Monday, 30 April 2007

Now you see it, now you don't

This is the title of an article published in the Times Educational Supplement last Friday.
The article presents the situation of some subjects, including modern languages, that are disappearing from the curriculum in some schools.
Jim Knight, the school minister revealed that there were 25 schools in England in which no pupil took a GCSE in a modern language last year. We all know that the crisis point reached by languages is now common knowledge as it lead to the publication of Dearing's Language Review last month.
However, what was not publicised as widely, is the fact that last year 68 schools did not do history, 85 did not do geography and 4 schools did not do MFL, history and geography.
Although there is a place for schools offering more vocational courses, is it right to narrow the curriculum to that extent?
Some Heads are unrepentent, justifying their choices with good results and increased student engagement, whereas others are trying to rectify the unbalance by targetting some groups of students for more "academic" subjects and trying to offer the widest curriculum as possible.
Linda Parker, the director of ALL, thinks that targets for uptake will help modern languages, but that there is a need for "some sort of positive discrimination and incentive for schools to continue to teach ... these subjects. It is a question of equal opportnities"

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Strategic Learning Networks

The title is uninspiring but the possibilities endless...

A national dissemination and development programme for Key Stage 3 MFL was finalised in the summer 2006 and was launched in the nine regions of England in January 2007. The programme builds on progress already made in implementing the Key Stage 3 Framework of Objectives for modern foreign languages and forms part of the National Languages Strategy, which aims to broaden and enrich the opportunities for language learning at school and beyond.

Its aims are to:

increase the quality and consistency in MFL teaching and learning

  • increase the quality and consistency in MFL teaching and learning
  • strengthen transfer and transition from KS2 to KS3
  • secure the basis for the post-14 languages entitlement and so raise standards in MFL.

The programme comprises:
  • access for all MFL departments to training and support, using a suite of 14 SNS e-learning modules, known as ‘nuggets’
  • specialist and co-coaching to embed, sustain and extend the impact of the programme and develop local leadership
  • opportunities to establish local networks to support the exchange and development of MFL practice

More details and documents to download on

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Music in the classroom

Listening to authentic foreign music in the classroom can be challenging because of students' pre-conceived ideas due to a lack of exposure. However, it can be very successful when linked to specific activities-drilling of a specific structure or games- or to introduce a topic with an element of target-language culture. has lots of video clips in French (mentioned by Helen Myers on Linguanet)
can help setting up activities by providing the lyrics for thousands of old and new songs in French. and are similar song lyrics sites in Spanish

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Edexcel Applied French GCSE is being rolled out from September 2007

After enquiring on Linguanet, I was confirmed the news and redirected to Edexcel's website for further information.

There is no news about the Spanish roll-out yet, but the deadline to apply for the French is 14th May 2007 (follow link above for application form)

The Elliott School in London is running this qualifiation and has set up a website with useful resources.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Interesteen! School Comenius project

Our Interesteen! School Comenius project was central to our bid for the International School Award that was received in 2004.

The aim of the project, which ended in July 2006, was to establish links betweens students around various topics to show that despite differences, young people are quite similar around the world. Our project included partner schools from Spain, Romania, Poland and Finland and gave each year the opportunity to 3 teachers and 3 students to visit these countries for an international student conference.
The project was mentioned in a debate in The House of Lords
This is the project presented on our Polish and Spanish partner's websites
The project was also at the origin of this blog

Friday, 20 April 2007

Native vs Home-grown

At this time of the year, with the school teacher recruitment campaign in full swing, the issue is often mentioned under one's breath rather than tackled head-on: Have native speakers more to offer as language teachers?

Referring to "The Return of the native" article by Nick Morrison published on 09 February 2007 in The TES magazine, it is official: "Language teachers are no longer all home grown...
Now, many schools have at least one native speaking MFL teacher, and in some schools they make up a sizeable proportion of the department... And who makes the best language teacher: a native speaker fluent in their own tongue, or a non-native speaker who realises how difficult it is to learn the language?"

As a recently qualified teacher, I reflected on these issues in the introduction to an Action Research project with Canterbury ChristChurch University (Cantarnet network)

"Maria Sharratt, director of languages at Litherland High School, a specialist language college in Sefton, Liverpool, is in no doubt that the influx of native speakers has been overwhelmingly positive.

"I can only see advantages in having native speakers," she says. "It can take a while to adjust to the different education system, but if a school invests in that time it is more than repaid."
Two members of the eight-strong MFL department at Litherland are native speakers, although this has been as high as four in the past, and the school offers placements to Spanish nationals on the postgraduate teaching course at Liverpool Hope University.

"The teachers speak Spanish between themselves, so the children can see the language in action, and it is a distinct advantage for me to work with native speakers - if I have got any subject knowledge doubt I can get the answer straight away," Maria adds.

Jim Donnelly, headteacher at Litherland, ... says it is also important for the pupils to see that a native English speaker can become proficient in a foreign language. "One advantage of local teachers is they have gone to the same kind of school and they act as role models," he says. "A teacher from this country also has the advantage of having gone through our education system."

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Resources to download

Here are a few sites I have found with mfl resources to download: worksheets, powerpoints etc...
French, Spanish and German materials, including AS and A2 resources and links.
Comprehensive site including good practice, examples of lessons for the Gifted & Talented, teaching resources, web links, study and teaching tips, starter and plenary activities to download. See section on the left side for Primary resources (French).
Resources in French, German and Spanish as well as more generic language resources to cover KS1-KS5. Resources include Display, Puzzles and Games, Thinking Skills activities, Starters and Plenaries, Christmas activities, links for all 3 languages, generic language links and Primary (French). Worth noting is also the large amount of resources designed to support the development of the International Dimension though MFL.
Resources and links for French. The site also features lots of interesting-although more generic- information about the teaching of Languages.
Powerpoints, quia exercises, interactive worksheets and top language links.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

NON to 3 weeks training to implement PMFL

According to a recent article in The Times, some Primary teachers are being offered a 3 weeks language course as only training before they start teaching the language in school.
CILT is in the process of issuing a recommendation about this.
Here is the link to the article and the responses:

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

ALL Language World in Oxford

It is with envy that I read about the last Language World Conference on the London-ALL website run by Helen Myers . Although I was unable to go, it is interesting to find out about what is happening nationally.

There was a lot to do with Languages and ICT but I also felt the post-Languages Review announcement to make Languages compulsory at KS2 was starting to impact on the languages scene.

The Languages Review states that Training is a high priority for all languages teachers whether in the primary or secondary sector and we can expect more online material to appear in the next few months, like the primary languages website, as well as other websites aiming to share examples of creative projects.

Monday, 2 April 2007


I have just found this interesting book about the different trends in the evolution of languages with English as a main focus (see link for download). Another way to justify the fact that "English is not enough".


Welcome to MyLanguages!

The aim of this blog is to compile and share up-to-date information and good practice regarding the teaching of Modern Languages in the UK.

I will be regularly updating this blog to ensure that all the posts reflect the pace of change predicted for Modern Languages in the "post-Languages Review" era.