Tuesday, 5 March 2013

frenchteacher updates

I've been focusing in recent weeks on beefing up the resources in the beginner to intermediate sections of the site.

In particular I've produced a set of texts with questions in English for intermediate level. Now, I have to say that this exercise format is by no means my favourite, since it focus uniquely on comprehension and does not therefore exploit all the possibilities a text offers for effective acquisition. If you use true/false/not mentioned, or multi-choice in the target language, or matching tasks, or questions in the target language, you can raise the level of challenge, incorporate more target language input and, ultimately, improve acquisition.

In this case, however, I am reacting to the prevalence of this type of assessment in examinations. If you look at English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish intermediate level reading exams you will find questions in English to be the most common form of assessment. It even crops up at advanced level.

I came across the new French site Eduscol which posts an archive of baccalauréat exam papers. Go and have a look at the English papers set for the bac. They are very traditional, seemingly anachronistic, in their choice of literary text, challenging questions in the target language (English), reflective essay and translation into French. No concessions to what 18 year-olds might actually enjoy reading. It's as if language teaching had not moved on since the 1950s! Now, I wouldn't advocate that kind of assessment at all, but at least they have maintained use of the target language for questioning.

So, to return to my texts - topics include coca-cola, Louis Braille, air guitar, giant pandas, melting ice caps, driverless cars and dolphins. I have also added some more signs in powerpoint for GCSE/low intermediate and an elaborate game called Call My Bluff, based on an old BBC panel show.

I've also just added a task for AS level (upper intermediate/advanced). Students have to match faits divers headlines to English summaries, then do a creative written and oral task.

Here it all is

I'm pleased to note that there are now almost 1200 subscribers to frenchteacher.net, most from the UK, but others from as far afield as Hong Kong, Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

There will be lots more good resources during 2013.

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