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Showing posts from April, 2022

Class surveys for beginners

One easy way to bring a task-based element into beginner lessons is to do class surveys. These get students to learn and rehearse simple chunks of language based on topics which may be interesting or relevant to them. In my examples on, once students have been taught and practised the relevant vocabulary with the verb 'Je préfère', then milled around asking classmates to say aloud their three favourite (animals/subjects/pastimes/fruits/vegetables etc), they can then analyse and share their results with you and the class. You can then hear back some results from the class and arrive at a conclusion for the class as a whole. (If you want to incorporate some tech, students could enter their results into Excel and produce a bar chart or similar.) There is a communicative aspect to a simple lesson such as this, as students want to find out what their classmates thinks (i.e. there is an information gap). In addition, there is an aspect of  ' doing something wi

The origins of the French language

 Here is a text with exercise I put together about the origins of the French language. You could use it with a very good GCSE group, or as part of a cultural heritage ( patrimoine ) theme in Y12 of A-level. Needless to say, there are masses of text-based resources on my site, at various levels. Pedagogically-speaking, I'm generally not a great fan of using questions in English with texts, since I would rather stay in the target language where possible, allowing for deeper processing of the language and further input. (Creating TL sentences makes students think harder about, for example, grammar and vocabulary choice.) But where a text is already quite challenging, the use of English scaffolds the task since the questions provide partial translations of the original TL text.  For assessment purposes, questions in English also separate out reading comprehension from written skill in the target language. Furthermore, L1 questions stop students from just lifting sections of text when a

Do you need a text book?

Many years ago an HM Inspector came to Ripon Grammar School to look at our department. One thing I recall from the visit was his remark that he was pleased to see us using a text book. He came across other schools which used lots of worksheets and must have felt, I assume, that the text book gave us a more solidly grounded scheme of work (curriculum) and reference point for students. These days I hear of many schools choosing to do without text books. Is it because, with their accompanying digital content, they are just so expensive? Or is it that teachers feel they can design their curriculum more effectively without one?  In many cases, it’s the latter. Apart from cost, common complaints are: 1. There is too much material in the books. They encourage ‘coverage’ ahead of ‘mastery’. Teachers sometimes worry about finishing the book and risk rushing through content. Instead of building a repertoire of well-rehearsed language, they leave students feeling overwhelmed and confused. Too muc

Exploiting Tarsia puzzles

Image: Pinterest Tarsia puzzles come in various shapes and sizes, but the basic idea is that students have to complete the overall shape by matching items, e.g. vocabulary, translations or questions and answers. As with dominoes, one edge has to be matched with another. Tarsia puzzle can be done individually in silence or in pairs or even groups, I suppose, but I'd avoid the latter. Judging by a Google image search, they seem to be used most commonly in maths classes. I must admit that when I first came across Tarsia puzzles I was a little sceptical, as I tend to be with other cut-out jigsaw activities. Although they are quick to make, the cutting out bit takes time, so you might want to get a helper for that. You also need a good storage system for re-use. Clare Seccombe has examples on her Lightbulb Languages site. This year I decided to add some to the Y7 page of my own site. I do think that they are generally more suited to beginners at primary level or Y7 of secondary school,