Bring language to life

26th October 2007 at 01:00
Are you still battling with a group of youngsters, mostly boys, and wonder why they don't love modern foreign languages (MFL) as you do?

Here is a brief case study that worked with a Year 10 German class, 18 boys, low ability and challenging behaviour.

The standard stuff: praise, choice, variety, target setting, short sharp tasks, instant rewards, long-term aims shared and use of data to inform progress.

Grass roots ideas: invite ex-pupils who have used MFL with success in their jobs - this works well, particularly when the ex-pupil is male, earning a good salary and has used, or is using, a foreign language at work; give them PowerPoint presentations to prepare in class or for homework; give a choice of homework - all must be done but in any order they wish; every lesson is a competition; points are awarded for attendance, punctuality and effort; points are deducted for lateness, rudeness, lack of effort; praise letters are sent to those amassing points every half term; award best speakerlistener prize every term; assign 10 vocabulary words to learn at the end of every lesson and each word is worth a point when tested next lesson; find magazine articles to read rather than textbooks; email another school, under supervision of course, to give a real perspective to MFL; ask a keen primary school to let you have some work from its MFL pupils for your pupils to mark (they take this very seriously); try quizzes rather than tests; try team games and give each team a sensible captain. Good luck

Sara Sullivan is head of languages at Woodlands School in Essex.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today