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Showing posts from May, 2016

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…

Three AQA A-level courses compared

I've put together my three reviews of worthy A-level courses which you might be considering for next September. They are all very useful courses, but with significant differences. The traditional Hodder and OUP book-based courses differ in that the former comes in one chunky two year book, whilst OUP's comes in two parts, the first for AS or the first year of an A-level course. The Attitudes16 course by Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri is based on an online platform from which you would download worksheets and share a logon with studenst who would do the interactive parts (Textivate and video work). The two text books are supported by interactive material (Kerboodle) or an e-text book.

Attitudes16





An excellent resource which should be competing for your attention at the moment is the Attitudes16 course which writers Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri have been working on for some time. You can find it here at dolanguages.com, along with his excellent resources for film and li…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

Review of Panorama francophone 1 by Danièle Bourdais and Sue Finnie

Panorama francophone is a CUP course designed specifically for students preparing for the ab initio International Baccalaureate exam. With an international audience in mind, you won't find any English in the student and teacher books, nor in the accompanying cahier d'exercices. Another possible audience might be general studies students in England who wish to do beginners' French.

The course consists of 14 chapters, beginning with Je me présente, then working through Tu es comment?, la vie quotidienne, Bon appétit, En ville, Mon paradis sur terre, Temps libre, Projets de vacances, Au lycée, Faites la fête!, La santé pour tous, L'Evolution du shopping, Nous les jeunes and Le français dans le monde.

Each chapter covers a general topic, sub-topics within and one or more grammar points, beginning with articles and ending with negation and government of verbs (two verbs together). Tenses are covered in the sequence present, near future, perfect, future, conditional and impe…

Review of Attitudes16 for A-level French

An excellent resource which should be competing for your attention at the moment is the Attitudes16 course which writers Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri have been working on for some time. You can find it here at dolanguages.com, along with his excellent resources for film and literature. Attitudes16 comes in both AQA and Pearson-friendly formats and could form your sole main resource, or be used to complement other resources.

Let's take a close look. So far Steve and Nathalie have completed the six units you'd need for the first year of a two year course or AS-level. The remaining six will follow later. I'm going to focus on one unit; La famille en voie de changement (AQA), which many schools will start with in September. You would find the Pearson material to be very similar.

This unit, along with all the others, is broken down into a number of sections: key vocabulary and grammar, facts and figures, a general introduction to the sub-theme including a recorded feuill…

Learning strategies (5)

Here is the fifth and final post in the series about learning strategies. We look at a few revision strategies and make some general concluding remarks.


Helping students revise 

In languages, as for other subjects, revision before tests and examinations is a key ingredient of success. In many subjects students have a clear idea of what revision means, but in languages students often ask “How do I revise?” Unfortunately, from some students’ point of view, because of the cumulative nature of language learning, it is hard to improve one’s skills overnight, but there are some useful general strategies you can model for students which should improve their performance:

  Make use of practice test papers, often called ‘past papers’. Experience and research indicate that when students get used to doing similar types of test, they get better at them. This is partly because they get used to particular question types, but also because they encounter repeated examples of similar language items.
…

Review of AQA French for A-level from OUP

I recently wrote a pretty glowing review of Hodder's offering for the AQA French A-level and now OUP have been kind enough to send me a copy of their new book, also approved by AQA, and written by Rob Pike, Colin Povey and Paul Shannon. Rather than produce an all-in-one book for the full A-level, Oxford have decided to publish two books, this first one being for either AS-level or the first year of a full A-level course. Either approach seems sound, but you might want to consider the financial implications of buying one big book compared with two slimmer volumes. The 2-year Hodder book is nearly £30 before discount, the two OUP books come to £44 before discount. That is a significant difference if you have quite a few students. This may be a good point to make when haggling with the rep!

AQA French (what happened to those snazzy old titles like Au Point, Tout Droit, Vécu and Objectif Bac?) looks like another very worthy contender for your capitation budget. The content is similar …

Learning strategies (4)

This is the fourth in the mini-series about learning strategies. This was material which didn't find its way into The Language Teacher Toolkit. So far we have looked at the rationale behind learning startegies, how they may be categorised and how they may be used to support the teaching of listening and reading. This blog looks at speaking and writing. As always, if any of this seems obvious to you, remember that it might not be to the less experienced teacher.

Strategies for speaking 

The ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages), in their 2012 guidelines, choose to divide the skill of speaking into two categories: presentational speaking (giving talks) and interpersonal speaking (conversation). This distinction is not referred to explicitly in the UK context.

Presentational speaking

Students can make use of some of the strategies mentioned in the previous blogs, such as planning and organising, monitoring their work as they go along, checking their work with o…

OCR to stop offering French, German and Spanish exams from 2017

It came as a major surprise to teachers on Monday that the OCR awarding body will no longer be offering GCSEs and A-levels in French, German and Spanish. This has followed their announcement in April that they would no longer be offering qualifications in lesser-taught languages "for strategic reasons".

First of all, it's very sad for the staff who work in those areas and who, in due course, will have to find employment elsewhere. It's dispiriting too for writers who have been working on resources specifically for OCR. It means, quite obviously, that schools and colleges who have worked with OCR over the years will have to shop elsewhere.

One can only speculate why this has happened.

One aspect may be the simple economic realities of offering exams to dwindling A-level cohorts. OCR is a relatively small player in the field and they may simply not have the capacity to deliver exams to such a small A-level customer base. At GCSE, on the other hand, there is the prospec…

Learning strategies (3)

This is the third in the mini-series of blogs about learning strategies. So far, we have looked at some (rather scant) research evidence for the effectiveness of strategies. Bear in mind that a lack of research evidence does not mean strategies do not work; if there is any consensus, it is that they are probably useful and probably best used when integrated into a normal teaching sequence. We then looked at a classification of different types of strategies.

In this blog Gianfanco and I look at how you might integrate strategies into your teaching. There is nothing revolutionary about this stuff! You may do a good deal of this type of thing already, but you may also be new to the concepts and applications of learning strategies.


Let's look at how you might use strategies, particularly with regard to the teaching of listening and reading. Remember: this is just about how you help students to use strategies to become better listeners and readers.

How to teach strategies 

The research …

Learning strategies (2)

This is the second blog in the mini-series about learning strategies. This was material that we could not fit into The Language Teacher Toolkit.


Using learning strategies 

Working with strategies is firstly about making explicit the processes students are already using to help them learn and, secondly, exposing them to a greater range of strategies in order to widen their repertoire and make their learning even more effective.

There is general agreement in the literature that instruction about strategies should be explicit and that we should not just assume students will pick them up. However, it is debatable whether strategies should be taught separately or integrated into normal language learning activities. Pachler et al (2014) take the latter view and we would agree. Whichever route you take, it is always worth reminding students to use strategies. It may serve little purpose to tell students once and assume they will always remember what to do.

So we are talking here about integra…

Learning strategies (1)

This post is co-authored with Gianfranco Conti of The Language Gym. When we wrote The Language Teacher Toolkit we had to do some pruning in the final edit and this is from a chapter about learning strategies which we did not include. So this is the equivalent of a demo tape or rough cut that didn't make the final album.

Introduction 

What makes a good language learner? Can we teach students ways of improving their own learning? ‘Learning strategies’ have come into focus since the 1970s and often feature as add-ons to the latest textbooks. We have already referred to them a number of times in this book, notably in our chapters about listening and reading. They are about teaching students how to learn and have been described as “a set of actions taken by the learner that will help make language learning more effective – i.e. will help a learner learn, store, retrieve and use information” (Norbert Pachler et al, 2014).

The former help students overcome their limited linguistic reperto…