Saturday, 3 September 2016

Another new year!

The start to another new year approaches. In a few days, I will be faced with a classroom full of bright, shiny, nervous new faces all wondering what their German lessons will entail. They have no idea what lies in front of them; so many changes and new challenges; new KS3 schemes of work and levels, new GCSEs which 90% of them will be expected to take in a language, new GCSE grading system and new A-Levels. All of this change means that it is even more important to get them listening to and using the target language as soon as possible to be able to cope with the demands of the new courses; spontaneous language will feature quite high on the GCSE agenda. So we have a job to do and sooner is better than later. I saw something in a Facebook group this week that resonated with me: "If you don't speak French in your English class, why would you speak English in your French class?" - Richard Smith.

My classroom language washing lines are up for reference, I have labelled items in the classroom, I have posted realia round the room to immerse them a little in German speaking environments and I think I'm ready to go.

The washing line of classroom phrases will be vital, especially in the first few weeks as I set up the all important register routine. This is the beginning of them using German phrases to communicate with me that they want to carry out a job for me, such as; take the register, do the team points etc. From here we will go on to use opinion phrases to express our thoughts about how we thought the register routine went. An altogether mundane part of the lesson, turned into an absolutely essential learning opportunity.

Once they start using the phrases spontaneously, I will reward them with stickers and we will move on to other, more complicated phrases. We will use structures and grammar that we will unpick in time, but not at the start. I'm not going to bamboozle them with grammar in their first few lessons with me; there's time for that when we start to look at things in more detail. I am merely paving the way.

I always feel excited at the prospect of a new year. I am genuinely looking forward to being there at the start of these pupils' learning journey. Some of them might take German to GCSE, A-Level and beyond; some might use the language on our trip to Austria, or in their German exchange partner's house in a few years. Who knows; some of them might well use German on a day to day basis in their chosen profession, or just because they can.

But for the time being, they will ask if they do the register, for now they will give their opinions about how well they thought the register went and most importantly, they will have fun doing it; and so will I!

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