We were involved with a group of other practising teachers in creating the resources finally compiled in the book Thinking Through MFL, and we believe thinking skills can easily be slotted into any scheme of work.
We contributed three lesson plans which we trialled for the book: Which Parent?, a mystery in which students thought about whether it would be best for a teenager to live with her father or her mother and why; Fact or Opinion ("Whose room is this?") where they thought about how to relate a number of statements to a picture, justifying whether the statements were fact or opinion and why; and Fortune Line, an activity using cartoon characters Homer and Marge Simpson, in which the students reconstructed a text and plotted one character's emotions using an "empathy graph".
Teachers can develop thinking skills resources flexibly in their own school. For example, in a mystery based on nuclear energy, a Year 12 class honed their debating skills while a Year 11 class developed their reading, inference and deduction skills. An "odd one out" activity can be used to revise a grammar point, such as possessive adjectives, or vocabulary, but the difference when focusing on teaching thinking is that we don't worry too much about a specific language-learning objective, our main objective is to develop a particular thinking skill.
We recommend the book, and also creating resources yourself. Some tips are: start small, and think about which thinking skill you want your students to develop. Devote planning time to your plenary. Don't worry about the presentation of your resources the first time you use them. Finally, avoid the temptation to interfere when groups are working on an activity.
l Thinking Through MFL by Mei Lin and Cheryl Mackay, Chris Kington Publishing, pound;35. www.chriskingtonpublishing.co.uk
Helen Allis MFL learning director, Mortimer Comprehensive, South Tyneside Helen tully AST in MFL, Seatin Burn Community College, North Tyneside