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Showing posts from August, 2019

What's on frenchteacher.net?

As the new academic year begins in English schools and others in the northern hemisphere, I thought I'd give a plug to my website with a description of what's available on it for any teachers who have not yet come across it.

I set up frenchteacher.net in 2002 as a way to store and freely share worksheets for French teachers When I retired from teaching in 2012 I decided to keep it going on a low-cost subscription basis, partly as a source of income, partly because I just enjoy writing and sharing resources. I have continued to add resources on a regular basis since then, so that there are now over 1750 separate resources, including texts, worksheets, PowerPoints, crosswords and sentence builder frames. nearly all are editable and downloadable to keep (the exceptions are the pdf crosswords I make with the aid of armoredpenguin).

Let me tell you in more detail what there is.

Firstly, there are resources from beginner level up to advanced, including A-level, IB and US college le…

The 'Michaela method' revisited

In March 2017 I had the pleasure of visiting Michaela Community School, observing two French lessons and chatting with the French staff. I wrote about their approach, originally developed by Barry Smith, in this blog and in a chapter in my book Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher. The main reason I chose to include a section in my 'case studies' chapter was to demonstrate that quite diverse approaches can be used to achieve great results.

Many other schools have picked up on the Michaela way of teaching MFL, either copying or adapting their approach. It's not everyone's preferred method, but it has clearly inspired other departments to change or adjust their practice.

I was always curious to see if their approach would be validated by GCSE results. (For readers outside the UK this a high stakes exam taken usually after five years of learning a language at the sage of 16. It assesses all four skills in quite a rigorous fashion.) Yesterday, having seen their headli…

Greta Thunberg traverse l'Atlantique en voilier

Greta Thunberg is an amazing young woman. As I post this she is in the middle of the Atlantic on a sporting yacht, on her way to a conference in New York. Here's a resource you could use next term with your GCSE groups (low intermediate). One of many new ones to be uploaded in September to frenchteacher.net. The formatting here may be awry. Copy and paste and you can easily fix it.

En août 2019 la jeune militante pour le climat Greta Thunberg a traversé l’océan Atlantique à bord d’un voilier pour aller à New York, où elle a assisté au sommet pour le climat des Nations Unies en septembre. Greta Thunberg avait annoncé en juillet qu’elle n’irait plus à l’école pendant un an pour se concentrer sur son combat contre la crise climatique. L’adolescente de seize ans avait aussi indiqué qu’elle comptait aller au sommet de l’ONU. Mais puisqu’elle refuse de prendre l’avion, elle a dû  trouver un moyen de transport peu ou non polluant pour traverser l’océan qui sépare l’Europe du continent amér…

Breaking the Sound Barrier: Teaching Language Learners How to Listen

I'm pleased to let you know that the book Gianfranco Conti and I have written is now published. The book is called Breaking the Sound Barrier: Teaching Language Learners How to Listen and is available from Amazon. It will be available from other outlets in due course. As with The Language Teacher Toolkit, the formula combines research and practical classroom activities. In this case well over 200 separate classroom tasks with a focus on building listening skills.

Gianfranco and I have both felt for many years that listening is the most neglected skill in many language classrooms. Listening is as natural as walking and talking for humans and should, we believe, be an integral part of every teacher's curriculum plan. Far from being a passive skill, it involves complex mental processes and skills which can be deliberately developed and practised. Having both read John Field's seminal work Teaching Listening in the Languages Classroom (2008) we decided we could marry the prin…

Building your repertoire

Earlier this year I published four blog posts about having a repertoire of go-to classroom teaching sequences and procedures to reduce planning time and workload. I'm now posting these all in one place, mainly for the benefit of language teachers learning their craft. You can pick and choose what you like and what you think would work with your classes.

In order, they focus on using sentence builder frames, ways to exploit written texts, how to teach using a set of PowerPoint pictures and, finally, some random useful lesson tasks. 


So, what I'm going to suggest here is that, if you have a little repertoire of go-to classroom activities, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress, and, what's more, all for the benefit of your classes. You see, I think (actually, I know) pupils like routines, but they also appreciate a bit of variety. So if you apply your repertoire of lesson/activity types sensibly you can satisfy both of those needs, comfortable in the knowledge that you…