Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Starting to understand nouns

Emilie,Ana and I have been busy this term supporting colleagues to develop their own personal language learning skills and we have delivered several CPD sessions of beginners and intermediate French and Spanish. 

Here are some simple notes on nouns - once we have talked through these notes our colleagues relax and realise that nouns do not need to be an insurmountable obstacle.We hear colleagues say "the minute I found out there was more than one word for "the" I couldn't do languages any more" or they say " what's with this boy and girl thing with nouns?"

We have been asking the teachers to realise that nouns in French and Spanish  have "tags" .
Emilie explains how she is teaching her own little boy French and always introduces new nouns with a tag (un cochon/la tante) never a noun alone!Ana agrees with this when teaching her little boy Spanish too.

  • We make sure that the teachers can see that words "masculine" and "feminine" do not mean " male and "female
  • We ask them to consider that masculine and feminine are special tags of magic keys 
  • We ask them to visualise pulling nouns out of  "masculine" /"feminine"  tag labelled drawers.
  • The idea of physically opening the drawer and being able to select a noun, take it out and use it seems to work well.
  • Teachers also like the idea of the tag being a "magic key" or a "function button" on a virtual drawer.It works.
  • If we think of nouns collected in drawers as above or treasure chests or butterfly nets  we can quite easily  get the teachers to see the link then between the  le/un  or la/une in French and el/un and la/una in Spanish.
  • Plural words for "the" which we then explain are collectively called definite articles then don't phase them as they can open these imaginary drawers and have a look in and see the plural definite article inside the drawer. Easy in French as the word is always "les" and now no longer challenging in Spanish because in the virtual "la " drawer there is only "las "  that they can see and use for"the"  with a plural word and there is only "los" in the "el" drawer.
  • We love it when the teachers then feel that they confidently use and also explain nouns over a period of time to young learners. 
  • With our intermediate CPD colleagues we are ready to build on this and add adjectives.

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