Skip to main content

Dom's Unbelievable Truth

Dominic McGladdery had the idea of using the concept behind the Radio 4 comedy The Unbelievable Truth as a way of getting students to listen or read carefully. The idea is that you give an account with a number of deliberate errors in and the other students have to spot the deliberate errors. (In the radio prog, it works in the opposite way, with the contestants having to smuggle through truths among all the errors.) So, with this in mind, here is the story of Cinderella, written (not very authentically) in the perfect tense and containing 10 deliberate errors. You could give this to an intermediate level group. It could be read aloud if the students are clear enough, or done as a reading exercise.

You could make it competitive, using two different texts of similar standard, by seeing which partner can spot the most errors. I am sure students would enjoy this.

Il était une fois une belle jeune fille, orpheline, qui habitait dans une grande maison avec son père remarié. Sa belle-mère avait deux filles, belles et méchantes.

La belle-mère et les deux soeurs obligeaient Cendrillon à faire tout le ménage à la maison. Elle devait faire la lessive, faire la vaisselle, faire le repassage, jouer sur la console et préparer tous les repas. Chaque jour elle devait aussi enlever les cendres dans la cheminée, alors on l’appelait Cendrillon.

Un jour,le fils du roi a organisé un concert pour trouver une fiancée. Toutes les filles du pays étaient invitées. Ses deux demi-sœurs, aidées par leur mère, ont fait tous les préparatifs pour le bal. Cendrillon, contente, n’a pas osé demander la permission d’y aller. Elle a ri si fort, que sa marraine, la fée, l’a entendue et est venue. La fée a utilisé sa magie pour transformer Cendrillon en une belle jeune fille. Elle a créé une belle robe et un vélo pour la transporter et elle a transformé des chevaux en souris.

Ainsi, Cendrillon a pu aller au bal, mais elle a dû promettre de rentrer avant une heure. Arrivée au bal, sa beauté a fait l’objet de tous les regards admiratifs. Le jeune prince l’a invitée à jouer aux cartes. A la fin de la soirée, elle était si contente qu’elle a oublié l’heure. Dans sa hâte, elle a perdu son gant de verre.

Le prince a voulu absolument retrouver sa bien-aimée, alors il est allé voir tous les fils du royaume et il leur a demandé d’essayer le soulier. Il a promis d’épouser la fille qui était capable de porter le soulier.

Ainsi il a retrouvé Cendrillon.


Popular posts from this blog

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

Preparing for GCSE speaking: building a repertoire

As your Y11 classes start their final year of GCSE, one potential danger of moving from Controlled Assessment to terminal assessment of speaking is to believe that in this new regime there will be little place for the rote learning or memorisation of language. While it is true that the amount of learning by heart is likely to go down and that greater use of unrehearsed (spontaneous) should be encouraged, there are undoubtedly some good techniques to help your pupils perform well on the day.

I clearly recall, when I marked speaking tests for AQA 15-20 years ago, that schools whose candidates performed the best were often those who had prepared their students with ready-made short paragraphs of language. Candidates who didn't sound particularly like "natural linguists" (e.g. displaying poor accents) nevertheless got high marks. As far as an examiner is concerned is doesn't matter if every single candidate says that last weekend they went to the cinema, saw a James Bond…

Worried about the new GCSEs?

Twitter and MFL Facebook groups are replete with posts expressing concerns about the new GCSEs and, in particular, the difficulty of the exam, grades and tiers. I can only comment from a distance since I am no longer in the classroom, but I have been through a number of sea changes in assessment over the years so may have something useful to say.

Firstly, as far as general difficulty of papers is concerned, I think it’s fair to say that the new assessment is harder (not necessarily in terms of grades though). This is particularly evident in the writing tasks and speaking test. Although it will still be possible to work in some memorised material in these parts of the exam, there is no doubt that weaker candidates will have more problems coping with the greater requirement for unrehearsed language. Past experience working with average to very able students tells me some, even those with reasonable attainment, will flounder on the written questions in the heat of the moment. Others will…

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…