Sunday, 12 July 2015

MFL Show and Tell in the Lakes #MFLSATLakes

Yesterday I went on a road trip to Keswick to attend Cumbria's first MFL show and Tell.

If you've never visited the Lake District, you are really missing out.

It is one of the most beautiful places in the UK, if not the world.

It took place at Keswick School and was extremely well organised by the amazing Rebecca Wylie.

I love my job but I'd be tempted to move if my classroom had views like this:

This is my report of the day. (Anything in brackets wasn't mentioned and is just me thinking out loud).

The day started at 11 with a welcome from Keswick School's headteacher, Simon Jackson.

Anna Bartrum of University of Cumbria, said some opening words and gave us some activities to do to warm us up. These included a watching powerpoint where we had to identify words which flew very quickly across the screen, an activity called "ask 3 people" where we had to ask 3 questions to 3 people to find out information which we then fed back to the group. finally she asked us what all these things had in common with a sandwich.

The first presentation came from Wendy Lightfoot.
Wendy talked about starter activities which are great for practising numeracy and literacy.
They included:
order the numbers - give the students numbers as words and get them to put them in order
fizzbuzz - a counting game where pupils count in the target language but replace numbers ending in a 5 with the word "fizz" and those ending in 0 with "buzz".

scrabble - getting students to create valuable words

boggle - give the students a pre-made boggle grid with key words for them to find. (You could make your own using a wordsearch creator and reuse them)

wordclouds - Wendy suggested tagxedo

quick write - teacher starts to write a word on the board students have to guess it before it's finished

definition bingo - students pick words, teacher reads a definition for the students who have to work out if they have that word

first letter last letter game - student says a word, their partner has to say one which begins with the last letter of their partner's word and so on. (You could even make it into game show style activities. See my blogposts on Harry and Chain Letters)

anagrams - useful for consolidating spellings

spot the mistake - (I know lots of teachers hate this! I quite like it. I do these types of activities regularly with my students)

Next was Jane Hegedus who shared with us some ideas for introducing a "little bit of literature" into our lessons. She talked about the ALL literature wiki and shared with us the poem un hombre sin cabeza.
Jane showed us the activities she had done with her pupils with a felt and velcro lifesize body prop, which included introducing and consolidating vocabulary, dictionary work, brainstorming vocabulary, and practising and reinforcing grammar. She also showed us how we could use Clare Seccombe's "Trash or Treasure" idea.

Becky Henderson was the next presenter. She showed us how to "keep it real" in Italian. She uses real situations to teach language, including cooking using the only target language. She also taught us how to order drinks in Italian by means of a song. All good fun.

Helen Tucker then told us about 3 part sentence Mastermind (I know it as Cluedo and it needn't necessarily be 3 parts!) . It's a great idea for getting students to talk. It's great for revision, takes only a few minutes to plan, it's competitive and it also makes students listen to each other.

Paul Harrison then told us about iportal4languages. This is a EU funded project for people who want to learn English, Spanish, Turkish, Polish, German, or Bulgarian. Or all six. It is completely free. You just sign up and start learning. It has its own youtube channel and, should you so wish, you can learn in Second Life too. 

Stephanie Licht then showed us some Great German Resources. She told us about how we can get free, fairly robust maps of Germany for students to use and some for classroom displays for very little money. (I missed the end of this as I was preparing for my presentation. Sorry, Stephanie.)

I was next talking about Time Management. This was a 7 minute chunk of my hour long "Standing out or outstanding?" presentation from #ililc5. (This is probably the last time I'll ever do this, as I think everyone in the world has seen it by now.) It seemed to go down quite well and got a few laughs, so that's always a bonus.

The final presentation of the first session was from Alex Crawford.She talked about her department's Relationships and choices project. Her students do a lot of cross curricular work and their work often links to business studies. She showed us how her students do practical activities, creating videos, project managing a team of students, etc. to achieve well in languages. They have a weebly website with all the information and resources the students need. The students also each have to acquire a certain amount of zollars using zondle to be successful, too. (Garry Mills has written about using zondle on his blog).

After coffee (which was OK) and cakes (which were amazing!) we had the second session.

The first presentation of the second session was from Elaine Pratt. She showed us the workbooks her department uses which contain all of the worksheets and grammar needed for her groups for the whole year. (She didn't say what happened of they got lost, ruined or stolen, though.) Then she showed us a Quiz Quiz Trade activity. This is one example of the many cooperative learning structures.

Rebecca Chapman then showed us some examples of CLIL. Her students have learned about King John in History and have learned about Senegal in Geography lessons, all taught in French. There is some more information about this on the MFL page of their school's newsletter with comments from some of the students.

Stuart Gorse was next with Hugo. Hugo is a ventriloquist puppet who is the star of many youtube videos, which Stuart creates to help his students to learn. 
Stuart told us that he gets bored really easily and so tries to teach in a way which will not be boring for him or for his students. Here is Hugo and Marlene Dietrich in Stuart's take on Déjeuner du matin:

Helen Tucker had to follow that and did extremely well, all things considered. She told us about using the song Léon le caméleon with her primary students and how it was used as the basis for a lesson on colours and to introduce similes.
She also showed us the poetry balls. These were strips of coloured paper with sentences, or lines of poetry on, fastened at the top and bottom with paper fasteners and then can be hung up as a display. I shall be using this idea next term.

Marie Nunes was the next presenter. She showed us her virtual classroom, lakesloveslanguages. It's a weebly account which contains all the information needed by students in each year group from primary right up to A level. There are lots of quizlet quizzes embedded onto it, also there are vocab lists, activities and videos. (It's impressive.)

The penultimate presentation of the day came from Suzi Bewell, who also provided the raffle prizes.  She talked about FLAME, which isn't CLIL, in case you were wondering. Suzi talked about transforming language learning and instilling intercultural understanding into our teaching. We shouldn't always talk about the differences between different cultures, we should also talk about how similar they are, she said.
Suzi mentioned these:
Sur le chemin de l'école:

Where children sleep:

and Le Travail des Enfants:

The final speaker was the day's organiser, Rebecca Wylie.
Rebecca told us about how she uses vocabulary mats, there were examples of these on our tables. They were laminated A3 sheets with key vocabulary on them.
She also showed us how she uses classdojo with her groups. (I love classdojo and blogged about it here in 2012.)
The best thing Rebecca showed us was the scratchcards she made.
These are made by putting special scratch off stickers over cards. Ours were for prizes but could be used for lots of things in the classroom and we got some to take home. 
All in all, it was a fantastic day.

I met some old friends, met some new people, and learned and was reminded of loads of really good stuff. 

I'm really looking forward to next year's #MFLSATLakes2.

Monday, 6 July 2015

La fête nationale - Bastille Day resources

My students will finish school for the summer at the end of this week so this week will be learning about Bastille Day, or as it should be called, La Fête Nationale.

I've done work with my students about La Fête Nationale many times over the years but realised that I'd never blogged about it.

So, here is a list of some resources and links you could use:

  • There's a cornucopia of resources here on the TES website.

  • ParisInfo has a webpage dedicated to celebrations happening in Paris.

  • has a page full of activities for younger children here, including some nice comptines and coloriages. There's also a quiz here

  • euroclubschools has some activities and a quiz here

...and there are lots of clips on youtube...

...I  like this one....

....and I love this one....

You could also go to and send your friends a totally free e-card, like this one....

...or perhaps not....

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Studying a French film - dossiers pédagogiques

A couple of years ago I blogged about Luc Besson's film, Les aventures extraordinaires d' Adèle Blanc-Sec.

I included a link to the institut français' German website where you could find a dossier pédagogique with exercises for students to complete before, during and after watching the film.

For the last fifteen years, the Institut Français Deutschland has held a Cinéfête for students, the Jugendfilmfestival, where Francophone films are shown and studied.

For each of these films, they have produced a dossier pédagogique all in French, with exercises all in French.

The selection of films for the 2015 festival are:

  • Comme un lion - Samuel Collardey
  • Populaire - Régis Roinsard
  • Le tableau - Jean- François Laguionie
  • L'Italien - Olivier Baroux
  • La Cage Dorée - Ruben Alves
  • Une bouteille à la mer - Thierry Binisti
  • Séraphine - Martin provost

Information about these films can be found on the festival site here.

The dossiers pédagogiques are here

The archives of the 14 previous film festivals can be found here.

Here is a list of all of the films shown in the first 14 festivals and you should be able to click on them to go straight to the dossier.:

Cinéfête 14
Cinéfête 13
Cinéfête 12
Cinéfête 11
Cinéfête 10
Cinéfête 9
Cinéfête 8
Cinéfête 7
Cinéfête 6
Cinéfête 5
Cinéfête 4
Cinéfête 3
Cinéfête 2
Cinéfête 1

Many of these films are available in the UK on DVD and can be viewed on youtube, too.


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Un jour une question - video links for A level French

A few years ago I blogged about un jour un actu, a news website for children in French.

The site is still great and I've used it a lot, but sadly, the teacher resources are no longer free to use unless you pay for a subscription.

One of the newer features to this site is the "un jour, une question" videos.

These are short clips explaining events and situations in simple language.

These can be a great way to introduce some key vocabulary to A level students.

I've been through the archives and put together links to the videos which are relevant to the AQA AS and A2 syllabuses (syllabi?) in the UK.

If you are looking for a clip, all of the relevant ones are here.

You're welcome.

AS French


Pourquoi Facebook est-il interdit aux moins de treize ans ?

A quoi ça sert la pub ?

Quels sont les dangers d'Internet ?

C'est quoi le piratage informatique ?

C'est quoi la VOD ?

Popular Culture

C'est quoi la consommation ?

Qui a inventé les jeux vidéo ?

Qui décide de la mode ?

C'est quoi, la vie privée ? (New 20.07.2015)

Healthy Living and Exercise

Pourquoi doit-on faire attention à ce qu' on mange ?

Pourquoi la cigarette électronique a-t-elle été inventée ?

C'est quoi le Ballon d'or ?

C'est quoi le sida ?

C'est quoi le cannabis ?

A quoi ça sert de faire du sport ? (New 27/7/2015)

C'est quoi le low cost ? (New 28/7/2015)

Pourquoi la cigarette est-elle mauvaise pour la santé ? (New 28/7/2015)

Le sommeil, à quoi ça sert ? (New 7/8/2015)

Family and Relationships

C'est quoi le harcèlement à l'école ?

Pourquoi certaines personnes sont contre le mariage pour tous ? 

A2 French


Comment se déplacer sans polluer ?

C'est quoi les OGM ?

C'est quoi, le changement climatique ?

C'est quoi une centrale nucléaire ?

C'est quoi un accident nucléaire ?

Pourquoi faut-il réduire les déchets ?

Pourquoi la Chine est-elle aussi polluée ?

Pourquoi y-a-t-il des jours plus pollués que d'autres ?

C'est quoi une énergie durable ?

Pourquoi avons-nous besoin des abeilles ? 

C'est quoi le gaspillage alimentaire ?

C'est quoi la couche d'ozone ?

C'est quoi la biodiversité ?

D'où vient la pollution de l'air ?

C'est quoi le gas de schiste ?

Pourquoi faut-il économiser de l'eau ? (New 10/7/2015)

C'est quoi, le gaz de schiste ? (New 02/08/2015)

Multicutural Society

C'est quoi, l'antisémitisme ?

C'est quoi un migrant ?

C'est quoi, le djihad ?

C'est quoi la laicité ?

C'est quoi le Ramadan ?

Comment l'Europe lutte-t-elle contre les naufrages de réfugiés en Meditéranée ?

Contemporary Social Issues

A quoi sert un satellite ?

C'est quoi un drone ?

Pourquoi on a créé les restos du coeur ?

Pourquoi dans certains pays les enfants travaillent-ils ?

C'est quoi la liberté d'expression ?

C'est quoi un SDF ?

C'est quoi payer un loyer ?

Pourquoi le virus Ebola fait-il si peur ?

Est-ce qu' un enfant peut aller en prison ?

Pourquoi y-a-t-il de l'esclavage dans le monde ?

C'est quoi être pauvre ?

Comment un pays peut avoir une dette ? (New 8/7/2015)

A quoi ressemblera la voiture de demain ?

C'est quoi, le chômage ?  (New 27/7/2015)

I shall continue to add to the list as new videos are released.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Peer planning, or, who needs friends anyway?

A quick idea from today's lesson with Year 9 French.

We do a lot of peer marking and peer assessment.

They are quite good at spotting their friends mistakes, but, sadly, never their own.

Today, I got them thinking and encouraged them to be devious, too.

When I feedback to students, I give targets for improvement like, include a range of connectives, or intensifiers, opinions, tenses, etc. etc...

Today, they had to think of some words to give to their partner to include in their written work.

So, by looking back at their partner's last feedback from me, they had to come up with 6 words or phrases their partner had to include in a timed piece of written work we did about music preferences.

For example,  if the feedback was "include a variety of connectives" they had to make a list of connectives which their partner had to use.

When the task was finished they had to go through and highlight where they had used those words and scored a point for each one. The partner with the most points was the winner.

There was an extension task for the more able. This was to write sentences using a specific number of words chosen by their partner.

For a first attempt, it went quite well.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

MFL Show and Tell York 3 #mflsaty3

Yesterday I attended the third MFL Show and Tell at York University.

It was organised by Suzi Bewell in association with ALL and sponsored by Vocab Express, Sanako, Toshiba, Sonocent, Goethe Institut, Mantra Lingua, Little Linguist, Learning French with camembear, art of brilliance, Routes into Languages, Erasmus+, Brilliant publications, Mary Glasgow, Linguascope, Hue, and OUP.

Like last year, it was a great opportunity to meet old friends, discuss language teaching, drink coffee and see short presentations from PGCE students, some NQTs and some other, more experienced languages teachers.

The first presentation was from Fiona Joyce.
Fiona shared her experiences of  2 recent job interviews, the second of which, and the one she really wanted, was a success. Fiona showed us some of the resources she used including a Quiz Quiz Trade activity and she also used what she called "hot chili" questions. The more difficult these questions are the hotter the chilli icon was on the white board.

The second presentation came from Claire Humphrey. Claire showed us how she has used Minecraft-style activities as a way to improve the reading and writing skills of her students. She used colouring grids and mini whiteboards as a way to get the students to write longer sentences in the target language.

Next came Diana Keszler.Diana showed us a number of amazing resources she uses with her groups.
Among these were her kitten picture starter activities where students have to say a sentence in the target language about one of the pictures on the screen. She also showed us "secret spy"; a card for students to fill in about the progress of one of their classmates, code cracking activities, talking pegs, extension cards, and her own version of tarsia puzzles* which "are easier to cut up".

(*Clare Seccombe's guide to Tarsia in MFL is here.)

Martin Heeley gave the next presentation where he demonstrated match up cards. These are cards with a question and the answer to a different question on. One student reads the question on their card and the person with the answer shouts it out and then reads their question, and so on. I like this a lot.

Next Annabel Forster showed us how to fake realia. She showed us how to fake emails and texts. This is easier to do if you have a German/French speaking friend who is willing to send you pretend texts in the target language. This reminded me of the Fakebook, SMS Generator and Twister from

Will Bowden then told us about his experiences of teaching students, who don't know how to tell the time, how to tell the time. He devised some numeracy activities to help the students overcome this, including using a pizza graphic to explain quarter past and quarter to. Will also told us about his "ipad v dictionary" competitions he has with his pupils looking up new vocabulary.

Next, primary specialist, Vikki Bruff, showed us how her pupils formed "human sentences". They have hi-viz vests and are given laminated words to attach to them, they them stand in a line to form a sentence in the target language.

Vanessa Burns then showed us some of the ways she gives feedback to her students. She quoted Dylan Wiliam "feedback versus feed forward" and shared her codes she uses to save a lot of time. Vanessa also told us about how her students feedback in a different colour and also how they peer assess.

Terri Dunne was next. She showed us how she gives recorded, spoken feedback to her students. Terri explained that it's quicker to record and send feedback to students than to write it and also her students like to guess where she was when she recorded it by the sounds in the background.

Following on from this, Joe Dale, demonstrated the Opinion Podcasts app which can be useful for setting speaking tasks for students which can then be saved, converted to mp3 using RP7 and stored in a shared cloud for assessing and feedback.

Alex Bellars shared an activity he had learned the previous weekend at #edcamp15, a photo scavenger hunt. I love this idea of students searching for clues in the target language.

The penultimate presentation of the morning session was from Samantha Paulin. She showed us how she uses crib sheets with phrases target language phrases to get the students to speak. She does this as a competition so each time a student uses one of the phrases they achieve points. My students have something similar pasted into their books but I've never made it a competitive thing. Perhaps I should.

The final presentation of the morning session was my 5 minutes on Time Management. It seemed to go down quite well. I've blogged about it here.

After lunch we had the first of 2 keynotes. This was from Steven Fawkes from ALL.
He talked to us about joining ALL and about the different types of CPD it offers.
Steven shared 2 websites with us: firstly, which contains links on grammar and translation for teachers of KS2 and KS3 and secondly this site, which contains information and texts to help teach literature.
For the final part of his speech, Steven presented some hilarious mis-translations into English from some old exam papers.

The next part of the afternoon was sessions from Erasmus+ and Vocab Express, two of the day's sponsors.

Then there were 3 sessions presented by Joe Dale, Alex Bellars and me.
Joe demonstrated how to use Book Creator App, Alex gave a presentation about Classdojo, and I did an updated,  much shorter and less creme-eggier version of my #ililc5 session, Teaching my dog to whistle.

The day finished with a presentation form the highly entertaining Chris Henley from Art of Brilliance.
He shared some hilarious anecdotes with us and pretty much convinced us all we were brilliant.

Oh, and I won a mug in the raffle.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Royal baby: links and clips

So, it would seem that there is a new person 4th in line to the British throne.

I feel sorry for Andrew. He'd be a great king....

I digress.

Here are some links you might like about the royal baby, or as I prefer to call her Beyoncé.

I specifically chose interesting articles, some with videos clips in the TL.

Most are simple enough to show to your students.

They'll probably be surprised to see the rest of the world obsessed with our Royals, too.

I love the fact that lots of countries have translated the Royals names, too. I'd forgotten they did that.


le Monde

Huffington Post

From Boursorama  I love the headline: La presse britannique gaga du bébé royal

Le Parisien

France TV info  Includes a lovely clip of "Typical British people" celebrating in the street and people saying what the poor kid should be called.

Europe1 seems more interested in the betting odds for the name.

and finally, Le Parisien has a diaporama of the baby they've named "Royal Baby 2"


Focus Online The baby is referred to as a "Fashion-Ikone"

Franfurter Neue Presse 

Augsburger Allgemeine is obsessed with the name

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Swiss German)

Die Welt wants to know why they've already gone home


El Pais

NTN24 with video clip

Cadenaser   (uses the translated names: Catalina and Guillermo)

BBCMundo (has a family tree with all names translated)

euronews  (with video clip)