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Rythmes scolaires

On reparle des rythmes scolaires en France. Dans les classements mondiaux la France n'est pas bien placée pour la culture scientifique, littéraire et mathématique de ses élèves. La Suède et la Finlande sont souvent citées comme des pays où les élèves font les meilleurs progrès. (Le Royaume Uni est relativement bien placé, selon l'OCDE, surtout pour les connaissances scientifiques des élèves.) Et pourtant on passe beaucoup d'heures à l'école en France. Les journées sont longues.

Finlande 190 jours - 950 heures environ par an
Royaume Uni 192 jours - 950 heures par an
France 144 jours - 1142 heures par an à 15 ans

(Ces chiffres ne sont pas certains -  dans une lettre adressée au comité qui va examine la question depuis le 7 juin, Luc Chatel affirme que le nombre d'heures est 914, par rapport à la moyenne de l'OCDE qui est 769. Peut-être qu'on parle du primaire dans ce cas.)

La semaine française est à revoir. Il faut alléger le contenu des programmes aussi. 5 heures par jour, cela suffit. 5 jours par semaine avec un weekend libre. Des vacances d'été moins longues, car bon nombre d'élèves risquent d'oublier ce qu'ils ont appris.

Il serait dommage si, dans le contexte actuel, les syndicats prenaient tout allègement des programmes ou des horaires comme un prétexte pour réduire le nombre d'enseignants. Et pourtant....

Un dernier point: je reste un peu sceptique en ce qui concerne les classements de l'OCDE. Il doit être quasiment impossible de faire des comparaisons précises de progrès entre enfants de différents pays qui suivent des programmes divers.


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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…