How Languages Work

Developing the link with literacy

This theme enables teachers to further develop text investigation through encounters with a range of languages and by translation activities already developed within the literacy hour into a foreign language context.

  • The teacher can show the pupils what a verb looks like in a given language and ask them to find as many verbs as possible in a text in the same language.
  • Using linguistic expertise from within the class, pupils can share a simple sentence with the same meaning in many different languages e.g The world is very big and I am small. Then the verbs, nouns, adjectives, and connectives can start to be highlighted as well as comparative word order.
  • An online translator can be used. They are usually more accurate with straightforward non-idiomatic sentences.
  • A classroom display could feature examples of verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs in a range of different languages.
  • Text genres: Go to a foreign language search engine and find some examples of different text types. For example; a horoscope, a football report, an advert, a poem, a recipe. Place the texts around the class and ask pupils to identify the texts. This will help the pupils to determine the universal features of a particular text type. The following links will help you to gather examples:
  • A completely unknown text could be given to the pupils and they could be asked to launch an investigation focusing on the following features:

Investigating a text

  • Can you identify any nouns? Do any of them have capital letters?
  • Can you identify any verbs? What is the position of the verbs in the sentence?
  • Can you identify the root verb? How do the endings change?
  • Can you identify any adjectives or adverbs? Are they positioned before or after the noun or verb?
  • Can you identify the question words? Are there any common characteristics/patterns?
  • Is the punctuation the same as English?
  • Can you find any linking words?
  • Which words look similar to the English words?
  • Which words occur the most?
  • Are there any pictures and diagrams that might help you understand the passage?
  • How is the passage structured? Does this give you any clues to its meaning?
  • What do you think the text is about?

© Nick Jones 2003-2008. Advisor for MFL Coventry LEA