Archive | November, 2010

CILT ITE Conference Secondary MFL – Target Language

28 Nov

Last Saturday I spent a great day at the national centre for languages (CILT) at my first ever ITE conference.

The opening address was from a very animated, engaging and well informed lady, Ann Swarbrick.

She made reference to the Languages Review and said, quite unashamedly that she is proud of the fact that languages are seen to be HARD.  HARD is FUN in her eyes! You have to be disciplined.  It’s a challenge.  You can see immediately why I warmed to her so much!


With reference to Target Language (the main theme of the day), she stated that potentially the fears that some Primary teachers have about TL teaching are the same as those of some secondary colleagues.


Reasons for not using much TL could include:

-getting it wrong

-fear of criticism

-fear of being corrected

-fear of being out of control

-losing warm relationships / rapport

-need for collegial working and time to do it


All the above are legitimate fears.


Our job in ITE is:

-to get mentors on board

-to help trainees to deconstruct the process

-to correctly interpret ever changing initiatives / documentation

-to keep tabs on ex trainees to see what happens to TL once they ‘fly the university nest’.


The view of many trainees is

‘I see what you mean, I believe you BUT I don’t see TL use in my school.  It’s difficult for me to establish a different way of working when everybody around me is teaching in English.’

Trainees are strategically thinking about who is assessing them at ground level i.e. school based mentors.

Trainees come into ITE with a belief system that is personal to them.  A trainer from Leeds University, Amanda Deacon, said that she had conducted a survey of beliefs with her trainees and uncovered all sorts of interesting things!

Here is a link to ‘An inventory of teacher perspectives’, PRATTS 


On the CILT website, hidden away behind various layers and tabs are some videos about spontaneous talk.  They can be found if you follow this trail:

>Secondary >14-19 >Teaching Strategies > TL > Case Studies > Spontaneous Talk


The video could be a good starting point for a departmental discussion on use of TL.


Below are the notes I took over the course of the day – if anything requires further explanation please do get in touch by leaving me a comment below.


If you are reading this post from outside the UK I would be particularly keen to hear from you as I think it would be very interesting to see what the TL approach is elsewhere.







Secrets to Success – a light hearted look at what it means to be successful

25 Nov

LOVE THIS VIDEO and can’t wait to share it with my trainees.  

What do you think?


Phonics course @ TASC, Leeds – Wendy Adeniji

18 Nov


It has been a week of Inset, with more to come this weekend at the CILT ITE Secondary Conference down in London!

I spent this afternoon at my old University College with the lovely Wendy Adeniji learning more about phonics in French, German and Spanish.  

Wendy started by telling us that according to a recent CILT ( survey which asked why so many Y9 were dropping languages, 48% of those surveyed said it was because of pronunciation

The key to good pronunciation is to start ‘em young!  The younger the better, in fact.


To do: KS3 Framework for Languages – look for the many references linked to ‘Letters and Sounds.’


The aims of the course were:

To discuss the importance of phonics

To focus on Fr Ger Sp phonemes / graphemes  

Give examples of what phonics might look like in a lesson


What is phonics?


It is a good idea to refer to ‘Progression in Phonics’ DFEE 1999

Phonics, in a nutshell, is the skills of segmenting and blending letters and sounds.


The majority of current Y7s in the UK were taught to read and write in their own language (L1) using phonics / the letters and sounds technique.


Therefore we should tap into this and use it to our advantage in MFL T&L.


Next we moved onto

Underpinning principles of Phonics Teaching in Primary Schools


We then examined more closely

Why teach phonics explicitly in ML?


-Learners will learn more independently if they can sound out correctly any new words they come across

-This knowledge can be applied to early writing tasks

-Struggling learners acquire a range of strategies to help them in their learning

-Visual learners are disadvantage if they are not given the opportunity to see the written word



We then took a quick Quiz (see below) and were told that many children as young as 4 and 5 (my 5 year old daughter Amélie included) know this terminology.


Test yourself …


What is a grapheme?


What is a phoneme?


What is a diagraph?


What is a split diagraph?


What is meant by ‘to segment’?


Did you know (1) … there is a much higher rate of dyslexia in the UK than in France, Germany and Spain.

Did you know (2) … 40% of words in French are cognates.


Following on from this we discussed

The challenge of cognates : easy to write difficult to pronounce!


Try saying these words in French and think about the tricky sounds (compared to English):









Consider the following:

nasal sounds – un*, in, on, en / an (2 graphemes, same sound)


*un is the top high frequency word in French


Did you know (3) … there are 44 phonemes in the French language altogether.



22 out of those 44 phonemes are quite different from English.


A great way to start thinking about tricky sounds for English learners of French are the numbers 1-20:


un – deux – trois – quatre – cinq – six – sept – huit – neuf – dix

onze – douze – treize – quatorze – quinze – seize – dix-sept – dix-huit – dix-neuf – vingt


Here are a few of the tricky sounds in German:



We did a similar exercise in Spanish. (Photo)


It is important to note here that Spanish is a phonetic language.



Did you know (4) … that allegedly, King Ferdinand of Spain had a lisp which meant that Spanish speakers in Spain speak as those they have a lisp!


Spanish speakers help me out – is this true???



We then had a quick look at German examples and moved on to look at some concrete examples from Wendy’s brilliant resources ‘Les planetes phoniques’. (Now available from in French, German and Spanish)


Children are very keen to mimic the native speaker on the videos – it is an immediate instinct to do so, in fact.



A few pointers about this methodology: 



Wendy normally asks her learners to close their eyes when they are working to enable them to concentrate on the sounds!


Activity – Ask pupils to tell you words they know which contain the ‘oi’ sound.

-Check these against the planet ‘oi’.

-Listen to 2 words or phrases – which has the oi sound in it?   The first or the second?

-Try saying this rhyme in pairs!

‘Une oie, deux oies etc …’



Interestingly, we listened to a recording of a Y6 boy and were all very impressed by the way he naturally self corrected.


Importance of voice recording

We discussed the following ways of encouraging teachers to record their pupils at work:


-Easi-speak microphones and other recording devices

-Flip USB hand held video recorders

-Free Audacity software


Here is a link to an excellent blog post by Joe Dale all about creative use of audio in the MFL classroom: 


Wendy didn’t mention, but I would hasten to add, which pupils could easily access from home allowing them to ‘do speaking’ for homework!


The afore mentioned  activity may be followed by a tongue twister

‘Il etait une fois … ‘ which also allows for some all important Intercultural Understanding.


Search You Tube for more virelangues. 


As a final activity, pupils could be presented with some unknown language and then asked

‘Can you now pronounce these words: … ‘


Activities to practise key sounds:


Sounds like … 

Search ‘Fable Sounds’ on the wonderful MFL Sunderland site.


Running Dictation

Possibly try this once pupils have got a back of sounds.


Thinking skills

Get pupils to work out what is the common phoneme e.g.

prix – organise – ligne – merci

juin – train – cinq – besoin


Phonics placemat cards (from TES resources, I think)

Get the pupils to work out the key sound.  Examples below in French and Spanish.



Take the ‘j’ sound in Spanish.

Pupils offer words they already know containing the ‘j’ sound.


Listen to the rhyme: tally how many times you hear the ‘j’ sound.


You could also do a Mexican wave every time you hear the ‘j’ sound wave but beware – learners could just be waving because their friend is waving!


We went on to play a group game.

With a randomly mixed set of flashcards (from several different topics) – hold your card up in the air when you hear a certain phoneme.


e.g. – in  – I had a flashcard with a picture of ‘un lapin’


TOP TIP: Check TES resources for phonics / MFL stuff – some of which I personally uploaded at the start of the summer holidays.


To finish we focussed on German and the – au sound:


Augen, Haus, Blau, auf, Frau, grau


Listen to this rhyme and make an ‘ow’ face every time you hear the – au sound


We also talked briefly about linking the sounds with an action. I personally have used ‘Le Manuel Phonique’ by Jolly Phonics and think for less than £20 it is well worth investing in!


Other suggestions:



Have the planets on the ceiling and around the room as a display, with the objects that have the sound in.


Noisy phonemes!

I call this ‘Love train’ – pupils are given different words e.g. lapin main and are sent off to regroup with others in the class who have a word containing the same sound


Phonics fans

Available to buy from TTS – can be ordered online or you could make your own!


You Tube

‘Le lion est mort ce soir’

Give the pupils the lyrics and they highlight all the silent letters.


The same could be done with ‘Pigloo: Moi j’aime skier’

The focus would be on the – oi sound.


Search also for:

Der Penguin rap

Le ragga des pingouins

Funny Bear (available in most languages)


Phonic bingo

See attached document – silent letter bingo- if you download this and print there are enough cards for a whole class set.

Wendy also talked briefly about how to convert You Tube clips using and showed delegates how to embed a You Tube video clip into PPT.


We had a few technical hitches towards the end of the session, but Wendy ended by talking briefly about using  to showcase beautiful speaking work and made reference to (Quote unquote ‘Voki on steroids!’)


A really useful session and a topic very dear to my heart.

Hope some of this is useful folks!





For Teachers By Teachers – Marvellous MFL Show and Tell, Oldham

14 Nov


Wowsers!  What a weekend.  Here is a summary of the wonderful day of sharing and inspiration that was the MFL Show and Tell in Oldham yesterday.  As predicted, we had an awesome day and all involved came away brimming with ideas and desperate to get back into their classrooms to trial some of the brilliant ideas and resources.  Myself and my 3 trainees included!  Isabelle Jones, you are Wonder Woman personified.


NB Accompanying photos and PPTs will be added to this post over the coming week.


There were 15 presenters in total, chosen at random using random name generator. 


First up, much to her surprise (as she had only just walked through the door) was the fantastic Marie-France Perkins who had come up to Manchester all the way from…BATH!  Now that is commitment to your profession.


1.Marie France Perkins

@Marie-France on Twitter 


Finding authentic resources on the net 


Marie-France firstly asked us to consider 2 important questions:

1. What is the goal of my lesson and the needs of my students?

2. How do I locate the correct materials?


She spoke about using the Internet and various searches to uncover wonderfully authentic materials for use in French lessons, in the way that 10 years ago we, as languages teachers, would fill our car boots with tourist brochures, food containers, etc. on returning from a ‘holiday’ to the TL country!


Things to search for included:


Ministere de la santé et des sports


Medicins sans frontiers, , Oxfam France

Political parties e.g. les verts (l’environnement , le nucléaire)


Le chateau de Versailles , le Louvre – websites which offer virtual tours without leaving the comforts of your classroom

 French supermarkets and hypermarkets

French Wikipédia

Online media such as the website – great for short reading texts

 Live radio stations and TV

 Fantastic for online video clips in French


2. Marie O’Sullivan



Prompts for speaking 


The Hat!

Random name / question generator which allows the teacher to randomly pull out individual names and also pairs


Quiz Quiz Trade 

Pupils are given a piece of card containing a questions and helpful answer prompts (to assist their partner)

Pupils pair up then ask both of their questions using the answer prompts only if their partner needs them.

Pupils then swap questions with each other and then swap pairs.

This keep going on and on…giving pupils the opportunity to ask and answer lots of questions


Rally robin!

30 seconds each silent thinking time then work in pairs (shortest little finger), pupils pair up and ask and answer questions.


3. Chris Harte (on Skype)



SOLO TAXONOMY – visible learning


Chris was entertaining as always but with a very serious message about learning.

He talked about how the NC (and we as teachers) put fences up to learners – particularly in relation to levels

Biggs Solo Taxonomy – search on Google

Diagram (photo) – the different stages of learning

prestructural – unistructural – multistructural – relational – extended


e.g. French past perfect tense

Learning is messy – this is a good thing!

Making links is vital for real (deep) learning to take place!

No links = causes problems

Applying the learning to other tenses

Link to gender


A good book to read is Geoff Petty – Evidence based Teaching – a useful website linked to SOLO taxonomy


4. Mary Cooch



Using Moodle to connect students of English and Spanish


Mary spoke about the joys of moodle and highlights included:

Photoshop Tennis (with speech bubbles) – pupils take it in turns to add a photo and speech bubble and next person adds for a collaborative story.


5. Esther Mercier





Download the educational version of Songsmith – it’s ace!

50s rock, salsa etc. – play with tempo

Esther performed her brilliant Daily routine song – sound file to follow!


6. Kath Holton

@Kath52 – Kath’s terrific T&L wiki 



Things to look into… – an alternative to PPT, a bit like – a games generator, a bit like

 7. Fiona Joyce

@wizenedcrone – wiki full of ready-made Storybirds


Storybird for storytelling


Fiona talked about the brilliant website for generating teacher and pupil stories.

Link on Clare Seccombe’s fab blog – reasons for using Storybird

New features on Storybird to include tag typing



8. Vanessa Parker


PPT Creative Ideas to Engage Students


Wow what this lady doesn’t know about PPT is not even worth knowing.

Vanessa is going to share her PPT about PPT at a later date – watch this space!


9. Helena Butterfield



Etwinning and MFL


Helena spoke with great passion and gusto about the benefits of connecting classrooms using the Etwinning website.  She told us all about her exciting, award winning projects to date.  I am looking forward to reading about Michel the bear’s adventures…if he ever leaves her classroom for his travels! (LOL)


10. Dom McGladdery



Like, totally random…


Dom was great.  As always.  He showed us his Mug of doom containing lolly sticks with pupils’ names on which he uses to randomly select his victims! Fnar fnar… – PPTs to download which randomly genrate names, questions etc. (Press S for stop.) Looks cool!

Virtual dice – google this!

Also Talking Dice from  – £6 for a pack of 6 or for the cheapskates amongst us Talking dice with normal dice!

PPT Alchemy – PPT spinner


11. Joe Dale

@joedale – fabulous life changing blog!


WWW – Wikis, Widgets and Working Together


Lots of audience participation in this one …


Joe ran a training session for this school and based on his day visit we looked at the following web tools for MFL: for collaboration e.g. from amazing Amanda Salt

CoverItLive CIL (looks good – a bit like

Set up a/c – book meeting – like msn text chat – BINGO!


Joe runs ICT, blogging and podcasting courses across the UK – get booked on.  You know it makes sense!


12. Alex Bellars



Low Tech Loveliness


Alex has an English circle! And slippers – English slippers!  Pupils are only allowed to speak English here!  Genius.

Talking alarm clock

Using Duplo bricks to help pupils get the hang of word order – am definitely trying this one!

What colour is a verb? (red) and other parts of a sentence

Mallet – Grammar Hammer – getting me one of these too!!!


13. Clare Seccombe



Mini books 

Clare showed us how she had taken inspiration from a series of books “My first bilingual little Readers’

Using mini whiteboards to record pupils’ ideas – hungry caterpillar story transformed into the Hungry Monster!

For more see Clare’s delightful delicious bookmarks here:



14. Isabelle Jones



My top 7 apps for French


Dixel and Bescherelle – pay for these but v useful

Student reference (help pupils to check spelling of numbers)

France Radio Recorder

French Music Update – Music Top 100s SKYPACK

Lyrics World – ‘Alors on danse’ example given (Download app – lyrics and link to youtube clip,  quick to do a gap fill exercise)

Appbzr TOP APPS France UK etc.


15. Suzi Bewell

@suzibewell and


The Importance of Intercultural Understanding


See previous blog post for my contribution.




This little lot should keep you going a while.


Suzi 🙂


The Importance of Intercultural Understanding

13 Nov

Here is my short presention from MFL Show and Tell in Oldham.  As I am writing this on the morning of the event, I sense already what an amazing day is in store.  

Here is the audio in MP4 format:


Thanks for visiting my blog – have a look around and I hope you’ll find something useful here.

I love to receive your comments (below) or feel free to email me directly if I can help you in any way.

Lovely to meet you!


The Languages Show 2010 – Part 4

11 Nov

Ok, deep breath! This could turn out to be quite a long post as there still remains lots to mention about this year’s brilliant Languages Show 2010.


1. Joe Dale – CPD and PLNs 

Below are the main points I took away from Joe’s super session:



2. ENLP – Energetic Neuro Linguistic Programming

Speaker: Marcia Gladwin

Mr Bewell is a trained coach and Master Practitioner of NLP so I was definitely keen to go to this talk to see how our 2 worlds collide!

Here is a brief summary of the brilliant session:


  • ENLP – 1985, Art Giser
  • ‘ENLP helps to clear limiting thoughts and beliefs, negative feelings, fears, doubts, past experiences and create a positive, supportive energetic learning environment.’
  • We discussed the skills, abilities and emotions we would like our learners to have e.g. confidence, calm, resourcefulness and  focus to name a few.
  • Marcia suggested the need to add ‘emotional states’ to your lesson plan.  An interesting idea, I felt.
  • THOUGHTS ARE THINGS! How many times have you walked into a lesson thinking ‘Oh no, set 4. They are going to be climbing the walls as usual.  I sense I’m going to have a hard time of it today’. And how often has this turned out to be a self fulfilling prophecy?
  • Ask yourself before entering any lesson ‘Am I engaging in helpful thoughts or hindering thoughts?’ ‘What message am I emitting to my learners?’ ‘Is my energy likely to affect the lesson in a positive or negative way?’
  • We discussed the need for an increased awareness of the energy we give off.  Children are responsive to our energies.  Teenagers in particular are hypersensitive so we need to do what we can to create a feel-good atmosphere in the classroom irrespective of how we are ACTUALLY feeling.
  • The speaker also talked about VISUALISATION techniques, the conscious and the subconscious and how we can create positive pictures, feelings and thoughts in our mind’s eye to create a more positive learning environment.

The website for further information is:

You can contact Marcia by phone on: 07792605920


3. MFL Show and Tell – by teachers for teachers


On Saturday late afternoon, a room full of super enthusiastic language teachers gathered to stand up for approximately 2 mins each to share something with their fellow colleagues.  The energy in the room was great and lots of ideas were generated including: 


  • Vicky was very brave and got up first and talked about the collaborative website that
  • Walking the time line (tenses in MFL)
  • Double club resources which combine MFL and sport
  • TTV programme about the Double Club
  • Verb tennis: Person A Je vais  Person B Tu vas  Person A Il va etc.
  • Chris Fuller ( spoke enthusiastically about the joys of podcasting and new technologies to motivate language learners.  website
  • Mark Purves spoke about using backing tracks to create music in the foreign language.  Examples of tracks he has produced can be found on his wonderful website                                   
  • 3 Websites Mark mentioned to source backing tracks included: and
  • Isabelle Jones talked about using images to prompt speaking in MFL and made reference to sites such as google images and flickr. 
  • Prim got up and gave us an awesome rendition of the prepositions song to the tune of Compton Races.

I went away from this particular session smiling and in awe of all the creativity.  It genuinely made me feel proud to be part of such a lovely, sharing community of linguists.

4. CLIL – the talk of the conference.

This one is so vast, to do it justice I will have to leave it for another day…


Hope this has given you a flavour of what was a brilliant conference.

Always learning!





Links into Languages – Leading Primary Languages

11 Nov


On Tuesday morning, after a rather stressful start to the day (I broke down on the Leeds ring road in rush hour traffic!), I attended a great Links into Languages Primary course.


The course was entitled ‘P01 – Leading Primary Languages’ and led by a lovely trainer, Geoff Swinn.


The day was broken into 2 modules.

Below is a summary of what we discussed throughout the day.

Module 1 – Developing the strategic role of the subject coordinator & classroom teacher


  • The need for a strategy
  • ‘Leading from the Middle’ (high level)
  • Know WHAT you are doing and WHY
  • Policy to be established (fits with national and school priorities)
  • PL development plan
  • *Plan: realistic achievable challenging and sustainable – living document
  • HUGE BENEFITS OF PMFL EMERGING – even without PL being statutory
  • Linking benefits to the Every Child Matters statements
  • Key aspects of PMFL are enjoying and achieving and making a positive contribution
  • 92% schools in UK are doing PL – question of QUALITY
  • NFER report ‘Primary MFL: Survey of National Implementation of Full Entitlement to Language Learning July 2009 & OU et al report Language Learning at KS2 Jan 2010 – handout
  • National Languages Strategy – framework still in use
  • Little evidence of intercultural understanding objectives being met!
  • Why should students study languages?
  • Consider curriculum models – which year groups, teachers, languages, how many languages…?
  • Efficient use of staff and resources
  • Leadership and Management John West Burnham (ref. on slide)

Module 2 – Self evaluation : Monitoring impact and building capacity in languages

 In this module, we talked quite a lot about the need for support and … Ofsted!


  • National and local picture
  • School’s strengths and Areas for Development
  • Ofsted criteria for making judgements
  • Where are we now slide – NFER Survey 2009
  • Main challenges: lack of staff knowledge, assessment, transition to secondary school
  • ‘The changing landscape of languages’ 2008 document – new document due to be published any time
  • Lots of positives – over ½ surveyed making good progress
  • Real learning – enjoyment of language learning
  • Sustainability, assessment and progression – key issues
  • Monitoring and language upskilling also feature in this report
  • Ofsted – download subject specific inspection guidelines
  • Document: Implementing languages entitlement in primary schools – self evaluation tool
  • Focus on student outcomes
  • Controversial issue of TL use by teacher!
  • Languages ladder “I can do…” statements
  • R Redfearn – relective journals Wakefield LA
  • LA Self evaluation examples : Coventry, Solihull, Kent
  • Video clip from CILT Primary Languages Training ‘Corners’ – reminder of what we are doing and what is all REALLY about in terms of classroom practice and pupil engagement and learning


If you are interested in finding out more, do contact me or even better get yourself booked onto a similar Links event in your local area.  At £50, how could your SMT / HoD say no? 

Check out the super resources section especially the 10 minute guides which are well worth a read!



Use of Target Language

8 Nov

Target language is a tricky one.  There are no concrete guidelines in the UK, simply recommendations and suggestions on its use.

Please comment freely on this post particularly if you teach French / German / Spanish as a Foreign Language outside of the UK as I am very keen to hear what the situation is elsewhere.

The ITE conference at CILT : 

This year the conference (aimed at HE teacher trainers and school mentors) focuses on this very topic and takes place in just over a week and half so I will be reporting back and adding to this blog post.

Watch this space!




7 Nov

Do you believe … in the Tooth Fairy?

7 Nov


This weekend I took my two young children off to the cinema to see the film ‘Tooth Fairy’ featuring none other than the Rock.  


I wasn’t sure what to expect but the film turned out to be brilliant.  I think I could go as far as to say that I probably enjoyed it more than the kids! 

Let me explain… 

The main themes of the movie were: 

‘You have to believe to succeed

Have high expectations of yourself … and of others. 

Keep the faith even when you face set backs and disappointments.

And my favourite line from the film: ‘You can’t score if you don’t take the shot. 


My trainees are heading off into school for the next 4 weeks so I am planning to work on their self belief this week.  A few of them are feeling afraid and we need to work on the notion of FEAR being a negative emotion and something that could well prevent them from having the success they so desire in the classroom.

FEAR = False Expectations Appearing Real 

I have only recently started to believe in myself aged 34 and boy, how life has changed for the better!

This week, I DARE YOU to actively believe in yourself / your learners more than usual and report back to me with the results.

Have a fantastic week!