Saturday, 22 May 2010

A level French and

In 4 weeks, or thereabouts, my A2 students will be sitting their final exams before going off to study for their degrees in Child Psychology and 3rd World Crop Rotation, or Camel Husbandry and Brass Bandsmanship at the University of Chadderton.

So, we have 4 weeks left to revise and try to get them the best grades possible.
I recently rediscovered this site If you don't know ados, it's a French site for young people which contains all elements of youth culture including news, music, books, films, celebrities and a forum for discussions.

The discussion which caught my eye this morning was "le port de la Burqa". This is one of the subtopics we studied for A2 French (under the role of women in society) and a hot topic of debate in France at the moment.

I liked it for a few reasons:
  • it's a genuine resource and not contrived, made up or cobbled together by a writer of textbooks.
  • it's portrays the real (sometimes extreme) views of real French people.
  • and most importantly, it contains some of the best French phrases for expressing views and opinions, which our students are expected to know for the exam.
Ados is a very useful site for finding authentic articles on many subjects. Its very nature means that it is constantly updated, unlike text books, and I'd recommend it to anyone planning for, or teaching, AS and A2 French.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The importance of learning the gender of nouns.

This week I gave one of my classes their first French vocabulary test. (Don't gasp, I've only taught them for 3 lessons.)
One child asked me, "Do we have to get the "le" and "la" right?"
"Of course," I replied.
"That's not fair," said the crest-fallen child.
"Fair, schmair," I said, turning away, ending the conversation in the most mature and adult way I know.

But learning the gender of nouns is very important for students of foreign languages.
One reason for this is that French, Spanish and German have words whose meanings vary depending on their gender.

Here are some examples:

le souris (archaic) = smile, la souris = mouse
le livre = book, la livre = pound
le tour = tour, la tour = tower

el mañana = future, la mañana = morning
el papa = pope, la papa = potato
el moral = blackberry bush, la moral = morality

der Elf = elf, die Elf = team
der Leiter = manager, die Leiter = ladder
das Tor = gate, der Tor = fool

So, when that beautiful foreign stranger you've been practising your language skills on has a large mouse on her face as you explain why you don't agree with the potato's views on blackberry bushes, you're going to look a complete gate and you'll really wish you had learned the genders as well as the nouns.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

What to do with Year 9...

At this time of year UK based language teachers face a huge problem.

What do I do with my year 9? Most of them are not going to continue with languages next year and they have already decided that they are not going to do any more work.

One solution, particularly popular with boys, is to do a World Cup 2010 project. Clare Seccombe has produced a cornucopia of ideas, presentations, and, even better, resources, here.

But what do you do with students who are not interested in football?

How about teaching them to text in the Foreign Language.

Most English students will already be "textperts" in English, so why not teach them the basics in Spanish, German, or French? (Click the language for a list of abbreviations from

Give your students a list of the text abbreviations, put a message on the board and get them to come up with a creative response. When I did it last year it worked really well.

What do you make of this?

Je vé au 6né V1 avec moi
a tt