Saturday, 6 December 2014

Christmas resources and links

Most of these links still work but I've updated this blogpost here - DOM 9/2/2017

Here is my list of (free) Christmas links and resources:




Saturday, 15 November 2014

150000 hits.

This week my blog had its 150000th visit.

That's about 149550 more than I ever expected.

Thanks to all of you who've visited, read and commented over the last four and a half years.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

#nalasat2 Show and Tell

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend the 2nd MFL Show and Tell event organised by Marie O'Sullivan of NALA  and sponsored by those nice people at Sanako.

The event took place in Manchester at the Instituto Cervantes.

During the day we saw 15 presentations and ate our way through dozens of sandwiches, biscuits and Haribos.

The first presenter was Joaquin Bustamente, a primary Spanish teacher in York.
He showed us the Tricky Phonics he does with year 1 and year 2 Spanish.
The pupils have particular trouble with the "R" and "J" sounds and he showed us some actions he does with the students to get them to get the pronunciation correct. He made us join in with the actions and said the best way to get pupils to learn is "don't explain it - just do it."

Next came Suzanne Bryant who showed us a task she has based on the TV game show Perfection.
In the TV version contestants are given 6 sentences and they have to decide whether they are true or false. In Suzanne's version students are given 6 verbs, vocab, or grammar and they have to decide if they are correct or wrong. Her groups work in teams and have to discuss which are the correct ones.


Tom Kelly showed us his code grids.
This is a 5 by 4 grid with bits of sentences on them. Each grid is also numbered. Students are given a series of numbers and have to build that sentence. Similarly, they can be given a sentence and then they have to write the corresponding code. Students can also show progress by adapting the sentences from the grids and adding to them.


After Tom, we heard from Maria Minguez who teaches primary maths in Spanish.
Maria showed us some of the songs and video clips she uses with her students and explained the ways in which she uses youtube videos to explain ordinal numbers to her students.


Jo Hilton teaches primary Italian and showed us how she had adapted English songs into Italian to get the children to learn Spanish sounds.
Shew also showed us "keyhole" cards. These are cards with a keyhole shape cut into them with a picture behind them. Pupils have to guess the object hidden through the keyhole, in the target language.
Jo also shared how she uses cooperative learning structures, in particular the Quiz Quiz Trade activity.


Barbara Cheded then showed us how she uses real and virtual dice in her classroom. 
She uses low tech customisable foam dice and make dice lite an ipad app which lets you customise virtual dice. 

Marie O'Sullivan was the next presenter.
She gave us lots of links to, and ideas how to use, authentic literary texts.
These included: 

Leicht Lesen

Marie also told us that following European sports stars on twitter would also be a good thing as they often tweet in English and their own language.


I did the final presentation of the morning session.

An updated version of "Skinny jeans, baked potatoes and petechial haemorrages", to show where students and teachers can keep up to date with the most current language usage.


The afternoon session started with Soraya Borja and her presentation, érase una vez...
She explained how she used stories to introduce vocabulary and cross curricular themes to improve students' Spanish. She also uses dice activities to get students to add extra details to the stories or even changing them completely by introducing characters from other stories.


Next came Alison Lindsay who showed us some primary games to get students speaking in the target language. These included: qui a la clé?, le facteur and le balai. 
Alison also uses jigsaw puzzles to help practise vocabulary.
Alison's final idea was a cultural & food based exercise. Students are given a map of the French départements and some food packaging. The aim of the activity is to get students to read the packaging and identify which département the food comes from. The students then have an idea as to what the area is like based on the kind of food which is produced there.

Alberto Nunez Garcia showed us some examples of the CLIL he uses in Liverpool to teach history and geography in Spanish. He uses pictures of Anglosaxon Britain and compares it with modern Britain and the paces where the students live. For example: comparing "pueblo" with "cuidad".


Barbara Gleave teaches preschool languages and shared with us a song, "J'aime les éléphants" (to the tune of the cancan). She made us all sing. It was extremely good fun. I can't find a link to the song but if I ever do I'll post it here.


Ana Castillo was up next. She shared a few ideas with us. 
Firstly, a Y7 Scheme of work based on "El Quijote" which included a "Facebook" page and a time line.

Secondly, Ana shared some ideas where students design their own learning mats, exercises using writing frames and she also recommended memrise to help with remembering texts.


The penultimate speaker was Nikki Perry. Nikki shared PRET with us.
PRET stand for Practise, Recall, Extend and Think. 
It is used in her school for homework tasks.
Here is an example:

She also showed us the 1 jour 1 question videos on


The final presentation was by Natalio Ormeno.
Natalio shared with us his experience of living in New Mexico and in particular Christmas in New Mexico. His idea was to get students to research, and present, the customs, traditions, songs and food of a particular Spanish speaking country or area. 

He also shared with us a spanglish version of the Night Before Christmas poem:

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa, not a creature was stirring - ¡Caramba! ¿Qué pasa?   Los niños were tucked away in their camas, some in long underwear, some in pijamas, while hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado, in hopes that old Santa would feelobligado, to bring all children, both buenos and malos, a nice batch ofdulces and other regalos. Outside in the yard there arose un gran grito, and I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito. I ran to the window and looked out afuera, and who in the world do you think that he era? Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero, came dashing along like aloco bombero. And pulling his sleigh instead of venados, were eight littleburros approaching volando. I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre, was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre: ''Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Beto, ay Chato, ay Chopo, Maruco, y Nieto!'' Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho, he flew to the top of our very own techo, with his round little belly like a bowl of jalea, he struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea. Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala, with soot smeared all over his suit de gala, he filled all the stockings with lively regalos, none for the ninos that had been very malos. Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento, he turned like a flash and was gone como el viento,  and I heard him exclaim, y ¡esto es verdad!  Merry Christmas to all, ¡y Feliz Navidad!


I really enjoyed this Show and Tell and I'm already looking forward to next year's.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Many teachers, parents and students can see no educational value in wordsearch puzzles.

As a teacher of languages I often find that they can be quite useful.

I use them:
  • as a bell activity to remind students of the key words from last lesson. 
  • for translation purposes (find the French for the following words).
  • to engage students who struggle to read.
  • for competitions.
  • to improve spelling.
  • to help students to learn to cooperate with each other.
I was recently made aware of this site, teachers-direct which has a great wordsearch creator tool.

It's ideal for languages as it allows you to include characters with accents.

The word list is always given in alphabetical order but I sometimes don't give the students the words to find.

I'll say for example 9 of the 10 words we learned last lesson can be found in the grid, which one is missing? 

The site is full of ready made puzzles but I usually prefer to make my own.

They can be printed or made into interactive whiteboard versions.

Personally, I'm not that keen on the interactive whiteboard wordsearch. It means that many of the students can't see, some won't be watching or working at all and the poor kid trying to do the interactive version is prevented from doing so by his or her own shadow.

You can make wordsearch grids of different sizes from 5 x 5 to 25 x 25 (ideal for differentiation) and you can make a traditional basic puzzle or a puzzle with a cloze passage. 

The cloze passages can be copied and pasted from an existing text of up to 100 words. This could then be the basis of some follow up comprehension questions.

Here is one I made earlier:


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

audio-lingua - authentic listening resources

I came across this site a while ago via Steve Smith's pages.

It has authentic listening resources in 10 different European languages at different levels from A1-C2.

You can search for files by length, level of difficulty, by male or female voice, and by target audience ie. children, young people, adults and seniors.

Files can be downloaded too, this is especially good if you have problems connecting to the internet in school.

I've started to use these clips with my A level class to try to get them to practise listening to the target language at native speaker speed.

I, and they, have been amazed at how much they actually did understand.

You can even embed them into your blog, or website. This is the clip about the i-phone 6 I used last week:

I'm also going to start to use the clips with my GCSE groups next half term.

Friday, 17 October 2014

WTF: A game for the 6th form.

Here's an idea for a fun starter or bell activity for the 6th form (or able KS4):

I want to call it: WTF (as in "What's the French?" or "Weirdly translated French" or even "Wow, that's funny") but it seems that that acronym is already taken.

So it has no name.


If you follow me on twitter, you'll have seen me posting strange translations form my younger students who "didn't use google translate, honest".

So this is the game: give a strange translation to the 6th formers (advanced level students),

get them to work out what it should have said,

and then get them to correct it.

Today they quickly managed to work out that "je voudrais un pièce gare quatre" was actually "I would like a play station 4".

They also uinderstood that "noir piscine" was "Blackpool", too.

It's a lot of fun and a great way to get them to think.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What grade is it? A game for GCSE students.

Today, with my Year11 GCSE German class, I played "What grade is it?"

Sometimes, my lessons are a little bit like a terrible game show but with no prizes.

Me, as a gameshow host

I digress.

Most of the students I've taught over the years think that because a piece of writing contains no errors, then it must be good.

Sadly, this is rarely the case at GCSE.

Too many of my students take the safe option.

So, "What grade is it?" is a great 5 minute group task which helps students realise that a piece of work with no mistakes doesn't necessarily mean it's "good".

Here's the format:

I show the students a paragraph or so in the target language on the screen.

I give them 2 minutes to read it and ask them what grade they would give it based on the GCSE CA writing criteria.

Then they have to explain why.

Then, the next question is "What would you have to add to it to get your target grade?"

Again 2 minutes is enough for this.

Usually the students come up with some excellent answers.

I know that it is impossible to give a GCSE grade to one paragraph but it helps the students to think and to focus on what it is that they need to do to improve their own work.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cheat codes.

If you liked my post from a few days ago about making lists, you'll probably like this idea.

My GCSE German class has renamed the lists, "Cheat codes".

This is the secret information needed whilst playing a computer game in order to access the next level with the minimum of effort.

Or, to put it another way, by cheating.

The lists contain the "codes" needed for the students to achieve one level higher in German.

The more they use and vary the different phrases, the better they will become at German and the higher their grades will be.

All they have to do is learn them.

If they can learn and use this in GTA5:

RB Right Left Right RT Left Right X Right LT LB LB

then surely a few well-placed German phrases shouldn't be a problem.

Should they?  

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Dealing with listless students...

Do you ever get frustrated that the work you are grading just isn't quite...erm...good enough?

That students are using the same old pedestrian phrases, which, while perfectly correct, are just not going to get them the grades they need?

It's just me, then?

On the other hand, I'm totally against spoon feeding students.

So, what can I do? I don't want to do the work for them but I don't want them to underachieve.

I've started to use the list system.

I'm sure thousands of teachers do this.

This is how it works.

Before starting a piece of written work students write a list of all the different types of words they will need to impress the examiner.

Then they tick them off the list when they have been used.

This could be: connectives, intensifiers, opinion phrases, certain adjectives, verbs with different auxiliaries, etc.

This shouldn't be a printed list or a learning mat.

It has to be one they've made for themselves.

Not you.

When they've completed a draft, they can check it against their list.

If they've not used a word or used a word twice, they can change it.

It will improve their writing and stop them from using words which I have banned, like the German word "sehr".

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sandfields School Online Resources Revisited.

Back in 2009 I wrote a blogpost about the sandfields telling the time clock which I still use and which is still, in my opinion, fantastic for teaching students to tell the time in any language.

It was my second ever blogpost and the first one I wrote which was slightly educational.

It has been seen by 28 people which is seven more than read my post about mfl sunderland's resources (now lightbulb languages).

Since then, my blog has really taken off and gets many hits per day, so I thought I'd re-share the amazing Sandfields site.

The teaching clock is still there and still amazing - I've used it successfully for years.

I also love and use the countdown timer a lot. It has preloaded tunes from the Countdown  theme which lasts 30 seconds to the 40 minutes of Baroque. My students love the 1 minute and 5 seconds of the Benny Hill Show Theme (although they have no idea who Benny Hill was!) and also the 1 minute and 44 seconds of the James Bond theme. 

These are ideal for quick 1 or 2 minute tasks. Although some of my students just want to dance rather than work....

There are plenty of other tunes to choose, too, from Danger Mouse to The Banana Splits and Doctor Who

There is also Dictionary Duel. A Countdown style game where you pick random consonants and vowels to see who can find the longest word. Ideal for practising vocabulary in any language (although there are no accents).

Fridge Magnets is a great resource, too. This one does have accented letters and on an interactive whiteboard you can move the letters around to create words.Again, a fantastic resource for learning and practising spellings.

There are also 2 customisable games: Word Web

and Darts.

These games need to be downloaded. You can then use them to create games for your students to play. You could also get the students to create their own games.

This site has proved very useful to me over the last 5 years and I would definitely recommend it to ever teacher, not just MFL teachers.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

No more tears? New GCSE exams in MFL.

If you are in the UK, you'll know that GCSEs in all subjects will soon be changing.

Those nice people at Ofqual have issued a press release confirming the assessment procedures for the new GCSE exams in MFL.

This is how the new GCSE in MFL will look:
  • 25 per cent of marks to be allocated to each of listening, speaking, reading and writing
I think this is a good idea
  • Reading, writing and listening skills to be assessed by exam
I even like this. I was never a fan of controlled assessments or coursework. Too many opportunities for shenanigans in my opinion. 
  • Speaking to be assessed by non-exam assessment
I think this means that speaking may continue to be assessed in the same way.
  • Where a qualification is tiered, students must take all their assessments in one tier, not across a combination of both.
This the one I'm not too sure about. 

In the past, I have come across many students who are better in one skill than in the others. 

Many of my weaker students who have just achieved a C grade at GCSE, have done so because they've achieved incredibly well in the Higher tier reading exam. 

Sadly, it seems that these new arrangements will penalise weaker students.

Perhaps that's the whole idea...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Le sac des filles - revisited

I love the blog, Le sac des filles.

It's a webpage which posts photos of the contents of girls' bags (and boys' pockets) and lists the items in French.

I have blogged about this before here.

One reason I like it is because it is constantly updated. Unlike most resources the mobile phones, and other gadgets, are the current models.

Le sac des filles provides a cultural, as well as a linguistic, insight into the lives of young French people.

For example, most of the bags contain a cigarette lighter. 

This week I'm teaching personal characteristics to my Year 10 (14-15 year old) students and thought that this would be a great way to get students to describe someone's personality by looking at the contents of their bag and or pockets.

Using this page will also provide students with the opportunity to learn some vocabulary which the average text book probably won't contain.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 - a germanist's paradise

One of my favourite German websites is

It's the site of Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle and is a cornucopia of anything a Teutophile could possibly need to know. It is, I suppose, the German equivalent of the BBC World Service or Voice of America.

On the site you can watch live TV, listen to German radio, and read the news from a German perspective.

The parts of the site which interest me the most are the language learning and culture pages.

The teaching and learning sections offer a variety of interactive German courses for learners of all levels and resources for teachers, too.

The culture section is an invaluable tool for any Germanist. I particularly like the podcasts and something I've blogged about before, German word of the week.

It is impossible to do this site justice in one blogpost but I really would recommend that any teacher of student of German takes some time to have a look at how good it is.

Did I mention that using the site is totally free?

There is also a weekly quiz where one lucky participant can win an ipod.

What more could you want?

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Harry - another French Game show

As you probably know I get bored easily.

I also have an unhealthy obsession with trying to include activities based on different game show formats into my lessons.

You can find my previous game show idea posts here, here, here, here and here.

This week I discovered a French game show, Harry, on France3 which could be used in the classroom to help improve spelling, reading and speaking.

The game is this: contestants have to reconstruct French words which have been split up into syllables and find the correct words as fast as they can to win points. 

Here is the trailer: 

Here are some fruit ones I've made up:

NE   NA   BA

AN   AS   AN


IN   IS   RA  

If your students are aware of phonics, breaking up words like this will definitely help with their pronunciation.

You can even sign up to play the game online here.

Monday, 18 August 2014

lawlessfrench - a great resource

I love this website and I can't recommend it highly enough.

It's the work of Laura K Lawless whose work used to be on the site.

Laura now has moved (and improved) her work to her own domain.

Lawless French contains a huge array of different aspects of learning French and would be ideal for any students of French and even for teachers of French, too.

The categories on the site include:

expressions - this includes everyday expressions and idioms

grammar lessons - everything you could wish to know about all aspects of grammar: tenses, word order, adjectives, etc.. Ideal for student revision

listening practice - with scripts

reading practice - authentic texts - ideal for intermediate and higher classes

vocab lists

pronunciation guides

and every French teacher's best friend, the subjunctivisor.

The site is updated regularly and you can even get updates on learning French from Laura on twitter and facebook.

Friday, 15 August 2014

La télé - authentic AS French links

Today, I'm looking at different aspects of la télé.

These could be used for class discussion, comprehension tasks, to practise translation skills, or as extra reading practice for students.

  • From voyagesenfrance an informative article about French TV.

And finally, the trailer for Les Marseillais à Rio, France's version of Jersey Shore. This is the 3rd series, they've already been to Miami and Cancun...

I hope you find some of this useful.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Internet - AS French links

After the positive feedback from my Binge Drinking links, I've decided to do the next one.

So here are some authentic links to do with the internet:

This first one is amazing. It's from and is called Touche pas à mon poste ! It is a 24 page pdf document containing lots of information and statistics (remember exam boards love statistics!) and is primarily aimed at young people.

From - a summary of advantages and disadvantages of the internet

From Académie Toulouse - Quelques dangers d'Internet

An article from Le Monde from 2011 about the dangers of the internet, including a comparison between usage in France and other countries.

From les enfants et l'internet.

sudmé has a page about the dangers of the internet for children including links to posters and a video clip. The posters could be used for speaking stimuli for the speaking exam.

Action Innocence is a site full of child protection  information. The page Préserver la dignité et l'intégrité des enfants sur internet is full of great material and also has some Supports pédagogiques.
An image search for Action Innocence gave me a huge quantity of material for speaking practice.

From an article about Le cyber bullying 

From Le Figaro, an article with lots of statistics about le cybercrime in France.

This page from Gendarmerie Nationale contains information on how they are tackling cyber-crime.

Here is a link to the TES resources for l'internet.

Steve Smith's site also has some fantastic resources in the free samples section but I'd recommend that all teachers of French subscribe to access all of his excellent resources for the price of a text book.

Obviously, I won't use all of these resources with my students inn class but I shall give them a list of the sites for their own independent reading.

Over the years I've found that the students who achieve best are the ones who read independently and there's nothing wrong with pointing them in the right direction.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Beuverie Express - AS French links and resources

Hi. I hope you're enjoying your summer.

In September I will be teaching AS level French again and I'm really looking forward to it.

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post with lots of links to all of the topics.

Sadly, some of these links no longer work or are out of date.

So I decided to update each of the topics with a list of resources and articles.

I'm a great believer in sharing ideas and resources so if you use any of these resources, or find better ones, please let me know how successful they were.

More importantly, if you use them share them with your colleagues.

Today's list, then, is everything good I've found about Binge Drinking or, if you're a member of the Académie Française, la beuverie express.

  • From an article about energy drinks and binge drinking
  • A "news story" about american reality TV "star", Scott Disick, who apparently "boit comme un trou".
  • From, a 43 page pdf document "jeunes et alcool" with lots of statistics. Exam boards like statistics!

A French documentary about binge drinking.

Anti drinking campaign video

A list of more videos can be found here.

There are free resources on the TES website here and here. There are lots of KS4 alcool resources on TES which you could use to start the topic.

Sutton Academy's Fun with Languages site has some games and activities related to the topic here.

So there you go. Hopefully you'll find at least one useful thing among these links.

Enjoy the rest of the summer break.

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.


Saturday, 3 May 2014

German words that sound rude in English.

I teach German.

German has some words which my students (and probably yours) find hilarious.

Dick (fat) and Vater (father) are two obvious examples.

So here's an idea why not encourage them to use these words?

The BBC has a page on its languages website called,

which is a veritable cornucopia of fantastic words your students will love.

It will help with pronunciation if nothing else.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Eurovision 2014 links

It's that time of the year again.


Loathe it or hate it, it seems like Eurovision is here to stay.

For those who don't know, The Eurovision Song contest is an annual abomination competition in which European countries (and Israel, don't ask!) sing their hearts out to win the coveted best song award. It really isn't as good as I make it sound....

Here are some links to various websites with information about the whole sorry affair...

This is the Spanish entry

The German entry

And the French entry...

I don't think that any of them will win....

...and I don't really care...