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No books at school

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by tortuman, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. I agree with Maverick.
    I hate the idea of not using a text book in the classroom. Both my training schools didn't use them and neither did the first school I taught it. It was frowned upon and teachers who used them were viewed as "lazy". I never had a minute to myself in those two years, and now have shedloads of resources which I don't have time to sort out properly!

    You don't have to use textbooks all the time - if they don't explain something well you can always then make up your own thing. And I think that textbooks allow pupils to see how much progress they've made, which isn't always obvious in MFL.

    As a supply teacher I've done loads of cover lessons for other subjects (especially maths) where they just work through a textbook every lesson. So why do we MFLers beat ourselves up all the time, trying to be all singing all dancing?

  2. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.... If there was one single text book that was really good and included everything it needed to include, I'd use it. But there isn't. So for my Y9 fast-track French, for example, I have in my room a set of the following:

    Metro 1
    Metro 2 Rouge
    Avantage 1
    Avantage 2
    Metro 4 Vert

    I dip into each of these as the syllabus requires, and very often have to make my own resources because the text books simply don't cover certain aspects of the syllabus or don't go into things in enough detail. Where else am I going to get a worksheet with 50 future tenses to write ?

    And as for my SEN Spanish group, there is no text book which is suitable for them so I have to do everything for them myself.

    Our maths guys use a text book, but they also produce endless worksheets for the pupils to practise what the text book has introduced them too. I know this because they always manage to get to the photocopier just before me !
  3. Trouble is, Geekie, every language teacher I've ever met thinks they could write the perfect text book! I think we all take an individual approach to our teaching don't we?

    The other problem with textbooks is the Sequel. Just like in the movies, the second instalment is never as good as the first! The writers put all the effort in on the Year 7 book, we all buy it, then the subsequent ones are never as good.
  4. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    That's what I'm saying, NQT, but I inferred from your post 20 that you think this is a bad thing....
  5. I trained in a school that didn't believe in text books and never used them....absolute nightmare! Everything was done on worksheets or copied from the IWB so lots of errors and an astronomical photocopying bill/environmental issue. Taught me a lot about how not to do things.....
  6. Right. Not using textbooks is also an excuse for excessive copying from OHTs into exercise books and even more excessive drawing and colouring in, especially in Y7 and 8, and 9 and 10 and 11, and 12 and...

    What do pupils learn in MFL? They learn how to draw.
  7. and then in geography, they learn how to colour in...
  8. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    Didn't you know that AT5 in MFL is cutting and colouring ?
  9. The Expert

    The Expert New commenter

    POD facilities are so advanced these days that schools could easily produce their own textbooks relatively cheaply through outsourcing. Anyone can produce books, online or offline these days. It would be perfectly feasible for a department, or an entire school, to equip each student with a text book for each subject.

    Textbooks could even be produced in-house for mere pennies per volume, although it would entail the purchasing of some specialized equipment and then, of course, somebody has to be responsible for the actual book production.
  10. forgot that (post 27) salsera- obviously been out of MFL teaching for too long! All coming back to me now!
  11. re: post # 15. My US Teacher's book weighs approximately 4 pounds (I know, I should convert it to metric...). That's without the ancillaries. It has the student text in the middle of the page, with teacher's notes, answers, etc. all around it. Mind you, some of the teaching suggestions are pretty clueless. (e.g. In my last book, the student edition had a page with the answers at the bottom and the suggested activity had the instruction "Tell students not to look at the answers." Yeah, right.) The student book is huge and heavy, too. Our students are issued a book to keep at home. We then have a classroom set of books, for use in school. But new courses often have a textbook on CD, as an alternative to the book. The biggest-selling French course also has a "take-home Tutor" CD with listening, oral and other activities that the students can use to practise at home. OK for homework, but I doubt whetehr many of them do it at other times.

    The textbooks are computer coded. In my school, at the end of the year we trek over to the library, for students to return their issued textbooks. They have intimidating strangers sitting at the door, who leaf through the books, looking for writing etc. If the books are damaged or lost, parents are billed. Senior students who still owe book money do not get their high school diploma until they have paid the money they owe. (This is standard procedure.)

    I find it hard enough to fidn the time and energy to create the inevitably required extra practice materials. I would find it really difficult, I think, to teach without a book at all. All credit to thsoe who do.

  12. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Occasional commenter

    I share MFLmaverick's frustrations.

    Many feel that a text-book is a valuable asset for students, but I despair when I look at modern-day text-books. Thank heavens I will never have to (try to) learn from them. They are virtually impossible to work from independently... massive pictures with tiny captions, grammar points glossed over instead of presented clearly, with no subsequent reinforcement exercises. They rely on a teacher to play a (hugely over-priced) CD, and stop it at the right places for students to tick boxes. The list of negative factors re textbooks is endless.

    My own view as to why today's textbooks are such shyt is that there is so little consensus on WHAT we are supposed to be teaching the kids, that it is impossible for publishers to be really sure. The much-vaunted Framework is so vague as to be of little guidance when it comes down to the vocabulary to be covered. We've discussed this here before, but I still think that until someone makes an effort to prescribe grammar and vocabulary (with some differentiation in amount for different ability levels) for each Year group, we will never have a decent text-book. If that can be done we will know what to teach, publishers will know what to print, kids will know what to revise.
  13. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Occasional commenter

    Oh, and there need be no nasty surprises in exams... I remember teaching a whole range of free-time activities, and the only one that came up in the exam was "la couture".
  14. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    I have children in Primaire, Collège and Lycée:
    in primary, children bring text book home only if needed for homework.
    Collège: children issued with text books at start of school year, have to complete a slip kept in school describing state of book when issued. Books returned at end of year, state checked and if badly damaged bill sent to parents. No charge otherwise.
    Lycée: have to reserve text books for the year, pay a deposit of 75 euros, returned if books returned in good condition. In fact, books are rented, cost us around 40 euros for the year, plus have had to buy workbooks (so they can write in them! and various texts for French, Molière etc)
    But, remember parents also have to buy all school equipment, pens, art equipment, paper, files, document wallets and school planner (ie homework diary!) Cost runs into hundreds, but most families get some help, via the Allocation de Rentrée scolaire, last year was 272 euros per child). No one moans, but there is a complaint that school bags are too heavy, in 6ème they can weigh 10kilos!One argument, as some areas do, is one set of books in school for lessons, one set that stays at home for homework, what luxury!

    By the way, 4ème and 3ème where I live are issued with a laptop for the school year!!
  15. Hello [​IMG]
    I hope you don't mind that I have resurrected an old thread. I am interested in people's thoughts on folders and exercise books for MFL pupils. In my current school we use folders as we all have produced our own resources for many years and we dip in and out of text books as required. Textbooks only go home in 6th Form but rarely for any other year.
    My question for you all is: do you use folders or exercise books? Do you have vocab books? Which do you or would you prefer?
    I will be starting a new post in September and will have to remember how to use exercise books effectively again. Any tips? I am so used to giving out worksheets where pupils have to fill in the vocab/match things up/fill in the gaps/answer the questions etc that I am having a brain freeze on how to use the exercise books effectively.
  16. kec974

    kec974 New commenter


    In the school which I'm moving to after the summer, they apparently give a photocopied vocab. booklet to pupils which is mainly based on the textbook vocab. list which goes with each module then they add a few extras. Pupils rarely, if ever, take their actual exercise books home.
    At my current school, this year I've been giving them a copy of the module's vocab. list to stick in their books so they don't have to spend all their time copying (inaccurately!)
    For KS4 I have sometimes given little vocab. books which they divide into sections and add vocab. which they think will be useful in future. Sections include: connectives, past tense, future tense, etc. This was more helpful under the old specs for coursework.

    Part of my final research/assignment for my PGCE was about using folders as opposed to ex. books but alas, I've never had the opportunity to really put it into practice.

    Hope some of this is helpful,

  17. ambi

    ambi New commenter

    I use exercise books with KS3 but folders with KS4 as we get through so much material they would end up with about 10 exercise books at the end and undoubtedly sheets they need will be in an old book etc. So we have folders with dividers and have a section for each topic (house/town/hols/work experience) a section for grammar, one for special structures, one for past papers, one for key vocab (but some of them wanted an exercise book for vocab as well) In the back of folder we have one of those cardboard document wallets in which they can take home anything they are currently working on for homework instead of carting the whole folder home as it gets very full by year 11. Also that means that I can take in homework as it is done on file paper usually without depriving them of the rest of their work if they neeed to be getting on with something. Works ok on the whole. I have a cupboard a back of classroom to store them and they come in and get them at end of day if they want to take anything home.

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