Monday, 30 July 2007

ICT Tools for in and out of the classroom

There are quite a lot of new and not so new ICT tools that can be used in and out of the classroom.

Here are the favourite tools of a number of e-learning professionals-some working directly in education, some not. The tools they have selected could be used for their own personal working and learning or for teaching/ learning.

The most popular 100 sites have been listed here:

The following tools have caught my attention as particularly interesting for languages teachers: is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online.
Because you can:
Create colorful mind maps online
Share and work with friends
Embed your mind map in your blog or website
Email and print your mind map
Save your mind map as an image
You can choose from over 1,000 add-ons at the Firefox Add-ons Web site. A Firefox add-on can help you comparison shop, share bookmarks with your friends, see the weather in a corner of your browser, write to your weblog, get news, listen to music.
Groups can either be public, public (invite only), or completely private. Every group has a pool for sharing photos and a discussion board for talking.
Picasa is a free software download from Google that helps you:
Locate and organise all the photos on your computer.
Edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks.
Share your photos with others through email, prints and on the web: it’s fast, easy and free
Quick Doc ReviewSM gives you an instant private space for gathering comments on any HTML document (Microsoft Word documents too). Your group can comment on each paragraph, directly within the document, and you can also display, sort, and print the comments separately. Comments are all in one central place. This is true collaboration, much better than mailing documents around and having people make comments in isolation. And it's private, but still easy to access.

PollDaddy is an online tool, which allows you to create free polls and place them on your website, blog, MySpace, hi5, Friendster or Xanga account
A wiki is an easy-to-use web page that multiple people can edit. It's like a shared whiteboard online. Don't worry about getting IT support or installing any software. We handle all of that. You just start typing and get an online classroom in about 5 minutes. Create a syllabus, share it with your students, and let them write collaborative essays online. Create online Powerpoint-like presentations right from your wiki.
You know how useful conference calls can be. Now how about if you could do it with pictures? With Showtime, the free web conferencing service from Powwownow that's exactly what you get. A web conference that allows you to present your PDF or PowerPoint files to 5 participants, and even show whats on your screen to up to 2 participants and its all free.
Free features include:
Calling other people on Skype
Transfer Skype calls to other Skype contacts
Video calls on Skype
One-to-one and group chats
Conference calls with up to nine people
Forwarding calls to other Skype Names
Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a free, Open Source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities. You can download and use it on any computer you have handy.
Diigo is about "Social Annotation": you can highlight, annotate, share & interact on any webpage.
Create simple web pages that groups, friends, & families can edit together.
to record a voice over pictures-great to develop speaking skills using personal topics and own pictures.
The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is not freeware, but it is free of charge for those working for publicly-funded non-profit-making educational institutions, who make their pages available on the web. Other users must pay for a licence.
SlideShare is a place to host and share presentations. Upload all your slide decks, and find / download interesting presentations.
File Den's free file hosting and online storage service enable its users to direct link to their files also giving you the opportunity to embed your files into your web pages, myspace or other social networking profiles. Files stored on File Den are kept on secure systems in a secure data centre. You can access your files anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
Voki and WeeMee are two avatar sites. Design your own character, choose background and accessories and even add a voice for Voki. Great for practising personal identification in any language.
Search for and collect your favourite videos. Feed into other people’s vodpods and share your findings or put them on your website or blog.
The Text Tool is a Microsoft Word template that contains sets of instructions called 'macros':
Bingo Card Maker
Verb Tense Test Maker
Crossword Maker
Flashcard Maker
Sentence Breaker
Paragraph Breaker
Multi-word Maker
Multi-gap Maker
Multi-choice Question Maker
Synonym Question Maker
Antonym Question Maker
Word Mover
Word Remover
Punctuation Remover
Space Remover
Letter Remover
Letter Underliner
Word List Saver
Online Children's Dictionary Search
Online Dictionary Search
Online Thesaurus Search
Online Multi-word Dictionary Search
One of the most useful tools to share and find out about interesting links on the web.
The following article details its possible use-well worth a read.

Saturday, 28 July 2007 - A Working Example of Adaptive Bio Logic

Adaptive bio what? This web site is an experiment in “advanced adaptive automation techniques” developed by Cambridge Minds, a Cambridge software company.

Software robots manage the page :
*One robot is responsible for checking all the links and mailing a status report each day.
*A second robot is responsible for taking new entries from email messages and inserting them into an appropriate category on the page.
*A third robot is responsible for removing entries from the page, based upon a number of criteria.
*A fourth robot is responsible for periodically re-ordering the links within categories, according to the level of use by users.

Now the scary bit…
No human programmer can understand the code that makes these robots work - they are all the product of genetic programming.
Genetic programming is an advanced, automated method for creating working software objects from a high-level logic statement of a problem.

“As far as we are aware, apart from this example, TeacherXpress is the most advanced working example of this form of software development anywhere in the world” Anyway, it is what it says on the website!

From a more pragmatic point of view, it is a shame robots do not accept human feedback.

This site is HUGE, with lots of links, but the difference between this site and my collection is that the links are not there because somebody thought they might be interesting to a fellow teacher, but just because they exist. In short, it is a bit like trying to find a plumber in the yellow pages. There might be lots of them listed, but at first you have no way of knowing which one of them is actually any good.

On the plus side, the section headings are sensible:
Libraries, newspapers, reference, search engines, employment, museums, general info, books, magazine and equipment, educational software, government agencies, professional associations, hardware, teacher associations, LEA and Local Grid links, educational websites and a number of subject-specific sections e.g. Maths resources KS1 and 2.

On the minus side, there is no specific section for languages despite the fact that every other subject seems to have its own section. Is this a reflection of what some technical people think of foreign languages?? (hope not) However, no doubt that the LEA and Local Grid links section could be a source of very good links for mfl teachers.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Language Games and quizzes

There is quite a lot out there, from the very basic to the very sophisticated all singing and dancin, to get students to practise their vocabulary and grammar. A lot of these sites could be used for independent studies and/or homework. I have not listed any commercial sites and the sites are also referenced in my under the "games" tag.

Prescott School:
Drag and drop, match up, hangman, guess who for French.
Primary resources: games for French, German and Spanish (could be used for Y7).
Very basic multi-choice quizzes to practise vocabulary by topics.
Click and drag games to find out about France.

French extra:

Spanish Extra: (now paying site but a lot of materials are still in free access)
Lots of games and quizzes including half a minute, penalty shootout, grade or no grade, hoopshoot, wheel of fortune.

MFL Games: (for French)
Topic-based games including wheel of fortune, millionaire, wordsearches, scratchcard, flipword, hangman, codebreaker, anagrams, concentration, quizzes, mismatch.
Powerpoint templates to download including You Say We Pay, The Generation Game, Hunt the Treasure, Letter Investigator/I Spy, The Weakest Link.
Wordsearch and hangman by topic (Spanish).

Elma Eagles’ page:
Games and quizzes to practise Spanish grammar and vocabulary (levelled).

Languages online:
French, German, Spanish and Italian vocabulary games including jigsaw, pairs, speedword, wordweb and wordsearches.
This is a huge collection of basic games and quizzes covers themes from Animals to Weather including the Latin world as well as Spanish grammar.

Poliglot games for Spanish:
hangman, jigmatch, concentration, hungry frog, wheel of fortune, speedword, memorymatch, wordweb.

Spanish vocabulary games:

Colourful site with 16 different types of games (Spanish). Maybe more suitable for Primary mfl.

Cyber Juegos:
Juegos Juegos :
Traditional game sites with free downloads, multiplayer and single player games-probably best for personal use!

wizards to create web-based activities for language learning and practice.

Le jeu de l’oie:
Online classic boardgame to practise specific French grammar items.

Quia games: (French numbers) (spanish vocabulary)

Language games and games about languages.

Alien Language:
Practise the parts of the body in French, Spanish, German and English.
Downloadable word games in French, English and German.
French and German crosswords by topics (basic)
Spanish crosswords and puzzles with some downloadable activities.
Downloadable puzzles and games in French, German and Spanish.
Ideas for teacher-led language games.
Games for EFL students.

Children’s games in French (primary).

Colourful children’s sites with games in French (with audio).
French and German interactive quizzes for grammar revision (click on learning areas for access to French and German pages.

Children’s games in Spanish (primary).

Oscar l’escargot:
Game with audio on healthy living and food (French).
Games for French, Spanish, German GCSE.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Resources for French GCSE Applied to Leisure & Tourism

You will need to distinguish “raw resources” that need to be transformed into teaching materials from ready-to-teach resources that will still need adapting. The idea is that nobody starts from scratch and we can then start exchanging the materials produced to save everybody’s valuable time.

There is also a need for points of reference for leisure and tourism and more general business terminology. I know we are looking at GCSE, not degree level, but it is always nice to feel ahead of the students!

ABC de la terminologie touristique:
Glossary explaining a lot of the English terms used in the French tourist industry

Heinz Heigl's Home Page:
Home page with lots of links to do with the French language and culture. There is a special section about local, regional and international tourism.

Hans Le Roy homepage : FLE Tourisme
Lots of links to tourism-related website: hotels, weather, guides, transports, restaurants, regions in France and Belgium.

Le Français Commercial et Pratique et sa correspondence:
Business French textbooks with exercises

Webquest on how to organise a business trip :

RFI Langues:
Business French course with listening exercises-audio and transcripts provided

Franc-Parler: Français Commercial
Ressources pédagogiques:
Sites de référence
Lettres de diffusion
Compléments de méthodes de français des affaires
Cours de français des affaires
Textes, dialogues et exercices
Simulations globales

Franc-Parler: Français du tourisme et de l’ hôtellerie

Bonjour de France : Français des affaires links
Français des affaires : exercises (with audio)

AppuiFLE-Tourisme : Site de français du tourisme et de l'hôtellerie

Guide de l’utilisation des resources en ligne:
Links to sites for resources to be adapted

AF Toulouse net:
Activities to be downloaded (reading/ listening)

Alliance Française en Russie:
Links for Business French

Powerpoint including links about tourist industry training in France:,45,S%C3%A9minaire%20f%C3%A9d%C3%A9ral%20des%20professeurs%20de%20fran%C3%A7ais%20%20%C2%AB%C2%A0tourisme%20et%20h%C3%B4tellerie%C2%A0%C2%BB

Reading Comprehension exercises applied to tourism:

FLE Training for the Tourism Industry in Thailand:
Online activities can be adapted for reading and listening comprehension-audio and teacher/ student guide included.

Downloadable documents on written French applied to tourism

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

A Levels/ IGCSEs vs International Baccalaureate (IB)

In previous posts, I looked at the opportunities for linguists offered by the IB and the IGCSEs.

A current threat named “The A' level is dead...Long live the IB” on the TES staffroom forum urges teachers to get up to date with the IB developments. Is this the end of A Levels?

As you would expect from this kind of discussion, there is no clear winner, as the pros and cons have to be put into specific school contexts. However, some comments are very enlightening indeed…

“I have headed two IB Diploma schools and taught in two others and it is an interesting system but neither an ideal match for every situation nor for every student. There is also some movement away from IB. One of the IBs flagship schools in Santiago de Chile fairly recently reverted to A Levels and the best national school in Delhi went back to ICE. There are other examples I could cite. Of the three IB programmes the MYP is the poor relation and many parents shy away from such a loosely-defined programme with no 'real' examination to show for it in Year 11.” [whereas some high profile private schools seem to be going the other way, see previous post]

“The IB is an excellent programme but it's very academic and not for everyone. I understand the separate certificates (taken if you can't manage the full diploma) are no longer recognised by some Australian universities. … Interestingly, the most sought after International school here in Singapore does PYP, then GCSE then IB, leaving out the MYP altogether.”

“I agree about the MYP, it's a mess. Many schools just don't use it and start IB in Yr 12. They don't seem to be any less successful. “

“The confusion I have is with the tariff given by UCAS for IB for University entry in 2008. An 'A' at A level is 120 points - so obviously 3 x A = 360. Yet an IB diploma of 40 points is worth over 650 points which is just bizarre. Having taught both there are obviously pros and cons. I don't think for example that some IB courses are more academically demanding that the A level in that subject. I hear from some universities that they are simply discounting the UCAS ratings and are setting their own next year.”

“At my school, those students who it is believed would do better on the A levels are terms 'specialists' and those who would do better as 'generalists.' So in other words, people say, A levels are better for going deeper and IB is better for going broader.” [Some argue that the IB is both broad and deep…]

“I don't think the IB is only for "high flyers". I've seen very mediocre students pass the full diploma. Their points-score wasn't stellar, but they did end up with a diploma. The key factor isn't intellectual capacity but willingness to work hard... It seems to me that a student who could pass three A Levels ought to be able to pass the diploma as well. If they CAN'T do three A Levels, then their needs are unlikely to be catered to at the average international school anyway, regardless of which system it uses...” [So willingness to work hard does make a difference!]

Monday, 23 July 2007

New National Curriculum for Secondary Schools in England

QCA offficially launched the new secondary national curriculum on 12th July 2007. The new programmes of study (PoS) aim to give teachers a less prescriptive and more flexible framework for teaching, creating more scope to personalize the curriculum to meet the needs of individual students.

Ken Boston, Chief Executive of QCA said:

"QCA is pleased to be launching the new secondary curriculum. The consultation was widely supported by education professionals, parents, employers, industry experts - in fact, anyone with an interest in education. The opportunity to create an exciting and stimulating curriculum that includes classroom activities and out-of-hours learning, as well as a solid foundation in the basic subjects, has been greeted enthusiastically.

"Our aim has been to increase flexibility. The new curriculum builds on the best of the past by maintaining the discipline of subjects, but at the same time offering greater opportunities for personalised learning, addressing the major challenges that face society and equipping young people with the skills for life and work in the 21st Century.

"By mixing tradition with a more creative approach to the curriculum, we will achieve our objective of producing successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens."

The new programmes of study for all subjects can be downloaded from:

The specific links for the mfl PoS, also including level descriptors, are:

The programmes of study will be laid before Parliament and schools will receive them in September 2007 for teaching from September 2008. The new secondary curriculum website will be launched in September. There will then be a three-year period from 2008-2010 for schools to implement the new programmes of study.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Teaching Abroad: Facts and Figures

When the weather is at its worst, a teaching job and a new life in the sun do sound appealing. So, I decided to read up on the matter.

According to a post on the Times Educational Supplement website

89 % of the respondents of a survey into international teaching concluded that teaching abroad is good for developing your career.

The respondents included international teachers past and present who revealed that the experience had enriched them as a person. 66% had learned a new language during this time and 20% of these had become fluent speakers.

The research, by international recruiting specialists Teachers International Consultancy involved teachers of nine different nationalities and was conducted during the summer of 2006 with the support of Bath University summer school, Fieldwork Education summer school and the Overseas School of Colombo in Sri Lanka.

What did teachers like about teaching in international schools?
*the level of international awareness
*the behaviour of the children
*the curriculum.

Many teachers are tempted to stay abroad for longer than originally planned, with 57% of the respondents having already worked for five or more years in the international system.

68% of the teachers researched said their overseas teaching experience has significantly enhanced their overall teaching skills. How? The survey did not mention specific skills but problem-solving and communication skills must be in there somewhere, particularly in the case of teachers teaching in countries with a different language and culture to their own.

What makes a good international teacher?
The most important characteristic was flexibility, with being a good communicator and having an international outlook were two other valued qualities, well ahead of having a high quality education and knowledge of a foreign language [although I fail to see how you can communicate effectively with no knowledge of the language spoken in your host country].

More tips from the TES:
Overseas teaching
Where to teach overseas

“Red flags when looking into a school abroad” is a thread from the TES staffroom forum. It makes interesting reading as the red flags are from teachers already in post abroad as well as teachers with experience of working abroad.

*Flights at beginning and end of contract only, not each year*Contract only in local language and no English copy given and/or different wording in each.
*"Good Local Salary". Plus "average stay of staff is …" type details. It could be that apart from a few exceptions to the rule, the average is a lot less than the figure quoted.
*Shared accommodation.
*Interview costs paid by teacher
*Recently opened for profit schools

*Blinkered interviews that feel like a sales pitch with no balanced information.*Promises at interview not backed up by contract.
*Complicated pay structure with pay rates shownnot being “money in the bank” rates or salary given to include the cost of the rental of apartment provided by the school.
*Maximum allowance-usually about 5 days- for sick leave.
*Teachers on different salaries but hired at the same time with the same qualification.

*No teacher Induction programme at the start of the contract.
*Pay for your own work permits
*For teachers with family, look out for schools that are only interested in you and not your family e.g medical cover, school places for your kids, air tickets…
*Large number of SEN pupils (in a non-SEN specialist school)

After reading this thread, I felt that taking a post abroad was probably not that different from getting a new job in the UK: there is the official, the unofficial and what the organisation changes into as soon as you join it!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Rationale for PMFL: Higher Levels in Year 7 or Increased Generic Language Awaress?

An article published in the Independent on 23 June 2007 presents a new plan piloted in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire to introduce primary school children from the age of nine to 6 foreign languages before they start secondary school.

The idea is to provide a taster and hopefully the basis for an informed choice when they transfer to secondary school. French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Punjabi and Latin will be studied for a term each before they leave primary school. The project is being evaluated by the University of Manchester and a report will be published by the end of the year.

With the 2010 deadline approaching, a lot of primary schools have introduced languages into their curriculum in many creative ways - leaving secondary schools having to deal with students very different linguistic profiles on entry.

“One school which has seized on the initiative is the 320-pupil Cavalry primary school in March, Cambridgeshire - in the largely white Fenlands. "We didn't have any language teacher here at all," said headteacher Val Spriggs. "The children really have taken to this. Our children in this area have very little experience of other cultures. It has been a lovely way of introducing them to different ways of doing things."

"Catherine White, the teacher in charge of delivering the project, admits to having had a sketchy knowledge of languages - especially Japanese - herself when she started the scheme.
"You don't have to be a linguist to teach it," she said. "After all, I gave up on art when I was 14 or 15 - but I still have to teach it."

Such project could have a massive impact in terms of students’ motivation but they should be supported by an element of choice offered at secondary school, which is often not possible due to staffing and other curriculum constraints.

The project also helps dealing with some of the transition issues, such as setting in Year 7 on the basis of previous language studies, which often gets too complicated in large secondary schools to be effective.

Fostering enthusiasm for languages through tasters or general language awareness programmes at LEA level could be a lot more effective than starting something that cannot be followed up at secondary level. Watch this space for the report…

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Foundation Certificate of Secondary Education (FCSE)

AQA is launching a new qualification for first teaching from September 2007: the FCSE

FCSE stands for Foundation Certificate of Secondary Education.

• FCSE tests may be taken by learners who have studied a course at National Curriculum Levels 4, 5 or 6.

• FCSEs are qualifications at Level 1 in the National Qualification Framework• FCSE assessments may be taken at anytime

• FCSEs are available only from AQA, in French, Spanish (2007 – restricted entry). German and Italian will be offered from 2008 onwards and open to all centres

• Pupils can progress from FCSE to GCSE.Assessment in FCSEs

• FCSEs are assessed by end-of-unit tests. Evidence from three of the twelve units must be submitted for moderation.

• Listening and Reading tests are externally-set and centre-assessed.

• Speaking and Writing tests are centre-set and centre-assessed.

• FCSE awards are graded Pass, Merit or Distinction.

Specification can downloaded from

• FCSE is suitable for a wide age range: primary, Key Stage 3 (years 7–9), Key Stage 4 (years 10–11) or adult learners.

• FCSE is available in French and Spanish (from September 2007 – first phase schools only) and French, Spanish, Italian and German (from September 2008 – for all).

•There is no prescribed content or vocabulary. Twelve units are arranged in four themes, corresponding to current GCSE themes.

• FCSE includes all four language skills: o listening o speaking o reading o writing.

• AQA provide externally-set, centre-assessed assignments in Listening and Reading and they plan to provide on-screen tests soon.

• Listening and Reading specimen materials in all four languages are available from the website:

Specimen listening in French

Specimen Reading

Speaking (non language specific)

Writing (non language-specific)

• Teachers set and mark the Speaking and Writing assignments. If teachers prefer not to set their own, they can use assignments supplied by us.

• There are three levels of award: o Pass o Merit o Distinction covering National Curriculum Levels 4, 5 and 6.

• Pupils attempt assignments when a topic has been covered, at different stages in the course, and can re-take if required.

• Teachers choose which units to cover and send us evidence from three of them for moderation. • AQA claims that the administrative procedures are kept simple: paperwork is minimal and under the teacher's control.

• Formal recognition of the achievement of individual units can be gained through the Unit Award Scheme.

The AQA Unit Award Scheme provides the opportunity to give students formal recognition of their success in short units of work. The Scheme promotes effective teaching and learning by ensuring that those writing and delivering units give careful consideration to learning outcomes, evidence and assessment and by setting down clear targets for students.

Success in each unit is recognised on an ongoing basis through the issue of a Unit Award Statement which details the outcomes demonstrated by the student in successfully completing the unit. This recognition of success has been shown to motivate students and improve their performance. Each student also receives a summary Letter of Credit which lists, by title, all the units he/she has completed.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

"Including languages in the Diplomas is a positive step"

This is the title of a recent article written by Isabella Moore, CILT director, for FE New.
Many arguments in the article can be used in our day-to-day promotion for Languages.
FE News specialise in providing up to the minute news and features about Further Education across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including Colleges, Training Providers, Awarding Bodies, Funding Bodies, Apprenticeships and Inspections.

“Diplomas, the new qualifications for 14-19-year olds, herald the biggest change to the 14-19 curriculum for many years. Sitting alongside GCSEs and A Levels, they offer young people the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills within an applied, sector-focused context.

Employers have been actively involved in the development of the new qualifications, keen to ensure that young people gain not only knowledge of a particular sector/subject, but also vital skills for employment and higher education such as literacy, numeracy and IT skills, along with the ability to think, interact and communicate at a high level.

In our globally competitive employment market, no-one would dispute that all of these skills are vital for a good employee. Equally, who could dispute that language and intercultural skills are also essential for functioning effectively in this environment, or that the additional skills that language learning brings can be overlooked (confidence-building, problem-solving, developing a broader outlook etc)?

Although there is still some awareness-raising to be done in terms of overcoming the attitude of ‘everyone speaks English’ that languages will be available within the additional and specialist learning component of the Diploma is a positive step.

A selected number of schools and colleges will offer the first five of these Diplomas (Construction and Built Environment, Engineering, ICT, Society, Health & Development, and Creative & Media) from the next academic year with fourteen Diploma lines available from 2013. The inclusion of languages as an option within all of the first five Diplomas offers welcome opportunities for the growth of language learning for 14-19, including in further education.

From 2008 learners will be able to chose language qualifications for inclusion within additional and specialist learning, depending on what is available locally. Work will need to be done to raise the profile of languages within the Diploma and CILT’s latest Languages Work materials tie into the new Diploma lines and highlight the benefits of languages in the workplace.

The Diploma will include a minimum of ten days’ work experience at each level and students should be encourages to do this work experience either in an international company using languages, or even abroad. CILT’s newly-produced Work Placement Toolkit would provide a helpful aid in preparing students linguistically for such a placement

Only 13% of UK students go on international workplacements compared to 24% in Germany and 32% in France - the Diploma could be a fantastic opportunity for these students to experience work in an international environment.”

Isabella Moore, Director, CILT

Saturday, 14 July 2007

CILT Update on the 14-19 diploma

This updated page from the CILT website answers the most frequently asked questions in a clear and concise way.

“What is the place of languages in the new Diploma?
Diplomas are new qualifications for 14-19 year olds. They cover general knowledge and skills within an applied, sector-focused context. There will eventually be 14 Diploma subjects available, each currently known as a “line of learning”, offered at Levels 1, 2 and 3.

The Diplomas are divided into three components:
§ principal learning (learning relevant to a specific sector)
§ generic learning (learning for employment and personal development)
§ additional/specialist learning (a variety of options endorsed by employers in the sector concerned).

Full details of the Diploma subjects, the timetable for their delivery and the makeup of the Diplomas is available from the Diploma development partnerships and timetable page on the QCA website.

When and where will the Diplomas be available?
The first five 14-19 Diplomas (formerly called ‘specialised’ Diplomas) will be offered by a selected number of school and college consortia from September 2008 alongside the current offer of GCSEs, A Levels, etc. The consortia have passed successfully through the government’s Gateways Diploma process and as such have been selected to provide the first pilots.

What are the first five Diploma subjects?
Construction and Built Environment, Engineering, ICT, Society, Health & Development, and Creative & Media. These will be available for teaching from September 2008.

What are the opportunities for languages within the Diplomas?
Languages are to be an option within all of the first five Diplomas, sitting in the component of additional/specialist learning. For 2008, any qualification on the Section 96 Qualifications page of the Department of Children, Schools and Families website (formerly DfES) can be offered as an option, and that will include languages.

The number of Guided Learning Hours (GLH) for each Diploma varies according to component and level: there is time available at any level to teach a language. For example, in the Construction and Built Environment Diploma at Level 1, there are 120 GLH available within the additional/specialist component, which can be divided up between options with a minimum GLH of 30 hours per option. Optional units will be chosen by the consortia delivering the main Diploma.

For 2008, any language qualification which is on Section 96 can be offered for assessment of a language offered as part of a Diploma, for example, NVQ language units, Certificate in Business Language Competence (CBLC), Asset Languages, or indeed a GCSE or Applied French GCSE. QCA is currently deliberating on research to inform what the future language element of a Diploma might be.

What can language lecturers and managers be doing now to prepare?

§ Find out which consortium your college is in and which Diplomas your institution is intending to offer from 2008.
§ Make senior management aware that a language qualification can be offered as part of the additional/specialist component of the Diplomas
§ Highlight what kind of applied/vocational language teaching the college is already doing/has done in the past and raise awareness of the expertise which exists within your institution or consortium

You might also find it helpful to refresh your ideas on what content might be appropriate: start by reading the agreed statement in respect of the future development of common learning outcomes across lines of learning for the Diplomas (Languages and Customer Service). It can be found in the Diploma Content page of the Construction and Built Environment Diploma website.

You can get an overview of all of the language qualifications for post 14 by downloading the excel spreadsheet on the qualifications page. “

Friday, 13 July 2007

Asset Languages for the World of Work

In their Centre Support Update Special Edition: July 2007, Asset Languages made the following announcement:

"Now that Asset Languages is established in hundreds of centres with tens of thousands of students using the assessments each year, we have started to develop a new set of qualifications: Asset Languages for the World of Work.

In the past few months we have:

• surveyed centres
• held focus group meetings
• talked to experts
• worked with specialist consultants in order to create new qualifications that will meet the needs of centres and that students are going to find relevant and interesting.

As a result we are currently finalising proposals that we will put to QCA in the autumn.
It is too soon to give precise details, but we can say with confidence that:

• The Asset Languages philosophy including single skill testing will still apply
• Materials will be in French and Spanish
• The scheme will be sufficiently adaptable to fit a wide range of vocational pathways
External Assessments will be at Preliminary and Intermediate stages
Speaking tests will replicate workplace situations
Greater guidance will be given on the vocational topics and functions than in the current Asset Languages specifications.

We are aiming to have a draft specification on our website in October 2007 with full availability in 2008/09.
If you would be interested in trialling materials for the scheme please contact Caroline Cole, Centre Support Manager, Asset Languages at "

I am especially interested in how the scheme will fit into the vocational pathways, in the profile of the students it is aimed at-no breakthrough level external assessment?- and in the approaches used to make the speaking test replicate workplace situation.

After so many years dominated by GCSE, are we witnessing a real diversification of languages qualifications? More to the point, will schools use these qualifications to boost numbers at KS4 and the A-C and A-G pass rates soon to be published in the league tables?
Only time will tell...

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Have your Say in The GCSE Review

The content of the GCSE has often been mentioned amongst mfl teachers as a reason for decreasing motivation at KS4. As the syllabi “re-visit” some KS3 topics and appear immature to some of the students, the addition of more “transactional” topics also gives the impression that GCSE is a rehearsal for an event that may never happen- namely a visit to target-language country.
So … Is there no use for French/ Spanish/ German/ Italian etc... if we stay in England? This is your chance to have your say!

QCA presents its aims as to:
*update the content of the GCSEs, making them more relevant and exciting
*encourage innovative teaching, learning and assessment
*incorporate key elements of curriculum developments
*ensure that the revised GCSEs complement the Diplomas
*revise the assessment arrangements to provide stretch and challenge for all learners and make assessment less formulaic and predictable
*ensure that standards are maintained.

The general GCSE criteria, common to all subjects can be found at:

The mfl-specific criteria can be downloaded from:

You are invited to complete an on-line questionnaire which consists of twelve sections. The questionnaire needs to be submitted electronically by 14 September 2007.

Issues like the proportion of controlled conditions and external assessment in the overall course, the use of dictionaries and the content of the Areas of Experiences are mentioned amongst others.

Your response will contribute to the development of the new GCSE criteria. The subsequently revised specifications for mfl will be available from September 2008 for first teaching in 2009

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

KS2 Resources to spice up your Schemes of Work

At this time of the year, when Schemes of Work are being reviewed for next September, the following free resources might be of use:

Click on the ‘TakaCréer’ link to send e-cards (Cybercartes).Click on ‘Taka t’amuser’ (bottom right) then on ‘maternelle’ for a selection of games with audio, like ‘Je compte 1 à 5’ and ‘j’apprends mes formes’ , which are the most suitable for primary school children.

This site was created by Connie Hurd, a full time primary French teacher in Lincoln. All the activities and puzzles (made with 'Hot Potatoes' software) are free, interactive, and can be used in self-access as all exercises can be self-corrected. Children who complete the exercises successfully are rewarded with a fun animated gif or smilie. The site also has some free printable worksheets and a good selection of photos from France that can be downloaded.

Log on in a variety of languages and find a wide variety of activities such as hangman or picture labelling. The activities can be used on Interactive Whiteboard or in an ICT suite.

follow the links to French theme page or go direct to:
This site has printable books using basic vocabulary, plus printable labels and activities.

A site where you can download printable books in French and Spanish. All stories are levelled but you have to subscribe to get access to all the stories. The free materials are to be found in the sample section.

This is Henri Des‘s Official website with songs, games and other resources. You must subscribe to have access to some parts of the website but most of it is actually free.

Free resources for teachers of young learners. Including free flashcards, worksheets and Handouts to match, free phonics cards, free ESL games, an international project exchange library, printable certificates, printable stickers and some activities all ready for printing.

Teacher Resources Spanish Connections Scrapbook Links E-Pals

Primary school sites: All these sites have simple on-line games and activities.

The Snaith primary school site (good for other curriculum areas too!)

The Downs school site with very good games teaching tools for the interactive whiteboard.

Map – shows France and gives facts about the country in English.
Colours – click on pallet to hear coloursNumbers – numerals and words (written phonetically in brackets)
Animals – click on animals to hear them.Weather – click on pictures to hear the phrase
Clothes – click on clothes to hear the phrase Je porte ….. (with colours)
Food and Drink – Pictures and words (written phonetically in brackets)

The Quiz section can be used to test learning, but teacher feedback will be needed. The free resources section contains downloadable flashcards and worksheets in word format.

Language College sites /secondary sites All these sites have KS2 specific pages.

SoW for all KS2 year groups with resources.

From Stafforshire Learning Net, a number of excellent links with resources for Primary to KS4:

For more regularly updated KS2 resources, click on My and "Primary"

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Multimedia and Cross-Curricular Resources for MFL

In the Primary school, cross-curricular approaches may come more naturally, but there is nothing to stop us promoting each other's subjects in the Secondary school too. After all, learning is just one big adventure...

French and Art:

French and Music:



Kamini -Je suis blanc-

Yannick Noah:

viedos can also be downloaded from and click on pictures

Links to Radio-Canada International with discussions about many Canadian cultural issues as well as other interesting topics. It is also good to hear different sorts of French Canadian accents:(the links were recommended on mflresources by Beverley, a Canadian colleague) (click on Ecoutez)

(click on Archives on lower left)

Primary Resources from Richmond with some cross-curricular suggestions:

French at KS2
Spanish at KS2
Italian at KS2
German at KS2
Cross-curricular activities
Templates for games
Multi-lingual activities
Free posters, stickers and postcards to celebrate the European Day of Languages

Spanish and Music (not sure about some of the accents but this site definitely is worth the look):

Display materials and links with the BBC and QCA: (also includes a few powerpoints on some basic topics).

Monday, 9 July 2007

Update from Asset Languages
Asset Languages is the assessment scheme for the DfES' Languages Ladder and is being developed by Cambridge Assessment through OCR and Cambridge ESOL, as part of the National Languages Strategy.

How to use Asset:

A Powerpoint with useful information for Primary and secondary schools can be downloaded from:

How does the assessment work?
You can choose to use Teacher Assessment, External Assessment or both, using the Teacher assessment as a benchmark towards the External Assessment. More details at:

What are the benefits of Asset Languages?

*Asset Languages allows you to concentrate on separate language skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing and assess them independently.

*Asset Languages qualifications are recognised and transferable. They fit in with the national qualification framework to other awards (external assessment only).

*Asset has produced a short PowerPoint presentation which describes why we think learning languages is important and how Asset Languages can help to get recognition of language skills at the end of KS3.

Why Asset Languages - Year 9 presentation

For primary teachers, Asset can be a way to benchmark language learning and ease transition with secondary schools.
NACELL, The National Advisory Centre on Early Language Learning have created a very useful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document which you can be downloaded from the NACELL website or from the direct link to .pdf file here.

Case studies can be found on the CILT and the Asset Languages websites and present how a variety of schools have introduced the scheme

Further quotes can be found at

Training to be an Accredited Teacher and changes for September 2007
The prospective Accredited Teacher applies for and then receives a pack of self-access training materials. They work through these materials, complete the comment sheets and then return them to Asset Languages (this should take 3-4 hours). If successful, they become accredited.
More details at:

As a result of teacher feedback indicating that the accreditation process, considered onerous by some, was in some case a barrier to the adoption of the scheme, Asset Languages announced at the end of June that, with effect from September 2007:

*You will no longer be required to have a Speaking Assessor in order to make entries for the external speaking test.

*You will no longer be required to have an Accredited Teacher in order to purchase Teacher Assessment Packs, but you will still need an Accredited Teacher before you can purchase the packs of Grade Award certificates for teacher assessment.

*Accredited Teacher status will be awarded by Stage, e.g. Breakthrough, and will cover all languages. It will also be permanent, with no requirement to renew after four years.

*Face-to-face regional training sessions and local cluster support groups will be offered with details to follow in the autumn term.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Le Tour de France has started… in England !

Before the start of the Tour de France, a number of resources have been shared on the mflresources and linguanet forum by a variety of contributors including Razia Ali from CILT, the National Centre for Languages and Helen Myers from the Associalition for Language Learning, ALL.

Comenius London has published a set of resources to celebrate the 2007 Tour de France starting in London. These are freely downloadable from:

A Chacun Son Tour: is currently being used by schools across France as part of a project work on the Tour de France. The materials are cross-curricular, totally in French and come with teachers’ notes (and answers – also in French) and additional resources. There are freely downloadable curriculum materials, based on all facets of the Tour de France.

Maths: Worksheet (8.2Mb) Statistics (301Kb) Answer sheet (267Kb)

TJ and the Tour: has been specially developed by Comenius London for the Tour de France. It is a comic book adventure of a young British cyclist, TJ Taylor. It follows his adventure in being chosen for an elite cycling team and takes him right up to the start ramp for the 2007 Prologue. Thereafter, the story is in the hands of the reader. There are two versions of TJ and the Tour:

With text – narrative in English and speech in French. Download the resource (4Mb)
Without text – so that users of other languages can create their own narrative and add their own text. Download the resource (4Mb)

TJ and the Tour also comes with a number of ideas to utilise and develop the comic in class. Download the curriculum ideas (46Kb)

The ALL-London website has the following links and downloadable documents to support lessons about the Tour de France
Raw information to convert to task!
Les aspects sportifs
Ken Livingstone introduction 2007
Parcours map (image)
Parcours map (flash)
TaskMagic cycling vocab 1
TaskMagic cycling vocab 2

Esther Mercier’s site A tantot includes special Tour de France activities :

Click on the green button and choose between a Grade or no grade? Activity, a look at the official map or the video of the route of the Tour de France.

The route can also be found at:

BBC Ma France
Learn essential Tour Terminology, cycling phrases and cycling Slang, On the Road vocab and pick up phrases to help with Accidents and Repairs and Hiring a Bike. You can practise them all on the Activities page.
Find out more about the Tour de France from selected Websites.
Keep up-to-date with the world of cycling with BBC Sport.
Try the Activities such as card games, ball game, quizzes and a crossword.

Another fantastic resource for the Tour de France is the INA site Simply type Tour de France into the search and you have a news reel of just about every tour - official website in English, French, German and Spanish and
Tour phrasebook - activities and resources for primary languages and other subjects -
Primary French teaching resources -Le vélo mini-dossier, activities, games and songs - racing game

Saturday, 7 July 2007

New Community Languages Curriculum Guides

The recent DfES Languages Review describes our community languages as a 'national asset'. It is therefore vital to ensure that children's achievements in this area are recognised and valued. It goes without saying that many community languages are also of increasing commercial importance, but resources are sometimes more limited for these languages. As a result of this, CILT, The National Centre for Languages, has just launched a new series of publications called Curriculum guides for community languages .

The guides, which were developed as a Goldsmiths College project with the support of the Nuffield Foundation, provide a flexible framework to support the design and delivery of courses in both mainstream and complementary sectors. The guides are available in Arabic, Chinese, Panjabi, Tamil and Urdu and draw on recent policy developments in Language teaching, including the Key Stage 2 Framework and the Key Stage 3 Strategy. They are also linked to the Languages Ladder, which promises to be the development with the strongest impact in terms of recognition of existing language skills.

The detailed framework maps a clear linguistic progression across topics and suggests a variety of activities to develop both oracy and literacy. The guides embed a major focus on intercultural awareness and creativity, and also gives serious consideration to assessment, grammar and the development of learner independence. Up-to-date resource information and materials will be provided on a related website.

PDFs of the guides may be downloaded for free from (Goldsmiths website). To access the guides you will need to create a new account (if you are not already registered), then click on Community Languages Resource Base in list of available courses. [Hard copies can be bought from CILT for £8].

Friday, 6 July 2007

Update from CILT: The Language Work Placement Toolkit
Natasha Ricot-Gomez, 14-19 Programme Co-ordinator at CILT, The National Centre for Languages, contacted the Linguanet forum to introduce this new resource.

Many students undertake language work experience either in another European country or with an international company in the UK. As Lord Dearing highlights, such work experience has an immense impact on a student's language learning, intercultural awareness and overall level of motivation.

The Language Work Placement Toolkit is a new resource which has been produced by CILT’s Sharon Czudak, Gill Musk and Cherry Sewell to support teachers, language learners and others involved in language work placements.

It aims:

- to support students going on work placements (UK or abroad) to develop the language and intercultural skills required;
-to help staff prepare students and review experience after placement;
-to provide a record of student achievement (language and intercultural skills for the workplace);
-to provide a flexible tool to meet individual needs and different work situations.

It consists of:

-an Introduction with Tips for Students, Language Teachers, Work Placement Co-ordinators and In-company Mentors;

-a Work Placement Language Learning Framework for teachers' and students' use before and after the placement.

Visit the 14-19 pages of the CILT website to download the free Toolkit.

The Toolkit is also available free in flexible hardcopy & CD formats from CILT, the National Centre for Languages. To order e-mail:

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Schoolgirl Wins Fight for French: Statutory Requirements Vs Pressures on the Curriculum

A recent article on the BBC education website discusses the situation of Kim Snape, 15, who took her campaign to study GCSE French to the Prime Minister and won her battle.

The teenager wanted to study Performing Arts, but was told she would have to drop French because of a timetable clash. She then decided to pay for private lessons but also wrote to Tony Blair, her MP and ministers, arguing that she had a right to study the language at school.

“The response from Lord Adonis came in a letter to local MP David Borrow.

He said: "Since September 2004, modern languages along with arts, design and technology and the humanities became statutory entitlement subjects.

"Schools must provide the opportunity for students to take a course in all four entitlement areas.

"An option scheme forcing a student to choose between a course in a modern language and a course in another entitlement area, excluding the possibility of doing both, would not meet the statutory requirements."

Officials from the Department for Education and Skills confirmed a pupil who wanted to study a language at school between the age of 14 and 16 should have the chance to do so and should not have to pay for lessons. If there were timetable problems, a school could make arrangements with another school or college.”

This idea sounds simple enough but it is a far cry from the reality dictated by the pressures on the curriculum to be inclusive, “personalised” and offer a vocational element to students of all abilities. Arrangements with other schools and colleges are also likely to involve studying a language in the evening or at the end of the school day, also competing with popular after-school activities like sports.

Another thorny issue is what number of students is needed to constitute a “viable” group. As the move to personalise the curriculum often includes streaming according to the students’ academic profile, this fragmentation can adversely affect optional subjects at KS4.

For example, if 15 students opt for French, 5 from the Gifted and Talented stream, 5 from the middle stream and 5 from the Special Needs stream, does this mean that no group can run at all? If only 7 students opt in one stream, is this viable? As there does not seem to be any official guidelines, this makes our subject very vulnerable to personal opinions often influenced by the proven severity of grading experienced by languages.

I remember being told about 10 years ago that video-conferencing was the solution, enabling small groups to work together with students from other schools without leaving their own school premises. The use of ICT to create specific school learning communities and support subjects like languages is an interesting one. The question is: Who is going to be brave enough to try it out first?

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

French Resources to Encourage Cross-Curricular Links
This excellent site was recommended on mflresources [see previous post on networking for mfl teachers]. It provides free French resources that cover the whole curriculum. As it is designed for native French speakers, some amendments may be necessary depending on the level and ability of your students.

Lecture :
Many exercises to practise scanning when reading a list
e.g. Repèrage: how many times doest he word appear in the list?
Wordsearches: mots mêlés à theme
Words with missing letters (les letters manquantes)
Odd one out (from basic to advanced)

Exercises for Advanced learners include, fill in the gap, odd one out and reading exercises.

Exercises concentrating on specific spelling patterns:

Detailed grammar exercises particularly suitable for advanced learners:

Exercises to practise different verbs types and tenses:

Useful worksheets with pictures that can be used with beginners, exercises to develop dictionary skills and themed vocabulary exercises:

Creative writing activities that could also be used to devise reading comprehension exercises:

Extended reading activities:

Poetry for children, some of which could be used as a template for writing their own poetry:

Maths activities:

History, Geography, Technology, Astronomy, Biology and Citizenship activities:

Lessons plans including 2 story-writing projects:

PE activities, including a useful description of a number of sports with pictures:

English as A foreign Language worksheets with pictures that could also be used to teach French:

Social Networking and Language Teaching

What is Social Networking?

According to Wikipedia, the first social networking website was, which began in 1995. There were over 50 social networking sites using the Circle of Friends in 2005 when one such online community, MySpace, was getting more page views than Google. Google has a social network called Orkut, launched in 2004. Social networking began to be seen as a component of internet strategy at around the same time: in March 2005 Yahoo launched Yahoo! 360°, their entry into the field, and in July 2005 News Corporation bought Circle of Friends-based MySpace, followed by ITV buying Old Boy Network-based Friends Reunited in December that year. It is estimated that combined there are now over 200 social networking sites using these existing and emerging social networking models.

In these communities, an initial set of founders sends out messages inviting members of their own personal networks to join the site. New members repeat the process, growing the total number of members and links in the network. Sites then offer features such as automatic address book updates, viewable profiles, the ability to form new links through "introduction services," and other forms of online social connections. Social networks can also be organized around business connections, as in the case of LinkedIn.

Wikipedia defines “Blended Networking” as an approach to social networking that combines both offline elements (face-to-face events) and online elements. MySpace, for example, builds on independent music and party scenes, and Facebook was originally designed to mirror a college community, though it has since expanded its scope to include high school, job-related, and regional networks. The newest social networks on the Internet are becoming more focused on niches such as travel, art, tennis, football (soccer), golf, cars, dog owners, and even cosmetic surgery. Other social networking sites focus on local communities, sharing local business and entertainment reviews, news, event calendars and happenings.

Children’s use of Social Networking needs to be monitored to ensure safety. Here are a few sites to make parents and teachers more aware of the dangers and how risks can be minimized.

Teachers are starting to see the potential of social networking to share good practice and avoid constantly re-inventing the proverbial wheel. Language teachers can also benefit from sharing experiences with colleagues from abroad in general and from their target language country in particular.

Ning groups have been quite popular with teachers so far. Ning is a site that enables you to create your own social networking site. It has a blog feature, the facility for uploading photos, videos and other documents you wish to share with the group. It also has a forum facility with an attractive community-style interface that does lend itself to discussion and the posting of resources.

Interestingly, apart from , I have not been able to find any Ning groups about language teaching in general.

Ning groups of interest to language teachers focus on the International Dimension:

or on ICT as a teaching tool:

Other popular forms of Social Networking for languages teachers include yahoo groups with supporting websites like mfl resources and discussion lists like Linguanet