How can I encourage my Year 7 learners of Spanish to be autonomous when presented with a range of texts to read?

Hannah Sharma is Assistant Headteacher of a school in Brixton, south London. She undertook this piece of research as Head of Languages in the academic year 2015-16 in response to changes in the assessment regime at GCSE level (the UK school certificate, generally taken at age 16). Her research looked into exploring a list of strategies recommended by Harris and Snow (2004:25) in conjunction with Harris’ (2000) six-stage process of strategy teaching, in order for beginner learners of Spanish to become less reliant on, and expectant of, teacher help. She had two focus groups, selected on the basis of prior attainment (as defined by their Key Stage 2 data), and  wanted to look into how pupils with different histories of attainment grew in confidence and resilience in their approach to reading in a foreign language. She found that a change occurred in her classroom, and that with explicitly taught strategies and practice, pupils became markedly more autonomous and confident readers, relying less on the teacher and drawing more on their own resources.

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