Featured

To blog or not to blog? 

This is the post excerpt.

Here I am, in my 10th year of teaching and back from my second maternity leave. I am just a normal, average teacher in a secondary school in North Lincolnshire whose working life has been given new energy by the amazing #mfltwitterati group on Twitter and other amazing groups on Facebook. My everyday teaching is changing each day and each day I am magpie-ing ideas, resources, methodology from colleagues who are sharing their ideas and hard work. I have decided to share my journey as MFL teacher alongside with some resources in this blog. Well, let’s see how it turns out!! 

Writing 

So we said “au revoir” to controlled assessment and we are welcoming back the writing exam. Our approach to writing has to change to accommodate the new exam style and to prepare our students to perform in exam conditions and ensure they show off their learning in those 90 and 150 words.

At the beginning of the year, I felt rather lost and my ideas were tangled in a whirlwind. How can I help my students to do their very best? How can I help them in ensuring they include the right structures they learnt in class? How can I help them in developing their ideas?

Luckily Twitter, Facebook and sharing of ideas came to the rescue and since then we have been working on some techniques which hopefully will guide the students while sitting their Writing Paper.

Firstly, we ‘ve worked and discussed what structures/tenses we have to include in the paper. An amazing teacher came up with the idea of creating the acronym of CROISSANT and shared it on a social media. I have created a booklet (one for foundation and one for higher students croissant F croissant H) and now every time we tackle a 90 or 150 word task, I ask the students to write CROISSANT at the top of the paper and tick the structure as they use it in their passage. Kids are enjoying using it and the variety of structures used in their passages has improved immediately. In our everyday lessons, we use a variety of ways of revisiting the right structures and memorising those “wow” phrases (dice of Destiny, translations to and from TL, rearranging words to make sentences, spotting them in reading passages, and more).

Last week, Dr Gianfranco Conti published a task which he has called “connectigram”. What a gem! Year 11 were straight on It!!! Such a brilliant task to gently guide the students in going into more detail and develop their ideas. Here’s the one we used in class so far: je suis allé en ville connectigram

Students responded incredibly well to this task and we had the hoped outcome of transforming a simple sentence into a detailed narrative passage.

The preparation for the writing paper is still work in progress but I feel we are on the right path!

2018

The Christmas break, as usual, has gone far too quick and I find myself trying to keep up with all my new year’s best intentions in the first week… already!!!

So what’s 2018 going to bring?

My very first new year resolution is a constant in my life … I NEED TO BE MORE ORGANISED!!!! My new diary has already been filled, lists have been made so I have hope that 2018 will see a very organised version of myself where my desk will, finally, be clutter free and my data analysis will be handed in more than 10 minutes before the deadline!

2017 has brought lots of new ideas: the use of vocal recall for feedback and to set tasks; quizlet to boost retention of vocabulary; narrow reading tasks to analyse passages in greater detail and ensure a deeper understanding of the language; reading out loud to practise pronunciation has been lots of fun ( who knew!?); Twitter, GILT and secondary MFL matters as my own continuous CPD and places to share resources. All those new ideas are coming with me in 2018!!

But there’s more.. of course there’s more! Firstly, I will be following a course on “short film in language teaching” offered by FutureLearn and the British Film Institute. I am looking forward to that and will blog about it once completed.

I have, also, already signed up for the CPD session on Listening led by Dr Gianfranco Conti and again, I can’t wait to attend the session as listening is our most problematic area and Dr Gianfranco Conti sure is the man in the know of all language learning issues. Having listened to him in his chat with Etienne Langlois, I feel very much in awe of the man and his endless knowledge on language learning matters.

So, let the fun begin and

HAPPY 2018

Reading

What strategies and what tasks to use in the classroom?

Quite a lot has been written and said about it; it is not my intention to reinvent the wheel; all I intend to do is to collate few ideas on tasks and strategies that I have used in the classroom, I have enjoyed and have resulted in effective learning for my students. Most of these ideas have been magpied from excellent  practitioners like Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti and others who have kindly shared them on social media, in CPD sessions or just while working together.

Firstly, we should not forget that our students have a GCSE exam to sit and that reading will be one of the skills examined. As a consequence, the list of tasks is filled with  the ones that can be found on papers. Whether we like them or not, our students will need to be familiar with those tasks and feel confident when they appear in their exam.

  • Multiple choice
  • True, False or Not Mentioned
  • Gap Fill
  • Translation
  • questions in TL
  • Questions in English
  • Positive/negative, positive and Negative
  • Find someone who
  • Identify true statements

To train our students in tackling written passages, we provide them with some tasks designed to facilitate their understading and that can help students to break passages down in more manageble chunks. How can we do that?

  • ask students to highlight certain categories of words (cognates/opinion phrases/verbs/adjectives/etc);
  • take words/phrases out the passage and ask students to learn the meaning beforehand (flipped learning);
  • take words out the passage and asked students to put them into categories (positive opinions/negative opinions/ adjectives/ connectives/verbs/etc);
  • match up activity with key words/phrases;
  • cut the passage into smaller chunks and create stations in the rooms; students move from station to station in order to asnwer questions;
  • narrow reading – use the same text 3/4 times, each time with a different detail. Ask the students to spot the “mistakes; provide the students with a translation that contain mistakes, ask students to identify those. More on narrow reading here.
  • Provide the students with a incomplete translation and ask them to fill in the gaps.
  • Find the French/Spanish/Italian for …

 

Resources

In an attempt of getting organised. I’m going to have a section entirely dedicated to some resources.

KS3

Culture

A power point with a match-up translation task, a spot the mistake task and a gap fill on a song about Saint Nicolas.

saint nicolas song gapfillSaint nicolas handoputSaint Nicolas

Grammar

My Y10 are in need of a brief explanation of the expression “etre en train de”. So, tomorrow we’re having a quick session on that. In this power point I’ve tried to get the students to see the structure and work out when and how it is used both in the present and imperfect tense. It has been designed to last for 30 mins.

etre en train de 1

This is a lesson I did to practise the near future tense using a “what happens next?” youtube clip.

qu_est-ce qui va se passer

Fun fun fun! Games in the MFL classroom. 

What could we do to consolidate vocabulary, tenses and to practise speaking in a different way? We play games!!! Lots of different games have been played in my classrooms, some more than others, some require more preparation than others and have been played for a long time, some we’ve only started playing recently. I have to thank lots of colleagues who have shared their ideas, all I did was to incorporate those into my teaching.

This post wants to be just a collection (and it’s not even an exhaustive one), a way of organising myself, having all the games in one place.

1. One of my favourites: BATTLESHIP

We play battleship on a variety of topics (opinions, weather, personality, chores, leisure activities, time) and everytime we cover a new tense. Whenever, we cover the structure of a new tense, we use BATTLESHIP to consolidate what we have learnt and by using the infinitive, students have still some working out to do!

2. Snakes and ladders

I have an empty template of snakes&ladders which has been laminated and it’s ready to be used. Questions/verbs to conjugate/words and sentences to translate go in little cards that students have to use before rolling the dice. Great speaking activity!
3. Running dictation/ translation

I use different versions of this game. In one, I split the class in small groups; only one person from each group is the runner. They come to the front and have 1 minute to memorise as much text as they can. After, the minute they go back to their group and report as much as they can remember! At the end of the timed session, I give the whole class questions to answer about the passage. They answer as group. Ideal for large groups.

Another version of this game includes translation. So, I split the class in small groups and give each group one sentence. The group translates the sentence, brings it to me (or one of my assistants) and once I give my ok, they are given another sentence to translate. It gets very competitive and enhances accuracy in translation. I prefer this one with smaller groups.

4. Noughts and crosses

Great way to start/finish a lesson. It can be played with single words/phrases/verbs to conjugate. I usually pick two captains, who give their first answer, then the captains choose people in the room to give answers for their team.

5. One die one pen

This one is a very recent craze from twitter. I have used it with Y11 and they loved it!!! All you need is a set of sentences to translate. I prefer the students to work in pairs, rather than groups. Each student has the sentences and each pair has one pen and one die. One students starts writing while the other student throws the die, only when the student has a & can get the pen off the other student and star working on his/her sentences. Roles swap continually until one of the students finishes the sentences. So much fun!!!

6. Trapdoor

This is just great to get students speaking and practise pronunciation. All students love it! It is a passage where some sentences could start/end in different ways (but always make sense). Students pick randomly from one word from where there is a choice and the other student has to guess which word they have chosen. If they get it wrong, they’ll have to start again. I usually model it at the beginning and students have to guess what I have chosen.

7. Balloon challenge

This one was last year craze on Secondary MFL matters and again it was great! It made such a fun and relaxed last session with Y11 before their exam. It’s a way of dishing out all they know and share it with their group. It’s a confidence booster as it is based on what they know! Students are split into groups and are given balloons. Only 15 words are allowed on each balloon, the taller the balloon tower is, the more vocab is recalled!

8. Splat

This one is a favourite of my KS3 classes and boys seem to like it more than girls, it’s rather competitive. It can be played with pictured or words. Two students are facing the board, I shout out a word/phrase and they have to splat the correct picture/words. I usually do 5 rounds, the winner stays and chooses who to challenge next.

9. Tiles

This is not really a game but my students love to re-arrange their tiles (with words in). Usually I call out some sentences in the opposite language and they have to pick the correct tiles to make the sentence – I use it mainly when doing adjectives and comparatives; it helps reinforcing the structure in TL.

10. Destiny dice

Great game to get KS4 students to practise spontaneous speech as well as training them to spice up those simple sentences. All you need is a set of sentences, a die and the board game. Students have to add the detail selected by the die.

Read your starter sentence

Roll the dice

Add or change the language feature

DICE OF DESTINY

1 Sophisticated language connective comparative Simple

opinion

Past tense Reason
2 connective comparative Simple

opinion

Past tense Reason Future

tense

3 comparative Simple

opinion

Past tense Reason Future tense Simple

opinion

4 Simple

opinion

Past tense Reason Future tense Simple

opinion

Intensifier/

adverb

5 Past tense Reason Future tense Simple

opinion

Intensifier/

adverb

connective
6 Reason Future tense Simple

opinion

Intensifier/

adverb

connective Sophisticated language
1 2 3 4 5 6

11. Tarsia/domino

http://download.cnet.com/Formulator-Tarsia/3000-2051_4-10584458.html

I’ve dowloaded a tarsia and domino generator. All I need to do is to insert the words. easy peasy! All the students need to do is to get their brain working. I use it both in class or to set homework so that students can revisit key vocabulary covered in class.

12. Emoji random generator

http://byrdseed.com/emoji/ – I’ve only recently started using this to start off my lessons with KS4 students. It’s great to get some spontaneous talk from them. Some students use single words, other say full sentences and add extra details.

13. Wheel of fortune

I use this to practise describing a photo. Students are provided with a photo, strips of paper containing words/structures, that you want the students to practise, and a pen/pencil. Students place the strips as to make a wheel and then spin the pen/pencil. Whatever the pencil/pen lands on is the structure that they need to use to describe that photo.

Vocal recall app

How do we assess our students in speaking? I have never had enough time to listen to my students while speaking in TL in passages that are longer than a couple of sentences. Speaking exams/tests in a class of 28 students require far too much time and we can’t afford that! Not on a two hour a week timetable. Asking students to send files has not worked out well for us. This academic year, we seem to have found a solution to this issue. The solution has the name of Vocal Recall App!! So many different uses for.this app! It contains 5minutes speech so can be used in a moltitude of ways. So far, I’ve used the app togive feedback to students and, even giving individual feedback, the marking time was halved!!! Also, students were provided with an empty barcode in.which record themselves saying a few sentences on a given topic; amazing response from kids!! In the coming weeks, I would like to use the app for homework purposes and to design tasks which are going to get kids ready for the new GCSE demands. So, the plan is to print photos, write three questions and record two questions (just like it would happen in the exam), students will then.record themselves in an empty barcode which I will provide. Again, I will be recording some general conversation questions for students to practise and record at home. Still talking about homework, but maybe with younger classes, is to apply one of the narrow reading/listening tecniques by Gianfranco Conti, so provide the students with a written passage and a recording to match but with some “mistakes”.

Here’s a step by step guide on Vocal Recall