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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…

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…

Using sentence builder frames for GCSE speaking and writing preparation

Some teachers have cottoned on to the fact that sentence builders (aka substitution tables) are a very useful tool for helping students prepare for their GCSE speaking and writing tests. My own hunch is that would help for students of all levels of proficiency, but may be particularly helpful for those likely to get lower grades, say between 3-6. Much depends, of course, on how complex you make the table.

To remind you, here is a typical sentence builder, as found on the frenchteacher site. The topic is talking about where you live. A word of warning - formatting blogs in Blogger is a nightmare when you start with Word documents, so apologies for any issues. It might have taken me another 30 minutes just to sort out the html code underlying the original document.

"Ask and move" task

This is a lesson plan using an idea from our book Breaking the Sound Barrier (Conti and Smith, 2019). It's a task-based lesson adapted from an idea from Paul Nation and Jonathan Newton. It is aimed at Y10-11 pupils aiming at Higher Tier GCSE, but is easily adaptable to other levels and languages, including A-level. This has been posted as a resource on

This type of lesson plan excites me more than many, because if it runs well, you get a classroom of busy communication when you can step back, monitor and occasionally intervene as students get on with listening, speaking and writing.

Filling the gaps

All teachers at some time make use of gap-fill activities. There are very good reasons for doing so, whether the focus is on careful listening with a transcript, grammatical awareness, vocabulary retrieval or general comprehension. I particularly liked them for scaffolding listening with classes, combining comprehension with phonics and grammar. A gap-fill really gets students listening intensively and supports the process of listening. If you are keen on the idea of Listening as Modelling (as described in our listening book) you may prefer this type of task to general comprehension exercises which can end up promoting guesswork.

You can use gap-full in all kinds of ways and with different aims in mind. As a little exercise I thought I’d make a list if all the types of gap-fill I could think of.  These are all with LISTENING in mind, more than reading. These could help you focus on the precise aim of the gap-fill or just provide you with some variations to make it more interesting for…