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Latest updates from frenchteacher

Just to keep users of the site and others up to date with the latest resources added to frenchteacher. The emphasis over the last month has been on advanced level material. As always, bags of material for teachers who like their "comprehensible input".

Grammar handout: this is new departure for the site. I produced a set of notes on the subjunctive, coverering formation and use. It is designed as a handout for reference and can be used alongside the practice worksheets on the subjunctive. Y12 (Low advanced)

Video listening. Worksheet linked to 1jour1actu video on freedom of expression, in the light of the Charlie Hebdo attack. Basic video introduction of the basic principles of freedom of expression in a democracy, with an opportunity for discussion. Gap fill and discussion questions in French. Good for upper sixth or good lower sixth (low advanced/advanced). Y12-13 (Advanced)

Video listening. This is a Euronews report soon after the terrorist attack on the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo. Questions in French. Model answers given. Free resource. Y12-13 (Advanced)

Video listening. Short interview with the musician Stromae. True/false/not mentioned and short gap fill. It’s fast, but the French is not too hard. Y12-13 (Advanced)

Present participles crossword for Y10-11, or even AS level. Gap fill clues, so meaning needs to be grasped. Y10-11 (Intermediate)

Text and exercises about recent immigration figures for France. A look at recent tendencies. Text, vocabulary to complete, true/false/not mentioned, lexical work, questions for oral and written work, translation and gap fill. The works! This would suit A2 level in England and Wales very well. Y13 (Advanced)

French to English translation. An extract from Candide, ou l’optimisme by Voltaire. Model answer provided. If you,ve never read Candide, it's easy and satirical fun.Y13 (Advanced)

French to English translation. This is from L’Etranger by Albert Camus. It is the famous beach scene, depicting Meursault’s state of mind in the lead-up to his crime. Model answer provided. Y13 (Advanced)

French to English translation. This is a passage from Amélie Nothomb’s 1999 novel Stupeur et Tremblements. Model answer provided. Y13 (advanced)


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Delayed dictation

What is “delayed dictation”?

Instead of getting students to transcribe immediately what you say, or what a partner says, you can enforce a 10 second delay so that students have to keep running over in their heads what they have heard. Some teachers have even used the delay time to try to distract students with music.

It’s an added challenge for students but has significant value, I think. It reminds me of a phenomenon in music called audiation. I use it frequently as a singer and I bet you do too.

Audiation is thought to be the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. You can audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music. When we have a song going round in our mind we are audiating. When we are deliberately learning a song we are audiating.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

Designing a plan to improve listening skills

Read many books and articles about listening and you’ll see it described as the forgotten skill. It certainly seems to be the one which causes anxiety for both teachers and students. The reasons are clear: you only get a very few chances to hear the material, exercises feel like tests and listening is, well, hard. Just think of the complex processes involved: segmenting the sound stream, knowing lots of words and phrases, using grammatical knowledge to make meaning, coping with a new sound system and more. Add to this the fact that in England they have recently decided to make listening tests harder (too hard) and many teachers are wondering what else they can do to help their classes.

For students to become good listeners takes lots of time and practice, so there are no quick fixes. However, I’m going to suggest, very concisely, what principles could be the basis of an overall plan of action. These could be the basis of a useful departmental discussion or day-to-day chats about meth…

Five great advanced level French listening sites

If your A-level students would like opportunities to practise listening there are plenty of sources you can recommend for accessible, largely comprehensible and interesting material. Here are some I have come across while searching for resources over recent years.

Daily Geek Show

I love this site. It's fresh, youthful and full of really interesting material. They have an archive of videos, both short and long, from various sources, grouped under a range of themes: insolite (weird news items), science, discovery, technology, ecology and lifestyle. There should be something there to interest all your students while adding to their broader education. Here is one I enjoyed (I shall seriously think about buying tomatoes in winter now):

France Bienvenue

This site has been around for years and is the work of a university team in Marseilles. You get a mixture of audio and video material complete with transcripts and explanations.This is much more about the personal lives of the students …

Responsive teaching

Dylan Wiliam, the academic most associated with Assessment for Learning (AfL), aka formative assessment, has stated that these labels have not been the most helpful to teachers. He believes that they have been partly responsible for poor implementation of AfL and the fact that AfL has not led to the improved outcomes originally intended.

Wiliam wrote on Twitter in 2013:

“Example of really big mistake: calling formative assessment formative assessment rather than something like "responsive teaching".”

For the record he subsequently added:

“The point I was making—years ago now—is that it would have been much easier if we had called formative assessment "responsive teaching". However, I now realize that this wouldn't have helped since it would have given many people the idea that it was all about the teacher's role.”

I suspect he’s right about the appellation and its consequences. As a teacher I found it hard to get my head around the terms AfL and formative assess…

Sentence Stealers with a twist

Sentence Stealers is a reading aloud game invented by Gianfranco Conti. I'll describe the game to you, then suggest an extension of it which goes a bit further than reading aloud. By the way, I shouldn't need to justify the usefulness of reading aloud, but just in case, we are talking here about matching sounds to spellings, practising listening, pronunciation and intonation and repeating/recycling high frequency language patterns.

This is how it works:

Display around 15 sentences on the board, preferably ones which show language patterns you have been working on recently or some time ago.Hand out four cards or slips of paper to each student.On each card students must secretly write a sentence from the displayed list.Students then circulate around the class, approaching their classmates and reading a sentence from the displayed list. If the other person has that sentence on one of their cards, they must hand over the card. The other person then does the same, choosing a sentenc…