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Showing posts from November, 2022

Surely not another 10 nifty lesson starters?

 " Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others" ( Groucho Marx). I posted earlier this year two blogs, each one featuring 10 lesson starters which I think would work for many students at various levels. In this post, I'm going to offer ten more, partly using examples I've posted on So, if you weren't keen on some of the first twenty, you might find a few here to add to your low-prep repertoire. Before I kick off, the other two posts are here and here . 1. True or false cultural facts For near-beginners, just display a series of statements on slides. Students must decide if the sentence is true or false. They can show their answers on mini-whiteboards. After each slide, follow up with any other relevant cultural facts. Examples I used in my slides for French were (translated into English): The capital of France is London. Montreal is in Belgium. In Switzerland they speak English. Marseille(s) is a city in France

A new Centre of Excellence for England

The government has just announced it will invest nearly £15 million in a new ‘centre of excellence’ for languages, with a larger number of hub schools than the current NCELP arrangement. The details are here: With just two years left of this dysfunctional government and a likely new Labour government, one wonders how far this initiative will get. But a key point to note that the new body, whether it be run by a “trust, university or business” will have to be aligned with the principles of the flawed TSC Review (Bauckham, 2016). This means sticking with the three ‘pillars’ of phonics, vocabulary and grammar, and a very explicit approach to language teaching. The new contract may be awarded again to the team at York University under Emma Marsden and Rachel Hawkes. They have already put in a mass of work on research and lessons. More broadly, it’s hard to see how a centre of excellence with a small number of hub sch

What is priming?

This short blog is an adapted extract from Memory: What Every Language Teacher Should Know (Smith and Conti, 2021). Priming is an important concept to be aware of as a language teacher. In terms of general learning, priming is about the kind of unconscious 'triggers' which get you to remember or act in a particular way. For instance, you might happen to see a Facebook ad for a product, then the following day end up buying the same product without even remembering that you had seen the advert. You were primed to carry out an action. Or else you might find yourself using an expression a friend has used, without being aware that you had paid attention to it. In more detail, there are said to be two main types of priming which have powerful learning effects: Perceptual priming . When you see or hear something a second time you process it faster. Conceptual priming . The same as perceptual priming, except that the two things need to be related by meaning.