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Talk Project

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by misswhelan, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. I've heard so many amazing things from other schools about the Talk Project but have been scouring the internet for hours and haven't managed to find a single thing about it.
    It's something we'd like to set up in our department, so is there anyone who can furnish me with more information, or even a link to somewhere I can read up on it?
  2. mpc


    Teachers TV have a programme about it. I think it's based in Wildern School in Hampshire...
  3. dalej

    dalej New commenter

    The Talk Project was the brainchild of Janeen Leith and ran for a number of years in the early noughties. I completed the four part course and found it very inspiring and useful for encouraging spontaneous talk in the classroom. According to a message on MFLresources last year, Janeen can still be contacted on thetalkstudio.ltd@virgin.net. Here is the address http://www.locallife.co.uk/map_location.asp?company=The+Talk+Studio+Ltd&address1=Boughton+Pumping+Station+Brake+Lane&street=&town=Newark&postcode=NG22%209HQ&telephone=01623%20836400&hideaddress=False&hidetelephone=False
    I suggest you also get in touch with Peter Morris from Gordano School or Louise Wornell from Ringwood School who took part in the project at the time and could provide you with some further background.
    You could also investigate schools which are using CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning) such as Hockerill Anglo-European College. See this clip on Teachers TV for an insight. www.teachers.tv/video/3381,
    Group Talk as demonstrated by the MFL department at Wildern School won a CILT European Award for Languages in 2008. Here is the link to the Teachers TV programme mentioned by mpc www.teachers.tv/video/32765. Greg Horton, from Wildern is an AST in MFL and Languages Lead Practitioner for The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust does presentations on Group Talk and wrote some GT materials for a course for Links into Languages which I will be running in the autumn and spring terms.
    The course is called The Interactive Classroom and will include guidance on Group Talk as well as ideas for using ICT to promote speaking skills in the classroom. Here is a link for the confirmed dates so far. http://www.linksintolanguages.ac.uk/events/courses.html
    All links courses cost only £50 to attend and are well worth checking out. The Newcastle date should read 22nd February not 19th November.
    Hope that helps
  4. HelenMyers

    HelenMyers New commenter

    Thanks for a really helpful, full response Joe.
    I am finding that the only way I can get the links is by replying to your message. I wonder whether this is somehtng to do with my web browser, . or is it something you could investgitae with the TES team?
    I was very very impressed with what I saw at Ringwood and our previous HOD went on the course. The fundamental problem seemed to be the feasibility of getting everyone in the dept trained as there were very strict regulations on passing on the techniques - something which the naturally 'sharing' languages community is not used to. Clear reasons were given for these rules, but it did not lead to a sustainable approach.
  5. dalej

    dalej New commenter

    You're welcome Helen and I agree we were all sworn to secrecy during the Talk Project course. CLIL and Group Talk have similarities, but are not exactly the same. I suggest colleagues try to catch a session by either Louise or Greg to get a flavour of spontaneous talk for themselves.
    Not sure what the issue with the links is as they seem to be working fine at this end.
  6. Hi,
    I'm now at janeenleith@hotmail.co.uk and interested in talking to teachers who have heard about spontaneous talk. The Talk Project which finished 7 years ago and has been superceded by many intitiatives aimed at getting spontaneous talk going in MFL classrooms. Many teachers have gone onto take the strategies to their departments and I hear that kids are still TALKing back to teachers. I'd be more than willing to talk with you about spontaneous talk and how to get it going in your classroom.
    It's easy to find out your own way to do it and that was the whole point of the TALK Project: giving teachers enough support to find out their own way. There are many ways....and hundreds of teachers who never went through the TALK Project got their learners talking back to them spontaneously.
    I look forward to working with you and anybody who is inetrested in spontanoues talk.

  7. dalej

    dalej New commenter

    Hi Janeen,
    Thanks for taking the time to reply to this thread. The TALK project was always a huge inspiration to me and greatly influenced my classroom practice as a result. The pupils always really enjoyed the lessons where we used spontaneous talk and their fluency and active listening came on leaps and bounds. Combined with the use of ICT and the textbook, it helped to provide them with a rich language learning experience for which I was very grateful.
  8. Morning Joe, As you know I moved on from the TALK Project many moons ago and have spent a lot of time developing teacher training strategies form TTP to use with teachers in different subjects, classrooms, contexts, including FE, believe it or not.
    I have now 'returned to my subject home' and am involved in researching spontaneous talk in MFL classrooms in secondary schools. As part of the Research study I will be spending some time talking with individual teachers about Spontaneous Talk in their classrooms and observers who have observed it in others' classrooms.
    Anyone who feels inspired by spontaneous talk in their own classroom, or by having seen it in someone else's classroom, can contacted me...and be heard! Thanks a bunch.
    And thanks for your feedback on something which for me happened a long time ago and has gone onto develop a life and 'conversation' of its own.
  9. HelenMyers

    HelenMyers New commenter

    Dear Janeen - I am most encouraged to hear that you were expecting teachers to take the strategies back to their departments. Thanks for this information.
  10. Hi , Tim,
    I love this notion of secrets! Let's blow them apart right now. Having spent since 1994 teaching kids to talk spontaneously, training PGCE students to get kids talking spontaneously, training on the TALK Project, to help teachers get kids talking spontaneously, I think the secrets of spontaneous talk are these:
    1. Kids won't talk back spontaneously unless their teachers BELIEVE they will. ( Big part of my job as teacher-trainer was to change this belief in teachers!)
    2. Kids won't talk back to their teachers unless they are expressing themselves and not what the teacher thinks they should express.
    3. Spontaneous talk happens when kids set off on a sentence without knowing how they are going to finish the sentence, as Do Coyle so deftly described it. The 'secret' is to trick kids into doing this and reward them for it.
    4. Once kids have started this 'sentence-invention in-the-moment', the teacher's ability to help them ( rather than do it for them) build the sentence by reminding them of other sentences they know, by pointing to back-up on the walls...anything that gives kids practice at remembering for themselves, will encourage spontaneous talk. If the teacher builds the sentence him/herself this is counterproductive to spontaneous talk, as kids will take the easy route out and let the teacher do the work.
    5. The is no correlation whatsoever between the AMOUNT of target language the teacher speaks and the amount of spontaneous talk the kids speak!! Many times, I have seen kids talking spontaneously with a teacher talking back to them in English and the learners continuing in the foreign language!
    6. The is a huge correlation between the teacher's ability to MODEL paraphrasing, i.e. express complex thoughts from a ring-fenced pool of the target language, and learners talking spontaneously. It's very simple: if a teacher paraphrases using 'je suis' for example, a hundred times in a lesson, in their own 'spontaneous talk', then kids will talk back spontaneously using 'je suis'. This can then be built on.
    7. Teachers can easily get kids to buy-into making the decision to talking spontaneously by teaching them 'c'est faux' and then making a deliberate mistake and hoping they'll decide for themselves to pick up on the teacher's mistake.
    8. Teachers sometimes decide to teach their kids other Key Phrases which they kids can decide to use spontaneously. They need to be chosen carefully: choose phrases than can be used OFTEN, by MOST LEARNERS....i.e. NOT je peux aller aux toilettes ( You don't want all of your kids deciding to ask this many times during a lesson.) or not even....'j'ai fini' ( most teenagers don't say that when they've finished becuase they don't want to appear boffy!!) IF a teacher goes down this route, and many don't, they must see these phrases as the STARTING-POINT i.e. a BRIDGE to show kids they can DECIDE for themselves to say what they want. Once kids have decided to talk back, they don't need MORE Key Phrases.
    9. THE MOST IMPORTANT PHRASE TO TEACH to get kids to DECIDE for themselves to talk spontaneously is the foreign language version of: How do you say........?
    10. In a classroom where kids talk spontaneously, the teachers cares and shows he/she cares what the learners are saying. The teacher is a listener....and chooses to perform/entertain judiciously ...sometimes.
    11. To get spontaneous talk going, teachers tend to separate it, in their minds, from the other 4 skills; speaking, listening, reading and writing. It is the stuff around the curriculum rather than the curriculum. It is the 'stuff' that happens in classrooms across the curriculum...and as teachers become experienced the talk becomes talk about language and talk about learning.
    Anything else anyone has heard about the TALK Project ,secrets, tend to be one teacher's interpretations of their experience training with me. The REAL SECRET, is to take 1 - 11 above and explore what works for you and your kids. Talking is about interacting. Interacting is about relationships. What works in a relationship for one person, doesn't work for another person. hence, Louise Wornell gets TALK going in a different way to Peter Morris, who gets talk going in a different way to those doing Group Talk who have nothing in common with the way in which Eliane Keegan or Karen Lamming get spontaneous TALK going. And that Janeen Leith, she never did it like any of the others....no springboard talks, no rewards,
    people left the TALK Project thinking they had found the way ( eg Hubs, of phrases, or wacky reward systems, or chattimes, or group talk, or whatever) but in fact they were trained to find THEIR way. Passing on THEIR way instead of getting to grips with the above yourself, won't lead to spontaneous talk that is sustainable.
    I would love the above 'secrets' to be 'passed on' widely.
    The TALK Project file, on the other hand, contains little or none of the above. It was already out of date in 2002 because what we were finding out about talk was happening so quickly that it couldn't keep up. Most teachers who got spontaneous talk going, said they didn't actually read it. It is now not worth the paper it is written on though it served its purpose as a starting point for me to find out about TALK ,to launch the various projects and it contained something tangible for those teachers who wanted something tangible to hold onto.

  11. Hello again

    Quite right. What SLT and others wanted was to cascade the methodolgy of the TALK project to others in the department and as you quite rightly pointed out teachers that had been needed time and space to make it their own and then to give a potted version of the training to others would be a sad and very pale imitation. I said when asked to do a cascade sessions that I thought they shoudl experience it first hand. And of course you had a right to earn living from your intellectual property....

  12. The last part of the post about the secret refered to the way that I was ordered by SLT to run training sessions in the TALK project which I refused partly because I thought that all members of the team should experience the INSET for themselves and also I would not be able to do it the justice it deserved. AND <u>you</u> dearest Janeen had a right to not have a shadowy potted versiion of your work and interlectual property hacked to pieces by others claiming it was THE talk project. I did have anyone who wanted come and watch some of the techniques that I developed through involvement in the Project this I thought was only fair... I didn't mean to imply that it was a secret society of only the initiated few....
  13. I concur. It's THE way of teaching and learning languages! I did the course too and it changed my teaching completely. I feel much more successful as a language teacher since then!
  14. Now here's a thought:
    a) 'Janeen Leith' never used any of the Talk project strategies to get spontaneous talk going in her classroom....either prior to the Talk project or during her teaching last year (2009/10)
    b) Her latest year 7 research classroom was conducted in a mixture of English and German...... and was still rated pretty successful regarding quality and amount of learning, both by learners and their parents.
    c) "Janeen Leith" has always thought ( and said) that spontaneous talk is only useful for some teachers and some of their learners, some of the time. Some of the talk project teachers never ever talked spontaneously during the Talk project training sessions and that was fine. Why would we expect all learners to talk spontaneously????
    d) She also said, often, during each Talk project, that there isn't ONE way to teach , just as there isn't ONE way to be a Mum or a WIFE or a daughter.
    Isn't it about being aware of who is learning what and adjustng, constantly what we do to increase learning? Ours as well as our learners'?
    Isn't 'questioning what we do as we do it and adjusting to the individuals in front of us' THE way, rather than buying into someone else's way?
    What worked in my latest research classroom?
    1. dictation
    2. testing every week, with each learner choosing what to be tested on and how they wanted their writing to be marked, with them all writing about different things of their choice.
    3. correction activities
    4. whole class teaching
    5. having a constant dialogue in English about how we were learning, both individually and in class, both my learning and the learners'
    6. being a very quiet, low-key, completely un-entertaining, uncharismatic teacher
    7. being aware
    8. listening
    9. oldfashioned manners and silence etc
    10. limiting the amount of group work, loads of writing, giving ambiguous instructions on a regular basis
    11. using NLP and TA and Inner Game strategies
    And, yes this was THE answer, just once, for THIS teacher at a particular point in time with a particular class last academic year.
    Findings: the kids know THE way they should be taught. THEY have the answers
    Teachers, in dialogue with their learners, change teaching most effectively NOT courses, I think...............?????? perhaps the Talk Project was about helping teachers make their own choices, be confident in becoming aware of learning, and making their own decisions based on what they see and hear during lessons?????

  15. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    What an interesting thread and what a brilliant last post, Janeen. Or is it "Janeen"?
  16. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    This is what I love most about the holidays and this forum. Totally recharged my batteries just reading this thread and your last post Janeen - so much of this is what I used to do in the beginning and feel much of it has been 'trained out of me' for the sake of 'generic teaching methodology'. Thanks to you all.
  17. marmot.morveux

    marmot.morveux New commenter

    Isn't that just true Random?! We all strive to be reflective practitioners of MFL but how often do we get to be just that, when we're tired, planned out, have marked too many books, are stressed, have just had parents' evening and last but not least, have had to change focus for another initiative?!
  18. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    How refreshing [​IMG]
  19. I too trained with Janeen and sadly have let it slip because of the insistence of SMT to see boring old 3 part lesson plan. Now SMT want a "WOW" factor in lessons and Ofsted will only rate lessons outstanding if they include a lot of Target Language. We have resurrected TALK this term and I've really enjoyed my lessons with Year 7. They've had a term of my boring old approach and have enough French to be able to now play with TALKing. It's taken two lessons to talk about our resolutions - they came up with 100s of resolutions for Cheryl Cole and Wayne Rooney, including je vais manger un renne and je ne vais pas etre un cochon! And they were much more enthusiastic. It still has a place and you're right- I did much more listening in the lesson myself.

    Jean Wood

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