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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 est formelle: les écoliers ont besoin de deux semaines pour profiter pleinement des vacances.

C'est curieux. Personne n'en parle ici. Je me demande si ces mêmes spécialistes préconiseraient des journées de six heures pour les collégines et sept heures pour les lycéens.

Autre aspect: la France doit prendre en considération les besoins de l'industrie touristique, surtout ceux des stations de ski. On ne peut pas sous-estimer les difficultés causées par la circulation sur les routes des Alpes et des Pyrénées. C'est la raison pour laquelle il est difficile de garantir des congés de deux semaines pour tout le monde. Le système des trois zones réduit le nombre de routes saturées en février et à Pâques.

En Angleterre nous voyons le tourisme sous un autre aspect, notamment le fait que le prix des vacances est très élevé dans la haute saison du mois d'août. C'est pour cela qu'on a souvent proposé des zones ou des vacances d'été plus courtes, ce qui permettrait des vacances plus longues au mois de mai ou juin, par exemple.

Conclusion? Je ne suis pas un spécialiste, mais je proposerais des journées plus courtes en France, des semaines de 5 jours et des vacances d'été plus courtes. Le sytème des zones devrait rester en place. L'organisation de la semaine et de l'année fonctionne plutôt bien en Angleterre, mais on pourrait réduire un peu la durée des vacances d'été et ajuster le début et la fin de ces vacances en créant un rota par "county" ou région.


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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…