Friday, 27 February 2015

Les Energivores





http://www.energivores.tv

Here is a super site for listening and reading material on an environmental theme. Les Energivores has an archive of short cartoon videos (under two minutes) pitched at a high intermediate to advanced level, along with supporting reading material. As the title suggests the theme of the site is energy usage.

The award-winning site is from Canopé académie  in Besançon and AJENA in Lons-le-Saunier, with support from various sources including the EU.

The video topics include the environmental consequences of eating meat, electric bicycles, recycling mobile phones, organic farming, food miles, the ecological footprint of flowers, renewable energy, re-using items and computer servers (this film won an award).

Each video is accompanied by illustrated reading matter which can be downloaded in pdf format.

I just wrote a video listening worksheet to go with the film about meat eating. It would work with a good Y11 class or A-level group. The accompanying reading material includes lifestyle tips for good environmental practice, scientific information, facts and figures about the global footprint of soya production for farm animals, ideas for teachers on how the materials might be exploited and an interactive multi choice mini -jeu.

I thoroughly recommend this as a great source of target language listening and reading input on some worthwhile themes supported by serious scientific information.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Grammar worksheets on frenchteacher

This is one of those occasional posts I write to promote my frenchteacher website.

Some of the most used resources on frenchteacher.net are the grammar worksheets written for all levels. I used them a lot myself when I was still teaching. I would like to stress that the worksheets were not designed to just be handed out "cold", but are best used in class for oral exploitation to begin with. This has the benefit of generating lots of listening and reading input, albeit of not the most compelling type, along with helping pupils develop their grammatical understanding and accuracy.

The sheets are often a starting point for more creative drill work.

For more information on ways to exploit grammatical worksheets see this blog.

Note that the site also has notes on grammar to hand out. These may fit neatly with the worksheets below.

Below are the grammar areas covered by year group. In England Y7 means near beginners, aged 11. Teachers will find that they can use sheets from different year groups to match the progress level of their class.

Primary/Year 7


Year 8

PRESENT TENSE

NEAR FUTURE

PERFECT TENSE (Passé composé)

Battleships game for Perfect Tense (can be adapted online for other grammar or vocab areas)Present - perfect tense oral/writing drill (avoir reg)
Present - perfect Tense oral/oral/writing drill (avoir irregular)
Present - perfect tense oral/writing drill (avoir reg and irreg)
Present - Perfect tense oral/writing drill (être verbs)
Journey notes for oral exploitation - perf être verbs
Questions to practise perfect tense être verbs
Present - perfect tense oral/writing drill (reflexive verbs)
Present - perfect tense writing passage (mixed)
Worksheet for oral and written practice - avoir and être verbs
Irregular past participles - kinaesthetic game
Questions in perfect tense
Various translation into French exercises
Perfect tense battleships - regular avoir verbs
Perfect tense battleships - irregular avoir verbs
Perfect tense battleships - être verbs
Perfect tense battleships - reflexive verbs
Perfect tense battleships - mixed verbs
Le weekend dernier battleships - regular -er verbs
Le weekend dernier battleships - mixed verbs
Paired dictation perfect - être verbs
Perfect tense: être verb pairwork
Negatives - perfect tense (hard)
Pair work task to go with above - liste de vacances

OTHER GRAMMAR


Year 9

PERFECT TENSE (passé composé)

See also the Year 8 page for many other perfect tense exercises.

FUTURE TENSE

IMPERFECT TENSE

3 TENSES TOGETHER

OTHER GRAMMAR


Year 10-11

Tense recognition
Tense revision
Definite articles and partitives
Depuis and ça fait... que..
Perfect tense info gap oral task
Present to perfect tense exercise
Passage to write in perfect tense from infinitives
Perfect and Imperfect Tenses (translation)
Perfect and Imperfect Tenses
Pluperfect
Pluperfect (2)
Present participles
Present participles crossword
Adverbs
Adverbs crossword
Various tenses - battleships
Negative oral drills ne... pas
More negative oral drills - ne... plus/jamais/rien/personne
Two verbs together
Two verbs together (2)
"Après avoir" structure
Conditional mood
Conditional mood (2)
Conditional perfect tense
Verb tenses crossword - pres, perf, fut, imp, cond
Possessive pronouns
Articles and partitives
Adjectives
Present tense
Direct and indirect pronouns 
Relative pronouns
Using ce qui and ce que


A-level

AS level cloze exercise (1)
AS level cloze exercise (2)
AS level cloze exercise (3)
AS level cloze exercise (4)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (1)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (2)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (3)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (4)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (5)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (6)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (7)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (8)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (9)
AQA AS style cloze sentences (10)
Working out gender
Present tense irregulars crossword (1)
Present tense irregulars crossword (2)
Time expressions
Using infinitives
Tense revision - Eng-French translation
More verb tenses
Negatives
General grammar revision
P.D.O. agreements
Prepositions
Perfect and imperfect tenses together
Depuis, pendant, pour, il y a
SI clauses
SI clauses crossword
More tense practice
Passive voice
Passive voice (with faits divers)
Direct and Indirect Speech
Relative pronouns
Auquel, duquel etc
Prepositions
Conditional
Present subjunctive - regular
Present subjunctive - irregular
Je veux que.. il ne faut pas que..
Subjunctive oral/written drills
Subjunctive oral/written drills (2)
Subjunctive or not?
Subjunctive crossword
Subjunctive dominoes
Subjunctive sentences to translate
Subjunctive exercises
Rough guide to modal verbs
A2 level grammar revision sentences to translate
Answers to the above sentences.
A2 level grammar revision sentences to translate (harder ones)
Passive

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

10 practical ideas for using technology for homework

I imagine most language teachers still tend to set traditional learning tasks for homework: grammar exercises, vocabulary learning, poster creation, reading comprehension, translation, paragraph and composition writing, revising for assessments and so on.

The computer and internet allow us to set a greater range of useful tasks which should make homework more varied and stimulating, thus raising motivation and attainment a small notch.

Before I list a few, it's always worth bearing in mind to what extent you can check that students have actually done the work. In pre-computer days I would get students to occasionally record talks on to cassette tape. I could collect the tapes in and listen to them at home, or even play one or two to the class. If you can't check work has been done, then find an alternative you can check. Being a mistrustful fellow, I always worked from the assumption that some students would, for some reason or other, miss homework. So, with that in mind, and the fact that that I like practicable and productive homework focused on high quality input, how about the activities below?

1. Recording some speech on a phone or computer using a voice recorder or a downloadable programme such as Audacity. The speech may have been generated from previous textual or listening class work. Files can be uploaded to a school's storage system for checking or sent straight to a teacher's email.

2. Set a listening task from the internet (e.g. video listening worksheets on frenchteacher.net). The teacher chooses the source based on interest and language level. You can check task is done from a paper or electronic worksheet.

3. Set a reading task with worksheet (paper or electronic) from an online source. If you don't have a system set up at school to share and store student work, or if you struggle with tech, paper copies are fine. The key thing is that the work is done.

3. Have students do a task from any online material associated with your course package. Make sure you can check somehow that the task was done. Some packages allow you to track student performance.

4. Have students create their own blog using a free and simple platform such as Blogger or Weebly. They can write posts in the TL and embed TL videos such as songs. You can check the work by just going online. Keep a list of all the blog addresses and share with the class so that students can read each others' blogs.

5. Do a "flipped learning" style activity such as getting students to look at a video or text at home in preparation for the next lesson. Provide a sheet so they can show evidence of the task having been done.

6. Get pupils to use their phone or tablet to take a picture which can then be used for language production. At a simple level this could be description (e.g. a selfie or a simple scene). At advanced level students could use a picture for more creative writing.

7. For vocabulary practice you can use Memrise (free) and Vocab Express, along with other word-based apps. Some allow the teacher to set up class lists to monitor achievement. I confess I am not that keen on such single word based apps and programmes, but many students and teachers like them.

8. Use Siri, or similar, to practise conversation. Students set their language and can work through some questions you set. You can check the work by having students write down what answers they got.

9. Use Google Translate. Provide pupils with a chunk of TL text on paper which they have to type into Google Translate (focus on written accuracy), print or save the Google translation, then write their own, improved version.

10. Do a weekly online listening or reading task with high intermediate or advanced students. In this case students search out their own sources and do a set task e.g. summary in English of a TL article with a list of new words learned from the article.

Just to reiterate, some tasks are hard to check up on. For example, students can do valuable interactive grammar and comprehension tasks from high quality sites such as Languages Online, Textivate and MYLO, or they could use a text-to-speech site, but how would you be sure the work is done?

Finally, avoid gimmicky tasks which provide little TL input. As always, make sure all students have fair access to the technology needed.

Do let me know if you have other productive ideas. I am not the most creative person, but I believe I do have a decent sense, born of long experience, of what works and what is worthwhile!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Tuesday's tips for teaching in the target language

I just stumbled on this really good language teaching blog:

http://senorhoward.com/blog/

Mr Howard is an American who teaches elementary Spanish, blogs and presents. His posts focus on the presentation and practice of target language. What I really like is that he enthusiastically gets into the nitty-gritty of lesson planning, demonstrating how you can have a practical "comprehensible input" approach, whilst keeping a close eye on grammar. Unsurprisingly he strongly believes the focus should primarily be on meaning, not form and that it's through meaning that form will get internalised.

In a sense, what he advocates is what many, many good language teachers already do: clearly structured, carefully graded, target language teaching, involving all students in communicative discourse. It looks a lot like what some call an "oral situational" approach, common in Europe and, quite possibly, in North America too, though I often detect that traditional "skill-building" grammar approaches are more predominant over the pond and that the ACTFL feels it has to make a stronger case for target language teaching.

Mr Howard's lesson examples are from Spanish, but are easily adaptable to other languages.

He writes:

"I’ve learned that you have to make it a goal that every student understands pretty much every thing your saying…even though you are saying it in a language they’ve never heard of before.

... in my classroom, I talk to my students like I talked to my 1 year old when she was learning English from us at home. I use less words. …and create scenarios where the students pretty much know exactly what I’m about to say…but instead of saying it in a language they know…I say it in a language that I want them to learn."

It's the detailed descriptions of lessons using this approach which make the blog unusual. It may seem surprising, but I come across relatively few blogs of this type. There should be more of them. It would be great if teacher training departments offered more practical lesson plans, not just for "off the shelf" use, but allowing for teachers to creatively adapt to the needs of their particular classes.

Do have a look.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Model translation from Camus' La Peste


From La Peste by Albert Camus (1947)

This is from the free samples page of frenchteacher.net.

Camus’ novel, written just after the horrors of the Second World war is an allegory about the Nazi occupation of France and the presence of evil and suffering in the world in general. In this extract the central characters are witness the death of a child who has fallen victim to the plague in the Algerian city of Oran. The setting is a hospital ward.



Le long des murs peints à la chaux, la lumière passait du rose au jaune. Derrière la vitre, une matinée de chaleur commençait à crépiter. C’est à peine si on entendit Grand partir en disant qu’il reviendrait. Tous attendaient. L’enfant, les yeux toujours fermés, semblait se calmer un peu. Les mains, devenues comme des griffes, labouraient doucement les flancs du lit. Elles remontèrent, grattèrent la couverture près des genoux, et, soudain, l’enfant plia ses jambes, ramena ses cuisses près du et s’immobilisa. Il ouvrit alors les yeux pour la première fois et regarda Rieux qui se trouvait devant lui. Au creux de son visage maintenant figé dans une argile grise, la bouche s’ouvrit et, presque aussitôt, il en sortit un seul cri continu, que la respiration nuançait à peine, et qui emplit soudain la salle d’une protestation monotone, discorde, et si peu humaine qu’elle semblait venir de tous les hommes à la fois. Rieux serrait les dents et Tarrou se détourna. Rambert s’approcha du lit près de Castel qui ferma le livre, resté ouvert sur ses genoux. Paneloux regarda cette bouche enfantine, souillée par la maladie, pleine de ce cri de tous les âges. Et il se laissa glisser à genoux et tout le monde trouva naturel de l’entendre dire d’une voix un peu étouffée, mais distincte derrière la plainte anonyme qui n’arrêtait pas : « Mon Dieu, sauvez cet enfant. »

Mais l’enfant continuait de crier et, tout autour de lui, les malades s’agitèrent. Celui dont les exclamations n’avaient pas cessé, à l’autre bout de la pièce, précipita le rythme de sa plainte jusqu’à en faire, lui aussi, un vrai cri, pendant que les autres gémissaient de plus en plus fort. Une marée de sanglots déferla dans la salle, couvrant la prière de Paneloux, et Rieux, accroché à la barre du lit, ferma les yeux, ivre de fatigue et de dégoût.

Model answer

Along the whitewashed walls the light was changing from pink to yellow. The morning waves of heat were beating against the window. They hardly heard Grand leaving as he said he would come back later. They were all waiting. The child, his eyes still closed, seemed to grow a little calmer. His hands gently clawed away at the sides of the bed. Then they rose, scratched away at the blanket below his knees and suddenly the child doubled up his legs, bringing his thighs above his stomach and remained quite still. For the first time he opened his eyes and gazed at Rieux who was standing straight in front of him. His mouth, in a face with a fixed expression the colour of grey clay, opened, and almost immediately, there emerged a long, incessant scream, hardly varying with his breathing, filling the ward with a discordant, monotone protest, so inhuman that it seemed come from all mankind at once. Rieux gritted his teeth and Tarrou looked away. Rambert went and stood beside Castel who closed the book which had been lying open on his lap. Paneloux observed the child’s mouth, fouled by the sores of the plague, pouring out that death cry which has sounded out across the ages. He sank to his knees and everyone thought it quite natural when he said, in a slightly strangled voice, but one which could be clearly made out from the nameless, never-ending wail: “My God, spare this child.”

But the child continued to wail and, around him, the other patients began to grow restless. The child at the far end of the ward whose little sobs had gone on unbroken, now quickened their tempo, so they became one continuous wail, whilst the others in the ward groaned ever more loudly. A tide of sobbing swept across the room, drowning out Paneloux’s prayer and Rieux, who was still tightly gripping the rail of the bed, closed his eyes, dazed with exhaustion and disgust.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Tout le monde aime... personne n'aime...

How about this for a filler activity or one-off lesson for high intermediate or advanced students to practise tout le monde and personne (followed by ne)?

Just get students to note down with a time limit, say (5 minutes) as many sentences starting with the phrase tout le monde aime... They can then either feed back to the teacher, or compare notes in pairs. As an alternative the teacher could read out their own list of ideas and get students to tick off everyone they also thought of. This has the advantage of providing some good listening input.

A further twist would be for the teacher to read out a numbered list of appropriate statements and inappropriate ones, in random order. Students would mark a tick or cross for each statement. This would focus more on listening than speaking.

You could then do the same activities with sentences beginning with personne n'aime. This is a handy structure to practise because of the awkward positioning of the ne.

The sharing of examples could easily lead to discussion of contentious examples or of personal likes and dislikes. The whole activity is multi-skill and presents an opportunity for vocabulary building.

How about these examples. You and your students may come up with more inventive ones.

Tout le monde aime

recevoir un cadeau
manger des glaces
partir en vacances
avoir des amis
les pingouins
prendre un bon repas
rire/rigoler
entendre une bonne blague
caresser un chat
avoir assez d'argent
être libre
être en bonne santé
regarder un bon film
avoir une bonne conversation
avoir un travail intéressant
rencontrer une personne sympathique
manger du chocolat
avoir un logement confortable
dormir
vivre longtemps
l'odeur de l'herbe fraîchement coupée
un beau panorama
faire un beau rêve
gagner la loterie


Personne n'aime...

aller chez le dentiste
être malade
rater des examens
rater son permis de conduire
avoir mal au coeur
vomir
toucher une araignée
être insulté
l'injustice
la guerre
être seul tout le temps
avoir faim
avoir soif
avoir tort
avoir froid
être harcelé
être sans abri
l'insomnie
avoir mal à la tête
avoir un accident
perdre un proche
être toxicomane
les mauvaises odeurs
être pauvre
perdre sa vue
faire des cauchemars
être constipé
avoir de la diarrhéee







Friday, 13 February 2015

Teaching ne... pas - no frills lesson plan


Here is an effective way to introduce and thoroughly practise the negative ne... pas with near beginners. This could take around 30 minutes.


Preparation: have about ten simple present tense sentences ready for display later:



Je joue au football

Je joue au tennis

Je joue au ping pong

Je nage

Je danse

Je fais du cheval

Je fais du skate

Je lance une balle

Je regarde la télé

J’écoute de la musique



Here we go



Teacher starts by miming some simple activities whilst saying  je joue au football, je regarde la télé, je joue un jeu vidéo, je joue au tennis, j'écoute ma musique

Do group repetition of the sentences. Class could copy mimes for more fun.

Get a volunteer up to mime simple activities (sports are good) whilst you give a commentary:



Elle joue au tennis

Elle regarde la télé

Elle écoute de la musique etc



Get another volunteer up to mime activities. This time add a negative to each commentary:



Elle joue au tennis; elle ne joue pas au football



Let the class quite hear a few examples of the negative. Support with a negative gesture (hands and face).

Introduce group repetition of negative sentences.

Then get your two volunteers to use negatives in first person; Je ne joue pas... help them by giving your own examples.



Then mix up first and third person questions with class and volunteers.



Il joue au football? Non, il ne joue pas...



At this point you could  ask the class in English what is going on in case some are lost. You could also mention that in normal speech people hardly say the "ne" bit or do not say it at all, so it's the "pas" which really carries the negative meaning. Once this is established, go into a simple oral drill with the class. (Your volunteers have sat down.)



"I'll give you a sentence, you tell me you don't do that activity." (Give an example or two.)



Tu joues au football? Non, je ne joue pas au football.



Do lots of these - at least 15 - to get the structure well established.

OK, if the class is ready they can now do the same task in pairs. You could give them a bit more freedom, telling them the partner may give a positive or negative answer if they want. To support the class, have a list of sentences on the board to give written support.

You can then go to a written exercise along the same lines.

With a very quick class you could use your volunteers to introduce more persons of the verb (ils... vous... nous)



Later in the lesson or next time you could give notes for the class to copy down.



Why this is good:



Lots of easy target language input

Clear structure

Lots of repetition practice

Bit of fun