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Subject Genius Blog: Languages
Dr Clare Owen
Poetry in the MFL classroom
As teachers, we’re always looking for ways to motivate students, to get some kind of positive emotional response from them. In MFL, we’re...
27th July 2017 at 17:47
How introducing a “learn as you teach” experience in your school can help develop a progressive primary MFL curriculum
If you already have in place many of the strategies for leading and growing your primary French or Spanish mentioned in my first article ,...
12th June 2017 at 16:16
Dr Clare Owen
Cross-curricular enrichment: The languages film club
One of the problems facing MFL teachers is the argument from some that there are few explicit roles for linguists. We know that having a...
30th May 2017 at 13:01
What’s the point of language learning if the subject has become about quick results and quick fixes?
"What’s the point?" is a question I hear frequently from school students either in regards to them learning a modern language or when I ask...
16th May 2017 at 15:42
Dr Gianfranco Conti
Why we have been teaching listening skills wrongly for decades
Introduction Listening is often described as the ‘cinderella skill’, as it is by far the area of language instruction that language...
12th April 2017 at 11:15
Practical pointers for keeping and growing your primary French or Spanish
I wonder if you happened to read, as I did, a news item a few weeks back, where primary heads were being reported to have said that primary...
5th April 2017 at 16:24
‘How to create a red carpet moment that lets language learning shine’
For me, like for any other language teacher in this world, International Week is my "red carpet" moment. I usually live my job at high...
29th March 2017 at 14:07
EYFS and modern languages - why and how
My blog is going to be somehow related to the previous one, where Ben looked at why we teach a modern foreign language in primary schools...
25th January 2017 at 14:37
Dr Gianfranco Conti
The ten key attributes of an outstanding MFL teacher
In social media we often come across teachers looking for “outstanding” lessons, as if such a thing could be objectively defined. It’s well...
13th January 2017 at 14:01
Becoming a pupil again – old sins come back to haunt me
It feels strange noting down homework in my planner and mustering the motivation to complete my Spanish homework before the next class. I’...
11th January 2017 at 15:04
Dr Gianfranco Conti
The ten greatest shortcomings of modern language provision in England
Being an MFL teacher has never been as challenging as in this day and age. Ironically so, considering that this is a time in human history...
29th November 2016 at 18:55
Primary MFL: why we teach
So, here goes my first ever blog entry! I am predicting an online collection of teachery ramblings, but maybe something I say from time to...
24th October 2016 at 15:01
My French PE lesson
I have the privilege to work with one of the best PE teachers I know. Her name is Charlotte and we’ve been sharing not only the same office...
13th October 2016 at 17:46
Back to school – One thing - Make it a cake walk rather than a plunge
“Always be prepared”, a motto I learnt in cub scouts and only fully understood when I became a teacher. After a relaxing holiday of lie-ins...
28th September 2016 at 18:36
TV5 - Action!
Teaching a language is like watching through a kaleidoscope: you have the same pieces of coloured glass, but only your ability of ‘’playing...
3rd August 2016 at 17:52
Exit from the EU could kill students’ dreams and make languages extinct
A classic European Union was when I married my German wife. I met her at a party in India and surprised and impressed her when I started...
2nd August 2016 at 14:25
Croissants, pen pals and after school clubs
I love technology and I use different modern methods each lesson. Good power points, great pictures, nice and colourful videos, on line...
1st June 2016 at 15:01
Schadenfreude and déjà-vu: Reasons to learn languages 2
So you’ve told them what the point is. And why it matters. Then some bright spark who thinks adults have made rather a mess of things says...
12th May 2016 at 16:34
Ojalá and adiós: Reasons to learn languages
'Why bother?', they ask. 'Everyone speaks English anyway.' Or worse still: 'What's the point? I'm never going to go to France/Germany/Spain...
28th April 2016 at 17:30
Overcoming the mean grammar dragon
Grammar it’s not a black spitting fire dragon, believe me! If you live with the fear of looking at it, you will never discover its beauty...
25th April 2016 at 15:01
Writing the book of nature: How to stop the alien invasion
I've had enough of being zapped from all sides by aliens and other assorted creatures with random powers. But I'm even more weary of...
15th March 2016 at 16:29
Standing on the shoulders of giants: creative writing in Spanish
What kills language learning is content. The sheer banality of what you are reading - and especially writing - about can be a real turn off...
2nd February 2016 at 16:11
The grammar of positive thinking: A win-win way to start the New Year
It's January 2016. You return to school refreshed and full of resolve. You've made your New Year's resolutions, and along with some...
1st January 2016 at 06:00
Discover the meaning of Christmas: Fish, chocolate and grammar
Get thee behind me, Christmas card! But especially making one. It may seem like an innocent, heart-warming way of cruising towards the...
17th December 2015 at 15:30
Understanding verb conjugation and avoiding textbook errors
Languages are messy things. Not least English, with what Geoffrey Pullum so brilliantly described in The Chronicle of Higher Education last...
9th December 2015 at 18:00
Who's the boss? Follow that noun!
Let's face it. In school, the kids need to know who's boss. Can't afford to have any confusion on that point if we want to get things right...
2nd December 2015 at 15:48
What if...? Learning beyond flag waving
School is an alternative reality. This thought is prompted by José Picardo's recent comment (in the TES magazine) that banning mobile...
26th October 2015 at 16:00
One word at a time: Plucking fruit from the tree of language
When I was three years old, I travelled from Geraldton in North-West Australia to France by ship. On arrival in Aix-en-Provence, the...
15th October 2015 at 15:30
Innocence and experience: Walking on the wild side
Which one of us has not, from time to time, invoked the classic slogan, ‘You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it probably helps’. I...
5th October 2015 at 16:26
First impressions, and how I use competition to motivate those unenthusiastic types
We’re two weeks into the new school year, and I’ve spent as much time forming first impressions as my students have. While they’ve been...
19th September 2015 at 18:30
Why 'on' shouldn't always mean 'off': Machine vs human code
It's not news that news media favour attention-grabbing headlines. The trouble is that we often fall for the hype. And even if we don't, it...
10th September 2015 at 16:28
Lesson 1: How to get cracking in languages
It's not the Book of Genesis. Day 1, Lesson 1, in the Languages Classroom. You don't have to begin at the beginning. Act as though you and...
4th September 2015 at 15:39
Disgust discussed: Enlisting revulsion to teach syntax
It's a truism that small children like disgusting things. Or at least like feeling disgust. And especially expressing it. And they're not...
25th August 2015 at 15:27
When right is wrong: On the universal importance of translation
I was having dinner with Lee Child in the Union Square Café, a time-honoured hang-out of writers and publishers in Manhattan. We were...
4th August 2015 at 11:32
Take one tiger: Teaching more able pupils with the help of Jorge Luis Borges
I start with a single word: TIGER. Precisely because it's so ordinary, it surprises them. My Year 6 pupils are expecting something big and...
16th July 2015 at 10:11
Upside-down punctuation in Spanish
¡A colleague in the Spanish-teaching profession recently expressed shock - her new pupils didn't know how to form the upside-down question...
6th July 2015 at 12:18
Successfully using the target language in language teaching
When I was first learning French and German, neither we nor the teachers used much target language in lessons. Listening was limited to...
6th July 2015 at 11:32