Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2015

Les Energivores

Here is a super site for listening and reading material on an environmental theme. Les Energivores has an archive of short cartoon videos (under two minutes) pitched at a high intermediate to advanced level, along with supporting reading material. As the title suggests the theme of the site is energy usage.
The award-winning site is from Canopé académie  in Besançon and AJENA in Lons-le-Saunier, with support from various sources including the EU.
The video topics include the environmental consequences of eating meat, electric bicycles, recycling mobile phones, organic farming, food miles, the ecological footprint of flowers, renewable energy, re-using items and computer servers (this film won an award).
Each video is accompanied by illustrated reading matter which can be downloaded in pdf format.
I just wrote a video listening worksheet to go with the film about meat eating. It would work with a good Y11 class or A-level group. The accompanying reading materi…

Grammar worksheets on frenchteacher

This is one of those occasional posts I write to promote my frenchteacher website.

Some of the most used resources on are the grammar worksheets written for all levels. I used them a lot myself when I was still teaching. I would like to stress that the worksheets were not designed to just be handed out "cold", but are best used in class for oral exploitation to begin with. This has the benefit of generating lots of listening and reading input, albeit of not the most compelling type, along with helping pupils develop their grammatical understanding and accuracy.

The sheets are often a starting point for more creative drill work.

For more information on ways to exploit grammatical worksheets see this blog.

Note that the site also has notes on grammar to hand out. These may fit neatly with the worksheets below.

Below are the grammar areas covered by year group. In England Y7 means near beginners, aged 11. Teachers will find that they can use sheets from differ…

10 practical ideas for using technology for homework

I imagine most language teachers still tend to set traditional learning tasks for homework: grammar exercises, vocabulary learning, poster creation, reading comprehension, translation, paragraph and composition writing, revising for assessments and so on.

The computer and internet allow us to set a greater range of useful tasks which should make homework more varied and stimulating, thus raising motivation and attainment a small notch.

Before I list a few, it's always worth bearing in mind to what extent you can check that students have actually done the work. In pre-computer days I would get students to occasionally record talks on to cassette tape. I could collect the tapes in and listen to them at home, or even play one or two to the class. If you can't check work has been done, then find an alternative you can check. Being a mistrustful fellow, I always worked from the assumption that some students would, for some reason or other, miss homework. So, with that in mind, and…

Tuesday's tips for teaching in the target language

I just stumbled on this really good language teaching blog:

Mr Howard is an American who teaches elementary Spanish, blogs and presents. His posts focus on the presentation and practice of target language. What I really like is that he enthusiastically gets into the nitty-gritty of lesson planning, demonstrating how you can have a practical "comprehensible input" approach, whilst keeping a close eye on grammar. Unsurprisingly he strongly believes the focus should primarily be on meaning, not form and that it's through meaning that form will get internalised.

In a sense, what he advocates is what many, many good language teachers already do: clearly structured, carefully graded, target language teaching, involving all students in communicative discourse. It looks a lot like what some call an "oral situational" approach, common in Europe and, quite possibly, in North America too, though I often detect that traditional "skill-buildin…

Model translation from Camus' La Peste

From La Peste by Albert Camus (1947)

This is from the free samples page of

Camus’ novel, written just after the horrors of the Second World war is an allegory about the Nazi occupation of France and the presence of evil and suffering in the world in general. In this extract the central characters are witness the death of a child who has fallen victim to the plague in the Algerian city of Oran. The setting is a hospital ward.

Le long des murs peints à la chaux, la lumière passait du rose au jaune. Derrière la vitre, une matinée de chaleur commençait à crépiter. C’est à peine si on entendit Grand partir en disant qu’il reviendrait. Tous attendaient. L’enfant, les yeux toujours fermés, semblait se calmer un peu. Les mains, devenues comme des griffes, labouraient doucement les flancs du lit. Elles remontèrent, grattèrent la couverture près des genoux, et, soudain, l’enfant plia ses jambes, ramena ses cuisses près du et s’immobilisa. Il ouvrit alors les yeux pour la pr…

Tout le monde aime... personne n'aime...

How about this for a filler activity or one-off lesson for high intermediate or advanced students to practise tout le monde and personne (followed by ne)?

Just get students to note down with a time limit, say (5 minutes) as many sentences starting with the phrase tout le monde aime... They can then either feed back to the teacher, or compare notes in pairs. As an alternative the teacher could read out their own list of ideas and get students to tick off everyone they also thought of. This has the advantage of providing some good listening input.

A further twist would be for the teacher to read out a numbered list of appropriate statements and inappropriate ones, in random order. Students would mark a tick or cross for each statement. This would focus more on listening than speaking.

You could then do the same activities with sentences beginning with personne n'aime. This is a handy structure to practise because of the awkward positioning of the ne.

The sharing of examples could ea…

Teaching ne... pas - no frills lesson plan

Here is an effective way to introduce and thoroughly practise the negative ne... pas with near beginners. This could take around 30 minutes.

Preparation: have about ten simple present tense sentences ready for display later:

Je joue au football
Je joue au tennis
Je joue au ping pong
Je nage
Je danse
Je fais du cheval
Je fais du skate
Je lance une balle
Je regarde la télé
J’écoute de la musique

Here we go

Teacher starts by miming some simple activities whilst sayingje joue au football, je regarde la télé, je joue un jeu vidéo, je joue au tennis, j'écoute ma musique
Do group repetition of the sentences. Class could copy mimes for more fun.
Get a volunteer up to mime simple activities (sports are good) whilst you give a commentary:

Elle joue au tennis
Elle regarde la télé
Elle écoute de la musique etc

Get another volunteer up to mime activities. This time add a negative to each commentary:

Elle joue au tennis; elle ne joue pas au football

Let the class quite hear a few examples of the negative. Support …