Our challenge in this CPD course was in designing an online course to introduce primary school practitioners to the Spanish language. This involved:
Designing a basic curriculum to introduce school practitioners to basic Spanish vocabulary and structures, but at the same time designing a course that would also be relevant to their classroom context
Training participants in learning how to learn a language
All out CPD courses a 30-hours long, so in terms of the language covered the aims of the course are necessarily modest:
Overall course content
This short course gives you some basic knowledge of Spanish as well as introducing language and language learning activities suitable for children at Key Stages 1 and 2. The aim of the course is to enable Primary School practitioners to introduce basic Spanish phrases to their class and to engage children in simple – but nevertheless lively and varied – interactions in the target language.
This is an introductory course, but there is an emphasis on pronunciation, vocabulary, and an understanding of basic grammar, i.e. the building blocks of the language.
The course also provides an insight into everyday life in Spanish speaking countries.
What is the key content?
The core content of the course is the development of your own linguistic skills. The activities are designed to help you develop excellent pronunciation, equip you with useful vocabulary and phrases, and give you an understanding of the fundamentals of Spanish grammar as well as insights into aspects of culture and everyday life in contemporary Spanish-speaking societies.
The language covered in the course enables teachers to communicate in predictable everyday situations in the target language:
Tema 1: En contacto is about greetings, introductions and giving some personal information. Tema 2: Descripciones introduces you to language to talk about places, objects and people. Tema 3: Información enables you to find your way around in Spanish-speaking countries. Tema 4: Preferencias gives you the opportunity to talk about your likes and dislikes.
Clear learning outcomes The learning outcomes are clearly stated at the start of each new topic.
Learning how to learn Language learning strategies are introduced throughout the course, to ensure the participants think about how to learn a language, both for themselves and for the children they will be teaching.
Collaboration The course provides students with a number of collaborative tools such as a forum, a course blog and a wiki so they can engage with others course participants.
Learning support Students also have access to a Learning adviser, an experience distance teachers of languages, who can support students individually via e-mail or collectively through the forum
Situate learning in relevant contexts The introduction to each section situates the learning in a context that course participants can understand and relate to.
Focus on pronunciation It is essential that classroom practitioners are able to offer the children they teach a good enough model when speaking the foreign language, so there is a lot of focus on pronunciation.
Focus on grammar Rather than just presenting language for the course participants to learn, we feel it’s important that they understand the grammar, so that they can generate their own language. A basic understanding of how the language works will also enable teachers to teach the language to the children better.
Focus on listening The course includes regular listening activities, that range from listening for gist to more focussed listening. In this example, after listening to the recording focussing on the meaning, course participants listen again and focus on the language by deciding if the question is in the formal or informal mode of address.
Focus on speaking In an online course it is very important to give the learner plenty of opportunity to speak. Interactive speaking activities like this one simulate real interaction by providing a prompt students have to respond to.
Interactive practice Because it’s an online course that learners study mostly on their own, there are regular interactive activities. This helps maintain interest and motivation in the learner.
In the design of the course it was important to include examples of the language used in the primary school context:
Throughout the course there are activities labelled En la clase de español (In the Spanish classroom). Here you find examples of how to teach the language you’ve just learnt yourself. There may also be additional linguistic content, which is particularly relevant to Primary School children.
Classroom language Some of the activities in this section provide learners with the sort of “classroom language” they can easily transfer to their own setting. This listening activity, for instance, is about a teacher taking the register.
Practical suggestions for the classroom The course also includes practical suggestions about how to present the language to the children in class.
Any questions? For more information on the CPD courses: http://www.open.ac.uk/cpd/index.php?q=node/104 For information on Spanish at the OU: http://www.open.ac.uk/education-and-languages/courses_and_qualifications/our_courses_and_qualifications/spanish.php