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Showing posts from January, 2019

Paired listening gap-fill

Here's a simple brief, low preparation pair work task with a focus on listening. Partner A is given a gapped text at the right level (about their current level of competence with little or no new vocabulary). There should not be many gaps, say about one missing word every sentence or two. Partner B has a list of words which can fill the gaps, but the words are not listed in the same sequence the gaps will be heard. You could add distractor words to the list (words will will not be used). See the examples below.

Partner A reads aloud at a slowish pace the text, pausing when there is a gap. Partner B then chooses a word from their list which could plausibly fill the gap. Partner A then re-reads the sentence to include the new word supplied by Partner B. Then partner A reads on to the next gap, and so on. If the text is relatively short, I'd suggest that when Partner A re-reads, they go back to the start of the text. In this way Partner B gets to hear the input several times, and…

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…

#MFLTwitterati Podcast

Well, this is some exciting news for language teachers! Joe Dale is launching the brand new #MFLTwitterati Podcast! sponsored by Linguascope. Joe's been working for months putting together the first installment of the series, with considerable help and enthusiasm from American teacher Noah Geisel.

On the site Joe writes:

"The podcast is aimed at anyone interested in language education at all levels, as well as fans of EdTech and is divided into specific sections. We begin with the radar section where Noah and I talk about an idea, resource or new app or web tool update which has particularly caught our eye recently. Then comes the #mfltwitterati takeaways where Noah and I discuss tweets tagged with the #mfltwitterati hashtag that have particularly resonated with us. Next, we have the MFL show and tell section where members of the #mfltwitterati describe a class activity they have found to be effective or an event they have attended. Following that is the techtalk in…

National Centre for Excellence for Language Pedagogy

The new National Centre for Excellence for Language Pedagogy is up and running and has a website to prove it. You may recall that the DfE decided to invest a sum of money to promote effective pedagogy in MFL classrooms around England. There is a hub at the University of York and nine schools which were chosen after tender to disseminate good practice. It's early days but we now know which people from the worlds of second language acquisition and teaching are involved.

The stated aims of the Centre are to:
increase teachers’ capacity and confidence in delivering key aspects of the MFL Pedagogy Review; increase the numbers of students taking a language GCSE, with a view to improving EBacc attainment;improve vocabulary, phonics and grammar knowledge;provide access to research-informed classroom resources that support language teaching and learning, and support the implementation of the principles of the MFL Pedagogy Review;and maintain the network of specialist and hub schools. The…

Battleships and beyond

Many teachers make use of the game Battleships to generate listening and speaking in the classroom. Frequently the game is used to drill verb conjugations, with personal pronouns in the vertical axis and infinitives to be manipulated on the horizontal axis. Students usually enjoy the game, lots of repetitive language is used and the teacher may feel satisfied that verbs are being drilled in and internalised for later more spontaneous use. But, as I've suggested in a previous blog, he leap from repeating isolated verb forms to unrehearsed sentences production is a pretty big one and we know many pupils don't make it.

One way to improve the use of Battleships is to extend it from verb use to whole chunk or sentence use. In this way students get to recycle, many times, whole chunks of language which can be later worked in to more spontaneous utterances. Without going in to the mechanics of working memory and long term memory, it's likely to be easier for students to retain t…