Monday, 7 April 2014

Light Bulb Languages

One of the very best free sites for modern language teachers is Light Bulb Languages, formerly known as MFL Sunderland.  It offers over 4000 practical and accurate resources for French, German, Spanish and Italian. It is curated by Clare Seccombe who used to work in the secondary sector, but who is now a primary languages consultant and teacher. The resources are written by Clare and a  range of contributors.

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, interactive games, display, 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.

The primary section is a real strength of the site. It contains a practical scheme of work with resources, a separate section of resources, podcasts with transcripts which complement the scheme of work and which can be used by teachers wishing to improve their skills). 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 and practical. There is a separate section about transition which is a key issue in England as primary languages become compulsory from September 2014.  I can foresee this being further developed with the new National Curriculum in mind.

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 sound files page has a lengthy list of MP3 files and transcriptions or accompanying powerpoint presentations. The Display section includes learning mats, a powerpoint countdown clock, verb conjugations and lots more.

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, plus a couple of podcasts. 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, teachers of very able pupils might find some resources too easy.

Just to highlight one or two other pages mentioned earlier: 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.The accompanying blog is here.

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