Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Hot seating for spontaneous talk

I have been working on spontaneous talk over the past couple of months, after having read some of Rachel Hawkes' resources. This hot seating activity worked well with Year 8 today.

In the first slide, students work in pairs to come up with the questions which would have produced those answers. They have been working on questions and answers in dialogue over recent lessons, so it is all recycled vocabulary.

Once they have had time to do the task, we go through it together and compare their questions with mine. Then they use the questions to produce their own answers from memory and hold a dialogue with a partner. They are not allowed to write anything down.

Following this, they play a whole class game of hot seating, in which one person sits on a chair at the front of the room and randomly picks other students to ask the questions, before answering them.

The hot seating worked really well. Firstly, students were really keen to be picked, and even the quietest students contributed. Secondly, every time the person in the chair made a grammatical error in his or her answer, someone corrected it and because no one had written anything down, it was all done from memory. 

This game was an all round winner. Minimum teacher input and maximum student engagement, with collaboration and peer checking. I can see it becoming a favourite very quickly.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Mobile devices research

I've been doing a research project for school and chose to look at the use of mobile devices in the classroom. Unsurprisingly, there is very little published evidence to support the use of mobile devices in the classroom and it is left to those of us who are in favour to state our case.
Much more could have gone into the slideshow but I've actually ended up taking a lot of material out. It's for presentation to staff at a workshop so I have tried to reduce it to the main points for discussion.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

MFL Magic with QR Codes

I've just got back from an amazing weekend and #ililc6. Here is my presentation on QR codes. Many thanks to Helen Myers for organising such a great event.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Fasching and Mardi Gras

I can't believe it's Fasching already. Here is a selection of resources for the week ahead:- has a selection of masks and other Fasching-related things to make. has some Fasching games.

For French resources, there is a selection of links to resources here.

There are also some nice resources on

Here is a link to a Mardi Gras feature on 1jour1actu from a couple of years ago.

Have fun. :-)

Friday, 29 January 2016

Teacher Training at Portsmouth and Stubbington

Over the past couple of days, I have delivered teacher training on easy ICT tools for MFL. Thanks to everyone who took part and I hope you have found some useful ideas for your classroom practice. Here is the slideshow.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Reading and Listening skills

It's been a long time since my last blog post, not through idleness but because things have been very busy!
Today I went to Southampton University to talk to PGCE trainees about reading and listening skills. Here is a copy of the presentation, just in case anyone else might find it useful.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Translation workshop

Last week I went to a CPD event on teaching translation within the new curriculum. Here are some of my notes on this, along with a few websites I've found.

Although translation only counts for about 5% of the marks in the new GCSE, it can be done in fun way and it can also be part of our focus on culture within the context of the new curriculum.

Translating idioms is a good place to start. Here is a selection in French and in German. So when covering the topic of parts of the body, we could look at relevant idioms like avoir un poil dans la main (literally to have a hair in your hand). This means to be lazy - obviously!?

Another good starting place is translating jokes. There are plenty of French puns on I love the Carambar jokes like this one:
Pourquoi le pecheurs sont-ils maigres?
Parce qu'ils surveillent leurs lignes. :-)

News headlines make a great starting place. I'm a big fan of Newsmap; it's easy to select your language from the menu bar at the top and if you want to go for a detailed look, you can click on the headlines to open the full articles.

One way of differentiating translation skills is to give students a sheet with sentences to work on, divided into 4 levels of difficulty.

Another idea is to give students pyramids of sentences to translate, which become progressively more complex. This is something we have done a lot of work on in our department.

For longer texts, I liked the idea of getting students to work in groups to translate paragraphs. Get them to write on sugar paper, then get each group to pass their paper round and see if it can be improved on.

Parallel texts make a great activity for youngsters. It is easy to devise your own. Put gaps at different points in each text to differentiate the task - the easier task is to find the English and the more challenging task is to find the TL. Steve Smith has been putting French/English parallel texts on his website, - well worth the subscription, in my opinion.

Finally, a lot of fun can be had with texts which have been badly translated through Google. But let's not forget my personal favourite: badly-translated signs.