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10 nifty plenaries for language lessons

My previous post called 10 nifty starters for language lessons had a lot of views in a short time (thank you Twitter and Facebook), so I thought teachers might appreciate some ideas for plenaries - ends of lessons which round up or review language used during the lesson. You could add these to your current repertoire. To begin with, I don't think for one moment that every lesson needs a starter or a plenary. Hopefully the days are gone when three part, four part, or X part lessons seemed prescribed. But there is some sense in using the start of a lesson to review language used in the previous lesson(s) and there is some sense in giving a lesson plan some extra shape and clear purpose for students by including a plenary. In reality, by the time you get to the end of a lesson, both you and the students may have had enough and a plenary may seem superfluous. I certainly did more starters than plenaries. One old web page described the purpose of plenaries as follows: To help pupils re
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10 nifty starters for language lessons

I've spent a good few hours in recent weeks working on starters and 'do-now' activities for beginners and pre-intermediate level students (A1 to A2 in CEFR terms). So I thought I'd put together a set of ten examples of starters I could recommend. What they have in common is use of the target language (some focus more on output, some on input), retrieval of exisiting language, repetition, simplicity ,  clarity and structure . The last three points are important. If you want to get the lesson off to that famous 'flying start' then students need to know precisely what they have to do. When they arrive with their heads full of stuff from the last lesson or just random stuff, then you need to get them switched on pretty rapidly. For other blogs about MFL/WL starters you could check out this one by Rebecca Nobes,  this one by Sabina or this one from MFL Classroom magic (the author is a former trainee of mine). Clare Seccombe has also curated examples here . Wort

20 years, 20 A-level text activities

Well, well.  It only just occurred to me that has its 20th birthday this year. In 2002 I built a simple website using a guide from W H Smith and began to share worksheets I was making for my own classes. When I retired from the classroom in 2012 I decided to keep it going on a subscriber basis. This was partly for income, but mostly, I think, because I enjoy writing resources. To this day, my default daily activity is to write something new for the site. Anyway... Here are some reflections on writing A-level text-based resources with 20 of my favourite activity types. First, a principle or two. Key principle! Since I know that proficiency develops overwhelmingly through exposure to and interaction with meaningful language, I keep the main focus on aural and reading texts and their associated activities.  How I choose texts I begin by reworking a text usually written or spoken for L1 users, as exam boards do. The choice of text is mainly driven by the needs of the A-le

The yes/no game

Okay, so this is an old classic from the language teaching compendium of games. It's called the yes/no game and I'll quickly explain in case you don't know it. You could play this with the teacher leading and asking questions, but I'm going to assume this is used a pair game. You give each partner a set of questions which they must ask their partner. The questions must be yes/no questions, i.e. questions which could be answered with a simple yes or no. However, in this case students must not reply with the words yes or no, so full sentence answers are required. Each time a student uses yes or no, they lose a point. The winner loses the least points. Example (in English): Q  Do you eat lunch in the school canteen? A  I do not eat lunch in the school canteen. With stronger classes I would encourage students to develop their answers where possible. In the above example, they might say 'I don't each lunch in the school canteen. I eat a packed lunch with my friends

Faulty transcripts

You'll already be familiar with the idea of giving students a written text which differs in minor details from a text to be read aloud. This 'faulty transcript' idea is not at all new and I recall it being used as part of A-level exams back in the day.  Why is correcting transcripts useful?  It involves students listening while reading text, which scaffolds the listening process and reinforces sound-spelling relationships.  It also requires very careful, intensive listening which is involves more thorough processing of language and, one might assume, more input becoming intake. In addition, students tend to like this type of exercise since they enjoy correcting things which are wrong. In cognitive science terms, our brains take extra interest when we encounter items which are unexpected.  You can tailor this type of task to match closely what your class knows. It can work with beginners up to advanced level. It builds written skill. It builds depth of vocabulary knowledge s