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Showing posts from June, 2018

Quizlet Bingo

I sometimes think that there are so many teachers getting on with their jobs and doing great things, but who perhaps don't engage so much with social media or are maybe too modest to share their work. If you have any great lesson ideas or plans or just things to say about language teaching, with nowhere to share them widely, let me know, as I am looking for a wider variety of content on my blog. I often have 2000 views or more of my blog posts, so you'll have a readership for your work. Just send a pdf or Word doc to spsmith45@aol.com.

So here is something Greg Armstrong sent me. Many teachers enjoy using Quizlet and Quizlet Live with their classes. Greg sent me this guide with comments about how to play Quizlet Bingo. See what you think.


We Teach Languages podcast

A few weeks ago Stacy Margarita Johnson did an interview with me about language teaching. It was a fun conversation which Stacy has condensed into a 20 minute podcast which you can find on her site alongside many others.

Below is the link to the discussion entitled Principles of Outstanding Language Teaching. It's nothing grand, just some thoughts about some of the factors which I believe make for effective language teaching. One of my main themes was that generic teaching skills may be more important than adherence to any particular teaching methodology. But I also outlined some key principles as I see them, ones which are supported by research too.

https://weteachlang.com/2018/06/22/ep-58-with-steve-smith/

About Stacy and her podcasts (from the site):

"The organizer/producer/host of We Teach Languages is Stacey Margarita Johnson. In that role, Stacey conducts most of the interviews, does editing, production, and communications as well. In her “real” job, Stacey is Assistant …

Beginner lesson plan - talking about oneself

Here is a simple novice text which can be exploited in a number of ways, some of which are suggested below.

Marie-Hélène raconte

Je m’appelle Marie-Hélène. J’ai 9 ans. J’habite à Toulouse dans le sud de la France. J’habite dans une maison avec mes deux parents et mon frère Alain.
Nous avons un chat qui s’appelle Raoul. Il est noir et il est très mignon. J’adore les chats, la neige et les dessins animés à la télé. J’aime aussi jouer sur l’ordinateur.

Dans ma chambre j’ai mon lit, ma bibliothèque, mes livres, mon bureau et mon ordinateur. J’adore ma chambre. Elle est bleue.

J’aime mon école et j’adore ma maîtresse. Elle s’appelle Madame Bernard.Je n’aime pas les souris, je préfère les hamsters. Je déteste les araignées. Elles sont horribles.

A. Vrai ou faux?

1. Marie-Hélène a neuf ans.
2. Elle habite dans le nord de la France.
3. Elle a une soeur.
4. Elle a un animal à la maison.
5. Son chat est très méchant.
6. Elle déteste la neige.
7. Elle joue sur l’ordinateur.
8. Il y a des livres dans sa ch…

Guided translation + for beginners

This is a resource from the frenchteacher Samples page. It requires careful reading, guided translation, with a degree of personalisation and writing. The source text could also be exploited in other ways to maximise recycling of the language. Activities could include reading aloud, question-answer, short term memory aural gap-fill (where the text is hidden, read by the teacher with pauses for gaps to be filled), correcting false statements and translation of words, chunks and sentences (both ways, L1 to L2, L2 to L1), dictation, running dictation or gapped dictation.

Here it is.

Ma ville – Amélie parle

J’habite un appartement à La Rochelle, une ville dans l’ouest de la France sur la côte atlantique. C’est une ville historique avec ses trois tours célèbres. Les touristes adorent faire du shopping sous les vieilles arcades du centre-ville et se promener près du vieux port.

A La Rochelle on peut faire des promenades en bateau aux îles, visiter des musées, flâner dans le vieux port et les ja…

A parallel text and exercises for beginners

Here is a text and translation I wrote for near-beginners, one of 20 on the Y7 page of frenchteacher.net. Help yourself if you think it would be useful.

The thinking behind these is to provide some interesting comprehensible input to beginners, with the English translation compensating for the relative difficulty of the source text. You would ideally present the texts side by side and get pupils to closely compare each version. Pupils learn how to make use of cognates and learn some new vocabulary along the way. If it is high-frequency enough to merit revision this could be done in a subsequent lesson.

Les dauphins

Les dauphins sont des mammifères marins qui sont liés aux baleines et aux marsouins. Un mammifère marin est celui qui vit dans l'eau. Les dauphins se trouvent partout dans les océans de la planète et dans les rivières et les marais aussi.

Les dauphins sont carnivores (mangeurs de viande) et mangent des poissons, des calmars et d’autres animaux marins. Ils nagent souvent ens…

20 reasons to learn another language

I posted this a long time ago, but here it is again if you’d like to use it for a poster or a class brainstorm or discussion. Maybe you can think of more!


1. If you ever move abroad you will be able to talk with local people.
2. You may need the language for your work in the UK or abroad.
3. You will find the language useful when you go on holiday or travel through the country.
4. You may wish to study abroad one day.
5. You may need the language for study or research in another field.
6. You may need it to learn about the culture, civilisation or history of another country.
7. Maybe you just like the challenge of learning another language.
8. It may help you look at your own language or culture.
9. You may just enjoy using different sounds and words. It’s fun.
10. Perhaps you enjoy solving grammar problems and translating.
11. It will make you seem clever – people think learning languages is hard!
12. Maybe you do not want to look stupid when you meet non-English speakers.
13. Perhaps you wish t…

Intermediate parallel reading with exercises

This is a sample resource from frenchteacher.net. It would be for a good GCSE (intermediate) class. Do help yourself and feel free to edit it. Some reformatting will be needed for the matching task. Please credit the resource if you choose to use it.

French text

Un ado marche 65km, son petit frère au dos

Un jeune collégien s'est donné le défi de marcher 65 km en portant sur le dos son frère de 7 ans, atteint d'infirmité motrice cérébrale.

Hunter Gandee, un Américain de 14 ans, voulait attirer l'attention sur la maladie de son petit frère Braden. Celui-ci, âgé de 7 ans, est atteint d'infirmité motrice cérébrale et ne peut se déplacer sans assistance.

Samedi dernier, son frère cadet solidement harnaché dans le dos, il est parti de l’école Temperance (Michigan), où il étudie et dont il est le capitaine de l'équipe de lutte. Son objectif : rejoindre le centre de lutte de l'université du Michigan, à Ann Arbor, après un trek de 65 kilomètres. Ce serait une manière d…

Methodology: looking back

I was always quite enthused by methodological issues in language teaching. As a schoolboy I observed my talented French and German teachers and tried to identify with what they were doing. They were generally quite up to date with the methods of the era, using the target language most of the time, using plenty of whole class oral work (often questions and answers) and listening material. My school was also an early adopter of a reel-to-reel language lab which we used for audio-lingual style exercises. My O-level teacher Colin Wringe, who went on to do teacher training at Keele University, did lots of reading and listening with us, while (as I recall) making sure we did what was needed to get a top grade in the exam.

My enthusiastic A-level teacher Mike Dawson got us talking a lot, as well as doing oral grammar drills, comprehension and translation from the book Actualités Françaises, while our French literature teacher Bill Steer ensured we became careful readers and learned to analyse…