Perspective. It all depends how we see things…

Perhaps we should learn from children. They can be so funny and very serious too.

They often have a very different perspective to adults and they are certainly not afraid to ask questions! Perhaps politicians should ask them to voice their opinions on learning languages and about their hopes for the future more often?

Learning other languages and travelling to different countries gives us a wider perspective. Visiting schools in other countries is fascinating too. I wonder how the election results will affect spending on education in our country. Having spent time on the Language Trends Survey recently, I was interested this week to read about the situation relating to foreign language learning in France. Reading about other situations makes me consider things here more deeply. It has led to parents protesting in Montpellier (read this interesting German article). The minister in France, Najat Vallaud-Belkcem has her views. It will be an interesting argument to follow and we are all entitled to our own thoughts and opinions on these issues.

These discussions are interesting in the classroom too. Whatever age group you teach you can ask your learners what they think about the value of learning a foreign language. They will have their own views. In KS2 and maybe to a certain extent in KS3 they may need to discuss some aspects of this in English first to help them form their ideas before they can start to construct phrases and sentences in the target language. Group Talk phrases will help of course and the sooner young learners are asked to justify their opinion the better!  If they are displayed, the phrases give confidence. My years of teaching have taught me that to ensure that students achieve well in GCSE and A level speaking exams they don’t necessarily need to have the answer to a problem, but to be able to debate an issue and look at different sides of an argument and weigh them up. The new draft specifications indicate that this ability to have a mature dialogue will continue to be awarded high marks.

Window of Another World. When I was in Oxford recently I stopped by a university building site and noticed some wonderful art, the winning entries in an art competition. These 12 winning pictures were re-produced in large-scale to line the building hoardings along Walton Street. They were fantastic! Children had been asked to imagine what they would see if they could peer through the Window of Another World. I love this idea! It was inspired by Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government. The Dean, Ngaire Woods said at the start of the competition, ‘Our students come here from many different countries and backgrounds to share and learn from different experiences. We love the idea of working with our new neighbour OUP to help inspire children to imagine other worlds and opportunities.’’

And at the end…

“Our graduate students come to Oxford from many different countries and backgrounds because they want to help make a better world. We were positively astounded not only by the number of entries we received but also by the incredible visions interpreted by the children for this competition.” Here is the gallery of winners.

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It certainly made me think when I saw them. I liked them all but took a photo of this one. Could you use this in the classroom maybe with an opening question ‘What do you think she is thinking about?’

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This global campaign will get learners talking and writing spontaneously too. More advanced pupils will of course be able to use the conditional confidently. As so many migrants are risking their lives to get from Africa to Europe, a headline from the news in the language you teach linked to the Send My Friend campaign resources could yield some good work. It can really enhance a unit of work on the theme of schools.

58 million children are still missing out on school. Girls, children with a disability, and those living in conflict are most at risk. 2015 could change their future. As world leaders meet to discuss the future of the world’s children in September, we will be asking children across the UK – if you were a world leader, what would you do to ensure every child could have an education?’

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