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Les vacances de Pâques ne sont pas loin et des élèves courageux de RGS vont faire la deuxième partie de leur échange en Charente Maritime. C'est le vingt et unième échange entre RGS et l'Institution Saint Louis, une école privée dans le village de Pont l'Abbé d'Arnoult. Finis les voyages interminables en car d'il y a quelques années, c'est Ryanair qui nous transporte directement à La Rochelle.

J'ai toujours été un fan des échanges depuis mon expérience d'adolescent quand j'ai passé une dizaine de jours en Bretagne et dans le Nord-Pas de Calais. Je garde toujours le souvenir d'une maison au bord de la mer aux Sables d'Or les Pins, des voyages en Mercedes et en DS et de la belle maison des Plichon à Solesmes, non loin de Valenciennes. Que fait Eric Plichon aujourd'hui?

A Tiffin School on avait échangé avec une école de Viroflay (au sud-ouest de Paris), puis à Hampton School c'était le Lycée de l'Arc à Orange.

Dommage que l'année prochaine (à partir du mois d'octobre) on soit obligé de demander aux familles d'accueil anglaises un extrait de casier judiciaire (ou du moins l'équivalent anglais). Je me demande si cela va dissuader un certain nombre de parents de participer à l'échange. Je trouve que c'est une mesure de trop. Je comprends la pensée du gouvernement, mais cela ne garantit pas la protection de l'enfant et ça risque de décourager professeurs et parents.

Mais cette année nous retournons voir nos vieux amis et je suis certain que nos élèves vont améliorer leur français et vivre des expériences mémorables.


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The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:

Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

Delayed dictation

What is “delayed dictation”?

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…

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Read many books and articles about listening and you’ll see it described as the forgotten skill. It certainly seems to be the one which causes anxiety for both teachers and students. The reasons are clear: you only get a very few chances to hear the material, exercises feel like tests and listening is, well, hard. Just think of the complex processes involved: segmenting the sound stream, knowing lots of words and phrases, using grammatical knowledge to make meaning, coping with a new sound system and more. Add to this the fact that in England they have recently decided to make listening tests harder (too hard) and many teachers are wondering what else they can do to help their classes.

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GCSE and IGCSE revision links 2018

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Don't forget the GCSE revision material on of course! How could you?

As far as apps for students are concerned, I would suggest the Cramit one, Memrise and Learn French which is pretty good for vocabulary. For Android devices try the Learn French Vocabulary Free. For listening, you could suggest Coffee Break French from Radio Lingua Network (iTunes podcasts).

Listening (Foundation/Higher) (Foundation/Higher) (Foundation/Higher)