Clare Seccombe welcomes a software program that helps non-specialist teachers
Primary languages have been with us for some time, and most primary schools teach them to pupils at key stage 2. For many schools, the language will be French. A number of schools, however, opt to teach Spanish, and they often take this decision for the very best of reasons – it’s the language children are more likely to use when they and their families go abroad.
Most language teaching at key stage 2 is done by classroom teachers, most of whom are non-specialist. They may perhaps know some holiday Spanish, but might not have the knowledge or confidence to be able to teach it effectively. Clicker Spanish could be the solution they have been looking for.
To use Clicker Spanish, you need to have Clicker 5 (version 5.31), installed on your computer or on your network. There are three CDs in total: Spanish 1; Spanish 2; Spanish Stories, each of which will need to be installed separately. As well as the software itself, the CDs contain text files (pdfs) of the vocabulary lists for each section of each unit, which will be useful to teachers for their short-term and long-term planning, and also extensive teachers’ notes to aid lesson planning. In these documents, however, I would have liked to see some cross-references made to the key stage 2 Framework for Languages or the National Curriculum levels. This is important for monitoring and assessment, and is information that secondary colleagues are likely to request during the phase of Y6-Y7 transition.
'There is also a strong cultural element'
The units on each of the CDs complement units 1-12 of the TDA (formerly QCA) scheme of work for key stage 2 Spanish. All the basic content is covered, such as colours, animals, hobbies and food. The units for Years 5 and 6 are not covered, but the language within the Clicker units is sufficiently advanced to provide progression for the older children. There are also two numbers units, which are cross-cutting and will need to be studied in tandem with all of the other units. There is also a strong cultural element to some of the units, such as the inclusion of fiestas in the study of the months.
Each unit has activities at four different levels. The red activities are core vocabulary, yellow begin the construction of simple sentences, green introduce short texts and blue comprise the final activity. The main benefit for the non-specialist teacher is the model of pronunciation given by the embedded audio. Click on an image and hear how that word is pronounced. There is also the facility for users to record the words themselves, and these recordings can be saved and kept for assessment purposes. Another highlight is the ability to build up sentences using the reading and writing tool – children can click on the words given to build up a sentence and then listen to that sentence being spoken. There is plenty of scope for teachers to create their own word banks for building sentences.
The Spanish Stories CD contains three stories – Juanito y las habichuelas mágicas (Jack and the Beanstalk), Cenicienta (Cinderella) and La bella durmiente (Sleeping Beauty). Teachers can play the whole story for the children to listen to, and the pictures (which are unfortunately not of as high a standard as those on the other CDs) enable the children to understand the story. There are also many scaffolding activities to build up children’s understanding of the stories. Accessing extended texts in this way is a key feature of key stage 2 languages, and it is good to see these stories included in Clicker Spanish.
The skills of listening, speaking and reading are covered very thoroughly by Clicker Spanish. Children have the opportunity to write by clicking on individual words to create sentences or buy using the pop-up keyboard to type words in. However, I would like to have also seen writing materials such as workbooks or worksheets to support the units, to enable children to be independently creative.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 5
Value for money 5
A series of three CDs: 'Spanish 1'; 'Spanish 2'; 'Spanish Stories'. For Windows PCs or Mac, requires 'Clicker' v 5.31. They can be used with an interactive whiteboard or on individual computers for children to work with individually or in groups. Prices: £50 for single user licence for each individual CD; £100 site licence for single CD; £250 for site licence for all three CDs.
Clare Seccombe is an MFL teacher and consultant who has taught in primary and secondary schools, as well as being an advisory teacher for primary languages. She created and maintains the MFL Sunderland website.