Thursday, 18 January 2018

A 2 minute speaking task for everyone.

This is good fun and stops me getting bored during lessons.

I write key words of pieces of paper/post its and put them in various pockets.

The students all stand up, I pull out a scrap of paper and have to guess what the word is.

If they get it wrong, they sit down.

If they get it correct, they win a merit point.

We keep going until someone guesses it right.

It's a great way of getting them to speak, to revise vocabulary and get pronunciation correct.

It takes no more than 2 minutes. 


It would be good for a bit of flipped learning too...

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Headline gap fill - practising vocabulary

On the BBC comedy panel programme Have I Got News For You, in the final round, the panellists have to guess missing words from headlines from the week's news.

(They did a similar game called Supermatch on Blankety Blank, too.)

In December I saw this headline on the BBC news website :

Gwen Stefani has Mariah Carey sized goals.

For a giggle I decided to play a gap fill game with my social media followers. 

So I gave them this:

Gwen Stefani has Mariah Carey sized ____________.

As you can imagine, the answers ranged from sensible to funny to quite risqué to obscene.

What did you expect? They are my friends!

As with most silly ideas, I wondered how I could use this in my classroom.

A starter activity with an element of competition.

You can do this with groups of all abilities and ages.

Give the students a sentence with a blank (or blanks) and get them to guess the missing word(s).

Students who come up with the correct answer (or the funniest answer) win points.

And what do points make?


And safer railways!

Some examples:

Emmanuel Macron a un ___________.

Dans ma ___________ j'ai un __________ orange.

Chaque samedi mon voisin fait ___________.

Justin Bieber semble être ___________.

Les Français sont devenus accros à ___________.

You could think of hundreds more, I'm sure.

PS I've just been reminded of a blogpost by Clare Seccombe all about using Blankety Blank as a classroom activity.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Teaching film - dossiers pédagogiques updated

A few years ago, I wrote a post about teaching film with links to the institut français' dossiers pédagogiques for its cinéfête.

Earlier this week, Steven Fawkes contacted me and asked if he could use the link.

I had a look and discovered that none of the links worked any more.

I've had a rummage around the internet and discovered that most of the dossiers are still available but only via their Austrian site. Each link takes you to a work pack.

I've used some of these in the past and they're quite accessible to most students, although please check suitability first!

Although they are produced for German speakers, all of the work is in French.

Anyway, I've updated it.

Just for you.

Here goes:





That's as far back as the archive goes, unfortunately, but I'm sure there's something there you can use.

You may just want to use the dossiers for some ideas on how to exploit a film you already use.

Most of these films are available on DVD, internet, etc and most can be obtained with English subtitles.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Christmas links & resources - Updated

I made a list of links to Christmas resources a few years ago, but most of the links no longer work.

So I've made a new one.

Lightbulb languages has a cornucopia of resources in different languages here.

That's all you need really.

But if you want more:

  • Herts grid for learning has Christmas resources here
and finally,
  • has some interesting ecards you can send. 

Some are animated video cards like this:

Have fun!

Monday, 20 November 2017

The 50 Must Follow Educational Blogs

So, a few days ago I got my 500,000th visitor and today my blog is featured in an article called: The 50 Must Follow Educational Blogs.

This is very nice and will probably send a lot of traffic this way.

The article is featured on Tutora's  website - they are a company which helps students find tutors for almost any subject and key stage.

Their tutors charge varying amounts and are rated by students with a star system.

I'm guessing it's on a value for money basis.

That's all I know about them.

They were nice about me, though...

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Half a million hits!

Yesterday afternoon this blog had its 500000th visitor.

If that was you, thank you.

If it wasn't you, thank you for visiting anyway.

When I started this blog in 2009 I had no idea that people would read it.

It now gets more hits in a day than it did in the first 2 years.

I still can't believe anyone reads this rubbish, but thank you!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Knowledge organisers.

There's been a lot of talk about knowledge organisers on those social media recently.

Steve Smith has written a post about them on his blog (with some nice examples).
What are they? 

Mostly, they take the form of one A4 sheet with a list of key information needed for one topic.

What are they used for? 

To help teachers with their planning and to give students a summary of key facts they need to learn.

Do they allow for deep learning as opposed to just facts? 

I'm not sure about this.

It might work in history, geography, or science but I'm not sure it works in MFL.
We don't compartmentalise our knowledge. We revisit grammar and vocabulary constantly. (See my previous post)

Teaching phrases to low ability students might be a good idea under certain circumstances, but if we just taught phrases, it might be enough to pass an exam, but are they really learning the language?

I don't think so.

What's the difference between a knowledge organiser and a vocabulary sheet?

Not a lot, as far as I can make out. Most of them are just a vocabulary menu or a big Cluedo game or trapdoor activity: Pick one phrase from each box and you'll get a grade 5.

There's nothing wrong with this if all you want your students to do is gain a pass at GCSE. However, if you have potential linguists in your groups, (those who may want to study A level or go onto read language at University) then you are doing them a huge disservice.

From what I've seen there are some quite poor ones and some excellent MFL examples being used in schools.

My students create their own personal knowledge organiser sheets before assessments. They use their vocabulary lists and the feedback in their  exercise books to create the own revision tool.

I recently saw some excellent student made knowledge organisers from students at St Robert of Newminster School, Washington  They were made for a homework task and I've been given permission to share them with you.