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Showing posts from October, 2016

The Michaela method

In March 2017 I had the pleasure of visiting the school, observing two French lessons and chatting with the French staff. I am grateful to them and to the school for welcoming me. It was an interesting visit for a number of reasons, but the focus here is on the French teaching methodology. The points I originally listed below in my original October 2016 blog remain valid. Seeing classes in action was illuminating. Pupils were very attentive, joined in extremely well and showed quick reactions, very good pronunciation and a good memory for the language they had learned. Both the Y7 class and lower set Y9 had very good spoken and writing skills and manipulated complex language, almost always prompted by English cues. The focus on reading aloud and call-response translation into French was very strong. English was liberally sprinkled throughout the lessons, but the amount of built-in repetition of French was impressive. Not a moment was wasted and pupils maintained high levels of concen

Michaela Community School on French TV

I shall be putting together another blog about the approach to teaching French at Michaela. It's unorthodox and apparently highly effective. Meanwhile, enjoy the video above. Good to hear a head teacher being intervewed in French. Kudos to Barry Smith too, the assistant head and French teacher who can both delight and annoy you!

Exploiting hand-held flashcards with beginners

Here is a draft extract from a new book I'm working on. An unusual feature of the book will be its focus on the detailed nuts and bolts of lessons. Suppose that your aim is to introduce the vocabulary associated with places around town with beginners . Your target vocabulary might be 12 items in the first lesson – you can adapt this number depending on the class’s ability: swimming pool, supermarket, town hall, park, car park, cinema, museum, theatre, bank, restaurant, cafĂ©, market . I’ll lay out one approach below. For each of the vocab items you have a large, clear hand-held flashcard with the word spelt out at the bottom so that students can immediately associate the picture with the sound and the spelling of the word. You separate out the items by gender, teaching items of the same gender together. Here’s a suggested teaching sequence with commentary. Target language is italicised. Teacher Student(s) Commentary Here is the cinema. Here i

PDC in MFL The Professional Development Consortium in Modern Foreign Languages (PDC in MFL) gives teachers access to eight key principles of teaching and learning languages, which are based on research evidence. PDC in MFL was set up by researchers at the University of Reading Institute of Education and University of Oxford Department of Education and is made up of classroom MFL teachers, trainers and researchers in England. Firstly, here are the eight principles as they appear on the PDC in MFL website: Principle 1 ORAL INTERACTION Target language input is essential for learning but it can be made more effective if learners are encouraged to check the understanding of it by asking questions of what the teacher is saying or asking the teacher to repeat. Principle 2 ORAL INTERACTION Learners need to be encouraged to speak spontaneously and to say things that they are not sure are correct Principle 3 ORAL INTERACTION Less spontaneous oral interaction should nevertheless be of high qua

1jour1question videos

One of my go-to sources for advanced level video listening is the set of short videos from Milan Presse, made available on YouTube. Each 1jour1question video. If you've never come across this excellent clips you can find them on this YouTube channel: Each video lasts 1m 43s, an ideal length for doing intensive "input-output" work, including true-false, ticking true sentences, gap-filling, matching and questions in French or English. Many of the videos are a good basis for further discussion or fit well with common themes in your syllabus. Written for French native speakers aged around 10-14, the content remains appropriate for older non-natives, while the language is clearly spoken at a natural (quite fast pace). The range of topics is huge, many sparked off by current events of the time. This means that some of them have now lost that currency, but many have a good shelf life. (They're the ones I use for fr

Nifty ways to use a smartphone in class

When I taught I didn't make huge use of tech, though like most teachers I had my favourite activities. I wasn't much of a phone user either, but many teachers do interesting things with smartphones. Schools have rules about phone use, of course, some have. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), some ban them outright or more commonly ban their use in class. Many language teachers find the restrictions on phones a bit frustrating and just ignore no-use rules (I don't blame them really, as long as use is tightly monitored). The phone or phablet is an amazing resource in your pocket. How can it be used in the languages classroom in productive ways? Thanks to colleagues on Twitter and Facebook for some of the ideas below. All can, of course, be done with a tablet. I never did most of these and would only say what I usually do about tech: does it give you a good return on investment? Is the task at least as productive as a non-tech alternative? Conversing with a digital assistant