Our case study update

By Sue and Britta

These kids are good...

These kids are good…

Since the beginning of this school year, Sue has been integrating Mary Glasgow’s Spanish Magazines into her teaching programme. Now, that the first term is over and our second magazines are due to come out we thought it’s a good time to catch up with Sue to see how it’s going and to ask whether Mary Glasgow resources have helped her to improve engagement and boost learning outcomes – as we hoped they would. This is what she said:

I introduced one phrase in Spanish to year 7 top set, ‘el año pasado fui a Madrid’, a past tense which linked with present tense & opinions and reasons will give a level 5, plus we used the Ana y Aitor text and Wow!!! You can see how they’ve used the vocab from the article and have written their own individual pieces.  They have used some more complex language than perhaps I would have given them, which means that by using the article they have personalised their learning and worked independently, everything Ofsted advocate.

The first half term and already top set are producing extraordinary work.  I wouldn’t have introduced all the language in that text under normal circumstances, mainly because I wouldn’t have thought they would understand it, but because they’ve had the mags for so long now, reading them at home, the vocabulary and texts didn’t phase them at all, far from it, they have positively pushed themselves to produce some very advanced work!

These students haven’t done that much Spanish before coming to us, just the basic, hola, me llamo, and a few colours and numbers to ten, some not even that! They read the articles on both pages and, with the help of dictionaries and the words you have at the bottom of the pages, they worked out exactly what everything meant, then wrote their own versions. There are a few errors, they seem to forget ‘es’ it/he/she is, but that will come.  In their recent transition tests, these are tests to gauge their base line, there were quite. Few who scored a level 5 by using a frame similar to the vivimos aquí frame, they understood what they had read and then manipulated their own language.  I taught them a phrase in response to a question I asked them: ¿adónde fuiste el año pasado?  Where did you go last year, and they replied, El año pasado fui a Madrid. They then knew that fui meant I WENT, so they added it into their written assessment, some even using the dictionary to find out what we went was… And hey presto, using MGM and me, level 5C essays were produced!

This is really impressive and we here at Mary Glasgow are very pleased for Sue and her students. What a great start to a new school year!

But why are we not surprised? Because for more than 50 years now Mary Glasgow has been championing meaningful learning as opposed to learning by rote.

With every article we publish we aim to relate language learning to experiences of teenagers such as evaluating their hometown and talking about their siblings in the Ana y Aitor text. We chose subjects or angles on a subject that allow students to bring their own understanding of the subject to the text and the language introduced. We use images and graphics to support new language and carefully grade and vet our texts so that students don’t encounter arbitrary and insubstantial structures, which may put them off and create a learning block.

We show language in a real-life-context and it’s great to hear from Sue that her students have responded so well to our Spanish articles that they started producing Spanish texts with a communicative aim themselves.

Of course, all this wouldn’t be possible without Sue’s enthusiasm and expertise.

Mary Glasgow Magazines are classroom magazines. We rely on the teacher to help students access our articles. Many thanks, Sue! I am so thrilled to experience you unlocking the students and the magazines potential! Can’t wait to hear more!


3 thoughts on “Our case study update

  1. What a great story! The authentic text and engaging images from the magazine are what my students love. The articles are relevant and have such a great balanced of thinking, viewing, writing, reading and speaking activities in addition to cultural activities which can be so hard to incorporate. Many times the cultural aspect of the language gets squeezed from the curriculum because the materials and ideas are so complex that you cannot use the target language to discuss it. However, with the magazines there is so much cultural integration that it makes it seamless for us teachers.

    As far as Sue’s lesson, I love how she started the students off with something very basic sentence stems and allowed them to build and grow with the language using a variety of different input sources. When I first started teaching Spanish, I thought you had to go through all the present tense before getting to the past tense. In order words, I viewed language as a linear rather than dynamic and recursive process. Now with years of experience as an IB teacher coupled with the great resources such as the Glasgow Mags, my instruction has been more around the students and capitalizing on those teachable moments to teach what students need and how they want to express themselves. Sentence stems- like the ones Sue used- are great for providing opportunities for students express their ideas around the text.

    • I really appreciate your thoughts on this and I agree regarding the tenses. They are often hard to get one’s head around but once learnt in a communicative context they are easier to recall. Thank you for your support!

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