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Showing posts from October, 2012

AIM Language Learning I've been having a look at the AIM (Accelerative Integrated Methodology) website to find out a bit more about this approach which has become widely used in Canada and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere. Although AIM has been around a few years, I confess I had only heard of it briefly via Twitter colleagues from Canada and it has not made a great mark in Britain. The best way to learn more about it in detail would be to watch the introductory videos in which the method is explained and seen in use by enthusiastic teachers and pupils. What struck me was that, if you get beyond the faintly hokey appeals to research, there is much that is familiar if you are a teacher who enjoys games, song, mime, drama, group and pair work. This is a set of resources and a methodology which gets youngsters very actively engaged in listening to and using the foreign language in all kinds of fun ways. There is a strong emphasis on the use of mime and gesture, cons

La famille Smith

Just to show that things are human here at Frenchteacher Towers, here is a photo of Joel (my son who is studying physics at Manchester Uni), Elspeth (Professor Elspeth Jones who, she was told, is a "thought leader" in internationalisation in higher education) and yours truly on a fine morning at Swinstey reservoir, Blubberhouses (yes, Blubberhouses), near Harrogate, North Yorkshire. My brother-in-law Peter Jones from Sydney took the photo.


There are a number of terms and abbreviations used in the field of teaching languages other than English. As far as the teaching of French is concerned, in Anglophone countries, some Americans (in New York) talk of LOTE (Languages Other Than English), some of WL (World Language(s)), most that I have found use FL (Foreign Language). The term Languages is also used on its own, for example by New Zealand high schools. Australians and New Zealanders seem to use ML (Modern Languages) at the university level, but at high school level, Australians frequently use LOTE. In NZ literature I have also seen IL, for International Languages. The British now use MFL (Modern Foreign Languages). We used to say Modern Languages (ML), but some years ago it was thought necessary to distinguish the likes of French and German from community languages such as Hindi or Chinese. Interestingly, in the British university sector, where the distinction with community languages is less relevant, the term Modern La

Lyrics Training I have been writing a new page on about using music in the modern languages classroom. In my searches I came across the Lyrics Training web site. What a useful and clever site! You can listen to songs and do gap fills interactively. If you do the free sign up you can build up points and record your progress. Here is a very good training video by Russell Stannard on how it is used: You could easily recommend this site to your A-level students or maybe take a group into the ICT room for them to work on a song.

Cloud Cuckoo land Well, Cloud Cuckoo World, actually. This is a rather attractive and useful site for primary French teachers who are happy to fork out a one-off subscription of £50. There are two sections to the site. The first has a set of illustrated stories read aloud in English, with key vocabulary repeated and displayed in French. The second has pictures covering some everyday vocabulary. You click on the picture and the word is displayed and pronounced. The illustrations are attractive and would work well both on a computer screen/iPad and on a whiteboard. The pronunciations are excellent (although the free sample story extract said "danseur" when the text read "danseuse"). I cannot vouch for how well the stories would amuse children since nearly everything is behind the paywall. For parents there is a home subscription option costing £10 which may be of interest. The content of the site is tied in with the QCDA Scheme of work. He

Ma nouvelle maîtresse aux chevrons

Elle est jolie, non? Belle ligne et elle ne consomme pas beaucoup.

ABacc - a huge missed opportunity?

Stories in The Times and The Daily Telegraph suggest that the reformed GCE A-levels will remove January modules and resits, and that if students do a contrasting AS level subject (maths or a humanity), complete a 5000 word essay and do voluntary work as part of their portfolio, they will acquire an ABacc certificate which will help give them access to Russell Group universities. It is clear that this idea borrows slightly from the International Baccalaureate and from the AQA EPQ. It is also a response to criticisms that too many students cannot write essays and that they are assessed too much on skills and knowledge acquired in the short term, rather than embedded, all round understanding of subjects. It also tries to deal with the criticism that our A-level students are too narrow in their choice of subjects. A broader curriculum would allow students to postpone key choices until later whilst providing them with a better understanding of the world. It is a timid reform and, as usu


I came across these French assessment materials, thanks to Sarah on the TES forum. French teachers may find them interesting. CIEP stands for Centre international d'études pédagogiques. DELF stands for Diplôme élémentaire en langue française. CIEP is from the French Ministry of Education. the DELF (and DALF) exams are provided for learners of French around the world. The site says: Chaque diplôme correspond à l'un des quatre premiers niveaux du Cadre européen commun de référence pour les langues. Pour chaque niveau une série d'épreuves évalue les quatre compétences de communication : compréhension et production écrites et orales. Particularités Le diplôme délivré est le Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française. La mention DELF scolaire n'apparaît pas. La structure des examens est la même que celle du DELF dans sa version "tous publics" , seuls les thématiques et les supports diffèrent et sont ad

How should we assess writing at GCSE?

Writing is the least useful skill for language learners and as internet translators become ever more sophisticated it is likely that the vast majority of learners will never have to construct written language in the foreign language at all. We should downgrade its importance at all levels, but especially at GCSE. The current allocation of 30% of marks for writing is inappropriate. That said, we shall no doubt continue to teach and assess writing, largely to support the other skills and to provide useful classwork and homework tasks. So how should we clear up the current mess which is assessment of writing at GCSE? When it was decided that that exam boards would have to mark written GCSE assignments this issue came sharply into focus with hundreds of schools unhappy with grades. A thread on the TES MFL forum about problems with marking writing at GCSE has been running for over a year. Mistakes in marking with essay based questions occur where the examiner is inexperienced, updates

Je viens de me rendre compte que je fais de moins en moins de billets de blog en français. Faut que je fasse un plus grand effort.... Le fait de ne pas devoir aller au travail me permet de passer un peu plus de temps à préparer des ressources pour le site. Par exemple, dernièrement, j'ai écrit un texte avec des exercices sur les paris sportifs. Il paraît que les Français parient de plus en plus pendant la crise économique et que c'est les sociétés traditionnelles telles que la Française des jeux et le PMU qui en tirent le plus de bénéfices. Quand c'est la crise, les gens prennent plus de risques mais ils préfèrent les points de vente à proximité aux jeux en ligne. Pour ce genre de texte ma méthode, c'est de trouver un article de journal (dans ce cas précis c'était Sud Ouest), d'y trouver les informations utiles et de réécrire les infos à ma façon. Souvent je simplifie un peu le vocabulaire, j'enlève ce qui n'est pas nécessaire et je réorganise la str