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Lots of new goodies on frenchteacher

I've been quite productive recently, focusing mainly on new listening resources. In particular, I have begun producing worksheets linked to the authentic recordings on Audio-Lingua from the Académie de Versailles (with permission). Here is the complete list of new resources posted in the last three weeks, in order from most recent to oldest:

1. An audio listening worksheet linked to an authentic Audio-Lingua recording. This one is for AS/A-level and is about Corsican food and consists of a vocabulary list, questions in French and an oral summary task. Also good for advanced adult students. Y12-13 (Advanced) 2. GCSE (intermediate) audio listening. Linked to an authentic recording from Audio-Lingua. This one is Elise talking about work experience. Tick correct sentences, gap-fill and translation of phrases. Y10-11 (Intermediate/GCSE) 3. A-level audio listening. Topic: national heritage days. Exercises are questions in French and translation/transcription from the recording. Expect more o…
Recent posts

Fortunately, unfortunately

I came across this useful lesson starter/filler/plenary which you might like. It was tweeted by English language teacher Matthew Stott (@ThisIsMattStott) It's an oral fluency game called Fortunately, Unfortunately. You could use it with intermediate or, perhaps best, with advanced level students.

It's as simple as this: you go round the class inviting sentences to develop a simple narrative beginning each sentence with either fortunately or unfortunately. If you'd rather not go round the class in turn you could use hands-up or no hands-up. You could either give students a free choice or get them to use the words alternately.

The sequence of sentences might go something like this:

Teacher starts: Last week I went on holiday to Spain.

Fortunately, the weather was great for two weeks.
Unfortunately, when we arrived the hotel wasn't finished.
Fortunately our room was very comfortable.
Unfortunately, the food was awful
Fortunately, there was a great restaurant not far from the h…

New listening resources based on Audio Lingua

Many of you may already be familiar with the excellent free site called Audio Lingua. The site is run by the Académie de Versailles in France and hosts a large range of short audio clips sent in by children and adults. Apart from French there are clips in German, Spanish, Italian and other languages. The quality of these mainly short recordings is variable, but generally good and the level of each recording is measured against the European framework.

I have started to produce worksheets based on French recordings, with Audio Lingua's permission. These will be primarily aimed at intermediate (GCSE) level, but some will be of A-level standard too.

These worksheets based on audio-only recordings will supplement my many worksheets based on video or the teacher's voice.

Below is a first example which I posted today. All worksheets posted on frenchteacher will have answers provided. I hope they will be a very useful supplement to any of your own recordings or textbook resources.

Des …

Language Trends Survey 2016-17

Every year since 2002 the British Council has conducted a survey of language teaching in primary and secondary schools in the UK, both in the state and independent sectors. This latest survey was carried out between September and December 2016. 2970 state secondary schools, 655 independent secondary schools and 6000 state primary school were invited to respond to a questionnaire. Responses were received from 701 state secondaries, 146 independent secondaries and 727 primary schools.

The main focus of this year's report , produced once again by Teresa Tinsley and Kathryn Board, was to see how schools, primaries, are responding to the long term aspiration of 90% of young people taking a GCSE in a language as part of the EBacc suite of subjects.

Primary schools - key findings

Although languages are becoming more embedded there are, unsurprisingly, large disparities in provision. Languages still have a low profile when compared with core subjects. Even so 88% of respondents expressed w…

New book out in August

I have blogged a couple of times about the book I've written for Routledge. It's called Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher. Following the success of The Language Teacher Toolkit written with Gianfranco Conti, Routledge approached me out of the blue to write a book in their series "Becoming an Outstanding...". I had not been intending to write a second handbook, but on reflection I saw how I could put together something which would be distinctive and original. The target readership is teacher trainees and other interested teachers aiming to refine their practice. Since most of the examples I use are in English, so as not to confuse teachers of particular languages, the book may appeal to ESL/EFL teachers too.

The book is now in the final stages of proofing. There are fourteen chapters covering areas such as running a classroom, teaching texts, listening, purposeful games, vocabulary, task-based teaching, writing and speaking, as well as a final chapter featuri…

How to save money in your MFL department

Budgets are tighter and tighter and schools and languages departments are often seeking ways to make savings. Maybe your "magic money tree" is running dry. There was a thread on this issue on the (excellent) MFL Teachers' Lounge Facebook group, so I thought it might to be useful to share the ideas posted there to another audience.

The original question posted was about reducing the photocopying bill, so here are some suggestions which came up plus some of my own about saving money in general:

Number 1 tip
Displaying a worksheet on the board rather than handing it out. This has the merit of getting all pupils to face the front as you model good answers to, say, oral grammar drills. You may get better eye contact from pupils too. They can always write answers on mini-whiteboards, rough paper or in their exercises books. Texts for oral exploitation can be used in this way provided they are clear enough.

Cut down the size of worksheets by reducing an A4, putting on …

10 ways to train students to cope with authentic speech

We all know how often our pupils struggle to understand authentic speech when they encounter it for the first time. "It's not like the language we hear in class." "They speak so fast!" "The accent is really weird." "They seem to miss words out."

In this post I'm not going to argue that we should be presenting and practising a total diet of fast, authentic speech. I believe this goes against some basic principles of learning which involve our scaffolding new language, slowing things down to make them easier, moving from easy to harder, avoiding cognitive overload and so on. However, it's quite possible that we neglect preparing students for some of the more frequent cases where the natural spoken form is unlike the "correct" grammatical or written form. This typically occurs when speakers elide from one sound or word to the next, drop redundant words or omit some sounds completely.

In English, if you say "Do you know wh…