Dissecting a lesson: teaching an intermediate written text | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

This post is a beginner’s guide about how you might go about working with a written text with low-intermediate or intermediate students (Y10-11 in England). I must emphasise that this is not what you SHOULD do, just one approach based on my own experience and keeping in mind what we know about learning and language learning in particular. Experienced teachers may find it interesting to compare this sequence with what you do yourself.

You can adapt the sequence below to the class, context and your own preferred style. I’m going to assume that the text is chosen for relevance, interest and…

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Think, pair, share in the MFL classroom | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

This blog was prompted by a section in Tom Sherrington’s excellent book The Learning Rainforest. Tom writes about the revelation he experienced when someone explained the “think, pair, share” technique when interacting with a class. In case you are not familiar with it, this is when you ask a question and, instead of asking for hands up or ‘cold calling’ (to use Doug Lemov’s term), you tell the class to discuss the answer with a partner before eliciting a response.

To put the technique in context Tom reminds us of the disadvantages of traditional hands up questioning. They are worth…

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Responsive teaching | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

Dylan Wiliam, the academic most associated with Assessment for Learning (AfL), aka formative assessment, has stated that these labels have not been the most helpful to teachers. He believes that they have been partly responsible for poor implementation of AfL and the fact that AfL has not led to the improved outcomes originally intended.

Wiliam wrote on Twitter in 2013:

“Example of really big mistake: calling formative assessment formative assessment rather than something like “responsive teaching”.”

For the record he subsequently added:

“The point I was making—years ago now—is that it…

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An advanced listening task: Cinderella | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

Here is a listening task you could try with an advanced level class. You might preface the task with a discussion about fairy tales, and perhaps specifically the story of Cinderella. After this get the class into pairs and have one partner slowly read this faulty story to their partner (with repetitions where needed). The task might take about 20 minutes. Tell the students that there may be variations in the final, corrected version.

Il était une fois un beau jeune garçon, orphelin, qui habitait dans un petit appartement avec sa mère. Le garçon avait deux chiens laids mais…

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One way to build lexical and grammatical skill at A-level | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

When we talk about building vocabulary, the ‘mental lexicon’ in long-term memory needed for fast comprehension and spoken fluency, we may be tempted to view it as learning lists of words or chunks or (better in my view) getting as many exposures as possible in listening or reading input. An important aspect of ‘knowing words’ is, however, being aware of the multiple forms words can take or the company that words keep (common lexical phrases). This is where vocab meets grammar, of course, in the form of morphology (word forms).
One way you can work on this at advanced level is to draw explicit…

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Frenchteacher survey results | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

Every few months I carry our a Surveymonkey survey of my subscribers to check on which parts of the site are being used most and to get feedback, including ideas for improving the site. Thank you to the 98 respondents (out of around 1450 subscribers). Here are the the questions and the responses:

1.  Which sections of the site do you use most; A-level, GCSE or KS3?

Just over 53% said A-level, 37% said GCSE and 9% said KS3. Compared with previous surveys I see that rather more subscribers seem to be using the GCSE and KS3 sections. This may be because I have made a conscious attempt for the…

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The echoing technique. Yes or no? | noreply@blogger.com (Steve Smith)

In case you don’t know, the so-called echoing technique is when, while leading whole class oral work, you instantly translate into English (or L1) a word, phrase or sentence you have just uttered.

Teachers have traditionally been trained, I believe.”, to avoid this technique in general since, the argument goes, if the class knows you’ll use English why should they try to understand the target language? It’s certainly something I say to trainees.
In addition, the echoing technique has been discouraged since in general it runs counter to the prevailing preference for TL use as far as possible….

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