Au Revoir les enfants worksheets | (Steve Smith)

Some time ago Paul Heywood sent me his worksheets for use with the film Au Revoir les enfants, one of the prescribed films for A-level French (all exam boards).They are freely available on the Samples page of Here is the first worksheet from the set.

Louis Malle: Sa vie et son œuvre

Faites des recherches sur la vie de ce metteur en scène/réalisateur français:

1. Quand est-il né et où? Est-il encore vivant?

2. Qu’est-ce qui lui arrive pendant l’Occupation?

3. Il travaille avec quel réalisateur très célèbre et quel est le résultat?

4. Qu’est-ce que c’est le mouvement…

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What does “mastery learning” mean for language teachers? | (Steve Smith)

This is a guest blog by teacher Mick Heseltine-Wells who works at the Kings’ School, Al Barsha, Dubai. He and his department have been looking at ways of improving their practice by considering the notion of mastery learning. They have chosen to link this in particular with the teaching of grammar and have come up with their own action points for the future. His Twitter handle is @mickheswells nad his school can be found at @KSABMFL.

Do get in touch with me if you have something interesting to share. My email is

‘Mastery’ – what is it? How can it be achieved in MFL? Well,…

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How many new words should you include in a text? | (Steve Smith)

We know that for second language acquisition to occur students need to hear or read meaningful input. If the message what they hear or read is not understandable you might as well expose them to gibberish. In fact, there has been research into how many new words students can cope with while maintaining a meaningful message. Don’t forget that students can use compensatory strategies, e.g. their knowledge of the world, their hypotheses about what a text might mean, their knowledge of cognates and so on, to work out meaning to some extent.

Studies, for example those carried out by Paul Nation,…

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Teaching writing: a sponge cake and an epiphany | (Steve Smith)

This is a guest post kindly sent to me by Australian language teacher Rowena Bata who works at Kardinia International College, Geelong. You’ll see that Rowena is making a very valid point about process and product which she stumbled upon in an unusual fashion. But let her explain…

I’m a firm believer in the idea that practice makes perfect; you get better at something by doing it. I’m never going to be able to run 100 metres in 10 seconds if all I do is sit on the couch and watch Usain Bolt on the telly. I need to get out on the track, learn how to run faster, and train regularly. …

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Quizlet Bingo | (Steve Smith)

I sometimes think that there are so many teachers getting on with their jobs and doing great things, but who perhaps don’t engage so much with social media or are maybe too modest to share their work. If you have any great lesson ideas or plans or just things to say about language teaching, with nowhere to share them widely, let me know, as I am looking for a wider variety of content on my blog. I often have 2000 views or more of my blog posts, so you’ll have a readership for your work. Just send a pdf or Word doc to

So here is something Greg Armstrong sent me. Many…

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We Teach Languages podcast | (Steve Smith)

A few weeks ago Stacy Margarita Johnson did an interview with me about language teaching. It was a fun conversation which Stacy has condensed into a 20 minute podcast which you can find on her site alongside many others.

Below is the link to the discussion entitled Principles of Outstanding Language Teaching. It’s nothing grand, just some thoughts about some of the factors which I believe make for effective language teaching. One of my main themes was that generic teaching skills may be more important than adherence to any particular teaching methodology. But I also outlined some key…

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Beginner lesson plan – talking about oneself | (Steve Smith)

Here is a simple novice text which can be exploited in a number of ways, some of which are suggested below.

Marie-Hélène raconte

Je m’appelle Marie-Hélène. J’ai 9 ans. J’habite à Toulouse dans le sud de la France. J’habite dans une maison avec mes deux parents et mon frère Alain.
Nous avons un chat qui s’appelle Raoul. Il est noir et il est très mignon. J’adore les chats, la neige et les dessins animés à la télé. J’aime aussi jouer sur l’ordinateur.

Dans ma chambre j’ai mon lit, ma bibliothèque, mes livres, mon bureau et mon ordinateur. J’adore ma chambre. Elle est bleue.

J’aime mon…

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