspiration for languages for different groups or needs such as MAT students or Language Clubs. Developing independant learning opportunities is important to fostering interest in language and learning.

Technological opportunities should be grasped and exploited to increase contact time with the target language and there are now many possibilities using Google Classroom and various apps. Collaboration between students and teachers outside of lessons can be achieved.

Projects can increase the opportunities for networking, collaboration, sharing and developing understanding of grammatical links between languages and foster literacy at a deeper level.

Using Immersion Charts can bring language into real life situations and increase confidence and contact time in an engaging way.

Projects can also unlock very important cultural opportunities and learning by tolerance and understanding – changing mindsets.

There are a number of very creative ways in which we can address literacy in both L1 and L2 through frequent exposure in low stakes activities – similar to pop up grammar in CI approach.

Spontaneous talk can be supported in a variety of ways including developing questions and high frequency sentence patterns in the first instance and then scaffolding activities by modelling the possibilities – similar to Movie Talk and Picture Talk from CI approach.

Using models to ensure responding to a range of aspects from a stimulus such as using the fingers to represent things like physical, location, action, mood and weather for instance. Lots of scope for creative models to support thinking and responding.

3rd person forms are vital when dealing with discussions based on stimuli such as pictures or media as students will need to talk about others more frequently.

High frequency verbs and prepositions are also very important to develop detailed responses.

Developing a Multilingual Mindset in our classes, departments and schools is key to progress and addressing negativity. Celebrating differences and embracing a global outlook. Multilingualism is the norm in this context.

The importance of effectiveness at all levels in teaching and learning and currently there is a need to reflect on whether we address progression and challenge in our lessons, where progress is the ability to mix prior learning with new learning effectively and challenge is open ended tasks which allow students to apply their learning in new contexts.

We need to see the big picture and the importance of languages in a global context such as medicine and STEM. 

The event has given me lots of food for thought and I am looking forward to developing upon the outcomes with colleagues in the near future.

Diolch yn fawr EAS ac athrawon ITM … dych chi’n rocïo!


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