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Do you need an A-level French text book?

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When I was a Head of department I became increasingly unimpressed by the quality of A-level textbooks. Having made good use in previous years of books such as Actualités Françaises (Nott and Trickey), Signes du temps, Vécu (Ralph Gaiskell) and Objectif Bac (Martine Pillette), I found that the most recent offerings, tied as they have been to exam board specifications, thin, unstimulating and difficult to use.

This was largely why I chose to write my own resources which other teachers also find invaluable for their A-level classes.

So do A-level teachers actually need a text book at all?

I have nothing against text books per se. I have no strong opinion about the text book/worksheet debate. To me it's all about quality and usability. Is a text book good? Are worksheets good?

If I were still teaching I would want to weigh up very carefully the value of buying text books and their accompanying ICT packages. has all you need to teach AS and A-level successfully, with the exception of film and literature topics for A2, which text books barely cover anyway. If you want support for film and literature I always recommend Steve Glover's resources which can be found at has the following areas covered: grammar worksheets and handouts, video listening worksheets divided into AS and A2 level, texts with exercises by topic and level, vocabulary lists, games ideas, task-based discussions, translations and exam preparation tasks (e.g. AS oral booklets, A2 stimulus cards and model essays).

You can pick and choose from a huge array of texts, all accompanied by exercises which generate discussion, develop lexical and syntactic skill and widen students' knowledge of the target language culture. The resources are accurate, offer the right level of challenge and are based on an approach which values both large amounts of comprehensible input and a structured, explicit approach to grammar and vocabulary.

If you feel your AS students need revision of basic structures you can dip into the Y10-11 resources for extra grammar and easier texts. I daresay, if you felt any area were insufficiently covered, you could go to the TES site or other recommended resources online (see my links pages). When it comes down to it, though, should be more than enough for your needs.


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I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
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Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
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20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
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What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’( The point i…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…