Things keep changing…

heart for blogThis week I’ve been thinking about changes in language. The heart ♥ emoji was chosen as global word for 2014.You might like to talk to your pupils about the first photo in this article from the Guardian, particularly as Valentine’s Day approaches?

The article says: ‘Is there a global word for 2014, uniting us all, no matter what language we speak? Well, there is. It’s selected by the Global Language Monitor survey and – controversially, it’s not a word. It’s an emoji; one that counterbalances the narcissism of selfie, the misery of being unpaid and the anxiety around immigration. They chose the heart emoji (for love) – showing that, in more ways than one, it’s an international language.’ 

Of course the title of this article, ‘Forget selfie and vape, what are the new favourite words in other languages? It seems 2014 was the year of ‘photobombing’ and ‘oversharing’ in English, but what about in Spanish, German and French?’ caught my attention straight away!

As we consider this in class, do you think it is good to acknowledge that people are entitled to have different opinions? This section in the article is particularly thought provoking.

‘There is a bemusement, bordering on polite disdain, among international linguists on the globalisation of certain terms, particularly selfie. Selected as Oxford Dictionaries’ word of 2013  it was word of 2014 in France, Spain and Italy. It was chosen by Spanish linguistic foundation Fundéu BBVA “not because it is the most beautiful, the most original or novel, but by its presence in the media and penetration in the language”. But in Spanish selfi has gained detractors. Spanish media outlet El País lists several Spanish writers complaining about it, including Juan José Millás: “The choice is very strange. That the Spanish word of the year is foreign gives an idea of the globalisation in which we live.”’

Things are changing again in our field of work as new A level reforms are underway and the new GCSE specifications will be available fairly soon. Many teachers are asking questions and expressing their concern and need for clarity. I’ve been asked about using literature and authentic texts as well as these curriculum changes. Issues relating to improving transition across all the key stages and teaching grammar and phonics come up often in conversation too. They express their concern regularly about the lack of funding for CPD to give them a chance to attend courses on new things. So we need to take advantage of everything that is out there to help us. I will be looking at these issues with one or two guest bloggers during the coming weeks, after a few days rest at half term though!

Oxford University Press sent out some great free KS3 materials last year with classroom posters and you can sign up for the new GCSE and A level free support packs they are producing here.

We are very fortunate too to have very dedicated people in our language teaching world. Have you heard about the series of webinars that Helen Myers and her committee at the ALL London branch organise? On 7th Feb for example Helen, David Blow and Nick Mair hosted a webinar on Qualifications, Data and Grading. Thank you very much for the time you all have devoted to this, Helen. This link will take you to a page with the recording, associated presentations and the transcripts. It is extremely useful if you are starting in your schools to consider the implications for teaching the new GCSE. ALL London plan to host another webinar once the GCSE specifications are out too. I’ll post a link to it for you when it has taken place.

This week I am very fortunate to be interviewing René Koglbauer, the current president of ALL about what he thinks of the changes to our ‘systems’ which I’ll transcribe for you. We know that there will be translation from and into the target language and a need for transcription. So, as you are thinking about planning lessons and incorporating strategies that will help build important skills pupils how about a short focus on transcription? Even Year 5 and Year 6 pupils can start with this, but it is pupils in Year 8 who will of course be sitting the new GCSE for the first time. Maybe you could find a great song and select just a couple of lines? Ask your pupils to transcribe these lyrics accurately, this is a good starting point and will motivate them.

Have a good break at half term.