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Zaz - Si jamais j'oublie

My wife and I often listen to Radio Paradise, a listener-supported, ad-free radio station from California. They've been playing this song by Zaz recently. I like it and maybe your students would too. I shouldn't really  reproduce the lyrics here for copyright reasons, but I am going to translate them (with the help of another video). You could copy and paste this translation and set it for classwork (not homework, I suggest, since students could just go and find the lyrics online). The song was released in 2015 and gotr to number 11 in the French charts - only number 11!Here we go:Remind me of the day and the yearRemind me of the weatherAnd if I've forgotten, you can shake meAnd if I want to take myself awayLock me up and throw away the keyWith pricks of memoryTell me what my name isIf I ever forget the nights I spent, the guitars, the criesRemind me who I am, why I am aliveIf I ever forget, if I ever take to my heelsIf one day I run awayRemind me who I am, what I'd pr…
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Running a room

The little phrase "running a room" is one I picked up from behaviour consultant Tom Bennett a few years ago. I notice he uses it as the title of his forthcoming book on behaviour. I'm sure that book will be worth reading. When I wrote Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher in 2017, I chose to begin the book with a chapter called Running a room. This is part of that chapter and may be a useful read, particularly for trainee (pre-service) language teachers.Starts and ends of lessonsJane is an outstanding teacher.Before the lesson begins her students are lining up outside the classroom. They’re quiet or talking calmly. She stands by the doorway as they enter in single file. She says bonjour to each student. Because her school has a clear uniform code, she sometimes has the odd word with them about their appearance, maybe a little ├ža va?, a bit of personal chit-chat in English here and there: “What lesson have you had?How was it?” “How did that piano exam go?” “Did you wa…

What is metamemory?

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Metamemory is a branch of metacognition. If metacognition is "thinking about thinking", then metamemory is "thinking about memory". It's about our beliefs about memory. For example, famously, many students think that cramming revision into one long session will help them remember better than doing little bits of revision, spaced out over time. In this case, their metamemory has let them down, since they are wrong, as much research clearly shows.
What else is useful to know about metamemory?

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Progress with the memory book

I have been much quieter on the blog of late. During the lockdown period I was working on two projects: the set of CPD screencasts I recorded for my new YouTube channel and my book 50 Lesson Plans for French Teachers: Step by Step. I may add more screencasts in due course, but the book is now published and selling well, I am pleased to say.
I have recently returned to a project I had begun with Gianfranco Conti a few months ago, namely a book about cognitive science for language teachers. To keep the text to a manageable size we decided to keep the focus of this book on memory rather than to carry out our original plan of a two part book on memory and skill acquisition. I am leading the writing on this while Gianfranco intends to be lead writer on the second book focused on skill acquisition.
The way we work is to have a broad, planned structure to the book with clear objectives. In practice, this structure alters as we research the topic. In this instance, the brief is to write somethi…

My 50 Lesson Plans for French Teachers is published

I'd originally planned to write this book early next year, but when lockdown happened I decided to get on with the job and worked solidly on it through March, April and May.  Then my wife (and editor) Elspeth Jones worked on the editing and formatting of the book for independent publication on Amazon. I am also grateful to Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri of for checking through the French, as well as the general content.
You can find it here:

How did it come about?

Well, when I wrote Becoming an Oustanding Languages Teacher (Routledge, 2017) I included a few chapters bearing the title "Dissecting a lesson". I thought teacher trainees would find it useful to see how a lesson plan can be broken down into steps, with careful analysis of questioning techniques and other procedures, such as how you might use a sentence buil…

The topic of diversity in the A-Level MFL syllabuses

At this fraught moment, with racism raising its ugly head yet again, educators are being challenged to tackle the issue. I thought it might be worth recalling that the A-level syllabuses in modern languages have an honourable record when it comes to dealing with issues such as diversity, immigration and integration. 
I always thought that the exam boards (and in recent times Ofqual) took an enlightened approach to their choice of curriculum content. In the distant past the developing world featured. The environment has, until recently, been a staple topic. Diversity, immigration, integration and racism have also been in the specs for years. I was always happy with this and I believe my students enjoyed listening, reading and talking about these issues. In a subject like ours it seems only right that we should be educating students about such matters and fostering attitudes of understanding and tolerance (in the best sense of that word).
That said, I have occasionally read or heard of la…