Saturday, 20 November 2010

Links Manchester Conference

Last Saturday morning I found myself in the north west of England again. It's becoming a habit.
This time I attended a Links into Languages / i-languages conference at the Chancellors Hotel in Manchester. The speakers were Juliet Park and Wendy Adeniji.
Unfortunately I didn't get to hear Juliet speak as I had signed up for the sessions "Thinking through MFL" and "Free ICT Tools for MFL" both of which were led by Wendy.

The main aims of the sessions were to get teachers:
  • to motivate and encourage learners
  • to develop linguistic progression
  • to develop language skills
  • to use innovative ideas in their work
To improve our students' speaking and listening skills we were advised to use authentic songs (rather than the ones which come with the textbook) and shown where we might find them.
Here's one:

We were also shown an examples of Vokis and a speaking frame to improve students participation.

To improve pupils' speaking skills we were encouraged to think more about context. What do pupils want to talk about? What do they want to read about? Would a French person really ask them what is in their pencil case? To raise pupils' interest, Wendy suggested that we should take a look at MYLO, too.

Another idea was that we compare and contrast aspects of life over the years to increase Cultural Understanding. The example we were shown was two clips of fashion shows, one from 1960 and one from 2010.

Next, we were shown some ideas to improve memorisation skills of our students. We were pointed in the direction of ilanguages website and its free resources section.

The next part of the course was "Thinking through MFL". This included the purpose of thinking skill strategies, the shape of a thinking skills lesson, and some ideas for thinking skills activities. These include: odd one out exercises, categorisation, living graphs, mysteries, diamond nine (an example of which you can find here on, reading images(some good pictures here), and memory maps. All the information on thinking skills can be found here at Clare Seccombe's MFLSunderland website.

Then came the break. Coffee, biscuits and networking. Which is code for chatting about shopping with people you know while Dom sits in the sunshine, relaxing. A tip I've learned from my dogs. I managed to persuade a lady called Ros to sign up to twitter. At least, I thought I had, she hasn't signed up yet. D'oh.

The second session was my favourite - Free ICT Tools for MFL.

In this session we learned all about avatars. We can create these using voki and xtranormal. There is an example of a voki I created just on the right of this page. Wendy also showed us how to save them to publisher so that they can be put onto a VLE or school website.

Wordclouds came next. We were shown how to use wordle and tagxedo. Paticularly good with song lyrics. (I shall try this.)

We were shown how to use Audacity to record students work and how to edit and add effects to the recordings. We were also directed to places where we could buy inexpensive recording equipment: CPC and Easispeak are 2 examples. To record and send files online, we were shown vocaroo and mailvu (which I haven't yet had a chance to look at).

To develop students' writing we were shown glogster and storybird. For some terrific examples of MFL storybirds you really should go to Fiona Joyce's excellent storybird wiki.

The final thing we were shown zamzar is a usueful tool for any educator. It is mainly used by teachers to download and save youtube videos for use in schools where youtube is blocked. I've since found out that zamzar can be used to convert other types of files, too.

I think I've covered everything that I learned and I hope you can find a use for some of the resources mentioned. It was a very well prepared and delivered course and if you get a chance to here either Juliet or Wendy speak, I recommend that you go and listen and learn.

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