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Showing posts from July, 2012

Why learn French?.... er.

This picture was linked on Twitter. It would make a really good classroom poster. I hope it's legible. It comes from a Canadian site which aims to foster bilingualism.


Pace, challenge and questions

I'd like to come back to an issue I have blogged about before: questioning.

Here is part of a very good page from the From Good to Outstanding site.


Questioning can fail because:
questioning techniques are inappropriate for the material.there may be an unconscious gender bias.there may be an unconscious bias towards most able or more demanding students.levels of questions might be targeted to different abilities inappropriately.students don’t have enough thinking time.learners don’t have any idea as to whether they are the only ones to get it wrong/right.learners fear being seen by their peers to be wrong.questions are too difficult.questions are too easy.Questioning succeeds when:
all learners get a chance to answer.learners can see how others are thinking.teachers gain information about thinking and learning.learners have time to consider their answers.learners have time to discuss and follow up on their answers.the answers are not always clear-cut.learners feel safe to answer.ques…

Carol Dweck's mindsets

I have only just discovered this, thanks to a conversation with my friend Tony Swainston.

Black and Wiliam's "must read" work on formative assessment (otherwise known as assessment for learning) argues that to maximise pupil progress a teacher should always aim to move a pupil on from their present level rather than allowing them to coast. They recommend, among other things, that you should not tell a child that they are good, but suggest ways they can improve from their current level, whatever that level may be. This is why they argue against giving grades rather than giving advice on how to get even better. Now, Carol Dweck's notion of mindsets dovetails nicely with this work.

Professor Dweck is a psychologist from Stanford University. She writes on her web site:

Mindsets are beliefs—beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. Think about your intelligence, your talents, your personality. Are these qualities simply fixed traits, carved in stone and tha…

Retirement day!

Well, since it is a pretty momentous day for me, I might as well record the fact that today was my last day of teaching French.

After graduating from Reading with a degree in French and Linguistics and doing a PGCE at the West London Institute, I began teaching at Tiffin School in Kingston-upon-Thames. After four years I moved on to Hampton School, an independent school for boys which had formerly been a grammar school. During my time at Hampton I did an MA at the Institute of Education, for which I wrote a dissertation on second language learning and acquisition, with a particular focus on the work of Stephen Krashen, who still holds considerable influence. I have always had a particular interest in second language learning theory and methodology.

After four years at Hampton teaching French and a little German I moved to Ripon Grammar School to be a Head of Department. At that stage my only future career plan was to possibly move into teacher education at some point, but opportunti…

So what about compulsory MFL at KS4?

This is a longer than usual post, so bear with me.

Apparently, according to Teresa Tinsley via Twitter, the recently leaked suggestion form a KS2 consultation document that languages would not be compulsory was a mistake. The DfE has, it seems, not yet reached a decision, though one factor weighing on their minds must be the possibility that the EBacc will cause numbers opting for languages to rise to the point where compulsion may not be necessary.

It may be wishful thinking to assume that the EBacc will cause sea-change in attitudes to MFL at KS4, though there is already clear evidence that the falling trend in GCSE entries has been reversed.

So what is at stake here?

Arguments in favour of compulsion go like this:

All other comparable countries to ours, except the USA, have languages in the core up to 16, and often beyond. To raise the status of a subject which is considered intrinsically important you should make it compulsory. If it's compulsory, it must be important, like m…

Compulsory MFL at KS2

http://www.alcantaracoms.com/home/languages-in-ks4-why-the-e-bac-alone-wont-clear-up-labours-mess/#comment-1221

Teresa Tinsley argues in her blog post that the government's policy on compulsory at KS2 is desirable, but that they should go further by reintroducing compulsory modern languages at KS4. The KS2 policy is currently open for consultation. Teresa writes:

"The DfE’s arguments for making languages compulsory in primary schools are spot on: more time for languages overall, equality of opportunities, consistency, and comparability with ‘high-performing’ education systems internationally."

I'd like to take each of those arguments one by one and suggest why the proposed policy will fail.

More time for languages: in reality primary schools will offer relatively little time each week to the type of second language learning which will generate real competence. Lack of skilled teachers will exacerbate this problem. For successful progress primaries would have to d…

More frenchteacher updates

I've been quite busy recently producing resources for frenchteacher.net.

The most recent additions include some short news items of the fait divers style, along with a matching exercise, vocabulary, writing task and translation sentences with a focus on the passive in the perfect tense. This resource would suit an AS level group (upper intermediate).

I have also heavily adapted a text from Le Figaro about integration in France. The source text was based on a report produced in 2009 which painted a fairly rosy picture of the progress made by immigrants in France. The basic argument is that "l'intégration marche", which runs counter to what we sometimes read in the press. I have added vocabulary, questions, comprehension, lexical work and general questions about the issue of immigration and integration. This is a very mainstream A2 level topic and the text hits the mark very well.

There is a text on the benefits of tourism to which I have added vocabulary, questions, d…

frenchteacher.net latest

I am very pleased by the interest in the frenchteacher.net site. Since May 1st 480 individuals or departments have become subscribers, with the number rising every day. It really encourages me to add new resources which I am doing on a regular basis. Over the last month here are the new additions to the existing 550 or so resources:

New gap fill exercise on future tense in Y9 section. 5.7.12
New gap fill exercise on perfect tense (avoir verbs) in Y9 section. 4.7.12
New article and exercises on la francophonie in Y10-11 section and as a free sample. 3.7.12
Story of the three little pigs with activities in Y9 section – for good Y9s and above. 24.6.12
New article and exercises on locavores (people who prefer locally produced food) in Y10-11 section and as a free sample. 24.6.12
New article and exercises on electric cars in A-level section and as free sample. 23.6.12
New simple sheet on definite articles and partitives in Y10-11 section. 19.6.12
New sheets on the subjunctive and dr…

Les éthylotests désormais obligatoires dans les véhicules

http://www.20minutes.fr/societe/963833-ethylotests-desormais-obligatoires-tous-vehicules

"Chaque véhicule à moteur circulant sur les routes françaises, à l'exception des petits cyclomoteurs, doit être équipé à partir de dimanche d'un éthylotest chimique ou électronique. «L'alcool est depuis 2006 la première cause de mortalité sur les routes» françaises: près d'un tiers des tués, «un taux pratiquement inchangé depuis dix ans» et «bien supérieur» à l'Angleterre (17%) ou l'Allemagne (10%), à consommation d'alcool quasi égale, selon la Sécurité routière."

Apparemment, selon un sondage effectué au mois de mars, deux tiers des Français seraient favorables à la mesure.

Il est certain qu'il existe toujours un gros problème d'alcool au volant dans l'Hexagone, mais est-ce que l'éthylotest obligatoire dans les véhicules y est une réponse appropriée? S'agit-il d'un marteau pour casser une noix?

A la différence de la situation po…

Goodbye board pen

I haven't used a board pen for months.

When my classroom had its interactive board installed about five years ago I was provided with a pen to use with the Interwrite workspace software. I used it for a while, but then the batteries packed up a few times and I got used to using my computer keyboard for writing notes, informations and (occasionally!!) lesson objectives on the board.

Fot the whole of this year the only time I have used the pen is when students come up to do interactive tasks with Boardworks or languagesonline.

All my grammar notes (conjugated verbs, note on tenses or other structures) are kept as Word files and I display them whilst still being able to face the class or sit at my desk. (I have not got into the habit of Powerpoint for notes and for most items I don't see the advantage of it.)

They are nearly all available here as free files.

Another good site for read-made notes on grammar is Jon Meier's Langweb. A further practical advantage to not using t…