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On est gâtés!

Nous venons de rentrer de Puyravault. Il fait doux en Charente Maritime et le soleil ne se cache pas. Joel a fait du travail pour son I.B. et Elspeth s'est préparée un peu pour son voyage à Atlanta et au Mexique. Nous avons passé les soirées à regarder des épisodes du West Wing que Joel découvre pour la première fois. Moi, j'ai eu le temps de lire aussi What Next? de Chris Patten qui traite de toutes les grandes questions auxquelles le monde fait face actuellement. C'est un livre à la fois excellent et déprimant.

Nous avons aussi dîné avec nos vieux amis Jacques et Catherine, leurs enfants et leur futur gendre Morgan. C'est toujours un plaisir. Mais, puisque ce blog est principalement "professionnel", Catherine (qui est prof d'histoire-géo) m'a rappelé le fait que les écoles en France sont nettement moins bien équipées en nouvelles technologies, notamment en tableaux interactifs et en ordinateurs. Dans son établissement il n'y a aucun tableau interactif et uniquement une salle d'informatique où les ordinateurs sont mal entretenus. Dans un établissement qui compte plus de 900 élèves il y a un seul technicien qui vient un jour par semaine pour s'occuper des ordinateurs vieillissants. Elle a fait un stage où elle a pu voir un tableau interactif et elle voudrait s'en servir, mais son école (comme presque toutes les écoles en France, j'imagine) n'a pas les moyens d'acheter du matériel de ce genre.

En Angleterre les profs se plaignent souvent de leur sort, mais on ne peut pas nier qu'en ce qui concerne les ordinateurs, les tableaux interactifs et les projecteurs, nous sommes vraiment gâtés. Les crédits viennent de plusieurs sources ("Specialist Status", "Excellence in Cities" etc etc), mais essentiellement le gouvernement a trouvé les moyens nécessaires pour doter nos établissements d'un matériel moderne et performant, sans parler du personnel nécessaire pour l'entretenir.

J'échangerais volontiers toute cette technologie contre des classes moins nombreuses, mais il faut que nous admettions que dans le domaine de la technologie, nous avons plus ou moins ce qu'il nous faut et que nous sommes loin devant nos collègues d'outre Manche qui sont dans l'ère préhistorique.


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Delayed dictation

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Instead of getting students to transcribe immediately what you say, or what a partner says, you can enforce a 10 second delay so that students have to keep running over in their heads what they have heard. Some teachers have even used the delay time to try to distract students with music.

It’s an added challenge for students but has significant value, I think. It reminds me of a phenomenon in music called audiation. I use it frequently as a singer and I bet you do too.

Audiation is thought to be the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. You can audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music. When we have a song going round in our mind we are audiating. When we are deliberately learning a song we are audiating.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

Sentence Stealers with a twist

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This is how it works:

Display around 15 sentences on the board, preferably ones which show language patterns you have been working on recently or some time ago.Hand out four cards or slips of paper to each student.On each card students must secretly write a sentence from the displayed list.Students then circulate around the class, approaching their classmates and reading a sentence from the displayed list. If the other person has that sentence on one of their cards, they must hand over the card. The other person then does the same, choosing a sentenc…

Using sentence builder frames for GCSE speaking and writing preparation

Some teachers have cottoned on to the fact that sentence builders (aka substitution tables) are a very useful tool for helping students prepare for their GCSE speaking and writing tests. My own hunch is that would help for students of all levels of proficiency, but may be particularly helpful for those likely to get lower grades, say between 3-6. Much depends, of course, on how complex you make the table.

To remind you, here is a typical sentence builder, as found on the frenchteacher site. The topic is talking about where you live. A word of warning - formatting blogs in Blogger is a nightmare when you start with Word documents, so apologies for any issues. It might have taken me another 30 minutes just to sort out the html code underlying the original document.

Setting work for home study

A major challenge for language teachers just now is selecting and sharing work with students to do at home. Here a few suggestions on the issue to add to your own. The sites I mention are the tip of the iceberg and focus mainly on French. I have stuck to free resources, not subscription sites.

By the way, I'm not getting into the use of tech here, as I have no great expertise on that. In any case, I imagine for younger learners especially it may be a question of setting other types of work.


For advanced learners the job is not so tough. There is a plethora of listening, reading and grammar material they can use, whether it be from their textbooks, other resources shared electronically or online resources. You may have your favourites, but for a selection for French you can check out my links here and here. You may want to stick with topics on the syllabus, or free up students to read and listen more generally to what interests them.

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This type of lesson plan excites me more than many, because if it runs well, you get a classroom of busy communication when you can step back, monitor and occasionally intervene as students get on with listening, speaking and writing.