What is cognitive load theory? | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

There is a lot of discussion in the educational world at the moment about cognition and in particular Cognitive Load Theory, so I thought I would look at this model and relate it to second language learning. Remember that I come at this as a teacher, not an academic scholar!

How information is processed

Cognitive Load Theory builds upon a widely accepted model of human information processing published by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in 1968. It describes the process as having three main parts: sensory memory,
working memory and long-term memory (Figure 1).

Figure 1


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Tips for target language teaching | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

Here is a list of tips for using the target language (L2) we included in The Language Teacher Toolkit. Our popular 360 page handbook which includes model lesson plans for French, German and Spanish is available here. We would even dare to suggest that every languages department would benefit from having a copy. One school in England, Oundle School, bought a copy for each of their teachers. How nice of them!

The book is liberally sprinkled with practical tips like those below, along with references to research, advice on pedagogy and discussion of issues in language teaching.

v  Have some…

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Daniel Willingham’s five step approach to self-improvement | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

For teachers in England and Wales, as you drive on to GCSEs and AS-levels, and exam leave and gained time beckon, it will soon be time to come up with performance management targets (slight groan?). I used to manage this in my department and, of course, had to come up with my own for my line manager. Teachers outside the UK might be able to make use of the ideas below.

I recently read psychologist Daniel Willingham’s best-selling book Why Don’t Students Like School? which I recommend. In Chapter 9 he lays out a five step approach for getting and giving feedback which I thought could be used…

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Tell stories | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)


How can we make listening more enjoyable and effective for pupils? How can we turn it from a potential chore to something more memorable (and therefore more likely to stick in their long term memories)? I am of the opinion that since humans are “wired” to engage in personal listening and speaking (the expression “social brain” has been used in this context), they may be more interested and attentive when the message comes from a real person rather than a disembodied audio source. (This may or may not be relevant, but research has been carried out which demonstrates that babies…

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Easy video listening for Y8-10 | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

This is a sample resource from frenchteacher.net based on a video clip from the Frello site I recently reviewed. Help yourself. You could use this with a good Y8 class or possibly Y9-10, depending on the class.

Qu’aimes-tu et que n’aimes-tu pas ?

Video source:     http://ift.tt/2pKl93i

A.  Ecoutez Théo et remplissez les blancs en choisissant les mots dans la case

lire         beaucoup          verres       méchants         aimes        préfère         manquent        bière        inutiles      viens       espèrent        balader        viens           raffole   …

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What if we have our whole approach to MFL teaching wrong? | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

Whenever I write about language teaching I try to maintain a pragmatic, open-minded view about methodology. This isn’t always easy when you’ve been taught and trained in a certain way (for me the oral-situational approach based on a grammatical syllabus) and worked within an English system where the high stakes GCSE and A-level exams dominate the scene and, to an extent, dictate teaching approaches. Nevertheless I endeavour to present a range of methods as having value as long as they respect some basic principles to do with input and practice. I do this because I find it interesting and hope…

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Frello | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

Frello (“French Listening Lessons Online”) was started up in July 2016 by two young fellows from Normandy who are making a business out of online conversation lessons. The useful part for French teachers and their pupils is the videos section of the site which hosts two sets of videos, at beginner and intermediate level. The short to-camera, very home-made video clips are hosted on Vimeo and come with transcripts and short interactive quizzes. The quality of the sound is adequate and the speakers slow down their language to a suitable level.

The topics covered so far at beginner level…

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