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Off to a great start

We are putting great emphasis at the moment in our school on how we start and finish a lesson. Now I always try to start my Spanish or French lessons in a way that grabs the students' interest. So as well as putting the objectives for the lesson on the board together with a question which encapsulates the subject of the lesson, I will often use the OHP to put some pictures up. I very rarely have a blank board at the beginning of the lesson: there's always something there to get the students interested.

For example, the question might be: "What do you do in your free time?" and on the board will be pictures of activities, swimming, playing games and so on. No words, because I want them to focus on thinking about what is happening, and anyway I want to teach them pronunciation before they see the writing.

I might put a big picture on the board of, say, Seville, if we are going to discuss the town that day, or show a picture with half of it missing so that they have to think harder about what is illustrate. Alternatively, I might put up one scene in what is obviously a succession of scenes and ask them to think about what happens next. I find that if we start in a way that grabs their interest it makes a tremendous difference to the way they approach the rest of the lesson and how they behave.

Nathalie Berger, head of languages, Oaklands Secondary School, Tower Hamlets

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