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Lots of new goodies on frenchteacher

I've been quite productive recently, focusing mainly on new listening resources. In particular, I have begun producing worksheets linked to the authentic recordings on Audio-Lingua from the Académie de Versailles (with permission). Here is the complete list of new resources posted in the last three weeks, in order from most recent to oldest:

1. An audio listening worksheet linked to an authentic Audio-Lingua recording. This one is for AS/A-level and is about Corsican food and consists of a vocabulary list, questions in French and an oral summary task. Also good for advanced adult students.
Y12-13 (Advanced)
2. GCSE (intermediate) audio listening. Linked to an authentic recording from Audio-Lingua. This one is Elise talking about work experience. Tick correct sentences, gap-fill and translation of phrases.
Y10-11 (Intermediate/GCSE)
3. A-level audio listening. Topic: national heritage days. Exercises are questions in French and translation/transcription from the recording. Expect more of these worksheets linked to Audio Lingua.
Y12-13 (Advanced)
4. Two listening resources for GCSE. These are worksheets linked to short audio recordings on Audio Lingua. The two topics are daily routine and holidays. The first is Foundation level, the second Foundation/Higher. Expect to see more like this. As with video listening sheets these can be done in class or at home.
Y10-11 (Intermediate/GCSE)
5. A-level listening, lecture style. This is a talk about impressionism. The aim is to practise listening and develop cultural knowledge for the AO4 objective of the A-level specifications. There is a growing collection of such instant listening tasks on the A-level page.
Y12-13 (Advanced)
6. Three new A-level resources:
(1) Video listening: what is the role of the president in France? Source: 1jour1question/Milan Presse/Youtube. Transcription task with an opportunity for oral summary. You could just do a straightforward summary in 90 words as per A-level.
(2) Text and questions in English about the rise of Emmanuel Macron.
(3) 30 minute instant listening (lecture format) on the Front national.
Y12-13 (Advanced)
7. Instant 30 minute listening on the topic of living alone (under sub-theme contemporary family structures). To be read or recorded by the teacher. True/false/not mentioned and gap-fill. Designed for the second year of A-level.
Y12-13 (Advanced) (free sample)
8. A-level lecture format listening about the musician Stromae. 
Y12-13 (Advanced)
9. Text and exercises about the musician Stromae. Vocab to complete, questions, gap-fill, translation two ways (sounds like Masterchef!), paraphrase and various oral activities. A nice written homework task included. Good cultural input for A-level spec. 
Y12-13 (Advanced)
10. Paired re-ordering dictation. Each partner has 5 sets of jumbled words to read out. The other partner has to re-order them to make a correct sentence. Grammar focus: present tense.
Y8 (Very low intermediate/Y8-9)


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The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

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I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:

Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

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…

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.

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GCSE and IGCSE revision links 2018

It's coming up to that time of year again. In England and Wales. Here is a handy list of some good interactive revision links for this level. These links are also good for intermediate exams in Scotland, Ireland and other English-speaking countries. You could copy and paste this to print off for students.

Don't forget the GCSE revision material on of course! How could you?

As far as apps for students are concerned, I would suggest the Cramit one, Memrise and Learn French which is pretty good for vocabulary. For Android devices try the Learn French Vocabulary Free. For listening, you could suggest Coffee Break French from Radio Lingua Network (iTunes podcasts).

Listening (Foundation/Higher) (Foundation/Higher) (Foundation/Higher)