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A zero prep game: ‘“I have never…”

This is a simple ‘true-false’ game which I’ve adapted from Jackie Bolen’s ESL book called 39 Speaking Activities. (The book contains mainly well known communicative games, often suitable for intermediate level and above.)  The aim is to get students to practise hearing, seeing and using ‘never’ with past tense verbs. So in French you would be repeatedly hearing and using patterns like “Je n’ai jamais visité la France” or “Je n’ai jamais joué au golf”.   Model and write up some examples of your own. Translate if necessary. Explain what is happening structurally you think this is useful (or do it later). Students must guess (e.g. show on mini-whiteboards or by a show of hands) whether what you say is true or false. Choose examples from your own life to add interest, e.g. “Je n’ai jamais mangé de la viande.” (‘I have never eaten meat’.) If you can think of surprising ones, so much the better. Absurd ones are good too: “ Je n’ai jamais visité l’Antarctique.” ( ‘I have never visited the Ant
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GCSE exam prep resources on frenchteacher

For your information and to unashamedly promote my website, below are the resources on the Y10-11 page which aim to help specifically with GCSE exam preparation. They are divided into two groups, the first Foundation Tier, the second Higher Tier. The most recent additions are two sets of sentence builder frames which students could use to revise for the speaking and writing components of papers. There is a bias towards AQA-style questions since AQA is by far the most popular board in England, though in reality the differences between the various awarding bodies are not great, so teachers using WJEC or Pearson/Edexcel will find the resources very useful. "Why reinvent the wheel?" so the old saying goes. I know hundreds of schools and teachers make use of these materials.  To continue my pitch, these are just a few of the 1900-ish resources on the site. My surveys of members regularly show that the A-level and Y10-11 pages of the site are the most used. They are also the riches

Who's coming to dinner?

I am grateful to Florencia Henshaw for reminding me in a recent webinar she took part in with Joe Dale of this communicative task, which is a variation on the classic balloon debate. You might be able to come up with other variations or twists. Below is how I describe it (taken from a document on The task is really aimed at advanced level students, but might work with very high-performing GCSE students (CEFR level A2/B1). Do go and check out Florencia's YouTube channel, by the way. Here is the link to the webinar: Remember that a key aspect of this type of task is to create a need to communicate and collaborate, to use language for a purpose and prioritise meaning over focus on accurate form. As a teacher, therefore, your role would be to offer support, help with vocabulary and grammar where requested, and provide correction only where error seriously hampers meaning. Who’s coming to dinner? This is a co

Review: This is Language

As part of my research for the second edition of Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher, I have been researching all sorts of digital technology tools for language teachers. As part of this fact-finding mission, I asked  This is Language if they would let me try out the site. I have known about This is Language for a few years, but understood that some new functionality had been added and was interested to see what's it's all about in more detail. Anna from This is Language kindly gave me a run-through of the site via Zoom and has let me try it out the French material for a few days. Other available languages are Spanish, German, Italian and English (this is not clear on the website, as far as I can make out). As well as the authentic short video interviews, for which the site is best known, there are other very useful and fun activities. Here is a screenshot from the homepage to show you what's available. The foundation of This is Language is its archive of thousands of

The latest from frenchteacher HQ

I’ve been a bit quiet in the blog for a while, but have been busy in various ways. My main project in recent weeks has been working on a second edition of my book with Routledge called Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher . The book was published in 2017, has sold well, but needed some updates. In particular, the sections on ‘tech tips’ have already dated in just four years and I want to make sure they don’t spoil the book. So for this second edition, I have been looking into what teachers have been using in terms of tech tools. I am very grateful to Joe Dale for his webinars which I have been watching with interest. In addition, I have been reading blogs and asking the odd question on Twitter and Facebook to see what is ‘en vogue’ at the moment. I have also been rewriting sections of the text to take account of the growing interest in lexicogrammar and Gianfranco’s EPI method. I have also tried to focus more tightly on teachers in training. I have kept an emphasis on practical id

Advanced level texts with exercises on frenchteacher

Ever since I set up in 2002, one of the staple resources of the site has been advanced level texts with exercises. I've always written texts, usually heavily reworked from authentic sources, then added a range of exercises to exploit them: typically vocab to find, lexical work (focused on morphology), questions, true/false, gap-fill, translation, summary, oral discussion and compositional writing.  The subject matter is usually chosen to align with exam specifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not always. And in any case, I try to write texts which are inherently interesting for students at that level. I write texts at what I consider to be the right level of comprehensibility - broadly at least 90% known words, though this is impossible to gauge accurately. In addition, the vocab-finding exercises add a degree of scaffolding which aids understanding. Below is an example of a text I uploaded quite recently. It comes with model answers for the ben

Frenchteacher latest

This is just a little update on what I've been adding to lately. For any reader outside England, Wales and NI, Y7 means beginners (usually age 11), A-level students have usually opted to do French for two more years after 5 years of earlier study. So Y7 is CEFR A1 and A-level B1, bordering on B2 (CEFR). The chunkiest new additions are two 35 page booklets , each with 17 sentence builders (plus gapped versions thereof) which could be printed off for students as an alternative source for revising vocabulary in context and for rehearsing answers for speaking and writing tests. There is one for Higher Tier GCSE and one for Foundation.  These are lightly adapted versions of existing resources on the site. Each booklet has a cover page with suggestions for how students should use the booklets. What I like about these is the fact that students aren't just reading and trying to memorise vocabulary (a pretty boring task), but they can read aloud sentences, record them

Likely or unlikely?

Here's a simple idea for a listening task with near-beginners or just above (CEFR A1). Simply read aloud a set of statements and ask students to note (or show on a mini-whiteboard) if the statement is likely ('probable') or unlikely ('peu probable'). The example below is in French. You could make these up on the spot to fit with whatever vocabulary you have been using in previous lessons. With a shorter list you could add writing to the mix by doing this as a dictation (gapped if you like) and still ask whether the statement is unlikely or not. This makes sure the class is engaging with meaning, as well as form. The same statements could be reused in a game such as Sentence Stealers or Sentence Chaos. Gianfranco has named this sort of task 'Spot the nonsense'. Or you could ask students to instantly write an English translation of each sentence before they make their judgement. Students may like to make up their own examples - this would appeal to their sense

Foreign language learning and its impact on wider academic outcomes: A rapid evidence assessment (2020)

I was interested to come across this 2020 report for the EEF (Education Endowment Foundation) written by the University of Oxford Education Department. For some reason, it passed me last year. I don't recall it being widely publicised, which is a shame since it has interesting things to say - and not just about what the title refers to. Of most interest to me were its findings about MFL pedagogy. First. here's the link: Foreign_language_learning_and_its_impact_on_wider_academic_outcomes_-_A_rapid_evidence_assessment.pdf ( The authors were: Victoria Murphy, Henriette Arndt, Jessica Briggs Baffoe-Djan, Hamish Chalmers, Ernesto Macaro, Heath Rose, Robert Vanderplank and Robert Woore. The report attempted to answer three research questions, the first of which interested me most. This is it: i) the research identifying what approaches to teaching FLs are being used and what variables impact on the effectiveness of these approaches (p. 2) All I'm g