Skip to main content

End of term

Hands up all teachers who are knackered! I can't complain at all, though. The pupils at my Grammar School are willing and bright, but you nevertheless count down the days to the end of term. My effort-reducing regime this end of term has included:

Showing Les Choristes to Y10 and Y11. It's a lovely movie with a very clear soundtrack, accessible language and an uplifting theme. It tells the story, in flashback, of Clément Mathieu who in 1949 goes to work in a boarding school for difficult boys and who turns the kids round by forming a choir. You'd have to be hard-hearted not to well up. Good to see my lower set Y10s enjoying this experience and learning to watch a film with sub-titles. If they do not watch a sub-titled film in language lessons, when will they?

I've now shown the last of my Truffaut movies to the A2 groups. I've gone with La Femme d'à Côté, Truffaut's penultimate film about obsessive and destructive love. I guess you'd have to say that Truffaut was repeating himself by 1981. OK, let's be honest, he was always repeating himself! The final scene where Fanny Ardant shoots Gérard Depardieu then shoots herself echoes precisely the final scene of Jules et Jim wherein Jeanne Moreau drives herself and her lover off a bridge to their death. "Ni sans toi, ni avec toi" sums it up nicely. La Femme d'à Côté may not be his greatest work, but I am still left thinking what other movies Truffaut would have made had he lived to a decent age. Maybe like many artists, he did his best work when he was young. Les 400 Coups and Jules et Jim remain his masterpieces. My students had mixed views: some preferring Les 400 Coups, one or two Le Dernier Métro, one La femme d'à Côté. Jules et Jim, the critics' usual favourite garnered less support. Maybe it has dated, maybe the Jeanne Moreau character is just too infuriatingly flighty, maybe it just does fails to engage emotionally. Truffaut often de-sentimentalised his films, hating the idea of manipulating the viewer's feelings. You have to go along with him on that one, otherwise you can be switched off.

For me, the most feel-good of his films is La Nuit Américaine.

If you've never watched Truffaut films, give him a try.

Les Choristes unashamedly, and in a calculated fashion, presses all the right emotional buttons and was thus a hit.

My Y7s worked on the brilliant Noël section of My AS group did my general knowledge quizzes on, whilst my Y9 group did some French video quizzes from the Ashcombe School site.

Tomorrow I have a gapfill on Noël Blanc to do (thanks to Martin Lapworth of Taskmagic fame) plus some end of term French quizzes.

A break is due. Christmas at home with Elspeth, Joel and my parents-in-law, then a week in Puyravault.


  1. Hello! I've watched Les Choristes with my Y10s too - love that film and am, unabashedly, a big Jean-Baptiste Maunier fan :). Love the Cerf-Volant song. There is a nice video on YouTube of Patrick Bruel, Garou, Jean-Baptiste Maunier and others, singing Qui a le Droit at Les Enfoires one year, though not sure if Patrcik Bruel is your cup of tea... ;)
    My Y10s loved the film too, (especially the girls!) and as you say, was lovely to see some enthusiasm for a FL film.
    Oh - and my hand's up for the exhausted teacher thing... Esther

  2. Happy Christmas, Esther. When are you going to drop in? We're not trying to avoid you!

  3. Merry Christmas to you too :)
    I will definitely drop in in the New Year - I have kept meaning to, not sure where the time's gone this year! All very exciting from January as I will be MAGT/Global Schools Co-ordinator - will let you know how it's all going when I call in. Hope all is really well with you, Esther


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Tell stories


How can we make listening more enjoyable and effective for pupils? How can we turn it from a potential chore to something more memorable (and therefore more likely to stick in their long term memories)? I am of the opinion that since humans are "wired" to engage in personal listening and speaking (the expression "social brain" has been used in this context), they may be more interested and attentive when the message comes from a real person rather than a disembodied audio source. (This may or may not be relevant, but research has been carried out which demonstrates that babies pick up phonological patterns better when they listen to a caregiver rather than listen to a tape or watch a video - see here for summaries of research into this area by Patricia Kuhl.)

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
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

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…