Cefn Saeson Comprehensive, Rebecca Steele

Medium: English

Location: Neath

International Languages: Spanish, French

Hi all,

How times have changed! Language learning looks so different in schools nowadays compared to when I was in school. It’s not just about words and grammar anymore (although they’re still very important!), it’s all about becoming more in-tune with the wonderful world of culture and multilingualism these days, which makes perfect sense seeing as we are so closely connected to people across the world now!

Our department take much pride in promoting multilingualism at our school. Many of our learners are speakers or learners of multiple languages and we love to hear them talking about the languages they use. The new CfW allows us to draw on this and help our learners to view language as part of their identity. It’s always a magical moment when a learner is able to link the language being learnt and a language they already know, through cognates for example. I remember setting a piece of cover work (thanks flu season!) for my learners to fill in a class map of how they might ‘link’ to other countries (e.g. do they speak their language, have relatives from there, have a favourite food come from there, and so on). When I came back my mind was blown to see how many learners could link to other countries, I couldn’t see any blank maps anywhere! This was just as eye-opening to me as it was to them! Our department also offers an extra-curricular Italian language club, which is proving very popular with learners, and they have been able to see similarities between the languages taught here at our school and Italian. Another teacher in our school has launched a Japanese culture club too, which is going down a storm. These initiatives are getting the learners so excited about language and culture, so much so that I’ve had learners asking me to run other clubs for all kinds of languages (here I come Duolingo!)

Another thing I love about the new curriculum is the chance it gives us to step outside our subject bubbles and think in a wider context. I’ve been preparing our new booklet for our year 7 cohort and thinking about the opportunities I could give them to develop the 4 purposes. Learners will be looking at pencil cases and colours and, at first, I was at a total loss as to how I could deliver this in a way to develop ethical, healthy, ambitious, and creative learners. Luckily, I stumbled across a wonderful charity who make school bags for learners in need outside of the UK. Since then, I’ve been working on using this for the new topic, allowing learners to design their ‘perfect’ school bag, so that we can narrow down a list of items to send to the charity. Thanks to the CfW not only can we now work with outside agencies such as this wonderful charity, but we are also encouraged to work with other departments. I’ve been thinking of getting the learners to create a piece of art using words for colours to depict an image – this style of art can then be looked at further in the art department’s lessons. I can’t wait to see what our budding Picassos come up with!

And that’s me signing off!