Saturday, 20 September 2014

No more tears? New GCSE exams in MFL.

If you are in the UK, you'll know that GCSEs in all subjects will soon be changing.

Those nice people at Ofqual have issued a press release confirming the assessment procedures for the new GCSE exams in MFL.

This is how the new GCSE in MFL will look:
  • 25 per cent of marks to be allocated to each of listening, speaking, reading and writing
I think this is a good idea
  • Reading, writing and listening skills to be assessed by exam
I even like this. I was never a fan of controlled assessments or coursework. Too many opportunities for shenanigans in my opinion. 
  • Speaking to be assessed by non-exam assessment
I think this means that speaking may continue to be assessed in the same way.
  • Where a qualification is tiered, students must take all their assessments in one tier, not across a combination of both.
This the one I'm not too sure about. 

In the past, I have come across many students who are better in one skill than in the others. 

Many of my weaker students who have just achieved a C grade at GCSE, have done so because they've achieved incredibly well in the Higher tier reading exam. 

Sadly, it seems that these new arrangements will penalise weaker students.

Perhaps that's the whole idea...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Le sac des filles - revisited

I love the blog, Le sac des filles.

It's a webpage which posts photos of the contents of girls' bags (and boys' pockets) and lists the items in French.

I have blogged about this before here.

One reason I like it is because it is constantly updated. Unlike most resources the mobile phones, and other gadgets, are the current models.

Le sac des filles provides a cultural, as well as a linguistic, insight into the lives of young French people.

For example, most of the bags contain a cigarette lighter. 

This week I'm teaching personal characteristics to my Year 10 (14-15 year old) students and thought that this would be a great way to get students to describe someone's personality by looking at the contents of their bag and or pockets.

Using this page will also provide students with the opportunity to learn some vocabulary which the average text book probably won't contain.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 - a germanist's paradise

One of my favourite German websites is

It's the site of Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle and is a cornucopia of anything a Teutophile could possibly need to know. It is, I suppose, the German equivalent of the BBC World Service or Voice of America.

On the site you can watch live TV, listen to German radio, and read the news from a German perspective.

The parts of the site which interest me the most are the language learning and culture pages.

The teaching and learning sections offer a variety of interactive German courses for learners of all levels and resources for teachers, too.

The culture section is an invaluable tool for any Germanist. I particularly like the podcasts and something I've blogged about before, German word of the week.

It is impossible to do this site justice in one blogpost but I really would recommend that any teacher of student of German takes some time to have a look at how good it is.

Did I mention that using the site is totally free?

There is also a weekly quiz where one lucky participant can win an ipod.

What more could you want?

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Harry - another French Game show

As you probably know I get bored easily.

I also have an unhealthy obsession with trying to include activities based on different game show formats into my lessons.

You can find my previous game show idea posts here, here, here, here and here.

This week I discovered a French game show, Harry, on France3 which could be used in the classroom to help improve spelling, reading and speaking.

The game is this: contestants have to reconstruct French words which have been split up into syllables and find the correct words as fast as they can to win points. 

Here is the trailer: 

Here are some fruit ones I've made up:

NE   NA   BA

AN   AS   AN


IN   IS   RA  

If your students are aware of phonics, breaking up words like this will definitely help with their pronunciation.

You can even sign up to play the game online here.

Monday, 18 August 2014

lawlessfrench - a great resource

I love this website and I can't recommend it highly enough.

It's the work of Laura K Lawless whose work used to be on the site.

Laura now has moved (and improved) her work to her own domain.

Lawless French contains a huge array of different aspects of learning French and would be ideal for any students of French and even for teachers of French, too.

The categories on the site include:

expressions - this includes everyday expressions and idioms

grammar lessons - everything you could wish to know about all aspects of grammar: tenses, word order, adjectives, etc.. Ideal for student revision

listening practice - with scripts

reading practice - authentic texts - ideal for intermediate and higher classes

vocab lists

pronunciation guides

and every French teacher's best friend, the subjunctivisor.

The site is updated regularly and you can even get updates on learning French from Laura on twitter and facebook.

Friday, 15 August 2014

La télé - authentic AS French links

Today, I'm looking at different aspects of la télé.

These could be used for class discussion, comprehension tasks, to practise translation skills, or as extra reading practice for students.

  • From voyagesenfrance an informative article about French TV.

And finally, the trailer for Les Marseillais à Rio, France's version of Jersey Shore. This is the 3rd series, they've already been to Miami and Cancun...

I hope you find some of this useful.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Internet - AS French links

After the positive feedback from my Binge Drinking links, I've decided to do the next one.

So here are some authentic links to do with the internet:

This first one is amazing. It's from and is called Touche pas à mon poste ! It is a 24 page pdf document containing lots of information and statistics (remember exam boards love statistics!) and is primarily aimed at young people.

From - a summary of advantages and disadvantages of the internet

From Académie Toulouse - Quelques dangers d'Internet

An article from Le Monde from 2011 about the dangers of the internet, including a comparison between usage in France and other countries.

From les enfants et l'internet.

sudmé has a page about the dangers of the internet for children including links to posters and a video clip. The posters could be used for speaking stimuli for the speaking exam.

Action Innocence is a site full of child protection  information. The page Préserver la dignité et l'intégrité des enfants sur internet is full of great material and also has some Supports pédagogiques.
An image search for Action Innocence gave me a huge quantity of material for speaking practice.

From an article about Le cyber bullying 

From Le Figaro, an article with lots of statistics about le cybercrime in France.

This page from Gendarmerie Nationale contains information on how they are tackling cyber-crime.

Here is a link to the TES resources for l'internet.

Steve Smith's site also has some fantastic resources in the free samples section but I'd recommend that all teachers of French subscribe to access all of his excellent resources for the price of a text book.

Obviously, I won't use all of these resources with my students inn class but I shall give them a list of the sites for their own independent reading.

Over the years I've found that the students who achieve best are the ones who read independently and there's nothing wrong with pointing them in the right direction.