Example #38 Languages and Relationships

What if Primary modern foreign languages encouraged good relationships?

Wesley taught French in his Primary school. He was unhappy with the number of disconnected words and sentences there were in his French teaching. He decided to reframe the lesson in terms of relationships but still covering the grammar and the vocabulary he needed.

"During the lunch hour I set up three role-play areas:

  • Playing with friends
  • Being at home
  • Working at school

"In each area the pupils learned how to say a sentence or ask a simple question in French, learning both sentence and response in pairs. I chose situations where people could develop good relationships rather than focusing on shopping or travel. They also improvised a mime showing their sentence and response, for example: catching a ball, helping a younger brother or mum. In each role-play area, I had some simple sentences recorded which the students could play but they always came in sentence-response format and each sentence-response pair focused on relationships. The sentences were also in written format in speech bubbles. For example:

  • I like playing ball / I’ll play with you.
  • I need some help / I’ll help you.

"After the class had tried the different sentences and responses we talked about what we had learned and made a list of things they would like to learn to say in order to respond to others."

What’s going on here?

Wesley saw his language teaching in terms of a range of relationships and language as a way to build community. This made his teaching more relational.

He engaged students in experiencing a series of simple role-play interactions that focused their attention on relationships and cooperation and helped them reflect on their learning.

He reshaped his practice by using his classroom space to create role-play areas, providing recordings to guide students interactions, and choosing his topic and examples to encourage a relational focus.

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Wesley understood that at the heart of the Christian faith lies a relationship. The Trinity is God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are in a relationship of love. People are made in the image of God, and Christians should be reflecting loving relationships into the world. Jesus’ summary of the Law is couched in terms of relationships: ‘Love God and love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27). Language learning can serve this ideal of making relationships a high priority.

What difference does it make?

Sometimes learning can feel impersonal and disconnected from life. Knowing for what purpose you are developing language skill, and connecting that purpose to caring about others, helps orientate the students to a different way of seeing a subject.

Where could we go from here?

Throughout the curriculum relationships can be emphasised by the way in which a subject is taught. In personal development (PSHE), the emphasis can be moved to people in relationship rather than ‘my personal development’. In history, the study of significant individuals can be approached as individuals in relationship rather than ‘lone rangers’.

Digging deeper

The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with humanity. Throughout the Bible God comes into relationship with individuals, groups and a whole nation: Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6). Christianity is centred on a relationship with God through faith in Christ which gives people a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17). This relationship matures over time as people grow in faith, hope and love. This means that good relationships are central to Christians. In much of western society there has been a breakdown of relationships. This has hit children the hardest. Relationships are where the hurt has happened, but relationships are also the context for healing and hope. The Christian model of relationships, is about redeeming the past and giving people a new start with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Christian faith is about people living out their relationship with God as a community (Romans 14:7). The Bible likens Christ to the head and the people to the body where all the parts depend on each other (Ephesians 4:15-16).

We can be human only in fellowship, in community, in koinonia, in peace.

We are not made for an exclusive self-sufficiency but for interdependence.

A person is a person through other persons. Desmond Tutu

Explore similar examples:

What if a grammar lesson challenged selfishness?
What if maths created a community in which all could achieve?
What if Primary French were about welcoming a new member of the class?

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1Later the Lord chose seventy-two other followers and sent them out two by two to every town and village where he was about to go. 2He said to them: A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in. 3Now go, but remember, I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. 4Don't take along a money bag or a travelling bag or sandals. And don't waste time greeting people on the road. 5As soon as you enter a home, say, God bless this home with peace. 6If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they are not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you. 7Stay with the same family, eating and drinking whatever they give you, because workers are worth what they earn. Don't move around from house to house. 8If the people of a town welcome you, eat whatever they offer. 9Heal their sick and say, God's kingdom will soon be here! 10But if the people of a town refuse to welcome you, go out into the street and say, 11We are shaking the dust from our feet as a warning to you. And you can be sure that God's kingdom will soon be here! 12I tell you that on the day of judgment the people of Sodom will get off easier than the people of that town! The unbelieving towns (Matthew 11.20-24) Jesus continued: 13You people of Chorazin are in for trouble! You people of Bethsaida are also in for trouble! If the miracles that took place in your towns had happened in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have turned to God long ago. They would have dressed in sackcloth and put ashes on their heads. 14On the day of judgment the people of Tyre and Sidon will get off easier than you will. 15People of Capernaum, do you think you will be honoured in heaven? Well, you will go down to hell! 16My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me. Anyone who says No to you is saying No to me. And anyone who says No to me is really saying No to the one who sent me. The return of the seventy-two 17When the seventy-two followers returned, they were excited and said, Lord, even the demons obeyed when we spoke in your name! 18Jesus told them: I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19I have given you the power to trample on snakes and scorpions and to defeat the power of your enemy Satan. Nothing can harm you. 20But don't be happy because evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven! Jesus thanks his Father (Matthew 11.25-27; 13.16,17) 21At that same time, Jesus felt the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, and he said: My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that is what pleased you. 22My Father has given me everything, and he is the only one who knows the Son. The only one who really knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too. 23Jesus then turned to his disciples and said to them in private, You are really blessed to see what you see! 24Many prophets and kings were eager to see what you see and to hear what you hear. But I tell you that they did not see or hear. The good Samaritan 25An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. Teacher, he asked, what must I do to have eternal life? 26Jesus answered, What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them? 27The man replied, The Scriptures say, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. They also say, Love your neighbours as much as you love yourself. 28Jesus said, You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life. 29But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, Who are my neighbours? 30Jesus replied: As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. 32Later a temple helper came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side. 33A man from Samaria then came travelling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him 34and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return. 36Then Jesus asked, Which one of these three people was a real neighbour to the man who was beaten up by robbers? 37The teacher answered, The one who showed pity. Jesus said, Go and do the same! Martha and Mary 38The Lord and his disciples were travelling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. 40Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, Lord, doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me! 41The Lord answered, Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, 42but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her. Prayer (Matthew 6.9-13; 7.7-11)
1People of Israel, the Lord your God will help you take the land of the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. These seven nations have more people and are stronger than Israel, but when you attack them, 2the Lord will force them out of the land. Then you must destroy them without mercy. Don't make any peace treaties with them, 3and don't let your sons and daughters marry any of them. 4If you do, those people will lead your descendants to worship other gods and to turn their backs on the Lord . That will make him very angry, and he will quickly destroy Israel. 5So when you conquer these nations, tear down the altars where they worship their gods. Break up their sacred stones, cut down the poles that they use in worshipping the goddess Asherah, and throw their idols in the fire. The Lord 's chosen people Moses said: 6Israel, you are the chosen people of the Lord your God. There are many nations on this earth, but he chose only Israel to be his very own. 7You were the weakest of all nations, 8but the Lord chose you because he loves you and because he had made a promise to your ancestors. Then with his mighty arm, he rescued you from the king of Egypt, who had made you his slaves. 9You know that the Lord your God is the only true God. So love him and obey his commands, and he will faithfully keep his agreement with you and your descendants for a thousand generations. 10But if you turn against the Lord , he will quickly destroy you. 11So be sure to obey his laws and teachings I am giving you today. The Lord will bless you if you obey (Deuteronomy 28.1-14; Leviticus 26.3-13) Moses said to Israel: 12If you completely obey these laws, the Lord your God will be loyal and keep the agreement he made with you, just as he promised our ancestors. 13The Lord will love you and bless you by giving you many children and plenty of food, wine, and olive oil. Your herds of cattle will have many calves, and your flocks of sheep will have many lambs. 14God will bless you more than any other nationyour families will grow and your livestock increase. 15You will no longer suffer with the same horrible diseases that you sometimes had in Egypt. You will be healthy, but the Lord will make your enemies suffer from those diseases. Destroy the nations and their gods Moses said to Israel: 16When the Lord helps you defeat your enemies, you must destroy them without pity! And don't get trapped into worshipping their gods. 17You may be thinking, How can we destroy these nations? They are more powerful than we are. 18But stop worrying! Just remember what the Lord your God did to Egypt and its king. 19You saw how the Lord used his tremendous power to work great miracles and bring you out of Egypt. And he will again work miracles for you when you face these enemies you fear so much. 20Some of them may try to survive by hiding from you, but the Lord will make them panic, and soon they will be dead. 21So don't be frightened when you meet them in battle. The Lord your God is great and fearsome, and he will fight at your side. 22As you attack these nations, the Lord will force them out little by little. He won't let you get rid of them all at onceif he did, there wouldn't be enough people living in the land to keep down the number of wild animals. 23But when you attack your enemies, the Lord will make them panic, and you will easily destroy them. You will defeat them one after another until they are gone, and no one will remember they ever lived. 25After you conquer a nation, burn their idols. Don't get trapped into wanting the silver or gold on an idol. Even the metal on an idol is disgusting to the Lord , 26so destroy it. If you bring it home with you, both you and your house will be destroyed. Stay away from those disgusting idols! The Lord takes care of you Moses said:
1Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. But when these tents are destroyed, we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are in heaven and will last for ever. 2While we are here on earth, we sigh because we want to live in that heavenly home. 3We want to put it on like clothes and not be naked. 4These tents we now live in are like a heavy burden, and we groan. But we don't do this just because we want to leave these bodies that will die. It is because we want to change them for bodies that will never die. 5God is the one who makes all this possible. He has given us his Spirit to make us certain that he will do it. 6So always be cheerful! As long as we are in these bodies, we are away from the Lord. 7But we live by faith, not by what we see. 8We should be cheerful, because we would rather leave these bodies and be at home with the Lord. 9But whether we are at home with the Lord or away from him, we still try our best to please him. 10After all, Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad that we do while living in these bodies. Bringing people to God 11We know what it means to respect the Lord, and we encourage everyone to turn to him. God himself knows what we are like, and I hope you also know what kind of people we are. 12We are not trying once more to boast about ourselves. But we want you to be proud of us, when you are with those who are not sincere and boast about what others think of them. 13If we seem out of our minds, it is between God and us. But if we are in our right minds, it is for your good. 14We are ruled by Christ's love for us. We are certain that if one person died for everyone else, then all of us have died. 15And Christ did die for all of us. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves, but for the one who died and was raised to life for us. 16We are careful not to judge people by what they seem to be, though we once judged Christ in that way. 17Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. 18God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others. 19What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. 20We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 21Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.
1Welcome all the Lord's followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don't criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. 2Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables. 3But you should not criticize others for eating or for not eating. After all, God welcomes everyone. 4What right do you have to criticize someone else's servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right. 5Some of the Lord's followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. 6Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honour their Lord. And any followers who eat meat give thanks to God, just like the ones who don't eat meat. 7Whether we live or die, it must be for God, rather than for ourselves. 8Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. 9This is because Christ died and rose to life, so that he would be the Lord of the dead and of the living. 10Why do you criticize other followers of the Lord? Why do you look down on them? The day is coming when God will judge all of us. 11In the Scriptures God says, I swear by my very life that everyone will kneel down and praise my name! 12And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do. Don't cause problems for others 13We must stop judging others. We must also make up our minds not to upset anyone's faith. 14The Lord Jesus has made it clear to me that God considers all foods fit to eat. But if you think some foods are unfit to eat, then for you they are not fit. 15If you are hurting others by the foods you eat, you are not guided by love. Don't let your appetite destroy someone Christ died for. 16Don't let your right to eat bring shame to Christ. 17God's kingdom isn't about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit. 18If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. 19We should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith. 20Don't let your appetite destroy what God has done. All foods are fit to eat, but it is wrong to cause problems for others by what you eat. 21It is best not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that causes problems for other followers of the Lord. 22What you believe about these things should be kept between you and God. You are fortunate, if your actions don't make you have doubts. 23But if you do have doubts about what you eat, you are going against your beliefs. And you know that is wrong, because anything you do against your beliefs is sin. Please others and not yourself
1As a prisoner of the Lord, I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. 2Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. 3Try your best to let God's Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. 4All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God's people. 5We have only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. 6There is one God who is the Father of all people. Not only is God above all others, but he works by using all of us, and he lives in all of us. 7Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us. 8As the Scriptures say, When he went up to the highest place, he led away many prisoners and gave gifts to people. 9When it says, he went up, it means that Christ had been deep in the earth. 10This also means that the one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe. 11Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, 12so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. 13This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. 14We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. 15Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head 16of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love. The old life and the new life 17As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. 18Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, 19and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things. 20But that isn't what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learnt about him. 22You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. 23Let the Spirit change your way of thinking 24and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy. Rules for the new life 25We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. 26Don't get so angry that you sin. Don't go to bed angry 27and don't give the devil a chance. 28If you are a thief, stop stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need. 29Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say. 30Don't make God's Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that some day you will be free from your sins. 31Stop being bitter and angry with others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.