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Showing posts from May, 2011

Teachers Media

I see that the old Teacher's TV videos are now available at a new site hosted by the team behind Teacher's TV! They say: "Teachers Media is the new professional development service for everyone working in UK education, brought to you by the team behind Teachers TV. This site contains a free library of over 3500 high-quality videos to help you and your team develop your professional skills, and support teaching and learning in your school and classroom. Whether you're looking for great lesson ideas, how to take teaching from good to outstanding, or help with behaviour management, we have something for you." It did occur to me that there just might be something positive in the slash and burn approach of the government. Many of the best intiatives which have helped teachers have come from teachers themselves or private organisations. In the MFL field I think of, mflresources, TES Connect, for example.

KS3 pupils to lose entitlement to MFL teaching

Interesting story from Oxfordshire which is upsetting modern language teachers. "An Oxfordshire head teacher has said she should not be forced to teach foreign languages to her pupils. Dr Fiona Hammans from Banbury School said a 12-year-old with a reading age of six did not benefit from learning French or German. She said: "They are so left behind and my real concern is that we don't leave them even further behind.""   I'm slightly reluctant to pass judgement on this story without knowing the precise circumstances and context. I do know that the school is a comprehensive with a wide range of abilitites, home languages and social backgrounds.   It is no doubt worth mentioning that MFL teaching contributes to a child's literacy development. I would also ask why the children should drop language learning rather than, say, a humanity, R.E. or technology. Could one argue that these childre

Fischers Ghost at the Punchbowl, Silsden

Manger du veau :oui ou non?

Dans sa rubrique cuisine ce matin dans le Guardian Magazine Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, chef célèbre,  prétend qu'il est plus moral de manger certains types de veau que de n'en pas manger du tout. Les Anglais sont relativement frileux à cet égard, considérant l'élevage du veau comme inhumain. Selon le Meat and Livestock Commission en 2006 1% seulement des Britanniques consommaient du veau. Vu qu'on abat 250 000 veaux à la naissance puisque il's ne servent à rien dans la production laitière, vaut-il mieux les élever d'une manière humaine pour les consommer? Hugh F-W ne fait que nous rappeler ce qu'il avait dit en 2006, avec Janet Street-Porter, dans un article de l'Independent. Il a également fait campagne sur la question dans sa série télévisée. En Angleterre il existe des producteurs de "veau rosée" ( rosé veal or rose veal ) qui élèvent du veau humainement, même en leur donnant dans certains cas un peu de place à l'extérieur pour er

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1943)

Thanks to Dom of Dom's MFL page for posting this. In my ignorance I had not come across it before. It is a good starting point for teachers. Dom goes on to talk about how he tries to incorporate these needs into his teaching by making sure the classroom is comfortable, safe, supportive and so on. This all makes sense and is implicit in the practice of successful teachers. It might not solve the needs of the novice or experienced teacher who is trying to master "crowd control" (who said "teaching is 90% crowd control"?) and it may not be a panacea model (what is?), but it's a good starting point in establishing a supportive and productive learning environment. If you can get that right you can then refine your practice with all the technical requirements such as use of target language, effective questioning, stimulating resources and the like. Dom points out that to achieve the higher levels in the hierarchy the conditions of the lower levels must be achie

DSK et la loi Guigou

From Telegraph blogger Benedict Brogan: "’s worth noting why the images of DSK in cuffs are causing such consternation in France. First, there’s the obvious enormity of seeing the main rival to Nicolas Sarkozy brought low in spectacular style. Second, there’s the cultural shock of seeing a wealthy member of the ruling elite, who was thought to enjoy what the French media often refer to as impunity, put in a position that would be unthinkable in France. The impact on how France thinks about its leaders will be long-lasting. Third, there’s a very specific legal reason to explain why commentators such as Agnès Poirier on Newsnight described the image as ‘violent’. Since 2000 it has in fact been illegal to show suspects in detention when they have yet to be charged let alone convicted. The loi Guigou sur la présomption d’innocence was in part designed to protect the dignity of the accused. As Richard Malka a French expert in media law explained, the media’s right to information

Le racisme bien vivant en Angleterre

Les Français sont-ils plus racistes que les Anglais? Mon lecteur français serait intéressé de lire les commentaires qui suivent un article sur les villes les moins chères en Grande-Bretagne. C'est sur les forums Internet qu'on trouve, hélas, le vrai visage de nombreux de mes compatriotes:

The National Languages Strategy overview

The National Languages Strategy for England no longer exists, a victim of the cuts. Dr Lid King has just published an overview of the strategy from 2003-2011. His report is a mixed one and features worrying facts about the state of languages in England. He notes, for example, that we now have fewer A-level linguists than we did in the 1960's after a relative boom period in the 1990's. He also reminds us that the progress achieved in primary schools is fragile and, without dedicated funding, may not survive. Dr King is now Director of The Languages Company which was set up in 2008. He was previously Director of CILT, a recent victim of the cuts. His report makes interesting yet slightly depressing reading, and not just for languages teachers. The E Bacc may mark something of a renaissance for modern languages post 14. We shall have to see. Michael Gove has talked a good game about languages so far, but all he has achieved is to cut much of the funding which has built up capab

Loose vowels

I'm re-posting this from Wednesday. Seems Blogger had some problems this week and deleted some posts. Hmm. I did a lesson the other day on pronunciation with my Y7 class. We worked on vowel sounds and compared them with English vowels. I talked about "pure" vowels and diphthongs. We also looked at nasal vowels. I always use the phrase un bon vin blanc to practise these. But I also tried something different: I read part of a passage in the text book, just pronouncing the vowels in the words. Quite fun to do. The students liked it also. I then read a section and asked them to work out where I had stopped in the text. This got them listenign hard, reading carefully and focused them on ther key sounds. I then got them to try the same in pairs. I finished with a short tonguetwister: un chasseur sachant chasser sans son chien . Good lesson all-round with lots of listening and joining in (even though I say it myself!). En passant , Teachers TV is about to rise from the ashe

La grammaire française est-elle sexiste?

Article de Philippe Jacqué tiré du Monde 4.5.11 "Après la création d’un « langage féministe non sexiste » , les féministes mènent une nouvelle bataille contre la « langue française sexiste ». Une pétition intitulée « Que les hommes et les femmes soient belles ! » vient d’être lancée pour en finir avec la règle qui veut que « le masculin l’emporte sur le féminin » . Selon le texte de la pétition, « cette règle de grammaire apprise dès l’enfance sur les bancs de l’école façonne un monde de représentations dans lequel le masculin est considéré comme supérieur au féminin. En 1676, le père Bouhours, l’un des grammairiens qui a œuvré à ce que cette règle devienne exclusive de toute autre, la justifiait ainsi : “lorsque les deux genres se rencontrent, il faut que le plus noble l’emporte.” » Pourtant, poursuit la pétition, « avant le XVIIIe siècle, la langue française usait d’une grande liberté. Un adjectif qui se rapportait à plusieurs noms, pouvait s’accorder avec le nom l

Il faut sauver le soldat Blanc !

Selon Ouest-France Laurent Blanc aurait l'intention de démissioner suivant l'affaire des quotas raciaux dans le football français. Nicolas Sarkozy pourrait même lui passer un coup de fil pour tenter de le persuader à rester en place. Médiapart a publié les propos exacts d'une réunion où le mot quota avait été prononcé concernant le nombre de jeunes joueurs noirs et maghrébins dans les équipes juniors. Au début Blanc et François Blaquart, directeur technique national, avait nié toute mention du mot quota, mais les mots cités par Médiapart semblent prouver qu'ils avaient menti. Blaquart a été déjà suspendu. Quant à Laurent Blanc: "Pris en défaut de vigilance puis à mentir, Blanc n’est plus ce patron des Bleus bénéficiant d’un état de grâce semblant sans limite. Il penserait ne plus pouvoir continuer sa mission mais ceux qui lui ont donné les clés ne désespèrent pas de le faire changer d’avis. Antoine Kombouaré, son ami l’entraîneur du PSG, résume bien la situ

Les élections locales britanniques vues par l'Express

Some nice idioms for French teachers in this piece: subir un cuisant revers = to suffer a stinging setback faire éclater au grand jour =  to bring into the spotlight, to expose tirer son épingle du jeu = to salvage a bad situation, make the best of a bad job, to do alright (lots of discussion on wordreference) From: ""Se retirer habilement, sans dommage et à temps d’une situation qui devient délicate." L’origine de cette expression se retrouve dans un jeu du XVe ou XVI e siècle. Dans ce jeu les enfants devaient faire sortir des épingles d’un rond au pied d’un mur à l’aide d’une balle. La balle devait, avant d’atteindre la cible, frapper le mur. Un joueur habile récupérait la mise de ses adversaires en plus de la sienne tandis qu’un joueur médiocre ne pouvait qu’espérer limiter les dégâts en sauvant sa mise c’est-à-dire en “(re)tirant son épingle du jeu” . Le jeu de billes de notre enfance est un peu l’équivalent moderne de cette pra

Alastair Campbell sur France 24

I've been reading Alastair Campbell's diaries recently, the latest, more detailed version. He and Tony Blair spent time in France together and are both good linguists, but here is a chance to listen to Campbell speaking pretty good French. He is in France giving some advice to the French socialists on campaigning. They need it.

One for football fans and vocab nerds

I was watching a match in France recently and thought I'd have a careful listen to the commentators. So I took some notes and then did a bit of searching online to beef up my list. It is interesting to note that French commentators have a greater tendency to use nouns when English commentators would use verbs. e.g. "la montée de Rooney dans l'axe" (Rooney coming forward down the middle) or "centre de Giggs" (Giggs crosses). I couldn't find a good English translation for "centre en retrait" (where a ball is crossed, but in a backwards direction). I like the word "footballistiques" which I saw used by Laurent Blanc when talking about Spanish players' "footballing" skills as opposed to their physical presence. (Médiapart accused the FFF of using quotas to limit the number of black and north-African players. Blanc vehemently denied this, but did say that French football should look to develeop skilled players who are not j