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Showing posts from June, 2015

Trotro fait un bonhomme de neige

Here is the latest video listening resource from frenchteacher. Always keen to be seasonal, I chose this one about Trotro making a snowman. If you were unaware Trotro is a little donkey adored by French toddlers. He has a high cute factor and should gently amuse Y8 pupils (near beginner/very low intermediate).

Apologies for any dodgy formatting.

Trotro et le bonhomme de neige  2m 50

Watch and listen. Tick off the sentences you hear. Only 6 are correct.
1.         Chic! Il neige! 2.         Voilà une grosse boule pour le ventre. 3.         Je vais chercher une carotte pour ton nez. 4.         Je n’oublie pas ton nez. 5.         Brr ! J’ai froid aux pieds. 6.         J’ai une bonne idée. Je reviens te chercher. 7.         On va rentrer dans la maison. 8.         Qu’est-ce que c’est que cette flaque d’eau ? 9.         Oh papa ! Regarde mon bonhomme de neige ! 10.       Il fait trop chaud dans la maison. 11.       Il fait froid dehors. C’est bien. 12.       E…

Code-breaking tasks for beginners

On I have quite a few code-breaking vocabulary activities for beginners and near beginners. See the example below based on en ville vocabulary.

Pupils find them absorbing and they have some language learning value with their focus on spelling accuracy as well as vocabulary knowledge. They obviously satisfy the puzzle-solving instinct too. You can make them competitive too - first three persons to finish get a merit, for example.

If any pupils need advice on how to tackle the problem, suggest that they use the example to crack the code and suggest they write out a list of letters and numbers. Suggest also that they use their knowledge of the vocabulary (e.g. word length) to help solve the puzzle.

If you wanted to develop the use of a worksheet you could get pupils to make up further examples, design a sheet of their own or make up sentences with the words on the list.

Sheets like this can have a calming effect if that's want you want.

I'll leave you to work ou…

A-level video listening - Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde parle de la Journée internationale de la femme 1m 28

Chaque année, le 8 mars, on célèbre la Journée internationale de la femme, inaugurée en 1977 par les Nations unies. Christine Lagarde, directrice générale du Fonds monétaire internationale (FMI) en parle.

Ecoutez et répondez

1. Que fait le FMI dans le domaine des droits des femmes?

2. Quel est le premier élément majeur des recherches effectuées par la FMI? Expliquez.

3. Combien de pays le FMI a-t-il étudiés ?

4. Qu’est-ce que le FMI a découvert ?

5. Donnez quatre exemples de discriminations économiques à l’égard des femmes.

6. Pourquoi est-ce que FMI souhaite que ces obstacles soient éliminés?

Teacher’s answers

1. Le FMI fait des (travaux de) recherches sur la contribution des femmes à l’économie dans l’ensemble de (tous) les pays du monde.

2. Les femmes ne contribuent pas dans les mêmes proportions à l’économie parce qu’elles ont moins accès au marché du travail et qu’il y a des é…

Should all pupils do MFL at GCSE?

With the government's confirmation of their manifesto commitment to make the Ebacc compulsory for all pupils, it may be time to return to the thorny question of whether all children in England should do a language at GCSE up to 16.

I'm going to try and clarify the issue in my own mind by doing a pros and cons list, then give you my own opinion for what it's worth. Do let me know on Twitter or here if I have missed any key points.

In favour

1. Making a subject compulsory raises its status and may therefore make it seem more important to pupils. In the long run MFL may achieve the status French and Latin once had in the academic curriculum.

2. Making MFL compulsory will hugely increase the second language skill levels of children across the nation, even if these skills are relatively limited.

3. A larger crop of GCSE pupils may result in a larger number of students continuing with a language to a higher level. This may, to an extent, address the national skills shortage in langua…

The new MFL GCSEs

Hot of the press: I gather the draft specifications have not been accredited by Ofqual. Maybe they read my blog! Ha ha! I wonder if changes will be major or minor. Watch, as they say, this space.


For the sake of convenience I have put all my blog posts on the new MFL GCSEs in one place. There are five sections:

1. Challenges
2. Comparing exam boards - introduction
3. Comparing mark schemes
4. Comparing subject content
5. AQA specification close-up

I do not offer a strong view in favour of any board over another. I took a close look at the AQA spec because AQA are easily the biggest board for MFL. I would suggest that the four boards will offer comparable difficulty and content, but with some significant variations which may lead you to have a preference. Don't forget that the specs we have seen are in draft form and may undergo change. I'll look out for any changes when they are published.

Eduqas is the new brand name for…

Les trois petits cochons

Here is an example of a "literary text" Y9-Y10 might like to read.

Les Trois Petits Cochons  Il était une fois trois petits cochons qui vivaient avec leur maman dans une petite maison.  Un jour, la maman a appelé ses trois fils et leur a dit qu'elle ne pouvait plus les élever parce qu'elle était trop pauvre. 

- Vous devez partir d'ici et construire votre maison , a-t-elle dit. Mais attention ! La maison doit être solide sinon le grand méchant loup entrera et vous mangera. La maman a embrassé ses trois petits cochons et leur a dit au revoir, des larmes aux yeux. Ils sont partis construire leurs maisons. Le premier petit cochon a rencontré un homme portant une botte de paille. 

« Puis-je avoir un peu de paille pour construire ma maison ?"  Et l'homme lui a donné de la paille. Le second petit cochon a rencontré un homme qui portait un chargement de bois. 
- Puis-je avoir des morceaux de bois pour construire ma maison? a demandé le petit cochon.  Et l'homme lui…

The Language Gym by Gianfranco Conti

I rarely come across a blog combining theory and practice which I feel I can wholeheartedly recommend to language teachers. Gianfranco Conti's blog called The Language Gym is excellent. He has recently been blogging prolifically on a range of topics including reading, the relevance of Bloom's taxonomy, personality, pre- and post-task activities, noun-based teaching, gender and social class and technology.

Gianfranco blogs as a practising teacher who is also well read in applied linguistic theory and research. He writes a good number of his own resources which he shares with fellow teachers on the TES site. In his clearly written and well-referenced blog he is happy to challenge fashionable views, bringing experience and pragmatism to his reflections. Whilst he values the comprehensible input dimension in second language learning, he seems to place a particular emphasis on the structured practice of skills. He seems to be an unashamed "skill-builder". His own interact…

How might schools deal with decoupled AS-levels?

One very positive aspect of the current regime of AS-levels for modern languages is that a significant number of students are happy to continue with a language for one more year after GCSE. At my former school we would regularly get at least 25 students for AS French. Of these only about half would continue to A2 level. The drop-outs were largely students doing maths and science and who could not fit in a language.

What will happen in the new era of "decoupled" or "stand-alone" AS-levels where the AS-level will not contribute to the whole A-level grade?

Bear in mind that the new AS is designed to be co-teachable with A-level and some schools may do this, but I understand that exam boards are anticipating that there will be a huge fall in AS entries - and with this, alas, a further decline in the number of students doing a language after GCSE. I would not be surprised if the boards are right and that we shall see an undesirable narrowing of the sixth form curriculum…

The French political system

This presentation was sent to me some time ago by Paul Smith. I've just updated it following changes in François Hollande's government and the recent change of name from UMP to Les Républicains. The original powerpoint is on the Free Samples page of