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Showing posts from January, 2024

Assessing performance or proficiency?

In their new book The Art and Science of Language Teaching , Lara Bryfonski and Alison Mackey, in their chapter on assessment, remind us that there is a distinction to be made between assessing performance and proficiency . For example, in an oral test, if a student talks about their family, does this tell you they can reproduce some rehearsed language (performance) or that they have an underlying ability to generate original utterances in a creative way (proficiency)? Teachers of novices and pre-intermediate school students know that the majority of their learners often have little ability to extemporise when speaking. This is because they have not had enough time, input and interaction to internalise (‘acquire’) enough of the language system (grammar) to speak spontanously. The same is basically true of written production, although in this case students do at least have time to reflect on what they want to write. So with less experienced students we often end up assessing performan

Book review: The Art and Science of Language Teaching

I’ve just finished reading this excellent book by Dr Lara Bryfonski and Professor Alison Mackey, both highly esteemed researchers and teachers at Georgetown University. As the title of the book might suggest, this is a ‘research to practice’ type of book aimed at language teachers. To cut to the chase, I can strongly recommend it as a text for trainee teachers and those with some experience. The book consists of 21 chapters, each with the same very clear structure. The starting point of each chapter is the lived dilemmas of practising teachers (‘voices from the classroom’). The writers then examine what research suggests about how to respond to these teachers’ issues, provides practical classroom guidance and points out what is missing from the research (the ‘science’). Questions to consider are also included. References to research are very light-touch in the main body of the text, with specific references and descriptions of studies and books at the end of each chapter. Sentences oft

Working on a workbook!

My next big writing project with Gianfranco is a workbook for GCSE students of French in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (+ some international schools). This idea was Gianfranco's and we've already made a start. We are looking at an A4 sized workbook to go with the new GCSE courses beginning in September of this year (with first exams in 2024), covering around 10 topics in line with those of the two most popular awarding bodies AQA andPearson-Edexel. (The last I saw, the Eduqas specification was not yet accredited, but we'll consider that in due course.) This is self-published work, not an awarding body-sponsored publication. The idea is for each unit of around 12 pages or so to cover reading, writing and speaking. Each unit will begin with a 'word bank' divided into easier  (Foundation Tier) and harder (Higher Tier), plus a 'sentence bank', similarly divided by level of difficulty. The latter may take the form of a parallel text, Knowledge Organiser. Th survey results

I posted a survey about eight weeks ago, asking subscribers to to answer short questions about their usage of the site and to provide other feedback. This is useful to me as I aim to monitor which resources are most popular and make improvements to the site in the future. I have done similar surveys in the past, but this is the first using Google Forms. I used to use Surveymonkey, but they now severely limit the number of responses in their free version. Thank you to subscribers who completed the survey. You can always email me with specific feedback or ideas. In response to a comment (one I have read previously), I have started a section on the A-level page featuring resources about current affairs . I have avoided these in the past since they have such a short shelf life, but you'll now find, at the top of the A-level page, regularly replaced resources which I can produce quickly. I was also asked to post more on film and literature, but I won't be doing tha