Monday, 18 March 2013

MFL Sunderland - visite guidée

One of the very best free sites for modern language teachers is MFL Sunderland, soon celebrating its ninth birthday and which offers over 4000 practical and accurate resources for French, German, Spanish and Italian. It is curated by Clare Seccombe who worked in the secondary sector, then more recently in the primary languages field, although the resources are written by a wide range of contributors.

The sitemap is a good place to navigate from, although there are also separate contents pages for each language.

The French section is divided into pages by the English and Welsh Key Stage system, from beginners up to advanced level.There are also separate pages for games and puzzles, Christmas, starters and plenaries, thinking skills and sound files. The bulk of the resources are aimed at younger and intermediate learners, the A-level resources being relatively limited in scope.

In the primary section the usual areas are well covered, including colours, greetings, family, en ville and food. Resources are a mix of Word documents, pdfs and powerpoints. There are some really practical hands-on activities for young learners, including "mini books", cards to make, boardgames and dominoes to play. The powerpoints are clear, not gimmicky and practical. There are flashcards for teachers too. Note that there are also sound files for the classroom and detailed lesson plans which would be really useful for less experienced teachers. The primary section of the site is real strength.

The Key Stage 3 (age 11-14) section is divided into grammar, texts, audio-visual and worksheets/OHTs. Within the grammar sections past, present and future worksheets can be found, alongside a range of other simple grammar areas. Resources are largely Word docs with clear and practical exercises which would work very well with a range of aptitudes, though perhaps least well the very able.

The worksheet section is comprehensive and includes handouts on school, clothes, weather, numbers, places in town, shopping and daily routine, as well as resources specifically for revision. the large range of printouts should mean there is something to please most teachers.

The audio-visual page has links to short home-made movies (wmv files which play in Windows media Player). I looked at the road safety one, which pupils would find simple, useful and amusing, especially as the female lead appears to have no feet. Kids would like that.

The Key Stage 4 resources are divided into the same categories as those in KS3. The grammar and text resources are generally more limited in range, although the audio-visual page has a goodish range of Word docs and powerpoints, including "Millionaire" games (à la game show). The best page has a lengthy list of worksheets, including a good number which I know from my own experience are very useful for exam and coursework (controlled assessment) preparation. This, along with the primary section, is another strength of the site. Once again, although the range of abilities targeted is wide, the most able might find a lack of challenge here.

Just to briefly mention one or two other great pages: the Christmas page is super, especially for younger learners, with handy wordsearches, mini-books, calendars and much more. Have a look if you don't know what a mini-book is. There is a useful page of classroom display resources and a super page of puzzles and games.

If I tell you that the range of Spanish resources is nearly as extensive and that you'll also find plenty of German materials, plus a smaller selection of Italian resources (mainly KS3), you'll have an idea of what a treasure trove this site is. Plus I haven't mentioned the special pages for foreign language assistants, international education (with information about Comenius and partner-finding, for example) and Clare Seccombe's blog.

So, chapeau! to Clare and the contributors for giving up their time and energy to produce such a brilliant free site. If you want to contribute to it, Clare is currently running her 70 day challenge: 70 resources in 70 days. Do send her something, but it'll have to be good!

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