Saturday, 5 July 2014

ipad training with Joe Dale

This week my department was lucky enough to get some ipad training. 

I know. I said "lucky" and "ipad" in the same sentence.

Those of you who regularly read this blog will remember that I am not always that kind to the ipad. A few of my blog posts are testament to that. 

However, I have always stated that rather than give tech to teachers and say "get on with it", schools should be providing staff with training to use it properly.

My wonderful department employed the services of ipad, MFL and all earth-based technology expert Joe Dale this week.

So what did we learn? 

Well, obviously the best thing would be for you to contact Joe and get some training first hand.

I'll go through some of the apps ( I still hate this word!!!) we used and provide some links:

Tap roulette
This is a simple app to decide which person in a group gets to go first.
Easy to use and free. 

Decide Now
This is a paid app (£0.69) but very useful. It can be used as a random name selector a random question selector or a random topic selector. Easy to set up and use but wheels can't be shared.
30 Hands
This free app allows the user to create a narrated story or presentation by adding a commentary to photos or pictures. This is an ideal way to get students talking about lots of different topics and can be edited so that only the "perfect" version is saved.

I've used this for a while and I and my students love it. I 've been using this for quite a while and it featured in my workshop at #ililc4 in February.
This app allows student to create a talking avatar and customise its expression, clothing, features and choose or upload a background. The user can upload 30 seconds of dialogue or use the text to speech facility. This application is free but, after its most recent update, some of the features are now "in app purchases" (I hate that phrase!!).

Yakit Kids 
Yakit kids is free and jolly good fun. Again, I discovered this at my #ililc4 workshop.
It allows the user to upload a photo and add eyes, noses and mouths to puppetise inanimate objects and make them talk. Great for getting students to speak in the target language and they can have fun changing the pitch of the voices, too.

We also learned about Cloudart, Tag Cloud, QRReader, QRafter, and were shown's QR code Treasure Hunt Generator.

Joe also demonstrated Voicerecord Pro and Visioprompt which could help GCSE students with their controlled assessments.

The session ended with Joe showing us Book Creator, an app which we can use to create a virtual record of everything we did during the afternoon, photos, presentations, videos, etc.  

The afternoon was a huge success. 

My colleagues were really impressed and have spent the last few days practising with their new knowledge and planning some fantastic activities for the students.

Needless to say, I would recommend hiring Joe for a session at your school.

Saturday, 28 June 2014


A couple of years ago I blogged about a fantastic tool called the subjunctivator.

This week I was contacted by its creator Laura K Lawless who informed me that it no longer exists.

Laura's work has now moved from to

This is where you can find her new, improved Subjunctivisor.

It works in exactly the same way. 

It's great.

What more can I say?

Friday, 20 June 2014


pokankuni is a Tulu word.

I found it in one of my  favourite books: The meaning of Tingo which is a collection of strange words from other languages which have no equivalent in English.

Tulu is a language spoken in India by around 2 million people.

pokankuni means learning from others by just watching them.

I like this idea.

I often learn how not to do something by watching others, but that's another story.

Today, I did a carousel of activities with my year 7 (beginners 12yrs old) class.

One of the activities was to create a tellagami in French using the future tense (Je vais + infinitive).

The instruction I gave them was: open the tellagami app and create an animation in French using today's key vocabulary. I didn't show them how to use it or even explain what it was.

None of them had ever used tellagami before and I was really impressed at how quickly they took to it. They were only allowed 10 minutes for each activity yet they still all managed to produce something.

The more confident ones took to it immediately and the others picked it up in a couple of minutes just by watching.

All students engaged, all learning and all I had to do was wander about and ask questions.

pokankuni in action.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

How to reanimate a corpse - #mflsaty2

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the second MFL Show And Tell York at Harrogate Grammar School, or, as all the cool kids are calling it #mflsaty2.

The brain child of Suzi Bewell (aided and abetted by Will Strange) this was the second of its kind and even better than the first.

The event was sponsored by the Association for Language Learning and there were around 60 or so attendees (many of whom were newly qualified teachers) and a few corporate people with products to sell.

The amazing Jo Hardy has blogged in detail about the day on her blog here. Thanks, Jo.

I show and tell-ed 5 minutes of the old favourite how to make a powerpoint into an animation but I polished it up, or at least, rolled it in glitter for the day.

Where's Spot? or How to reanimate a corpse.

Where's spot? or How to reanimate a corpse. from Dominic McGladdery

I was also asked to run a 20 minute session in the afternoon.
These are referred to as "Genius bars".
I really don't like this title as it suggests that I'm some kind of expert.
I'm not.
I'm a regular classroom practitioner and sometimes not even a very good one.
It was a low tech affair on how to get students speaking without too much tech.
Again, this was a revised, rehashed and shorter version of "From squawk to talk" from #ililc3 and from ALL Newcastle's twilight session last week.

Feedback was very good and I was surprised that people enjoyed it, but, hey, there's no accounting for taste.

Seriously though, it was a great day, extremely well organised and I picked up some great ideas from some excellent new teachers.

If the people I met on Saturday are a true reflection of the new generation of MFL teachers then we have nothing to be scared of.

Our kids will be in safe hands for the foreseeable future despite what Mr Gove throws at us.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tour de France 2014 links

It seems that there is not just football related activities going on at the moment.

The 2014 Tour de France starts in Yorkshire (no, you're right Yorkshire isn't in France) on 5th of July.

Here is my list of links to various sites and resources I've found so you don't have to bother:

  • Sustrans has produced a free pack for teachers in English to promote cycling
  • Lightbulblanguages has a KS2 podcast on the Tour de France.
  • The BBC's Ma France site has a Tour de France card game and other resources.
  • France TV Sport has a page dedicated to all kinds of Tour information and a game here.
  • legende-et-conte has a page on the Tour's history.
  • Bradford City Council has produced some resources in English here

If you can find anymore or have made and published some, please let me know and I'll add them to the list.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

World Cup 2014 links

It's that time again.

The World Cup is just around the corner and language teachers all over the world will be trying to harness its power to get students (mainly boys) interested in languages.

The first place I'd recommend is the official site for the language you're teaching:

Here you can find information about the teams, ticketing, hotel information, and information about the cities taking part.

  • Next, you can find hundreds of free resources and links at Lightbulblanguages. To be honest this is probably the only place you need to go, but to be fair I'll recommend some more. 
You can also submit your own resources to lightbulblanguages. Be a sharer not a taker!

Here you can find all information needed about the mascots since 1966. You could get students to describe them or design their own.

  • MSN has a page with pictures of all the mascots here.
  • TES has a lot of world cup resources in different languages here
  • Teaching ideas has a lot of World Cup resources, mainly for KS2. These could be adapted for MFL.
  • Those nice people at languagenut also have some great free resources on their site in French, English, Spanish, German, Dutch, Gaelic and Maori.  
  • Every official World Cup poster can be found here

  • There's a lovely French World Cup wallchart here but you'll probably prefer to make your own and get your pupils to complete it and fill it in.


The World Cup wouldn't be half as much fun without the songs. Here are some for 2014:

The official one...

The England song...

Sadly, there is no official French song this year....

There is a comprehensive list of every World Cup song ever, here.

I can't imagine you won't find something among all these resources.

If you find something else or have made something else I should recommend please leave a comment with a link.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Miracle of Bern - studying a German film

My year 9 German students have been studying Das Wunder von Bern (The Miracle of Bern).

It's a film about football, specifically the 1954 West German national team's "miracle" World Cup win.

It was made in 2003 and directed by multi award winning director and football fanatic, Sonke Wortmann.

Always a winner with the boys.

It isn't just a film for the boys, though.

The film deals with 2 other stories:

that of a young boy's family dealing with the return of the father from a Russian prison camp following his incarceration during the second world war


that of a newlywed journalist who takes his bride on honeymoon to the World Cup where he just happens to be reporting for the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung.

I love studying films with students of all levels and abilities. My blogpost on Luc Besson's 2010 film Adele Blanc-Sec is here.

Now, I have to admit that I haven't made any of the resources I'm using for this unit of work.

Some resources my colleagues sourced are from here on the TES web site.

I've also found some good ones here from routes into languages in collaboration with the Tyneside Cinema.

The wonderful people at the Goethe Institut have also put together some amazing resources for the film, too.

They have produced:

Notes for pupils

Notes for teachers

Answers for teachers for the pupils' exercises


A study guide from the Irish Film Institute.