Stepping into the light of modern languages

I have always felt guilty whilst visiting other countries that most of the natives can speak conversational English, when I can barely speak a word of their language. I believe this has allowed English speakers to become lazy and too comfortable in their own culture. We should explore different languages and cultures to fully engage and communicate with the world around them.

The introduction of a 1 plus 2 languages approach by the Scottish Government is a great way to create opportunities for children to communicate with the world around them, through exploring a new language.  The 1 plus 2 approach will allow children to learn a new language (L2) in primary one , as well as English (L1),  to carry forward in their school career. In primary five, the children will then learn a third language (L3) until the their third year in secondary school (Education Scotland, 2018). This will allow children to start fulfilling the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence (Education Scotland, 2017). Personally, I think the introduction of the 1 plus 2 will benefit children as they will be able unlock key language skills and have a greater understanding of the rules, not only in a foreign language but their mother tongue too. However, there are many problems with introducing modern languages into the curriculum as some teacher’s do not feel confident and comfortable teaching a language that they have little to no experience in.

This blog will explore my thoughts, feelings and strategies I have learned from each modern language input. I chose French as my additional language as I have basic knowledge and understanding, as I studied it all the way until National 5 and chose it as my elective in first year.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first input of French this week. At first I was slightly apprehensive about sharing my basic French knowledge as I am not very confident within the language. However, I quickly found myself easing into the games and activities such as having hand actions for different words/phrases. These activities were fun, engaging and most importantly inclusive. I particularly enjoyed speaking French as a table group as nobody was singled out. Talking in group situations are more of a confidence booster than speaking as an individual in front of the class. It will allow greater discussion and provides the opportunity to learn from others. Furthermore, it will allow the teacher to walk around the groups and hear most of their pupils speaking, allowing them to help with pronunciation and further creating a safe, supportive classroom environment. I believe this is the best way to build up someone’s confidence in a new language as we are all afraid of making mistakes. However, isn’t making mistakes an important part to becoming a better learner?

I believe that the teacher should create a caring and supportive environment in the classroom when teaching modern languages. I always remember being too scared to speak up in the class, even when I knew I was right, because of the fear of getting it wrong in front of the teacher and my fellow pupils. Too afraid of getting into to trouble for not remembering or trying hard enough. Too scared of the humiliation. For the longest time ever, I have always felt like that in the French classroom. However, I refuse to let another child feel the way I felt.  We should be encouraging the mistakes and supporting the child throughout their journey to getting it right. When we first started to learn how to speak our mother tongue, we were all constantly making mistakes. You are not born with a full set vocabulary and perfect pronunciation. It comes with; time and practice, being fully submersed in the language by interacting with many people, listening to the sound of language, imitating sounds and mouth shapes.  Just to name a few. Making mistakes is crucial to every person so they fully understand and develop language. So why is it that some are made to feel in the French classroom that mistakes are not good because it shows you have not studied. Or that you should feel embarrassed. Sometimes it feels like you are expected to know most of the language in a short space of time. Mistakes help you have better pronunciation, understanding and allow you to become that little bit more fluent. Whether it may be talking, listening writing or reading. Mistakes should be celebrated and not shunned.

The next few inputs have allowed me to become more confident and creative within the subject. I have enjoyed completing and sharing TDT ideas with the rest of the group. I find it interesting how everyone has incorporated the different elements of language into different activities and lesson plans. It is so refreshing to see that French does not have to be boring. I always just remember French being so structured. Read this. Speak that. Now listen. I believe if you want someone to be fully engaged with the language it should not feel like a checklist lesson, it should be fluent. There should be lots of discussion, even if you may spend a big part of your lesson just going over a small detail but are exploring it in a fun and engaging way, it is much better than trying to cram a whole topic in one go! It is important for the class to have understanding and enjoying exploring the new language. Otherwise, they will not want to participate and start to develop a stigma towards modern languages as being boring.

Resources are a key aspect of learning a new language. It is important to use fun and creative activities. Using captivating images and carousel activities around the classroom will promote motivation and engagement. I believe learning a new language should be as interactive as possible. Being able to see the things they are learning in real life will allow connections to be made and highlights the importance of learning a modern language. However, teachers should be encouraged to use modern languages in other aspects of the curriculum and in the classroom in general. For example, in Maths, you can count in French instead of English or when asking the children to listen and repeat instructions they could say “écoute et répète”. By modelling French in the classroom it shows children that it is relevant to everyday life and will further allow them to become fluent and appreciate the language, as they can carry out tasks in a different language.

Teacher’s just need to be more confident in promoting modern languages in the classroom. If they are enthusiastic and show excitement for the new language, the children in the class will engage, become interested and will want to learn the new language. I feel like having some competency in additional language makes you feel like you can connect with the world around you. Also, I always feel like it is cool to show off to someone that you are slightly bilingual,  and to be honest who doesn’t like to show off a bit of knowledge every now and then. I personally feel that we should be using modern languages more than ever, as the world is forever developing and enhancing.

It’s time to shake off the fear and step into the light! I’m in, are you?

 

Education Scotland (2018) A 1+ 2 approach to modern languages. Available at:  https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/A%201%20plus%202%20approach%20to%20modern%20languages (Accessed: 5th of October 2018)

Education Scotland (2017) What is Curriculum for Excellence? Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/What%20is%20Curriculum%20for%20Excellence (Accessed: 5th of October 2018)

Scientific Literacy and Education

AC1 – Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy;

Scientific literacy is an often-misunderstood term and in recent years, with the increasing demand to make scientific literacy more known in schools, it is more important now than ever to ensure we have the correct understanding of what it means to be scientifically literate. In this assignment, we will go into more depth about what scientific literacy is and how this can be taught is schools; and also, the impacts of a lack of scientific literacy, especially within the media.

Many see scientific literacy in primary school as learning to spell scientific vocabulary or completing a science-based comprehension. However, while these may be useful for scientific knowledge, they do not teach children scientific literacy.

In a book discussing science in education, it is stated that “scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity” (National Research Council, 1996). This means that people who are scientifically literate should be able to apply their knowledge of scientific concepts to everyday life and be able to confidently explain the theory behind these concepts. They also have the responsibility to dispute reports and inaccurate publicising of scientific information.

AC2 – Analysis of an example where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting;

An example of a lack of scientific literacy was a paper written by Dr Andrew Wakefield. He claimed that there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. He stated that the combination of the three viruses contained in the vaccine may overload the body’s immune system and that there was evidence that children’s behaviour changed after getting the MMR vaccine. This led to a range of inaccurate media reporting. In turn, the number of children receiving the vaccine dropped significantly as parents were concerned about the risk of autism. This has resulted in preventable outbreaks of measles, such as one in California in 2014 where schools had to be closed.

However, it has been stated that there is, in fact, no link between MMR and autism. After carrying out a study with around 95,000 children, scientists have discredited the work of Andrew Wakefield after publishing their study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Parents have been reassured that the MMR vaccine is safe for their children. After a hearing at the General Medical Council on 28th January 2010, it was ruled that Wakefield acted unethically in his research.

AC3 – Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy;

It is extremely important for children to be able to gain a good understanding about fair testing. Fair testing allows children to be able to assess and produce accurate results when conducting scientific experiments in the classroom. The concept of fair testing is that only one variable in the experiment is changed at any one time, however, every other variable has to stay the same throughout the experiment. For example, “when testing various brands of kitchen paper to find out which is most absorbent, pupils learn that the size of the sheet of paper and the volume of water used are among the variables that must be controlled if the results are to be accurate” (Inspectorate Evaluation Studies, 2008). Therefore, fair testing in school science has an impact on scientific literacy, as it is important that children understand that changing a variable has an impact on the outcome of the experiment and will allow them to have a greater understanding of the experiment as a whole. Teaching fair testing allows the children to understand that there are no deliberate advantages or disadvantages within the experiment to any of the variables. Therefore, making the information reliable. Fair testing is linked to scientific literacy as the children will be able to perform the experiment and analyse the results. This will allow greater understanding of specific concepts in depth as they will be able to identify the problems within in the experiment.

References

BBC News (2008) MMR Research Timeline. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1808956.stm (Accessed 9th February 2018)

Inspectorate Evaluation Studies (2008) Science in the Primary School. Marlborough Street, Dublin: Inspectorate, Evaluation Support and Research Unit, p. 4. Available at: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Inspection-Reports-Publications/Evaluation-Reports-Guidelines/Science-in-the-Primary-School.pdf (Accessed: 11 February 2018).

National Research Council (1996) Available from: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/4962/national-science-education-standards

The Guardian (2015) No link between MMR and autism, major study concludes. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/21/no-link-between-mmr-and-autism-major-study-concludes (Accessed 9th February 2018)

The National Health Service (2015) MMR Vaccine. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/ (Accessed: 9th February 2018)

Emily Henry, Neve Fordyce, Chloe Davidson, Emma Whiteman and Jennifer Laird

Waving 2017 A Goodbye

It is now 2018 and this year promises to bring a very exciting semester with so many opportunities. Although I am looking forward, it is important to look back at 2017 and my very first semester at University. 2017 has been a very hectic, crazy yet fun year. It has brought me a new sense of independence as I begin a new chapter of my life. Leaving home and moving to a new city has to be one of the most scariest things I have ever done in my life, which really says a lot about me. Moving away has allowed me to grow as a person, I have had to become more confident as I am now having to make new friends and face problems as an independent ‘adult’. 2017 meant I left a world of comfort and familiarity to one of complete unknown where a lot of valuable learning would begin take place, so I feel like it is only fair to dedicate a farewell blog to it. My first semester has been extremely interesting and thought provoking from beginning to end. Looking back on what I have learned in the Values and Working Together modules, I believe both modules have allowed me to build a good foundation for my future professional practice. I have developed my own thoughts and opinions as well as learning important theories of practice that will allow me to grow as a reflective practitioner.

When asked to think of an important moment from last semester, I found it hard to pick just one. Both modules, from beginning to end, have impacted my professional development and has sparked the beginning of my process of reflection. The Values module allowed me to explore many topics and issue that society are facing today and how everyone’s values, both personal and professional, can have a major impact on the world around us. I believe that the Values module has changed the way I now look at certain issues and has allowed me to become more informed about the different struggles groups in society face. It has allowed me to explore new interests, develop my own opinions, to have an open mind… to become my own person!

For so long I feel like I have been oblivious to barriers that others face because I do not face them myself. As a woman, I wasn’t fully aware of the barriers that stood in my way, my sister’s way, my mum’s way, my friend’s way and every other girl on this planet way. As someone who is white, female and straight I wasn’t fully aware of the barriers those of different race, gender and sexuality faced. How they had to behave differently because of harsh criticism and opinions from others in society. The Values module has been an over due wake up call for me, it is time I start to look at the world and people around me. I believe that the Values module has been extremely beneficial as I am now developing both my personal and professional values and opinions. Values are at the centre of teaching. It is how we treat others in our classrooms and in our schools. To be able to support and educate a child in the 21st century, it is extremely important to have professional values to allow a child to grow and to develop their own beliefs and opinions. As educators, we need to be much more aware of the issues that groups in society face and how that can affect a child in school.

The Working Together module has allowed me to begin to understand how inter-professional collaboration is extremely important and that all three professions (Education, Social Work and CLD) must work together to support every child. From an agency visit, where we discussed collaborative working, it was clear to see that the work on projects between the three professions, not only benefited and put the child at the centre, but also helped support many families and helped develop the community. It is extremely important for professionals to put their differences aside to come together for a child and the child’s family. The Working Together module has allowed me to look at and use different types of theories of reflection. This has helped me to be able to reflect and measure my learning throughout the first semester, which will be beneficial to take forward into my future profession as well.  Working Together has highlighted that it is important to be a reflective practitioner throughout my time at University and my future career. It is the only way I will be able to fully support the children I will teach and make sure that both the children and I will benefit from this and be given many opportunities.

Overall, I believe that 2017 and semester one have given me a lot of food for thought. I believe that both modules were a great way to begin my future practice with. I have gained so much new and important knowledge that I will bring forward in future practice and I feel like my mind has become more open because of it. 2018 brings a new adventure and sense of excitement and I look forward to developing my knowledge and reflection skills throughout the remainder of my course and on placement.

No Longer Oblivious

Before the lecture on racism, if you were to ask me what are the definitions of race, ethnicity and discrimination I would have grouped all three terms together and given them the same, basic definition. I thought I had a good understanding of the terms, but after the input it was clear to see that I was completely oblivious to what each individual term meant. Trying to write down each definition or explain them sounded like a simple task, however, I couldn’t begin to find the right words. I wrote:

  • Race – Judgement of heritage and/or skin colour
  • Ethnicity – Judgement of different culture/ society
  • Discrimination – Single someone out due to gender, age, ability etc.

For such complex terms, I wrote very little. I knew how horrible each term was and that many people in the world face a lot of problems and struggle daily because of them, however I couldn’t identify each concept accurately.

Throughout the lecture we were given multiple examples of racism from history, with each story being just as shocking as the last. Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who went to visit his family in Mississippi in 1955. During his visit Emmett went to a grocery shop and was accused of ‘flirting’ with the shop keeper’s wife, Carolyn Bryant, who was white. Emmett was brutally murdered a couple days later by Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, and his half brother J.W. Milam. The pair kidnapped Emmett, brutally beat him up, shot him in the head and then disposed of his body in the Tallahatchie River, where his body was later discovered. Emmett’s killers were taken to court by Emmett’s Uncle. However, their case was dismissed by the jury because they were white men. Although I had studied the Civil Rights movement previously in secondary school and had heard of the horrendous story of Emmett Till, I still found myself shivering in disgust at the gruesome pictures of his dead body. It felt like I was hearing the story for the first time again, I felt more sadness and anger towards the story especially when it was revealed to the class that Carolyn Bryant confessed in 2017 that she had indeed fabricated the story. This ultimately led to an innocent boy being murdered, therefore highlighting the shocking levels of racism that existed in America at that time and how many other’s like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King all had endure such horrible abuse towards them due to the colour of their skin.

However, it is still clear to see that these horrific problems still exist in society today. With recent events in Charlottesville, it is evident that racism still exists and affects many people in their day to day lives. With people like Donald Trump, who are in power, that don’t condemn this horrific behaviour and having the grand master of the KKK congratulate him on the way he handled the situation, highlights serious concerns that racism is still an ever-growing problem and will be seen as an ‘acceptable’ way to behave.

I watched a Ted talk by Clint Smith called ‘How to Raise a Black Son in America’ where the speaker talked about how he was brought up differently and followed other rules due to the colour of his skin because he couldn’t act like his white friends. I found this upsetting as I had no idea that people had to follow different rules to stay out of trouble because of the colour of their skin. That people with black skin couldn’t live their lives freely because of the judgement they would receive. It was heart breaking to hear that the speaker faced these problems at such a young age and to recognise at a young age that society will treat you differently due to the colour of your skin. Therefore, clearly highlighting that racism and prejudice still exist within society today.

Before the input, I had basic knowledge on the terms. I knew that racism was a terrible issue that society still faced today and was aware of the stories of Emmett Till and the Civil Rights movement in America. However, I was completely ignorant to the huge extent of racism that existed and still exists in the world today. I was completely oblivious to the fact that people had to change the way they live their lives and follow different rules because of their skin colour. I had no idea that they couldn’t live their lives freely without constant judgement from the rest of society. As a white person from a privileged background, I have never had to face such horrendous behaviour and now feel like my eyes have been opened much more. I now begin to recognise that racism and prejudice exists all around the world and not just in places like America. In addition to my basic knowledge, with the fantastic resources provided and the eye-opening lecture I now think about how different people go through different experiences in life due to racism and discrimination. Therefore, it is vital for anyone going into teaching to fully understand racism and discrimination to be able to educate the future generation about how terrible racism is and the horrific consequences racism has on people. To allow their pupils to understand that everyone should be treated equally, not just in the classroom but in the world, despite their race, religion and ethnicity.

An Eye-Opening First Task

Resource Allocation Task – 19/09/2017

Last Tuesday’s task was an eye-opening learning experience for all students on the course. When we walked into the classroom, we were split into 5 different groups. Each group received an envelope from our lecturer and were told not to open them yet. We were given roughly 5 minutes for the first part of the task which was to come up with a useful tool that could be used for future first year students and then to present the idea to the other groups. Our group, Group 2, decided to create a personal timetable as we thought this would be a useful tool to have as we find it hard to access and understand our timetable. The lecturer supervising the task offered our group a lot of help and continuously asked how we were getting on, which helped make our idea better as we received a lot of support. After the 5 minutes, each group presented their idea to the class. Group 1 and 2 received positive comments from the lecturer, where Group 3, 4 & 5 ideas didn’t seem to impress the lecturer as much. Not much thought was given at this point about the lecturer’s behaviour towards each group, little did we know that this was a key part of the task.

The second part of the task was to open our envelope and use the materials inside to create our idea. Inside our envelope there was:

  • Coloured paper
  • Scissors
  • Sticky notes
  • Coloured pens
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips
  • Sellotape

We had a lot of resources to work with to create our personalised timetable. We created the timetable however we only used a couple of the resources that we were provided with. After we completed this part of the task, yet again we had to present our idea to the class. Group 1 & 2 received a lot of praise from the lecturer. Our group knew our idea wasn’t very good however the lecturer told us our idea was well thought out. When Groups 3, 4 & 5 presented their ideas the lecturers mood and behaviour changed drastically. She didn’t give them any praise and instead she was making horrible comments about their ideas and telling them they clearly hadn’t worked hard enough. At this point our group realised that Groups 3, 4 & 5 had very little resources to work with and it was evident that they had tried extremely hard to make best with what they were given. However, the lecturer was still acting really cold towards the group and told them that having less wasn’t a good enough excuse and she compared their efforts against group 1 & 2’s.  At this point our group realised that the lecturer was purposefully acting horribly towards Group 3, 4 & 5 to highlight the oppression that those who have less face in this world.

At the end of the task, the lecturer revealed what the purpose of the task was and why she was behaving differently towards each group. She explained that in our future professions we will meet different types of children who all have different backgrounds. She asked if we had noticed her different behaviour towards each group, which we all said we had started to notice nearer the end of the task. She then explained that she was giving much more help and support to Group’s 1 & 2 and was giving little help to Group 3 and basically ignored Groups 4 & 5. The lecturer explained that her help and support should have been directed more towards the groups that had very little as they needed guidance and support to allow them to create a great idea, instead of all her energy being focused on the groups that clearly didn’t need it. That was then related to how that can be reflected in the classroom and how every child should receive support and those who come from worse backgrounds will tend to need more. Groups 1 and 2 were asked if we even noticed the struggles that the other 3 groups were facing due to less resources throughout the task. Both Group 1 and 2 said that they only really noticed their lack of materials and struggles when they were presenting their ideas to the class. The lecturer then highlighted the fact that those who are in a better position often overlook those who aren’t.

This led into an open class discussion where we talked about how every child should receive the correct amount of support from their teacher and that all pupils should be given the same amount of respect and kindness. We also highlighted that different children will have varied learning experiences due to coming from contrasting backgrounds and how they should all be given the same respect and rights. Overall, this task was an eye-opening experience that conveyed how important it is to ensure every teacher supports and respects all their pupils.

Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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