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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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Tell stories


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One easy way to make listening stimulating for pupils is to tell them easy stories in the target language. I was reminded of this while reading Penny Ur's book 100 Teaching Tips (reviewed here

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
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Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
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What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’( The point i…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…