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Showing posts from September, 2016

Review of Teach Now! Modern Foreign Languages

Teach Now! Modern Foreign Languages(Becoming a Great Modern Foreign languages Teacher) is written by teacher Sally Allan and was published by Routledge in 2015. It's a practical handbook aimed fairly and squarely at MFL teacher trainees in England and Wales. It's one of the Teach Now series of handbooks edited by Geoff Barton. Sally is Assistant Head Teacher at the Forest Hall School, Stansted Mountfitchet, England.

Chapter titles include curriculum (what are the key components and challenges in teaching MFL?), essentials of pedagogy, planning and assessing, differentiation chapters dedicated to behaviour, dealing with pressure and applying for a new post.

At around 150 pages the book is brief and to the point. Experienced teachers would find it lacking in analytical detail, but for trainees it gives a decent account of major issues. The longest chapter is the first one about curriculum matters. It is sub-divided into sections on target language, the communicative approach, the…

My two favourite bloggers

I follow my Twitter timeline pretty religiously every day. When you follow over 5000 people (nearly all teachers, by the way) you have to be selective about which links you tap or click. The two blog links I almost always follow up are those written by (surprise,surprise) my co-author Gianfranco Conti and by headteacher Tom Sherrington, who works at Highbury Grove School in London.

Here are the URLs:

gianfrancoconti.wordpress.com

headguruteacher.com

What's unique about Gianfranco's blog is its detailed level of analysis of research combined with classroom practice. Gianfranco is very knowledgeable about the scholarly field of second language acquisition and has a firm belief, based on his instincts and experience, in the skill acquisition model of language learning. Although a full-time teacher in Malaysia, he manages to be both a prolific writer of resources, most of which he shares freely on TES, an interactive website writer, as well as blogger. Gian seems to have a 48 hour…

French Playground

The French Playground is an original resource for French teachers and students. The site offers two different ways to engage students in authentic French activities and culture.


1. COIN CULTUREL: You choose from a calendar of free French cultural events where you and your students can participate in online French games, performances, interviews, class mystery meetings, meet-and-greets, co-teach lessons and engage in activities for authentic French interaction with other schools worldwide, at any date and time.

2. MISSIONS: Choose from dozens of pre-made authentic French challenges, tasks and dares (called Missions). French students can collect points and submit completed Missions to the French Playground for badges.

Teacher Etienne Langlois wrote on Facebook:

"I've been teaching French (all levels) for 24 years. This is by far the greatest thing I've ever done for my French students. Interacting on the French Playground is free and in one click you can be live, online wit…

Listening tips from Penny Ur

I've been dipping into sections of Penny Ur's excellent little book 100 Teaching Tips which I have previously reviewed here. I find myself agreeing with nearly everything she writes. Although her background is teaching English as a foreign language, what she says is highly relevant to modern language teachers. So many excellent ideas have come form EFL over the years.

Here are some points she makes about teaching listening, which she says is the most important skill - I agree. Most people spend more time listening, including in conversation, than they do reading, speaking or writing. I think it should be at the heart of our practice.

Give the topic and task in advance

Make sure you give the context of any listening task to students in advance. Never just play a recording and ask students to listen and understand. make sure they have an idea who is speaking, what the topic is, what the context may be and what precise task they will have to do. If they have a worksheet to do, give…

LIFT feedback technique

Teachers may find this useful. My Language Teacher Toolkit partner-in-crime Gianfranco Conti makes use of a correction/feedback technique he calls L.I.F.T. (You can't beat a nifty acronym.) This is what Gianfranco has written on Facebook about it:

"An example of a feedback technique I am currently using with my year 11 French students, which I call LIFT (Learner Initiated Teacher Feedback). They write an essay then ask questions about things they are unsure about. (You can see the questions in the right margin- I ask them to leave some space.) It gives the teacher a great insight into things students do not feel sure about and starts a learning conversation with the students whereby making the correction process more of a two way process than a unidirectional teacher prescription."

The picture below gives you a good idea of what he's doing.



I rather like this. I can see how it would encourage students to share their language issues and in so doing it may also e…

New Higher Tier GCSE units on TES

Updated 12th October 2016

Gianfranco Conti and I have been working on a set of resources for GCSE French. There is some emphasis on translation which, as you know, now features in the exam specifications. The first three are now available on the TES site. We have adapted the model of the A-level resources which have been selling well.

Here is where you can find our shop:

https://www.tes.com/teaching-resources/shop/spsmith45

Here is the description of the first unit we wrote.there are two further units now posted, on volunteering and holidays. More will appear soon.

"This is a densely packed eight page unit of work with a focus on reading and translation into French. The theme is healthy living. The level is Higher Tier GCSE. You will find pre-reading tasks, a set of reading comprehension paragraphs, pre-translation activities and short, graded passages for translation into French. These tasks enable students to build up their skills by recycling language in various ways (matching,…