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Showing posts from June, 2012

Une vaste supercherie

 J'ai trouvé juste cette analyse de l'enseignement de l'anglais dans les écoles primaires en France. La même analyse s'appliquerait à l'enseignement des language svivantes dans le primaire en Angleterre. Lucien Marboeuf, blogueur de l'Express, titre son billet de blog: “ L’anglais à l’école : good joke ! ” Selon lui, “ l’anglais à l’école primaire est une vaste supercherie. ”. Il rappelle que cela tient d’abord à la question du volume horaire des enseignements. En CE2, CM1 ou CM2 il faut faire entre 1 h 30 et 2 heures d’anglais par semaine de 24 heures.. Mais la raison principale de l'échec " reste celle de l’incompétence des enseignants. Bien sûr, une solution aurait été de fournir aux classes de primaire des « intervenants en langue ». […] Le problème, c’est que ça coûte de l’argent : on a donc supprimé ces postes-là, il n’y a aujourd’hui quasiment plus d’intervenants en primaire. ”. Et ne lui parlez pas de l’“habilitation” qui selon lui,

So what's changed in MFL teaching in 32 years?

The end of a teaching career is very close for me now, so I am bound to reflect on a few issues. How is French teaching different now compared with when I began teaching at Tiffin School, Kingston-upon-Thames in 1980? The resources at our disposal as language teachers are far better than they were. Course books are better, less dogmatic in their underlying methodology, more colourful, more pupil-friendly and supported by a wide range of resources: repromasters, CDs, assessment packs and online resources. There is an enormous range of freely shared and commercial resources available online through support networks such as the TES and mflresources , as well as superb individual web sites such as . My own web site has made a useful contribution, whilst forums and Twitter have made the sharing of ideas ever easier. I have gone from cassettes, to CDs, to online resources. I have gone from recording broadcasts from long wave radio to using a vast range of readily a

Michael Gove's O-levels

Well, that was bombshell yesterday, wasn't it? Certainly for other members of the coalition government who hadn't been told. What are we to make of Michael Gove's intention to ditch GCSEs, the national curriculum and multiple exam boards for subjects? Teachers have not asked for it? Nor parents? Some have sought an end to a 16+ exam full stop, but that's another matter. Gove's claim is that GCSEs are not hard enough and that having different exam boards offering the same subject leads to dumbing down of content. His desire to do away with the national curriculum seems mostly to do with his conservative desire not to tell teachers what to do. His inspiration seems to be the Singapore education system which sorts children into sheep and goats at an early stage, channelling them into different exams. Gove's "O-level" would not be like the one which lasted up to 1987 as it would be aimed, we are told, at the top 75% of the school population. By sett

MYLO - Joseph's French Dinners I wrote some time ago about the MYLO Track List challenge which my Y9 class have begun to use with success. My Y10 class today worked on a new French "challenge" called Joseph's French Dinners. I have never seen this class so absorbed for 30 minutes in a regular lesson. The format is familiar if you have used the site before. Students work through a series of interactive tasks, some focused mainly on reading comprehension, some on listening and a few on writing. The main emphasis is on high quality listening and reading, however. I have to compliment the writers. The exercises feature authentic language pitched well for students, in this case, aiming for grade B or thereabouts at GCSE. A* students would find the activities challenging enough, but with less recourse to the dictionary which is built into the programme. Content is interesting, lively, very clearly presented, whilst the tasks are diverse, including sorting vocabulary into ca

Ripon GS MFL department

Had a good get-together on Sunday with my department and its new HoD, Tom Chamberlain. Here we are. What a jolly bunch! Matthew, Sandy, Felicity, Tom, Anne, Steve Tom is taking over from me in September. Sandy is moving on to Barnard Castle School.

Rythmes scolaires

Il est toujours fascinant de comparer la manière dont nos deux pays (l'Angleterre et la France) abordent la question des rythmes scolaires. De ce côté de la Manche on insiste surtout sur la durée des vacances d'été et le fait que les élèves oublient trop de connaissances pendant cette periode de six ou sept semaines. On évoque également les tarifs élevés du mois d'août. En France le débat se concentre sur deux aspects: l'organisation de la semaine (4 ou 5 jours) et l'organisation de l'année (faut-il avoir toujours des vacances d'au moin sdeux semaines). Le nouveau gouvernement veut procéder le plus vite possible à la semaine de 5 jours (plus précisément 4 jours et demi, le mercredi après-midi restant sacré). Cela semble relever du bon sens et la plupart des académies ont déjà fait ce choix. Quant aux vacances la France est plus influencée que nous par l'opinion des spécialistes de l'étude des rythmes biologiques et psychologiques. Cette opinion e

French Radio London

Thanks to Dominic McGladdery for reminding us about this. It is sometimes claimed that London is France's sixth largest city. Based on population alone this may or may not be true. (I have no idea how anyone would know exactly how many French people are residing in London at any one time and I doubt the figures bandied around: between 200 to 300 thousand.) In any case French Radio London has been around for a while and it's a good resource for A-level students and teachers and for adults wanting to improve their listening skills. Of course, it is easy these days to listen to a huge range of francophone channels on the radio (the TuneIn app is brilliant for this if you have a mobile device), but French Radio London has its own particular audience in mind and its content may have particular appeal for British listeners. You can listen live to discussions and music (francophone or anglophone) or you can access the archive of listen-again programmes, which include interviews a

Personal log Star Date 2012.6

We took the plunge and bought a camper van (posh name: motorhome or motor caravan). Will now have to consider joining the Caravan Club and buying matching sweaters. Ah! When I think of the hours to come comparing MPG, van layouts, awnings, fridge size (size is everything with fridges), not to mention swivel cassette toilets..... Here she is. Yes, SHE. The Swift Bolero 600EK Compact 2.3 Fiat Ducato. Our own shuttlecraft.

Compulsory languages at KS2 The Telegraph, which seems to have some leaked information on the curriculum review, reports that, as widely predicted, the teaching of a modern language will be compulsory for all pupils from the age of seven. It will be recommended that children focus on one language and that schools may choose from ancient languages too. Look out for future announcements about compulsory languages at KS4. What will be needed to make this work, given that existing provision for primary MFL has been, at best, a partial success? Firstly, schools will need to allocate enough time. This will mean at leat two sessions per week, as it is well known that teaching a language is like, as Eric Hawkins aptly put it, "gardening in a gale" (the gale being English). Where will the time come from? What other things will not be done? Secondly, who will deliver the skilled teaching re updates

I'm very pleased with the number of subscribers to the site and, even though I say it myself, there are an awful lot of resources for a small annual subscription. Blatant advertising plug over. Or is it? I've been busy making some new resources in the last couple of weeks. Jan from mflresources linked an interesting story about a teacher who was suspended in Edmonton, Canada, for refusing to follow his school's marking policy. Too many zeros apparently. I have written a version of it in French with some exercises. On the education theme I've also put together some material on le redoublement . The French get children to repeat a year far more often than any other nation, with apparently few benefits in terms of academic performance (if we are to trust PISA on the matter). French teachers are apparently wanting to move away from repeating years to more individual, tailored work with struggling pupils. Sounds like the way to go.

So what's afoot in the French education system?

I enjoy keeping up to date to some extent with the education world in France thanks to Philippe Watrelot's informative blog in which he summarises recent events as reported by the French press (see the blog roll to the right). It looks like France will be abandoning Saturday morning school (it's already gone in many regions anyway). The new minister Vincent Peillon looks happy to go along with the results of a previous consultation which favoured the week of "neuf demi-journées". Why not ten, you ask? Fair question. It seems that because the school day is so long, it is still felt that a half day on Wednesday is desirable. The obvious question is: why not shorten the day and have five full days as we do in the UK? Monsieur Peillon is doing some rapid recruiting of new primary school teachers and assistants in order to cope with rising cohorts and to stick to an election promise. Primary education is the priority and this is surely right. Reminds me of Blair's