Outdoor Learning and Languages

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

 Now the spring sunshine is out, and with it having been Outdoor Classroom Day earlier this week, it’s a great time of year to learn outdoors as much as possible.  There are so many benefits to outdoor learning, developing a connection with our local environment and the natural world, improved health and well-being and a range of cognitive, social and psychological benefits.  In short, being outdoors improves the conditions for learning and brings many wider advantages.  It also strikes me that there are many synergies between the benefits of language learning and outdoor learning.  Communication skills, intrapersonal skills, neurological and cognitive benefits…surely then linking language learning with outdoor learning must bring a super-charged learning experience which is great for our bodies, brains and minds!

In my time working with schools, I’ve seen so many fantastic examples of outdoor learning and I think that we teachers possibly become more creative in that environment as well!   If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some of my top tips which I’ve shared at talks and professional learning sessions over the years:

  • Go outside, walk around your school grounds, if you can, take someone with you to discuss it with and look at what you could use for language learning. Think about games, descriptions, counting and surveys, spring activities and sports/PE activities.  Are there things you currently do where you could link into language learning?  Are there resources in your school grounds/local environment which you could use as part of activities?  You might have, for example, trees, bins, doors, cars etc.  These can all be counted and mapped in the school grounds. I’ve included a link to a French school grounds survey template which you can use to develop a counting activity.
  • A playground space can effectively give you a huge classroom – think about the games you usually play but are more constrained with space. E.g. corners or running games are easier outside!
  • Try to go out regularly and not just when it’s sunny. The more learners get used to it, the more they’ll will begin to see if as a normal part of learning and will cope better with the experience.

I’ve shared some language learning and teaching ideas below.  I’ll do a second part to this in my next newsletter in early June.   I hope you find some of these ideas for French and Spanish helpful and I’d love to hear if you use any of them with your classes.  Please do mention @lingobox or my Twitter handle, @aroblingo if you Tweet any of these!