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Showing posts from January, 2023

Listen and draw

Listen and draw is a classic, super simple listening activity where the teacher reads a description of a picture which students have to draw. It requires careful processing of language and produces a clear outcome where there is no absolute requirement for a 'right answer'. A practical consideration when  running the task include ensuring that students don't just copy from their neighbour and so avoid listening carefully at all. My primitive solution to this was to get students to place a bag on the table between them to create a barrier. To do this task successfully I would suggest choosing images which are clear, not too simple, not too cluttered, and which include known vocabulary. A bonus would be if the image contains interesting cultural input, such as a famous building, a style of house or food items on a table. Or how about a famous art work?  If there is going to be any awkward vocab, this can be pre-taught. In any case, you will need to pre-teach some key chunks t

Discovering a written text aurally

Yesterday I blogged about an idea for exploiting a written text in a different way. In essence, students are given a set of questions, the teacher has the text, the students ask their questions and take notes from the teacher's answers. The students then compare their notes in pairs, before being able to see the written text and do some more focused language work. All the skills get practised, there is lots of comprehensible input and opportunities to produce language orally and in writing. So I wrote a resource for using this approach and I am sharing it below. An interesting challenge for the future will be to see if I can devise something similar for a lower level, e.g. Higher GCSE (CEFR A2/B1). See what you think? I'm pretty sure this would work well and be enjoyed by classes. The topic of the text is volunteering in France.                Le point sur le bénévolat en France en 2022   Teacher instructions 1.    Do not give a copy of the text to the class t

A different way to approach a written text

When you work with a written text, for example at A-level, common practice would be to do a read-aloud, engage in some meaning-focused activities, e.g. questions and answers, general discussion, summary, then go on to do what researchers call 'form-focused' or 'language focused' work. This means looking at and practising aspects of vocabulary and grammar. That's all fine. It satisfies the basics of language learning: comprehensible input, interaction and some focus on form. If the text covers a relevant and interesting cultural topic, so much the better. But how about a twist on this approach? Here is an alternative: 1. Give students a set of questions to ask about a text they cannot see. The teacher has a copy of the text. 2. Students take turn to ask you questions from the list which you answer, using our copy of the text. 3. As you answer, students take notes in L2 (or maybe L1). 4. After about twenty minutes, students can compare and discuss their notes in pairs

A yes/no speaking game

Below is a simple game to practise the use of the negative 'ne... pas' in French. It's based on the old yes/no game where neither partner is allowed to say yes or no. This version is tightly structured and suitable for students with about three years behind them (CEFR A2). With more experienced students you can design it to be more challenging and less structured, for example with a few starter questions to kickstart a general conversation. Each partner is given a sheet as below. Personne A      Oui/Non game Ask your partner the following questions. You must answer without saying oui or non . Every time you say oui or non you lose a point. Take turns with the questions. 1.           Tu vas au lit à sept heures du soir? 2.          Tu vas à l’église le dimanche matin ? 3.          Tu aides tes parents beaucoup à la maison ? 4.          Tu es membre d’un club au collège ? 5.          Tu fais beaucoup de devoirs chaque soir ? 6.          Tu manges des céréales

Plans for 2023

Image: the Sainte- Trinité  church in Pu yravault (Wikipedia) Writing this little post at our house in France allows me to think through what my professional and personal plans are for this year, so here goes.  In the autumn of 2022 I spent a good deal of time working on a second edition of The Language Teacher Toolkit , the book which began my writing collaboration with Gianfranco Conti in 2016. It's time to refresh that book to reflect our evolving reading and thinking, and to update the research references. The first redraft is complete, Gianfranco is reviewing it and I hope to crack on with the final draft in the weeks ahead for publication asap. The book has already undergone considerable changes, so it's very much a revised edition, not just a tweaked version of the original. New chapters have been written, some sections dropped, others reorganised. There is a greater emphasis on lexicogrammar, including EPI, lesson planning and intercultural understanding.  Later in the