I've been blogging since 2009 and usually post about 130 - 150 times a year. I sometimes wonder if I'll run out of topics to write about but, as you can see, I haven't done so far. It seems that in semi-retirement I can't stop thinking about language teaching. I've got two handbooks under my belt, with another one in preparation with Gianfranco Conti (about teaching listening), umpteen blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts and a steady flow of new resources on frenchteacher.net. No doubt I shall slow down at some point, but not quite yet.
En passant Facebook is definitely the place to be for support and ideas from fellow professionals. You could try GILT (Global Innovative Language Teachers), Secondary MFL Matters or MFL Teachers Lounge. The first of these is a bit more focused on theoretical, pedagogical issues in general while the others are more parochial and a bit more centered on day to day issues of interest to British teachers. My favourite language teacher blog remains Gianfranco's The Language Gym where you get a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical classroom ideas.
As well as writing this year I have been presenting for AQA, teaching PGCE trainees at Buckingham University and doing occasional talks at at language teacher events such as ISMLA conferences (Taunton and London) and ResearchEd in Oxford. I've posted 122 times this year on this blog about a range of topics including A-level, GCSE and methodological issues. I've written website and book reviews, suggested lesson ideas and discussed reports and language teaching news. In addition I sometimes share free resources I have written for frenchteacher.
This is my final post of 2017 and it lists the five most viewed posts from this year.
Wishing you the compliments of the festive season!
1. Tell stories
This post was about one way to foster listening skills, namely by telling stories. I describe three particular, low preparation activities you could do.
2. Worried about the new GCSEs?
This post addressed the most concerning issue for many English and welsh language teachers this year, the pending first batch of new style GCSE exams. I was trying to calm anxieties to some extent, knowing that these curriculum changes are rarely revolutionary, and suggested some specific activities which may be useful to help pupils prepare for these new, undoubtedly harder exams. As I write I know many colleagues are worried about mock exam results and what they signify in terms of grades. my usual message, for what it's worth, is that the "comparable outcomes" policy will ensure that the spread of grades will be similar to before, so don't panic!
3. My new book
This was about the publication of my Routledge book Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher. In this post I summarised the content of the book. I am pleased to say that the book has been selling very well so far and received some excellent reviews, including in the latest edition of Languages Today from the ALL. Thank you to anyone who has bought the book and feedback is always welcome.
Incidentally The Language Teacher Toolkit is still a best-selling 5 star reviewed handbook and widely used by trainees learning their craft.
4. GCSE reading: a Syrian refugee family
This was just an example of an intermediate level reading text with exercises. It was about a Syrian refugee family who find refuge in Belgium. It would make a ready-made lesson for a good GCSE class.
5. The Google Translate problem
Google Translate is a fabulous tool, one I use to save time when writing resources. But many teachers have abandoned setting written homework because it's used so much by pupils who cheat. I find this a great shame since I believe home is the best place for most writing if you want to maximise classroom time for listening and speaking. Apart from suggesting that sanctions are needed for pupils who cheat, in this post I suggest some tasks you could do which would obviate the written homework problem.