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Showing posts from December, 2015

Sample parallel reading for beginners

This is an example of a parallel reading activity on It is aimed at near beginners with just a few months French behind them. The aim, of course, is to allow inexperienced readers to access interesting content despite their lack of language skill. It's a great way of providing comprehensible input to novice learners. Frenchteacher users have found that putting the 20 examples of parallel reading together in a booklet is a super planned or reserve activity for the classroom.

This one is about planets. Here we go:

Les planètes intérieures sont Mercure, Vénus, la Terre et Mars. Mercure, la planète la plus proche du Soleil, est une roche pas beaucoup plus grande que notre Lune. Il est incroyablement chaud et incapable de supporter la vie. L'atmosphère contient du sodium et du potassium.

Vénus est la deuxième planète du Soleil et est de la même taille que la Terre. L'atmosphère est composée principalement de dioxyde de carbone. La température de la surface peu…

Some strategies for teaching new vocabulary

This blog is by myself and Gianfranco Conti and is a short extract from our forthcoming handbook, which is nearing completion. Books take a long time! This is about teaching new words.

Research into the brain and information-processing gives us some important leads with regard to teaching vocabulary. In general terms we would agree with this advice from Joe Barcroft (2004)*:
1.        Present new words frequently and repeatedly in the input.2.        Use meaning-bearing comprehensible input when presenting new words.3.        Limit ‘forced output’ during the early stages of learning new words.4.        Limit forced semantic elaboration during the initial stages of learning new                       words.5.        Progress from less demanding to more demanding vocabulary related                           activities.
That’s not to say there is never a case for learning isolated words. We see little wrong with presenting some new simple vocabulary via, for example, flashcards. Here are som…

COP21: L'accord sur le climat

Here is a resource I wrote and which is available as a Word document on (free samples page). The original text, which I have adapted a good deal, was from

COP21 : les principaux points de l'accord de Paris sur le climat
Après 13 jours de négociations, les 195 pays réunis pour la conférence de Paris pour le climat sont parvenus à un accord historique sur le climat, samedi 12 décembre. Selon les mots de Laurent Fabius, président de la COP21, le texte adopté est "juste,   durable, dynamique, équilibré, et juridiquement contraignant". Avec cet accord, le monde s'est engagé sur une limitation de la hausse de la température "bien en deçà de 2°C", une révision "tous les 5 ans" de ces objectifs et une aide financière conséquente aux pays du Sud, samedi 12 décembre au Bourget. Voici les principaux points de cet accord.
Limiter le réchauffement "Bien en-deçà de 2°C"
Le texte propose de limiter la hausse de la température &quo…

The accredited AQA GCSE specification (3)

You'll find all the specimen papers here;

In this third look at the new AQA MFL syllabus I'm going to look at the Higher Writing papers. The examples will be from French, but the principles apply to other subjects.

There are three questions, two of which are compositions, one translation.

Question 1 Composition (overlap with Foundation) (16 marks)

I looked at this in the least blog, so won't go through it again. The mark scheme usefully provides indicative content for examiners to help with their assessment.

Question 2 Composition (150 words) (32 marks)

Once again,ther is a choice of two compositions. Here are the examples:


Vous écrivez un article sur la qualité des collèges en Grande-Bretagne pour un magazine français. Décrivez :
• pourquoi votre collège est un bon collège
• un événement scolaire mémorable.
Ecrivez environ 150 mots en français.
Répondez aux deux aspects de la question.


Vous écr…

The accredited AQA GCSE specification (2)

Here is the link to all the AQA specimen materials:

Yesterday I looked at the Speaking assessment specimens, with a focus on the Foundation Tier questions. In this blog I'll take a look at the Foundation Writing questions, which will inevitably be of interest since this testing format differs so greatly from the current one of controlled assessments and may (no, will!) prove a difficult challenge for many students. For old hands, it's a case, to some extent at least, of déjà vu!

Foundation Tier example

Question 1 Stimulus photo (8 marks)

Candidates see a picture of some people eating in a school canteen. the rubric reads:

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a sur la photo ? Ecrivez quatre phrases en français.

Question 2 Writing a short message  (16 marks)

Vous êtes en vacances et vous écrivez à votre ami(e) français(e). Mentionnez : 
• où vous êtes 
• la météo 
• l’hôtel 
• vos activités de vacances. 

Ecrivez environ 40 mots en…

The accredited AQA GCSE specification (1)

Here is your key link to the specimen papers:

AQA will be very pleased that their specification is first out of the blocks, having been scrutinised by Ofqual over the last few months. A good deal of the draft has remained very similar, notably the subject content and assessment of listening and reading. The most significant changes requested by Ofqual have occurred in the Writing and especially Speaking papers.

For Speaking the main issue has been Ofqual's insistence that all prompts must be in the target language at Foundation Tier. Let's have a look at what this means in practice on a French paper (the principles will be identical for German and Spanish).


Here is a specimen Foundation Tier photo card task (15 marks):

Example B: The student gets a photo of some people celebrating at a party. The prompts are:

• Qu’est-ce qu’il y a sur la photo ? 
• Qu’est-ce que tu as fait pour fêter to…