Finlay Davidson pic In the run up to our Online Annual Conference we took the chance to interview Finlay Davidson, Leader of Teaching & Learning for Mandarin at North Gosforth Academy. Finlay will be presenting the workshop ‘Let’s do something different in year 7’ on Thursday 18th June from 16:00-17:00.

Hi Finlay, can you tell us a bit about your workshop?

My workshop is about Chinese curriculum design with a particular focus on the year 7 curriculum. I am interested in exploring different ways of approaching the first year of language learning. I feel that a greater focus on building confidence and interest in the language in year 7 could lead to better, more sustainable progress in years 8-11. In the workshop I am going to share my year 7 curriculum and resources and discuss the impact I have observed in my classes.

Last time you delivered a workshop at our Conference was back in 2015. How has your thinking developed since then?

I would say that with 5 more years of experience the ideas from my 2015 workshop have developed into this new curriculum. Back then one of the elements of language learning that I felt was not being assessed in KS3 was confidence. Our thoughts on assessment in 2015 were around building confidence in our students and really that is still what I am trying to do now in a different way.

What do you hope the participants will learn from your workshop?

I hope that participants will go away from my workshop with some concrete ideas that they could introduce to their year 7/8 curriculum. However, I would also like them to go away with a mindset to look at their SOW with fresh eyes to see how much time they are spending on building motivation and confidence in their learners.

What advice would you give to teachers who are not confident in using TV and film in the classroom?

I don’t really feel I have anything to teach about using film and TV in the classroom, I am still learning new things every time I introduce children to a film. My advice would be to experiment with it in the classroom, because I was amazed by how much my students enjoyed the experience and sought out more Chinese TV after the lessons.

Your idea to change your approach to year 7 is quite different; how did you set about getting support from your Headteacher for this?

I am lucky to have a very supportive Headteacher. I wrote a proposal for what I wanted to do and the reasons why. I sat down with the Head of Curriculum and Head of Languages to explain it a bit further and they have given me a lot of space to experiment with new ideas in the classroom.

What is your favourite thing about being a Mandarin teacher?

I would say my favourite thing about being a Mandarin teacher is seeing the pride in children the moment they realise they can write and understand characters that at first seemed alien.

Thank you Finlay!

We look forward to welcoming ticket-holders to Finlay’s session on 18th June. To see the full programme for this year’s Online Annual Conference, click here.