Skip to main content

Review: Ilini.com revisited

Ilini.com

I blogged some time ago about the new video listening site called Ilini which was then free and in Beta form. It is aimed mainly at advanced learners of French studying the A-level exam or equivalent, e.g. Scottish Higher. Some teachers will find certain videos suitable for high-attaining intermediate (GCSE) classes

Now the site is established and has different levels of subscription and much more content let me return to it once more.

What's in it?

Essentially a set of regularly refreshed short video clips from the world of French news, entertainment, culture and ideas. These are accompanied by a range of student and teacher resources including transcripts, online quizzes, pdf exercises, vocab lists and vocab flashcards. Each video has been chosen to be short and frequently matched to A-level French sub-themes. For example, topics you can see from the current home page include voluntary work, music, "Can a child go to jail?", optimism in Voltaire's Candide, de Gaulle, alternatives to prison sentences and the media. These short authentic video clips come from various outlets including YouTube, BFMTV, Euronews, LCI and 1jour1question (one of my favourites).

How could you use it?

I can imagine teachers both using these from the front of the class, together with their accompanying materials, within a sequence of work on an A-level sub-theme, and setting the tasks for private study or homework.

From the front you might do a pre-listening task, show a video, then do pdf exercises with the video, then show the entire transcript or a gapped or reordered version of it. the cultural content would serve students well as they build up their knowledge to obtain more AO4 marks in the A-level exam.

In addition this would be very handy for teachers looking for supplementary tasks for bilingual students (French native speakers).

What are the subscription options?

If you use this it's worth choosing a subscription or else you might as well find the videos yourself and make up your own exercises.

There are "individual" plans with various levels of access starting from £4.49 and rising to £11.99 a month. (Pity about the 99s, by the way.) You could recommend these for keen students willing to spend some of their own money.

Alternatively there are group plans ranging from £3.99 (minimum three users) up to £8.99. You are asked to inquire if you have over 25 users.

If, as is likely, you open an account as a teacher the two options to consider are the £8.88 or £11.99 Premium subscriptions. The latter allows more than one teacher to access the site (with an unlimited number of students). So you might consider this if you are not the sole teacher in the department.

Is it worth it?

That may depend on what you have or use already. There is certainly an overlap with the type of resources I write for frenchteacher (video listening), although my own resources are just worksheet based and have no interactivity. Ilini's resources include time-limited videos, i.e. reports on current events which may have a short shelf life. Overall, however, for up to £120 a year I would say that this is a resource you could make very good use of, whether you choose to use it primarily from the front of the room or as a resource for independent listening/homework. The content is well chosen and interesting, the videos clear and suitably brief. The site is attractive and easy to navigate. Having the transcripts is a great advantage since you can adapt these for further intensive reading or listening exercises. Recommended.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

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…

Five great advanced level French listening sites

If your A-level students would like opportunities to practise listening there are plenty of sources you can recommend for accessible, largely comprehensible and interesting material. Here are some I have come across while searching for resources over recent years.

Daily Geek Show

I love this site. It's fresh, youthful and full of really interesting material. They have an archive of videos, both short and long, from various sources, grouped under a range of themes: insolite (weird news items), science, discovery, technology, ecology and lifestyle. There should be something there to interest all your students while adding to their broader education. Here is one I enjoyed (I shall seriously think about buying tomatoes in winter now):




France Bienvenue

This site has been around for years and is the work of a university team in Marseilles. You get a mixture of audio and video material complete with transcripts and explanations.This is much more about the personal lives of the students …

Responsive teaching

Dylan Wiliam, the academic most associated with Assessment for Learning (AfL), aka formative assessment, has stated that these labels have not been the most helpful to teachers. He believes that they have been partly responsible for poor implementation of AfL and the fact that AfL has not led to the improved outcomes originally intended.

Wiliam wrote on Twitter in 2013:

“Example of really big mistake: calling formative assessment formative assessment rather than something like "responsive teaching".”

For the record he subsequently added:

“The point I was making—years ago now—is that it would have been much easier if we had called formative assessment "responsive teaching". However, I now realize that this wouldn't have helped since it would have given many people the idea that it was all about the teacher's role.”

I suspect he’s right about the appellation and its consequences. As a teacher I found it hard to get my head around the terms AfL and formative assess…