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A-Level results

I was able to have a very close look at our A and As results thanks to the Enhanced Results Analysis section of the e AQA site. This is, by the way, an excellent service which allows you to see how your school compared with others on whole papers and individual questions. One general observation: it is, once again this year, very hard for students to get an A* in MFL. I wonder how many of the small minority who do get A* are native speakers. For two years running I have seen very able linguists not reaching that grade. You could easily argue that, given the small but significant percentage of native speakers, the overall ratio of A* to A grades should be higher than for other subjects. Maybe the overall proportion of A grades should be higher too. Exam boards do not measure numbers of native speakers, partly because defining native speaker competence is not always easy.

Ofqual really need to look into this area.

The papers report, yet again, a fall in the number of entries for A-Level French, German and even Spanish. French was down 4.7% in one year. This is concerning and is partly explained by lower numbers doing GCSE. It may also have something to do with the rising number taking other hard A-Levels like maths and sciences. (It is worth noting that AS entries rose in all modern languages). The government talks a good game on languages, but the money is going to STEM subjects which sends out an even stronger message.

EBacc will help, despite its shortcmings, as will fairer grading at GCSE, better teaching and strong messages from schools and the media about the value of languages.

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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’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…

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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.

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