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Showing posts from April, 2015

France Bienvenue

This is just to point out the excellent France Bienvenue website run by a small team led by Anne from the IUT in Marseilles. It was begun in 2008 and each year different students take part and produce recordings with transcripts for learners of French throughout the world. Recordings are accompanied by a slideshow and full transcript, together with notes on interesting aspects of language and culture. The recordings are natural, clear and usually interesting. I have used a few to make worksheets for frenchteacher.net. In addition, videos can be accessed on Youtube. The level is generally low advanced (AS level in England and Wales), though some could be used with good intermediate (GCSE) classes.

You could use these videos in class or get students to use them for independent listening, following the transcripts and notes as they do.

Here is one I used for a worksheet:



Anne writes:

Comprendre une langue telle qu’on la parle au quotidien, ce n’est pas toujours facile, surtout si on ne v…

How can we increase uptake in languages?

Readers will be familiar with the crisis in recruitment to language courses in the UK, whether it be GCSE, A-level or university. At GCSE the Ebacc has temporarily arrested the decline, at A-level the number of candidates has been in freefall since the 1990s, whilst university languages departments have been closing in alarming numbers. Linguists wring their hands over this issue, economists warn us of the consequences of a shortage in language specialists and politicians occasionally talk up languages while doing very little in terms of policy. When there is a worthy initiative, such as primary languages, it is not followed through with resources.

Is this just a fact of British or anglophone life? After all we are in the arguably privileged position of speaking the world's favourite language. Or are there practical steps which could be taken to raise the status and take-up of languages and, in so doing, offer a broader education and better life chances to young people? Here are m…

How highly should we value pronunciation?

When I was reviewing the Speaking mark schemes for the new GCSE MFL exams beginning in 2018 (first teaching 2016) I picked up the fact that not all exam boards give a separate mark for pronunciation and intonation. It has led me to think again about this question: if a student can be understood without ambiguity does it matter at all whether their pronunciation is poor?

I am lucky as a language learner. I have, as they say, a "good ear" and can do accents quite easily. It is a natural ability many do not share (sorry to any readers who not believe in natural ability!). I was always impressed with students who shared this ability and you could hear it right from the start of their studies. To me it was one of the factors which identified the so-called gifted and talented linguist.

But if you can get your message across with a dodgy accent, does it actually matter? I have read that there is even some advantage to keeping some of your mother tongue accent: it reveals to the liste…

Frenchteacher updates

Every so often I post updates to the frenchteacher.net site which I am pleased to say has nearly 1400 teachers, schools or tutors as members, mainly in the UK, but also in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, China (Hong Kong) and Ireland.

If you are not a subscriber, it only costs £20 a year (about 30 USD) and there are well over 1100 original, high quality, accurate resources for listening, reading, grammar and speaking. Most were written for classes at my former school before I retired.

Here is what has been added to the site since the beginning of March:

Video listening for intermediate level. Jérôme talks about drawing tags and "graffs". With true/false/not mentioned and questions in French. Linked to a video from the excellent Le FLE par les médias site.Y10-11 (Intermediate)Video listening. This is about a French tradition l'enterrement de la vie de garçon - nearest equivalent a "stag night", but not the same. Very clear recording wit…

Comparing draft GCSE MFL specifications (4)

This is the fourth post about the draft MFL GCSE specifications, the first looked at the AQA specification in some detail, whilst the second and third examined aspects of the mark schemes (Foundation Speaking and Higher Writing), making comparisons between awarding bodies (exam boards).

In this post I'm going to compare the subject content of the four boards. To my mind this is the least interesting area to compare, since the three general strands imposed by DfE/Ofqual are the same across the boards.

They are:


Identity and culture Local, national, international and global areas of interestCurrent and future study and employment 
However, individual boards do have some freedom to choose within these strands. In addition, I always feel that the language is the core of any specification and much of it is transferable across subject matter. Teachers have some freedom in the classroom to teach what they like as long as the language is transferable. I wonder if some forget this.

This is …

Comparing draft GCSE MFL specification mark schemes (2)

In my previous post about the new draft GCSE MFL mark schemes I focused on the Foundation Speaking Conversation grids. remember that it is really only the Speaking and Writing grids that need close attention as Listening and Reading mark schemes are largely objective (i.e. one point for one correct answer).

This time I shall look at the mark schemes for the Higher Writing question. You'll know that the marking of Writing controlled assessments has been a bone of contention ever since they were introduced, so will the new marks schemes lead to fairer and more consistent grading?

Sources

AQA:  http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/french/specifications/AQA-8658-SP-2016-V1-0.PDF

Pearson: http://qualifications.pearson.com/content/dam/pdf/GCSE/French/2016/specification-and-sample-assessments/GCSE-French-SAMs-Combined.pdf

OCR: http://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/207218-specification-draft-gcse-french-german-and-spanish-j720-j721-j722.pdf

Eduqas: http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/french/gcse/WJ…

5 good live French news channels

These news channels can all be viewed form the UK. If you live elsewhere check for availability. I have used the official links, but you may find these channels available on other web pages e.g. Livestream. All channels carry commercials.

Here is a good set of links to French language TV channels and others online.

http://www.tvdirectlive.com/



BFMTV

http://www.bfmtv.com/mediaplayer/live-video/

The most watched, respected and influential 24/7 French news channel. You may be greeted by a short commercial.  BFM broadcasts breaking news, comment, discussion. Their archived videos are in the Replay section. Each report is preceded by a short commercial.

iTele

http://www.itele.fr/direct

Live news network featuring breaking news, sport (especially football, politics, culture, interviews. The site also carries archived news videos, categorised by various themes: France, world, politics, justice, economy, sport, culture, insolite (not easy to translate - basically bizarre or unusual stories).

France…

Comparing draft GCSE MFL specification mark schemes (1)

Helen Myers suggested I might have a look at the different mark schemes for the four awarding bodies for England and Wales. If you missed it, I previously blogged about AQA's spec and the specifications in general, but did not comment on mark schemes. Mark schemes are significant, particularly for the the Speaking and Writing papers. If you are bored by the nitty-gritty of mark schemes, look away now.

Context first: there are essentially two types of mark scheme, a points-based one which tends to be most objective (i.e. one correct response gets one point, with little or no room for ambiguity) and a level of performance mark scheme, used typically in MFL to assess conversation or written composition. The latter is bound to be somewhat subjective, even when exam boards do their utmost to make each level as explicit as possible. There are some quite technical issues here, in fact. Let's say you have a maximum mark of 15/15 for a task. Research shows that marking is affected not …

The new MFL GCSEs

Since this blog was first published only one exam board's sepcification has been accredited: AQA's.

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For the sake of convenience I have put all my blog posts on the new MFL GCSEs in one place. There are five sections:

1. Challenges
2. Comparing exam boards - introduction
3. Comparing mark schemes
4. Comparing subject content
5. AQA specification close-up

I do not offer a strong view in favour of any board over another. I took a close look at the AQA spec because AQA are easily the biggest board for MFL. I would suggest that the four boards will offer comparable difficulty and content, but with some significant variations which may lead you to have a preference. Don't forget that the specs we have seen are in draft form and may undergo change. I'll look out for any changes when they are published.



1.  Challenges

Controlled assessment will be gone, good riddance, but many language teachers will be wary of a new GCSE syl…