Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Lumni - the education platform from Europe 1

Lumni is an education platform for teachers and students from French broadcaster Europe1.

It has lots of videos and articles on subjects such as history, news and lifestyle for students of all  ages.

Here is a  screen shot of some of the titles on their homepage:

I signed up to their mailing list a while ago and this morning, I received a link to a section all about food. The videos range from why we need to eat to healthy eating to videos about individual foodstuffs  and why they are good, or bad, for us.

Most of the videos are cartoons in a similar style to those on 1jour1actu 's website and there are some which feature real people, too.

The C'est bon section contains 26 videos about different types of foods which would be ideal for teaching about healthy eating. Each clip lasts 2 minutes 30 seconds. 

Here's one about bread:


Saturday, 13 February 2021

Teaching from home or holding a seance?

Hello there,

How are you all today? 


Like most teachers, I am working from home at the moment. 

To be precise from the kitchen.

It's great.

I love it...

I have never eaten so much toast, or so many biscuits and crisps, or drank quite so much tea as I have over the last 5 weeks.

I'm teaching live lessons though the medium of Microsoft TEAMS, a business communication platform that  was never intended to be used as an online classroom...

...but it's better than nothing.

This isn't a rant by the way...

There are advantages to teaching from home:
  • I get an extra half an hour in bed each morning.
  • I haven't ironed a shirt since mid-December.
  • I'm saving a fortune on petrol (but spending considerably more money on tea, bread, biscuits and crisps...)

There are also things I miss about physically travelling into work: 
  • I miss the friendly staff at the drive-thru coffee shop
  • I miss my friends and colleagues (not all my colleagues, obviously)
  • I miss seeing the kids, talking to them, listening to them.
  • I miss the interaction and the whole experience of teaching in a classroom.

There are lots of things I can't control online which I can control in a classroom:
  • Some students don't complete any work. In my classroom they (usually) have no option.
  • Some students attend for the register and then disappear. Can you imagine that happening in your classroom? Five minutes in, you turn round to discover half of them have sneaked out?  I have literally taught a Year 8 lesson to no students. Not a single one turned up. 
  • Some students don't know how to work the techy side of home learning. They can use tiktok, Facebook, Instagram, and Plurk but have no idea how to open an Assignment, submit an assignment, or actively engage in a lesson. None of this is their fault. their parents and teachers think kids are good with computers when in reality, they are good at doing a couple of things on computers (some of them are even legal).
  • Marking work takes much longer, it is submitted in 15 different formats and once feedback has been given and returned, it is lost forever. 
  • Don't even get me started on Google Translate. It's a wonder the site hasn't melted with all the use it's been getting. Students who before Christmas were working at GCSE level 3 are now submitting work which includes imperfect subjunctives and some frighteningly translated local vernacular... "J'aime me frire comme." ("I love chips me like." Seriously!)
  • My students are not permitted to turn on their cameras so I've no idea if they are even there. I spend most of my time saying "Raise your hand if you are there...Raise your hand if you can hear me...Is there anybody there....?"

image courtesy of

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

ER verbs in 40 minutes

 A few weeks ago, I had a job interview.

I didn't get the job. 

Thanks for asking.

One of the things they asked me to do was teach a lesson to Year 7.

They asked me to teach the full paradigm of ER verbs. 

In the present tense.

In French.

In 40 minutes. 

I love a  challenge.

So this is what I did.

I put together a series of tasks which would take just a few minutes each:

This task was to gauge what the students already knew. 
(You'd be surprised how many times I've been asked to introduce something that students have done before!)

Luckily, most of them spotted that they ended in ER and one of them (a native French speaker!!) managed to tell me that they were all verbs.

This led nicely to task 2.

Most of them knew this, so it didn't take long to move to task 3.

This came with a picture of Buzz Lightyear (which I can't reproduce here for copyright reasons).

Task 4 was a translation task and a reminder of the verbs from task 1:

We also worked out that if the pronoun is "je" the verbs end in "e".

Task 5 was the good old "what do you know about your own language task".

They managed to work out that the last three were wrong and could tell me why.

(Although, for some reason the grammar checker in Office thought number 5 was correct...)

We then looked at verb endings in French and they were given Task 6, to put the correct endings on some stems.

We got the answers correct, thought of some more sentences in French and wrote a rule about conjugating ER verbs.

Task 7, was another translation task this time, English into French:

They managed to deal with this quite well, so we then had a look at the challenge task:

A lot of them spotted the extra "e" and told me it was wrong. 

I told them it wasn't wrong and asked them to explain why.

A few of them got it straight away.

That was it the full paradigm of ER verbs in French in the present tense in 40 minutes.

image from

Saturday, 5 December 2020

MFL Christmas resources (updated for 2020)

 Hello there.

Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la laaaaa et cetera!

Here is an updated list of Christmas resources all in one place, so you don't have to search the internet.

Lightbulb Languages

This is owned and managed by Clare Seccombe. I love this site. A cornucopia of free resources for many languages from primary to secondary any time of the year. 

Here are links to LL's FrenchSpanish, and German, Christmas resources.

This is probably the only place you need to go for resources but I'll give you some more, too.


Despite my bugbear of TES users selling other people's stuff, there are still some ethical users producing good, free resources on the TES site (although nowhere near as many as there used to be...). 

Here are their French, Spanish, and German resources (with the free ones first).

There are some good French resources on this site run by Samantha Broom


Scotland's National Centre for Languages has resources about Christmas in various countries here.

Lancashire Grid For Learning has some some links to Christmas resources.

Lanternfish has some French Christmas worksheets and French Christmas carol lyric sheets.

Photo of Munich from  stux7221 on

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Halloween murder mystery

Hello there, It's been a while, I know. This is a lesson I threw together for my Year 7 classes last week. It involves thinking skills, knowing all about genders of nouns, cognates, and speaking in the target language. It's called Who Killed The Big Pumpkin and is loosely based on the game Cluedo. Or Clue if you're American. There are 4 tasks:
The students really seemed to like it. If you'd like a copy, email me. PS: I used this lesson for a recent job interview. Luckily, I didn't get the job...but that's another story...however, one pupil came to me at the end of the lesson and told me it was the best French lesson she had ever been in. The Teaching Assistant also told me that the autistic pupil she was working with had never taken part in a lesson until that lesson.

PS. I have now put this resource on the TES website. It is free and you can even pass it off as your own work if you like...

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Languages are meant to be spoken – MFL verbal skills at KS3

Earlier this year I wrote an article for Teach Secondary magazine about the importance of speaking in MFL. Sadly, due to some pandemic you may have seen on the news, it hasn't yet appeared in print. The good news is that you can read it on their Teachwire website here.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Zipi y Zape y la Isla del Capitán - studying a spanish film.

At the end of each academic year, KS3 students at my school study a film.

I've written about this before here (German), here (French) and here (Spanish).

This year was a little different. Due to lockdown, the situation was weird to say the least.

Usually, all of our Y8 students would study the film. This year, however, only those who have opted to continue with Spanish next year have studied the film.

The film I chose this year was the sequel to last year's film, Zipi y Zape y el club de la canica, Zipi y Zape y la Isla del Capitán.

The reasons for the choice were quite simple:

1) The film is widely available to watch on the internet, on Netflix and other streaming sites. 
2) It's quite easy to follow.
3) None of the children had seen the film.
4) It's quite good.

Normally when studying a film, we would spend two or three lessons watching and discussing the film.
This wasn't possible this time, so I made a true/false quiz which would help the students follow the plot.

This year's project was a GCSE transition project so I wanted the other activities to be similar to the type of tasks the students might encounter in their GCSE course.

I found some really good resources online:

The Discovery Film Festival (I mostly used this resource)

TES user iuliamorgan

and I included lots of activities so students could use their knowledge of describing people and personalities which they were studying just before lockdown.

The feedback from students has been very positive and they are really looking forward to studying GCSE Spanish next term.