Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Parallel Reading with the Parallel Books app-A Way into Literature and Translation?

Matt Thomas contacted me a while ago to trial his Parallel Books app. The principle is simple, you get a text that is in the public domain, you get a good translation and you use the app the read both texts side-by-side.
Easy? Well... Thank you to Matt for telling us about the story behind the development of this great app that is just fantastic to get our higher ability pupils to dare reading in a foreign language just as literature and translation have re-appeared in the new GCSE specifications. The books are well known classics so although the texts are complex, it gives pupils a sense of confidence as it is known territory.

"I started making Parallel Books a couple of years ago, although it was only released in December last year. I've done it at the same time as been the main care giver for 2 toddlers, so it's been lots of nights programming from their bedtimes till midnight!

You were asking about the reason I started. I was wanting to challenge myself to make a high quality app, so I was looking for ideas.

I spent my whole adult life as a professional musician with a popular band in NZ. When touring Europe one time, I met my wife, who was the singer in another band on the same circuit.

We both ended up leaving our bands and working together playing music. I moved to Switzerland, and found that I needed to learn some new languages!

I have a number of English speaking friends here, and one day one of them told me how he was reading Roger Federer's biography, and that he had bought it in both English and German to read at the same time.

That's when the lightbulb went off in my head, that I could make an app that makes this process easier. It's a great method to practice a new language, but keeping the two books in sync is a bit of a pain, and I realised that I could make this part of it easier within an app.

It turns out that it is actually quite complicated to program this, and there is a lot going on behind the scene to make it appear so simple and user friendly on the surface.

Currently all books in Parallel Books are free. This means that I can only use either texts that are public domain (copyright free) or that I acquire permission to use.

If you know of any good Spanish texts I could include, do let me know! Essentially the author AND the translator have to have been dead for 70 years in order for them to be out of copyright.

I'm also interested in finding very beginner level texts I can use, which have also proven allusive."
Anything else you need to know about "Parallel Books"? Oh yes... It is free :)

App store:
Facebook page (includes screen shots and demo video):

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Translation is Back! 20 Ideas for Teaching Translation

Last month, I was delighted to publish a translation resource on the fabulous Teachit site.
The resource is not language-specific and the ideas can be adapted to many languages.
I hope it is of use!

The resource can be downloaded as a free pdf at

Friday, 19 August 2016

Guide to New GCSE in Modern Foreign Languages

If you want to be reminded of the differences between the new GCSE specifications in Modern Foreign Languages for teaching from September 2016, the following document should be useful to you.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Language World 2016, 12th March 2016: Lost in Translation?

Language World is the annual language conference organised by ALL, the Association for Language Learning. As always this was a great opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues and the atmosphere was as supportive and friendly as ever... If you are not yet an ALL member, join now!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Motivating Tools for Reading and Writing in the EAL and MFL Classroom, Practical Pedagogies, International School of Toulouse, 16th October 2015

I had a fantastic time at  #pracped15, the Practical Pedagogies conference organised by @russeltarr at the International School of Toulouse. It was great to meet new people and finally meet people I have interacted with online for a very long time. Last but not least, it was fabulous to learn so much from them in such a great location-but I would say that, wouldn't I? ;)

Here are the slides I used for my session:


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Practical Pedagogies Conference, International School of Toulouse (IST), 15-16th October 2015

I am very excited to be joining the 60+ teachers from all subject areas who will be presenting at the Practical Pedagogies conference organised by @russeltarr at The International School of Toulouse next October.

What is the Practical Pedagogies Conference?
-A high-impact training conference for teachers, from NQT to senior teachers, run by and for primary and secondary school teachers ;
-A not-for-profit event hosted at the International School of Toulouse, October ;
-Workshops and networking activities around the theme: "Creativity, Internationalism and Innovation in the classroom" ;
-Two days of inspiring keynotes, 70+ workshops and networking activities delivered by experienced primary and secondary teachers ; 15-16th October 2015-that's just before half term for some of us in the UK.

How much does it cost?€150 : This price includes a delegate pack, lunches and refreshments, and access to all the workshops, keynotes and other events on offer.

How to find out more / register your placeFull details about the conference, including how to register and the full workshop programme, can be found on the Practical Pedagogies Website. Other queries can be sent here.

The Venue
The conference will take place at the International School of Toulouse, a co-educational day school for children aged 3 to 18, situated in the South of France close to Toulouse Blagnac Airport [directions/map].
My workshop
Pinterest and Twitter? Motivating tools to develop reading and writing skills in EAL and MFL
Explore the potential of tools such as Pinterest and Twitter to motivate all pupils to develop reading and writing skills in EAL and MFL. Increase your pupils' independence as language learners and understanding of linguistic structures. Support the development of all your pupils' language skills and their linguistic creativity.
Led by Isabelle Jones (@icpjones), languages consultant and Head of Languages in Cheshire, England. 

Other MFL workshops include
Collaborative learning strategies for the effective teaching of mixed ability classes in MFL
This workshop will present collaborative learning strategies in MFL which engage whole classes to talk / write simultaneously therefore maximising class time. Delegates will go way with a much deeper understanding of the benefits of collaborative learning and will have a bank of ready-made resources (F/G/Sp) to use immediately on their return to school.
Led by Suzi Bewell (@suzibewell), Course Leader for MFL PGCE University of York
Using Quizlet to create interactive resourcesThis workshop is designed to help mainly modern languages teachers who want to teach students easy ways to revise grammar rules, verb conjugation and new vocabulary with Quizlet. This US software allows students to be more independent leaners and give them an opportunity to be more responsible for their own learning.
Led by J. Cavalli, Curriculum Leader for French at IST
Using Kahoot! to engage students in knowledge acquisitionKahoot! is a free tool to assess your students' knowledge (from FS2 to Y13 and beyond - you can even use it at home to test friends and family!) in any subjects, on any topics, in a fun, interactive and competitive way. Kahoot! just turns your classroom into a game show (with a very catchy musical theme). In this session, you will get to : play a Kahoot game (to see what it is like) and maybe win a Kahoot! Prize / see examples of what can be assessed through Kahoot! in different subjects in both Primary and Secondary / create your own Kahoot short quiz. Led by A. Braud, Modern Foreign Languages Teacher at IST
Using the “Accelerated Integrated Method”  to teach French as a foreign languageOriginally from Canada, this way of teaching has been very successful in various countries, with the help of gestures for each word, the use of the mother tongue is limited to an extreme minimum. The children learn French through stories told in gestures. After the workshop participants should have a good idea about what this didactic approach is, and be able to 'tell in gestures' some of the content of stories. Led by Dico Krommenhoek (@dico_kr), French teacher and teacher educator in Rotterdam
Using technology in the Primary Foreign Language classroomWhy and how can we use technology to enhance learning in the primary language classroom? Ideas for teachers and learners, beginners and those with more experience; some online, some apps but mostly free :) Covering 'the four skills' - listening speaking reading and writing as well as phonics and grammar, we'll consider how technology can help with assessment as well as managing transition, and how it can open windows and doors for you and your learners. Led by Lisa Stevens (@lisibo), Primary Languages and International Coordinator, Whitehouse Common Primary and Welford Primary, Birmingham
Boosting language acquisition for lower and upper primary through a FUN Reading Program. Developing comprehension and expression for upper primary (intermediate levels) through a Reading Program.
Led by P. Burgaud and J. Allcock, Primary Years Teachers at IST
The conference has its own Twitter Practical Pedagogies feed. We will be using the hashtag #pracped15 to allow delegates to share the ideas and resources they are being presented with and discuss the conference outcomes.
Would love to see you there!