Saturday, 7 February 2015

WJEC digital resources and languages e-zine.

I've been having a look at the WJEC digital resources, produced in conjunction with NGFL Cymru. The start page is here:

http://resources.wjec.co.uk/

The KS3 resources are limited at the moment: a spelling bee competition and "Triple Literacy Songs Resource". This section's home page features, quaintly, four cassette tapes as a basic menu. Is this because it is old material imported from NGFL Cymru? The activities involve songs with lyrics which highlight as you listen, karaoke style.

The KS4 section contains much more material, much of it interactive. Some activities are done online, in the cloud, others need to be downloaded to your computer. The download is quick and a unit of work appears as an icon on your desktop, assuming you are using a PC. Unfortunately you cannot open more than one window once the application is open - which makes it awkward to review as you go along! I have not tried this with an ipad.

I had a look at the unit entitled Les m├ędias. Graphics are clear and colourful, listening material well recorded but quite implausible (e.g. an adult reading aloud as if he were Daniel Radcliffe). The Harry Potter exercise is also dated and a good example of a resource which was designed without shelf life in mind. The exercises are a mixed bunch. I was not so keen on seeing questions followed by an icon which you click to see the answer straight away. I imagine students just clicking away and not bothering to listen. Other tasks were pretty standard: matching - dragging words next to pictures, for example, and pelmanism (finding matching cards on a grid). Not very inspiring overall and inferior to MYLO, for example.

The Reading Challenges page is done online. There are four interactive challenges on: Personal and Social Life, Local Community, The World of Work and the Wider World. I looked at the last topic.

You can do vocabulary based or text based activities. There is plenty of multiple choice listening and reading, clearly laid out. The level of the vocab level tasks is easy, too easy for many students at KS4. The text based material is harder (in GCSE terms Overlap or Higher Tier). The "Highlight the Word" exercise requires careful reading to a time limit. There is gap fill, matching and multi-choice in English based on short French texts. All tasks are done against a time limit and students can accumulate points and win a gold medal.

There is an online interactive grammar section too, which is colourful and interactive, but ultimately far less productive than something like Languages Online.

I can only give these resources three stars out of five, I'm afraid. To me, the bottom line is this: is a resource usable, will it stimulate? I would not use this site. I would look at MYLO and Languages Online for interactive resources covering grammar, reading and listening.

I also had a look at WJEC's new e-zine for languages. It's here: http://ezine.org.uk/

I went through the Sp├ęciale Environnement section, one of three offered so far. There is a short pdf article set at about Higher Tier GCSE standard (intermediate, for non UK readers), an mp3 sound file which is a reading aloud of the article and a short interactive activity which may come from the WJEC's resources reviewed above - the format is identical. There are teacher's notes. To be honest, there's not a lot there really, and the content is a bit dull, a bit "done on the cheap". The second section on the EU (an article about a shortage of interpreters) is no better. the third, about Superheroes, is a little better and could be presented from the front as a stimulus for oral work. As content builds up over the months it may be worth looking at again. I could not seriously recommend it at the moment.














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