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Survey feedback

Roughly every six months I do a Surveymonkey subscriber survey to find out which resources are being used by teachers. I have a generally good idea about how teachers use, but am interested to know how well newer resources are going down and whether it is worth adding more of that type. In every survey I also invite users to make any comments or suggestions.

Here is a summary of the results this time (based on 77 replies):

Parallel texts for Y7 and primary

24% said they have used these. I would also use these in Y7, or even Y8. They are good stand-alone resources which add variety to a course and hopefully make for interesting reading.

Video listening tasks Y9-11

58% said they had used these. I must say I am quite pleased with the use these worksheets linked to online videos are getting. If I were still teaching I would be using them in class and for homework. They are great stand-bys too.

Video listening tasks for adults and A-level

67% have used these.

Resources being used for primary age children

26% have used these. This surprises me a little. This may be secondary teachers who work occasionally in primary, tutors or primary teachers themselves. I would love more primary schools to use the site, but I am not aware that many subscribe.

Translation tasks at any level

80% use these. It looks like translation remains a staple! With the new GCSE on the horizon I shall no doubt add more translations to the Y10-11 page.

Grammar explanation handouts

63% have used these. I am pleased about this. These are a recent addition to the site and I was not sure how useful teachers would find them. Despite what I read about teachers neglecting grammar my impression is that frenchteacher users value it highly. Maybe that's why they use it. Chicken and egg?

Dominoes tasks

28% said they have used these.

Situational dialogues on the adult page

Under 10% have used these. They are quite new on the site and are aimed primarily at adult learners. Most subscribers are teaching children in secondary school. I am pleased that they are getting some use.

A-level cultural topic resources

67% said they have used these. I may build on these in the future if we see prescribed lists of texts come back, but I let me esteemed colleague Steve Glover handle this stuff. He does it well (

General feedback

Most subscribers left comments and there was the occasional suggestion. Two people would like to see more model answers for texts with exercises. This would be a huge task and, whilst I now routinely do this, I am not going to go over the many, many older resources. Sorry!

GCSE and A-level resources seem to be the most used. This is in line with previous surveys.

One respondent asked for more topic-based translation material. Noted!

One respondent requested even more video and reading material. Also noted.

Most mentioned resources were texts, video worksheets and grammar sheets. Quite a few respondents left complimentary comments which I have added to my Testimonials page.


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What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

Making words memorable

Most teachers and researchers would agree that knowing words is even more important than knowing grammar if you wish to be proficient in a language. As linguist David Wilkins wrote in 1972: "Without grammar little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed."One of the frustrations for teachers is pupils' inability to retain vocabulary for productive use. A good deal of research has been done over the years into how pupils might better keep words in memory. Two concepts which have come to the fore are spacing and interleaving.

Spaced practice

A 2003 review of the literature by P.Y. Gu reported that most studies show that students frequently forget words after learning them just once.  Anderson and Jordan (1928) discovered that after initial learning, then one week, three weeks and eight weeks thereafter, the recall success was 66%, 48%, 39% and 37% respectively. Other studies have produced similar results. Unsurprisingly, these researchers recommend, space…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’( The point i…