Literacy Credits

This year I initiated a campaign for literacy credits which is currently being managed by a group of Spanish language teachers. We have worked to research this issue to compare it with overseas trends, to set up meetings and liaise with universities, in particular Canterbury and Auckland, contacted ILEP and NZALT and met with their leaders. Some of the teachers involved are: Carlos Junca; Catherine Attwood; Helen Magasiva; Julia Crawley; Laytee George; Maria Blanco Blanco; Marjorie Juhel; Rosa Guevara; Elena Prado

Currently the issue is being taken forward by NZALT and Catherine Attwood has been asked to join NZALT and become part of  working group to bring this issue to the attention of the MOE during teh NZQA review of languages curriculum early next year.

I have asked to take a less committed view due to personal health issues. My opening email is below with some of the follow up emails.

Sent: Friday, 8 May 2015 5:21 PM
Subject: [ELENZA] no literacy credits for studying language
I would like to bring up the subject of the lack of  literacy credits for senior language NCEA standards in NZ with the Ministry and am keen to know other language teacher’s thoughts on this subject.
Literacy credits are currently offered in subjects such as Drama, Economics, Health & PE, Mathematics, Music, Horticulture, and Te Reo yet not to students who read and write in another language.  In addition, it seems patently unreasonable and hypocritical to not offer literacy credits for learning a second language, when students studying Te Reo Maori (as a second language) are being awarded them for similar assessments.
The argument may have been that native speakers could gain literacy credits through language standards, providing a false picture of their English abilities.  This is an unsubstantiated argument, in particular with regard to the number of literacy credits students are required to provide for course entry, as it would be impossible to get all or even most of these through one or two NCEA language assessments.  In addition, the number of students studying their own language for NCEA credits is negligible, compared to the number of English speaking senior students studying a second language who are being denied literacy credits for becoming more literate through studying language.
With second  language student numbers at an all-time low in new Zealand, it is time the MOE started supporting its own curriculum, where it has placed learning languages as a core strand.  One positive thing we could do is provide literacy credits for students who earn them by studying literature, writing, reading and gaining insights into the functioning of their own language during their second language study.
I look forward to hearing other’s  thoughts on the matter.
Sorrel O’Leary
Ms S O’leary MA, DipTch.
Acting HOD International Languages
Spanish Coordinator
Orewa College
No hay un paso gigante que lo hace. Es una gran cantidad de pequeños pasos.
mailto:ELENZA@LISTSERV.REDIRIS.ES] On Behalf Of Elena Prado
Sent: Saturday, 9 May 2015 2:43 p.m.
Subject: Re: [ELENZA] no literacy credits for studying language
I am glad Sorrel that you have brought up the topic to our attention.
Vocational Pathways is already having a negative impact in students choosing languages as it offers very little credits to target language learners.
In relation to literacy credits something has to be done soon, otherwise students will start seeing no value in target languages learning.
I understand that teaching and learning languages has now a strong focus in communicative purpose however, there is a need to re-evaluate the role of language translation as it has a strong relationship with literacy and it is an important source of employment.
I know of the existence of Google translate but we all know by now that a serious translation job will always require a person behind it who has earned some literacy credits… hopefully.
Translating abstract thinking, literature, poetry, etc., will always require a high level of literacy.
Having a new NCEA standard in where students have to face a translation task of 3 different types of texts, topics level related and from target language to English, could be the way to go.
Maybe without use of resources, it could be one way to acknowledge how target language learning enriches and extend literacy in students and earn them credits.
Or it could be a research project, text resources in target language and then a translation to English, without the use of resources such as dictionaries or else.
Just a thought.
¡¡¡Vivan los idiomas!!
Hello all
I have been chatting to ESOL and English HODs and have discovered some misconceptions about literacy credits.  Firstly, literacy is taken (without stating it anywhere) to mean literacy in English. It appears to have come about as a university initiative.   Secondly, apparently there are no Level 2 literacy credits as such. Students must gain 10 literacy credits at level 1 to gain level 1 NCEA.  Students must gain a further 10 literacy credits at either Level 2 or 3 for university entrance.
This has a bearing on our situation, as we will need to present a strong case for credits at all three levels of language study.
Another argument could be based on the type of answers the new ‘NCEA marking schedule’ for languages is asking from students. Before (I am talking about 3 years ago) it used to be pretty much a translation of the text (listening/reading) to get Excellence whereas now, it is more an interpretation and well explained perspectives and inferences to sit safely in the E category. Anyone who sees the examples of E/M answers in the NCEA webpage will see that this requires a better level of literacy.
Just a thought.
Regarding what is happening in other English speaking countries, it is rather hard to compare the NZ system for University entries to other systems. In England students are required to complete GCSE before going to Uni and some states in Australia have a system based on percentages of all students’ results . So far I haven’t heard of literacy/numeracy credits for University entry.
Deb Ward suggests the following:

The Review and Maintenance Programme (RAMP) will be one of our best ways to have feedback.

This year it is underway for Mathematics and Statistics and Science learning areas. Languages is

on the timeline for the start of 2016. Further information can be found


How can we as teachers have a say in this process? Feeding back through NZALT and your own

language associations is the most important step to take as they then talk directly to MOE.

There is a lot of support for your points from teachers and feeding this voice back is very

important so thank you for raising this in such a clear and concise manner.

 I don’t remember having word of this conference in Wellington, and the first site I tried on looking for information, was The Office of Ethnic Affairs, which I have also never heard of,  and it denied me access.  This conference was apparently a government initiative from this Office aimed at developing policy around languages and language learning, see:

It may be this Office which is also driving the intercultural standards development initiative, which was being researched last year (a standard or standards based on intercultural competency)

Mentoring other teachers

This year I mentored a Spanish language teacher, taking her through the process of planning


In term 2 Caroline Watson of Kingway School in Orewa requested a day with me as part of her school’s out and about program.  She spent the day observing classes and I shared a number of online resources with her by email after her visit.

Yuki Seko is a first year teacher working in Japanese as LTR the second half of 2015 and I am mentoring him as HOD of languages.  I have assisted him with set up and our discipline program, and am helping him with Kamar, Language Perfect, any technology issues and NCEA. We are working together to administer ACL tests online this term and I will be helping him to prepare school examinations for week 6.

Student centred or Independent learning

One of the areas I have been exploring for the last three years is student centred learning aka independent learning.  I undertook PD sessions with an expert brought in by our VP Mark Quigley and have tried to build up resources to create student stations around the room.  Time pressures have meant that I have not developed the resources needed or redesigned units of work to incorporate this approach, which I saw as rotational, with students choosing what area they would focus on according to their needs or interests.  I had envisaged a games area, a grammar area, a vocabulary area, a listening area and a reading area.

Recently, I discovered that this approach may never have eventuated due to its size – it was just overwhelming to come up with the required resources for a year.  On impulse, with a small Year 10 class I asked students if they were interested in tackling a unit of work independently. They were keen, so I provided the resources and away they went.  The first part went well, but towards the end of two weeks, i.e. 8 lessons, it was obvious that students needed more structure.  Positives were that students were totally engaged, felt in control, enjoyed the learning and were able to take the time they needed to attain mastery of each small area.  Negatives were that some students lacked time management skills and so did not use the time effectively; some students used all the time in just learning vocabulary; some of the grammar areas were not covered as students saw them as optional; final product was a little uneven, although ultimately quite acceptable in terms of output.

Student feedback on their blogs was awesome.  They recognized the pitfalls, acknowledged the empowerment, asked for more, and highlighted the need for more direction and checkpoints.  I am trialing the second unit of student centered learning this term and will be interested to see if I have addressed the problems.  In fact, I will probably engage this small and able group in the final planning stage of the unit to better address the problems in the first unit. Update at end of term!

Term 2 Update

With change of staff and lack of contribution from Japanese and Maori, the Department investigation into using Language Perfect to improve external examination outcome through better control of Level 1 vocabulary is currently not being pursued.

Spanish Level 1 students did not use LP greatly last term, as there was no units of work that fitted this model. Students were learning interculturally, creating maps of Spain and learning grammar structures to complete NCEA portfolio requirements.  There was no specific topic of study as covered by Language Perfect, and as students had already covered verbs, it was decided to leave LP until term 3 and then do an intensive review of most language categories at Level 1 before school examinations.  This will generate data which can be used to pinpoint areas to focus on in Term 4 before external examinations.

Maori Level 1 students are struggling to such an extent with the level of language required that the teacher has decided to drop the inquiry down to Years 9 and 10 in an attempt to instill a wider range of vocabulary earlier in the language learning process.  This extension means different levels of data analysis and outcomes, but the teacher still plans to contribute to the dept TAI by end of year.

Japanese Level 1 students have had their third teacher, as their first teacher is on maternity leave, the LTR teacher left for Japan mid year, and their latest teacher is a first year teacher, so will not be contributing greatly to the dept TAI. Although he may be able to continue with the data collection, he is still familiarizing himself with the LP program and the students and there is limited time for PD available to bring him up to speed on setting HW and tasks, although I willl try.

It must be noted that the time required to manage multiple TAIs, in particular cross departmental ones, means that most are not done well.  It would be more productive to encourage teachers to focus on individual practice and learn to manage individual TAIs with the required level of evidence, data collection and analysis, and measurable outcomes before again attempting a department based inquiry, in particular in such a fragmented department as languages.  The one teacher in the dept. without senior classes, who has selected a single area of practice and is completing an inquiry cycle based on this is having reasonable success in effecting long term change in teaching practice.

In School PD

image005Term 2 professional development taken involved 2 days of Kamar update for HODs, with a review of previous PD on Kamar and a strong focus on using markbook summaries and extending our ability to work in Kamar.

T:\Staff Resources\PD\KAMAR PD Term 2

In addition I took the opportunity to do a full day session on SAMR with a focus on flipping the classroom using explain everything and clickview.  I took advantage of the time and expertise on had to work on a long term goal for senior classes of subtitling cortometrajes in Spanish.  I was able to download a short from my list, import it into iMovie and subtitle it successfully.  I am looking forward to trialling this with students in our unit on Cuentos.

I also used the time to create a matrix for independent learning based on Gardeners Matrix for a series of linked units but have not used this yet. This is because I was planning to teach the Camino de Santiago as part of the Y11/12 course, but we have run out of time, partly due to the nature of teaching a combined class with two different curriculums and partly because I have not taught from an intercultural point before, rather I have integrated culture where convenient.  This means I have a lot of refinement to do.  The matrix was based on this part of the unit on Spain, half of which I have not been able to teach yet.  Next time I will start this unit earlier, with the extra time needed to teach in this way taken into account. Matrix below.


5 points











GARDNER’S MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES Gather/Discover Process/Share Apply/Create


Read the introduction to the Camino and summarise the information in a poster using picollage Work through the online site about the Camino Write 3 illustrated diary entries of your first days on the Camino. Make suppositions about the rest of the route. Write 3 diary entries of your final days on the Camino. Use the past tenses to talk about your journey. Illustrate them. Create a Kahoot quiz about the Camino for classmates. Post link on your blog. Create a cartoon strip about the Camino. Write captions or animate it using Toontastic (free) or Animation Studio ($5)
Visual/Spatial Use this link and decide on how you and when you will go. Justify your decision.

Make a visual quiz about the Camino using Kahoot Create a Glogster about the Camino and post the link on your blog. Include videos where you narrate. Create a short movie with iMovie about the Camino de Santiago. Post on your blog. Use Google Earth to create a narrated journey about the Camino & embed in your blog.


Note the distances and calculate how long it will take you to do the Camino you have chosen. Use your map of Spain, maps provided and the maps online to plot your own journey with dates. Make a graph of numbers of people who do the different Caminos each year and evaluate their popularity. Label your graph in Spanish and post both graph and evaluation on your blog.  Use Grafio, or online,, Google Charts, Visualize, Piktochart. Create an infograph about the Camino using timelines, graphs and data to show the history and use of different routes. Include written information about the different routes. Use Grafio, Canva, i Visual Info or similar app. Online tools include, Google Charts, Visualize and Piktochart.
Musical Collect regional music along the camino. Map the music using Glogster or Picollage or Animoto Write a rap about the Camino. Put it to music and post on blog. Make the movie trailer for a  movie about the Camino


Use imperative. Write instructions for getting fit enough to walk the Camino. Use imperative to write instructions on how to walk 30 kms every day. Film and analyse walking styles in Spanish. Decide which is most effective and why. Use iMovie, iMotion or similar and a plasticine figure to animate a journey along your map with commentary.
Intrapersonal Do you like to walk? Explain why/why not. What other pilgrimages do you know about?

Post on bolog

Keep a log of your learning about the Camino. Write about a personal experience you have had with long walks. Publish on blog. Evaluate your own learning about the Camino, write this in a letter in Spanish to your teacher
Interpersonal Work together to create a list of what to take on the Camino Work with a partner to write 10 does and don’ts for the Camino Interview a classmate about their plans for doing the Camino. Find out why they are doing it, with who, when and which camino, discuss their preparations and give them advice. Debate the pros and cons of walks like the Camino, Te Araroa and tourism in general. Create your own Pinterest board about the camino with posters, memes, images, music, information, movies, advice to share online.

ILEP Scholarship Salamanca 2015

This year I was awarded the ILEP immersion scholarship for two weeks study at the historic university of Salamanca in Spain.  This scholarship requires participants to cover their own airfare, which being high season, and with insurance requires a personal financial investment of $4,000.  As opportunities to speak and hear the language are limited in New Zealand, I believe it is essential for us, as teachers of ELE, to make this personal investment to maintain our content knowledge, both linguistically and culturally.  The link below gives some details of the program and some images show the experience this year. Although the language aspect was disappointing (family homestay limited, no oral program at my level, grammar review rather than extension) overall the experience was interesting.  However, it was certainly not worthwhile PD in terms of cost benefit,  as it didn’t extend my language skills in the areas needed for more effective teaching.  In particular, it was a pity that the program, unlike previous Salamanca scholarships, no longer is pedagogically based, with teachers of ELE from all over the world participating, but is now part of international courses run for profit from the University largely for foreign students.  As with Mexico, I focused on cultural aspects to share with students rather than language, although I will be reflecting on the grammar as it was very old school, with lists of when to use what tense  for eg,rather than the more modern global approach.

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