Monday, 22 June 2009

A sad loss

Bernard Grogan died last week at the age of 81. I was fortunate enough to have been taught French by him at school. Had it not been for him, I don't think I would be doing this job now. He was inspiring, amusing and scary as hell if you annoyed him. He will be missed.

Friday, 19 June 2009

TMNE09 (Teach Meet North East)

Do you remember me blogging about Teach Meet a few weeks ago?

Well, last night I attended the first TMNE09. It was organised by Chris Harte et al, and took place at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle.

It was extremely well attended and there were excellent presentations by some amazing teachers. I've listed those who gave presentations and those who led conversations below, and I would like to thank not just them, but all those who attended, and worked behind the scenes, for making it such a successful and funducational evening.

There were presentations on many varied and excellent topics by:

Chris Harte, Darren Mead, Ian Hardy, Fergus Hegarty, Helena Butterfield, Régine Schneider, Steve Bunce, Holli & Mike (from Tyneside Cinema Education), Mark Clarkson (who has already blogged his thoughts here), and some bloke called Dominic McGladdery.

The Learning Conversations were led by: Mark Simpson, Doug Belshaw, Sue Balmer, and Chris Harte.

If you were unable to attend, and wished you had, you can see most of the presentations here thanks to the magic of Flashmeeting.

As a teacher of MFL and a wannabe ICT expert, I learned so many things including: using Anderson's taxonomy, how to use glogster, how to start successful e-twinning links, and, thanks to Steve Bunce how I might go about trying to play "pong" with my eyebrows!

I also learned new ways of using some web2.0 applications which I knew a little about already.
(You can see my attempts at goanimate, wordle, and crazytalk scattered around this blog.)

It was a great venue, I met some cyber-friends in the flesh and my brain was chock full of good ideas when I left.

If you ever get the chance to attend a Teachmeet, do so. You won't regret it!

Monday, 15 June 2009

A talking VW

For those of you who don't speak German, a talking VW. This one is from Mexico, which is why she speaks Spanish.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Leo, the CrazyTalking pup.

Earlier this week, Joe Dale blogged about some students using CrazyTalk in their Languages work. I was fascinated and so decided to try it out for myself. The software is not expensive and I can see lots of value in it as an educational tool and as a great source of mischief.

In less than an hour from downloading the program, I managed to come up with this. One of my dogs, chatting.


Thursday, 4 June 2009

GCSE MFL a University requirement?

The BBC news website reported today that the British Academy is recommending that a GCSE in modern foreign languages should be a requirement for entry to University in the UK.

They have produced a report "Language Matters" in which they voice concerns that the future of the UK’s world class research base might be threatened by the decline in modern language learning and call for a series of measures by Universities and Government bodies to address this danger.

The report is quite short and to the point. It identifies reasons for language learning as "citizenship; communication; economic, social and political dimensions; democracy; diversity; employability; environmental sustainability; equal opportunities; globalisation; identity; intercultural competence; international dimension; key skills; language awareness; mobility; multilingualism; personal and social development of the individual; and values."

It recommends that "DIUS and DCSF should review language teaching and learning across all sectors to ensure a coherent system in which language learning begun at primary school has a natural progression for every student through HE and life-long language learning. The review should consider the syllabus, teaching methods and teacher supply as well as other ways of promoting language learning, such as careers advice".

This "natural progression" doesn't seem to have been taken into account by the DCSF. You can read about this in my previous posts about the New NC Attainment Targets below. (Although I now see where Attainment Target 3 came from!)

So, will it become a reality?

Well, UCL has already stated here that it will require a Languages GCSE from 2012 from all applicants and although the Russell Group Universities have no concrete plans to follow suit en masse, I believe that it will be just a matter of time, particularly because the British Academy recommends that students accepted to study at university without a Languages GCSE qualification should have to study a language as part of their degree course.

The universities will not want to employ extra staff and resources to teach beginners languages courses when almost every school in the UK has a languages department, will they?

The simple thing would be to make modern languages a requirement. It makes sense, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Wordling - Meine Schuluniform

It finally happened. It has taken almost 5 weeks but I finally got some students to use wordle successfully in my class.

This is my year 7 set 4 class (low ability 12 years old) and this term they have been studying the topic "meine Schule". Their spelling is not amazing, but their wordling is really good.

Here are some examples of their work.
Wordle: traumuniform

Wordle: traumuniform

Wordle: schuluniform

Wordle: Schuluniform

Wordle: uniform

Well, I'm impressed, anyway!

Monday, 1 June 2009

New MFL KS3 NC level descriptors. Part 2

I've just had another thought about this and now I'm both annoyed and confused. (It's called multi-tasking!)

Initially, some of my colleagues thought that this was a great idea because the 3rd attainment target will improve the students' final KS3 assessments and they will want to choose MFL as an option in KS4. Great! I'm all for increasing uptake at KS4 and beyond. But for the right reasons.

That's all very well, but because of this many of these students will have an overinflated KS4 target grade.

I have studied (and blogged) the new specs for GCSE here and nowhere can I find a section on "intercultural understanding" in there. We, obviously, teach some cultural understanding as part of GCSE but it is not a separate section of the course.

Does this mean that in 2014 the GCSE will change again? I think it probably does.