Brookfield conference 27.01.12

January 27, 2012

Just returned from the languages conference at Brookfield school in Hampshire – it was a pleasure to meet with so many of you today.  As promised, I’ve uploaded the slides from my keynote address about motivation.

In the workshop sessions I talked about using the Olympic values and authentic resources;  I’ve also produced a document with links to useful sites to do with the Olympics.

If you are interested in using the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics song J’imagine just be aware that this Youtube video has some spelling mistakes in the French;  however, the images that accompany it are quite striking.   If you do a Google search for the song + paroles or lyrics there may also be some mistakes!!  The French lyrics on this video are more or less correct (although I did spot at least one typo) and it also has the English translation (albeit with one or two mistranslations!).  Of course you could always challenge the learners to spot the mistakes……

The living graph exercise we looked at was based on the life of Rick Hansen, a Canadian paralympian;  this site is in both French and English.  His biography also features on Wikipedia in both English and German.  A Living graph or Fortune line is one of a number of thinking skills strategies, along with Collective memory, which are described in more detail in the National strategies publication Leading in Learning.

The bits of text about Omega watches  in the “triggered” slide came from Wikipedia; if you are looking for text in another language, just look at the “other languages” section on the left hand side…

The Senegalese athlete, Amadou Dia Bâ,  talking about his experience of the Olympics came from the Parole citoyenne website; if you put “olympique” into the “recherche” box there are some more interesting articles on this website.  As I mentioned in the workshop the problems facing African athletes, such as the Congolese swimmers, can be an interesting starting point when thinking about equality (of opportunity) and determination, two of the Olympic values.

We also talked about using Wordles and how to use Audacity to slow down an audio file.


Audacity to the rescue!

January 25, 2012

I often find that listening is a skill that many of my learners find difficult, often because they find the speed of what is spoken is simply too fast.  They become so fixated with not being able to understand that they switch off and give up.  This is particularly an issue when using authentic resources.  Recently I’ve been using Audacity to slow audio files down to make them more accessible, then once the learners are happy with the slower speed and can understand what is being said,  they can have a go at listening to the files at the normal speed.

It’s incredibly easy to use the “effects” menu in Audacity to “change speed”, decreasing by anything between 10 and 20% (or more if you want it to be really slow).  The only thing to remember is also to “change pitch” increasing by the same percentage amount.

These are some simple instructions:


Getting ready for Chinese New Year

January 16, 2012

Chinese New Year (春节 Chūn Jié or Spring Festival) is almost upon us – Monday January 23rd.  This year is the year of the dragon (龙年 lóngnián), the fifth animal of the Chinese zodiac.

I was looking for a suitable video of the story to show the pupils in my Mandarin club and came across this version in English which is attractively illustrated.

I also found a song about the animals of the Chinese zodiac (十二生肖歌  shí’èrshēngxiào gē).  It has a catchy refrain in which the Chinese for the animals of the zodiac are repeated in order – useful for fixing this in the mind! This version is in pinyin and is relatively easy to follow, although the last word doesn’t match with what is sung.  This other version is slower, has images of the animals and the meaning of the song, but otherwise is just in characters, so not so suitable on its own for my KS3 club.  However, I’ve done a transcription in characters and pinyin for use with beginners.


The Olympic spirit – the Winter Youth Games

January 6, 2012

2012 –  Olympic year!  Whilst preparations are being finalised for the London games in July many of us teachers will be thinking about how we can exploit this in our classrooms over the coming weeks and months.  What may not yet be on everyone’s radar is that the Winter Youth Olympic Games are taking place from 13th – 22nd January in Innsbruck.  This is in fact the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics and is for young people between the ages of 14 and 18.  The first Summer Games were held in Singapore in 2010.

This will mark the third occasion that Innsbruck has been an Olympic host city (the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976).  The Innsbruck 2012 official site is in three languages  (German, English and French) and so provides plenty of authentic material and language about winter sports and the Olympics in general, including a section on the Olympic values (excellence, respect and friendship) and the mascot, Yoggl.

The Winter youth games could be exploited in a number of ways, and could easily fit into some existing/traditional schemes of work:

  • For those teaching German it is an opportunity to focus on Austria and the geography of the country, perhaps following the torch relay (Fackellauf/relais de la flamme), now into its 11th day.  There are links to information in German about each place on the relay route which could be exploited for skim reading e.g What could a visitor see/do in Eisenstadt?
  • The Torch relay page has links to “A day in the life of a relay runner” in French and German, so this could form the basis of a reading exercise where learners put sentences in the correct sequence.
  • The Fanshop could easily be form the basis for teaching about prices, souvenirs, clothes and materials
  • The timetable for events can be used to practise numbers, dates and times
  • There is an animated film (Yoggl goes CEP) featuring the mascot Yoggl;  this has images associated with many of the Olympic themes and values which could be exploited for oral and written work.
  • Another short video Innsbruck 2012 Freeze flashmob could be used to practise/revise vocabulary for winter sports

And much more……..


ALL London January event

January 5, 2012

The ALL London branch January event is now just over 2 weeks away!  Saturday 21st January at  the French Institute from 9.30 – 1.00pm.  As always there are some great speakers lined up and two of them were recipients of a German Teacher Award in 2011:

  • The ever popular Sara Sullivan (SSAT Lead practitioner, AST and Assistant Head in charge of Teaching and Learning at the Woodlands School in  Essex)  is coming back and will be sharing her practical MFL teaching tips under the title  ‘USE IT TOMORROW..100 IDEAS FOR THE MFL CLASSROOM – which involve little or no preparation!’
  • Greg Horton, (SSAT lead practitioner and AST from Wildern school in Hampshire – winner of the 2008 Mary Glasgow Award) will be talking about Facilitating spontaneity and debate in the languages classroom and his successful methodology in achieving this.
  • Joe Dale (Independent consultant and ICT guru – check out his blog) will be introducing No brainer blogging for beginners

The ALL London branch AGM will follow on immediately after this from 1 – 1.30 pm during which time there is also a job application clinic for PGCE students run by Nick Mair (Head of MFL, Dulwich College).

Full details of the event and an application form (£10 members, £25 non members) can be found on the ALL London branch site.