The Languages Show 2010 – Part 3

6 Nov

Back again with Part 3.  Thought I’d best get cracking with this series of posts as next weekend is the MFL Show and Tell

This will take place in Oldham (sorry, fully booked but there will be others in the coming months) and is to be hosted by the lovely and talented Isabelle Jones.

Isabelle’s brilliant blog can be found here: 

I am sure there will be a whole host of stuff to blog about after what is certain to be an excellent opportunity to meet great colleagues and share good practice.


So, the Languages Show 2010…

I’m going to devote today’s post to the genius that is Rachel Hawkes.  Sadly, I only mananged to make it to one of Rachel’s sessions but as always, in true sharing style, she published her presentations on slideshare and you can find them below:


The session I did attend was really excellent and I have already implemented several of the ideas into my existing sessions at the University.  My favourite ideas from her top 10 (all of them were super, to be fair) were:

2. Starting with sounds.  

Rachel, like myself is a huge fan of using phonics (sound-spelling link) to accelerate language learning.  

You can find a 10 minute guide to using phonics here: 

I personally devoted a whole free wiki to phonics in German, French and Spanish when I was working for the SSAT (Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) as a Lead Practitioner for Languages last year.  The wiki currently has over 150 members.  You have to join the wiki (which will take just a few seconds) and once I have accepted you, you then you have access to over 100 free phonics resources and ideas.

The website you need to access is 


3. Make it hard and fun

Do you remember the depressing findings of the Languages Review in the UK?  Pupils admitted to finding languages hard and boring. Oh dear!  But how things have moved on since then…

It isn’t that difficult to make MFL lessons fun, with a little imagination and creative thinking.  It is more difficult to ensure that the lesson is pitched at the correct level and that there is the correct level of challenge.  I went to a brilliant session by Simon Green of TASC, Leeds at the Goethe Institute recently where he talked about “the wobble” and the furrowed brow being a good sign of pupils’ learning and thinking.  If pupils are always able to answer correctly, are we stretching them enough? Can we modify our content even slightly to allow for a bit of a “wobble”

My husband is a keen cyclist.  He often does 100 miles before breakfast and has a bike for almost every day of the week.  In fact, at times, I wonder if he doesn’t love his bikes more than his wife!  When he really pushes himself and comes back in a bit of a red-faced, out of breath state, he refers to it as “feeling the burn!”

6. More to say

The idea of asking typical questions such as “Tu as des frères et des soeurs?” and setting limitations (such as you must answer in just 7 words) is so simple but so effective.  My trainees had a go at this the other week and most were unable to do it without counting on their fingers – a clear visible cue to the teacher that effective thinking and learning is taking place.  

Try this one with your learners – it really is brilliant.

7. Once more with feeling

Give characterisation cards when doing role play in MFL.  Role play no longer forms part of the new style GCSE speaking exam (teachers across the UK breathe a huge sigh of relief!) but it still features in MFL lessons as a means of getting pupils to work effectively in pairs and small groups.  Some pupils find it dull, to be honest, but giving your role a specific set of characteristics sounds much more motivating.  

Another one to try?

8. Doing a lot with a little

These support sheets (in French, German and Spanish) are super and allow for more independent learning particularly when learners are scripting written and spoken work.  Lots less hands up, “Miss, what’s the French for…?” and lots more time for the teacher to “helicopter” and see how pupils are getting on, uninterrupted.  Hoorah!

Rachel’s blog can be found here:

Here is the PPT from her second session:


Take some time to have a good look at all her super resources – you’ll be glad you did!




One Response to “The Languages Show 2010 – Part 3”

  1. Isabelle Jones November 6, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Dear SuziThank you so much for the lovely mention. I have been overwhelmed by the response to the Oldham Show and Tell. If it goes well, there is absolutely no reason why we can’t have more of this sharing good practice business…YOUR LANGUAGES NEED YOU!Isabelle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: