After a couple of blogs titled getting ready for the new GCSE and getting ready for the new GCSE: the sequel (clearly I’m great at naming things). I thought it was about time I made some headway with the various elements required in listening and reading. Literary texts are making an appearance in the new GCSE. Regardless of whether you think it is a good idea, they are coming and this means an opportunity to make the best of it. The government state the following:
“Pupils should be taught to read literary texts in the language [such as stories, songs, poems and letters], to stimulate ideas, develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture” – National Curriculum for Languages
Before going overboard on new resources, budget allocations and looking at every single website for a satisfactory literary text, we need some perspective. It is highly likely that this element of the new GCSE will only be tested in the reading paper.
This blog will look at how we can incorporate the demands from the DfE into our normal teaching practice. Readers of this blog should be advised that my main languages are Spanish and German so French teachers may be slightly disappointed but I would encourage them to head to the excellent Frenchteacher website.
Our textbooks are technically full of literary texts:
- Listos 2 p 92 – biographical text on footballing legend Diego Maradona.
- Mira 2 p101 Barcelona Te Quiero – song about Barcelona. One of my former colleagues convinced the kids that this song won Eurovision! To be fair, it is probably better than some Eurovision entries.
- Expo 2 Red p93 La Marseillaise – The song that most people know the first bit of!
- Klasse 3 – every chapter has a “Lesepause”, what more could you need?!
If your school is on a bit of a “move away from the textbook” crusade then I would encourage you to make use of the texts that are in those books. There is no shame in using a book! You are also doing your bit to promote literacy so on this occasion your use of a textbook is entirely justified. You can also guarantee they have been through proof-reads and revisions, which lessens the time you may spend correcting the errors on a power-point found on a resources website.
It is likely the story will be only a short excerpt. I would be amazed if they could fit a whole story into an exam paper! To access stories your students will need the following:
- To know how speech is indicated in a Spanish text.
- To know phrases such as “said”, “mentioned”, “argued”,”insisted”, “replied”.
- An understanding of the preterite (events) and the imperfect (description).
- To realise that they do not need every single word to understand a text.
- Some regular practice texts http://www.cuentosinfantiles.net/ , http://all-literature.wikidot.com/ or http://www.grimmstories.com/de/grimm_maerchen/index You could do this termly or half-termly in class or as part of a homework.
There are many ways you can incorporate a story into your lesson plan. Here are some
- Teaching Past Tense: How many past tense verbs can you find in …? I do this with an excerpt from Harry Potter. It tells you if they have internalised the verb endings.
- Teaching Present Tense: A day in the life of …
- Teaching House & Home: A short text about where someone lives. I normally use Papa Francisco as he could have lived in the Vatican but chose a small modest flat instead.
- Teaching Future Tense: pick an unfinished story and get students to write sentences about what will happen next.
- Teaching School: A day in the life of … Pick a student in your class with a good sense of humour and write as if you are them.
- Teaching holiday experiences: write a tripadvisor review or borrow a real one. Could the students then create their own? Could they take your one and make it better?
If a song is catchy or cheesy it will probably stick with the students. Here are some sources:
- Lexibexi – German versions of English songs.
- Wiseguys – German songs with some English ones rewritten.
- Gypsy kings – Spanish songs in Spanish but very clear pronunciation most of the time.
- Lyrics Training – gap fill of pop songs. You may need to censor the videos!
- Navidad – Christmas is a great time for using songs.
What can you do with a song?
- Gap fill lyrics.
- Multiple choice questions – which word did they hear?
- Make them learn it.
- Get them to perform it.
- Use it to internalise pronunciation rules
- Write another verse.
- Predict the vocabulary used in the song – listening bingo
- Rearrange verses
Remember we are talking about songs in the context of literary texts so at some point the students will need to encounter the lyrics.
My assumption is that these will be letters of complaint, emails about holiday experiences and emails asking for information about a job. I think we would do well do let these topics arise as they normally do on our scheme of work.
What I would recommend is giving students a crash-course in letter writing. This can be as simple as teaching phrases like “dear”, “yours faithfully” and various similar phrases. Some weaker students might struggle with “un saludo cordial” as cordial in their minds is something you drink. I really do not think we are treading any new territory here in terms of reading. However, given that the curriculum also mentions registers then students may well need to write a letter using formal or informal modes of address.
Other literary texts
Literary texts may not be encompassed solely by the above so here are some other options you could incorporate:
- Newspaper articles eg: Cholita Fashion (clothing unit), Quinoa (healthy eating) or Messi. You could also Prepare your own. After Rosaespanolas superb murder mystery lesson my trainee produced a newpaper article for the students to use so they could write their own.
- Websites – one of my ICT-minded colleagues made a brilliant lesson where students were given a budget on an excel spreadsheet and had to buy an outfit for a particular occasion using Galeria.
- Signs, adverts and notices: