Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2014

Latest updates from frenchteacher

I've been a little less productive recently owing to a super winter break in Florida featuring a short Progressive Nation at Sea rock cruise, but that's another story... Recent additions to the site include: An article about the much discussed issue at the moment of female genital mutilation. There is an informative text with questions in English. The standard would suit A2 level in the English and Welsh exam system (17-18 year olds). A simple worksheet for near beginners to practise the subject pronouns il/elle/ils/elles , I used to find that pupils were slow to assimilate these in the early stages. Maybe some focused work on them would help. The sheet has a list of 15 easy questions preceded by a simple explanation. I would do these orally first, then maybe in pairs, before they are written up. A very quick class could just do them straight off in writing or pairs. I've added another Peppa Pig video listening worksheet t the collection. It's called Papa accroch

A2 French interactive revision links 2014

Here are some great links for A2 Level French revision, updated slightly from last year's. I would not overload students with long lists of links. These are fine. First stop (a mine of all sorts of material: essay planning, vocabulary and vocabulary) Interactive grammar Listening Reading Essay writing There is also plenty of free reading material with exer

AS level French interactive revision resources 2014

Here is an updated list of revision links for students preparing for AS level French examinations in England and Wales, though I daresay it would be useful to students preparing for other assessments. I particularly recommend MFL Online from Jim Hall. Nearly all the links are free. Grammar Carmen Vera's grammar through French songs. A bit more fun maybe. Listening Reading Vocabulary Essays  (not error-free, but very useful example

GCSE (intermediate) revision resources 2014

In England and Wales, when those blessed controlled assessments are over, you can focus totally on comprehension and vocabulary building for the remaining exams. Here is a handy list of some good interactive revision links for this level. These links are also good for intermediate exams in Scotland, Ireland and other English-speaking countries. You could copy and paste this to print off for students. I do recommend the free print-off from (see Reading link below). I designed it for pupils working at the grade A-C level at GCSE. Good for individual work and students like the booklet format. As far as apps for students are concerned, I would suggest the Cramit one and Learn French which is pretty good for vocabulary. For Android devices the French Vocabulary app is well reviewed. For listening, you could suggest Coffee Break French from Radio Lingua Network (iTunes podcasts). Listening (Foundatio

Conversing with Siri or Google Now

If your students have access to an Apple or Android mobile device equipped with the French language version of the personal assistants Siri or Google Now, then it would be easy to set an enjoyable and useful communicative task. Siri and Google Now will accept some inaccurate pronunciation, up to a point, and if you did this in a classroom setting background noise could be an issue, but I would set pupils a series of questions to ask either personal assistant. To show the task was done, they could note down the responses they get. Siri and Google Now sometimes gives a straightforward spoken response to a question. Frequently it will refer you to a web source or give you  an answer in reading form. How about these questions for intermediate students? They all practise the use of  " quel(le)(s)". 1.  Quel temps fait-il à Paris en ce moment? 2.  Quel est la capitale du Pakistan? 3.  Quelle est la date de naissance de Napoléon Bonaparte? 4.  Quelle est la population de la

One approach to schemes of work

When I began teaching in 1980 departmental schemes of work did not exist. You had a text book and tapes which were, effectively, the scheme of work or syllabus as it was then called; then in Y11 teaching content was largely led by the O-level exam, subsequently GCSE. If there was a common approach to practice in a department it was formed to a minor extent by the nature of the text book. My experience was that that teachers did not work much as a team, but did share clear common aims in terms of timing and exam content. This was still the case when I became a Head of Department in 1988. I think it was the coming into being of Ofsted as well as a general growing professionalism which led schools to firm up practice on schemes of work. In my department we decided to create a scheme which was a working file. Each teacher had their own ring binder for each year with a general list of objectives for each unit based on the course book. The course sequence was very sound and well suited t

Dans ma trousse

This post is a defence of the humble pencil case as a classroom language teaching aid. Some MFL teachers argue that teaching children about what is in their pencil case is plain dull and that there are better ways for children to acquire the vocabulary of classroom objects. In general, they would argue that we need to find classroom activities for beginners and learners in general which are inherently stimulating. the argument runs: they are studying volcanoes in geography, burning magnesium ribbon in chemistry, learning about how the body works in biology, then they come along to the languages lesson to point at the window and say "this is the window". I get the argument and if you want to see it amusingly parodied, watch Eddie Izzard's well know and very funny video. Oh.......... alright, if your device lets you watch it, here it is: So how can I defend using a pencil case in the classroom. First, the obvious stuff. There are a range of simple language areas

Ways to raise the profile of languages in a school

With the strong focus on maths, English and science, it is easy to feel that  MFL does not  have the  status it deserves in a school. How can an MFL team  counter this and this get students to  take the subject  area more seriously? Here are some thoughts for your consideration: Make sure department activities are well advertised through the school  website, magazine and  social media. Organise visits and exchanges to boost confidence amd bring the subject to life. Keep pressing home the value of languages for personal growth and career  prospects. Organise whole school events such as theme days and theme weeks (e.g.  European  Day  of Languages). Organise theatre visits and study days. Invite outside speakers e.g. from universities or foreign language speakers from  various  walks of life. Use awards such as "linguist of the week" certificates. Get older students and former students to speak to younger pupils. Do assemblies on

Tapis Volant 2 This is just a quick post to point you to a site from Australia which has just come to my attention. It's not new, dating from 2007, but it contains useful interactive material for beginners up to low intermediate level (KS3 in England and Wales). It's called Tapis Volant (2). Try clicking on the Students link in the toolbar to get to two levels of exercises. Each unit has a short listening task (no interactivity), with grammar and vocab sections. The grammar tasks are quite brief and involve, for example, interactive matching and gap filling. Some of the vocabulary activities no longer work it seems, so this looks like an old site that has been left online. Australian teachers may know if it was once a pay site. I could imagine the site being used for its short listening extracts accompanied by a picture. They are clear but, annoyingly, you cannot pause and rewind the text. You can choose between written text on and off. The site use

AS level oral booklets

I wrote a booklet of vocabulary and practice questions for the AQA AS level speaking test some time ago and was well used by our students at Ripon Grammar. We would use a relevant page from it either to round of a sequence of lessons or, more often, to introduce a topic. Anyway, I have now done versions for the Edexcel and WJEC exam boards. They in the same format, but cover the Edexcel and WJEC topics which are not all the same as AQA's. Interestingly, Edexcel's are arguably a little more challenging, but, in my humble opinion, not quite as good. I found the sub-topic title Sex, drugs and alcohol a shade naff! No rock and roll? WJEC's a similar to Edexcel's. Here is a sample page from the Edexcel version (apologies for formatting - does anyone know any tricks for copying and pasting from Word to Blogger?) L’alcool, la drogue, le sexe l’alcoolisme (m)             alcoholism                          un héroïnomane              heroin addict une boisson

A simple version of the game Pointless

Here is a smashing little idea from a teacher which I read about in the Spring 2014 edition of Languages Today from the ALL (Association for Language Learning). It's a version of the TV quiz game Pointless. In case this show has passed you by, in a nutshell contestants have to give answers to questions which were posed to members of the public. The aim is to provide an answer no member of the public gave. In this case you give pupils 5-10 minutes to write down as many words they've been taught. The object of the game is for pupils to write down at least one word which no-one else has thought of. Pupils get one point for every correct word and five points for a word which no-one else has thought of - a "pointless" answer. This could work for near beginners up to advanced level students. It could also be played with pairs against pairs. At advanced level, if a general theme was given for the vocabulary, say, health, then the lists would be long and useful oral a

So how can we get more young people studying modern languages at university? Apparently, despite tuition fees, university applications in the UK are at record levels. One notable subject area which has struggled in recent years, however, is modern languages. What could we do to get more young people continuing with languages in higher education and thus help to address the shortage of linguists which business reports? Firstly, all the while the A-level/post 16 academic curriculum is so narrow , various subjects will always struggle to attract recruits. MFL is not alone. The last twenty years has also seen a sharp decline in students studying, for example, history and geography. We need bums on seats at A-level to secure a larger number of undergraduates. To address this we need to broaden the A-level curriculum which we failed to do in 2000. A recent report has recommended we do the same, but will fall on governmental deaf ears. The traditional A-level is a