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Non-UK Textbooks for MFL

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by judodan, May 4, 2011.

  1. Does anyone use textbooks that haven't been published by UK publishers for teaching MFL?
    It seems so many schools use textbooks such as "Metro" etc for French, but I actually believe there are even better resources out there if we look outside of what is published in the UK. For example Didier, the French publisher, has a number of "méthodes de français langue étrangère pour adolescents", which are suited for secondary school pupils. I have looked at some of these courses and they seem a lot better than the UK-published equivalents. They relate to the CEFR, so book 1 would cover A1, for example. These are suitable as a year 7 course book, and the contents seem to provide better foundations in language learning than the UK counterparts I have seen. One example of such a course is "Et toi". It contains 4 book: niveaux 1 - 4.
    Book one covers what is necessary to reach A1 (suitable for year 7);
    Book 2 covers up to A2.1 (suitable for year 8)
    Book 3 covers A2 (suitable for year 9)
    There is also a book 4 covering up to B1.1 (which could be used for top set year 9s who progress quickly through the earlier books)
    I just feel these textbooks cover more of what is necessary in terms of language competencies than the UK-equivalents, which in my opinion seem watered-down in terms of content, and is maybe a reason UK language achievement is much lower than in other countries.
    There are many other courses like "Et toi" published by French "FLE" publishers, and would recommend MFL departments to review these when choosing courses, instead of always sticking with UK publications.
    I, as a language learner, often turn to textbooks made in a country where the language is spoken, as I feel the quality and content is sometimes better than those published by UK publishers for a particular language. Many foreign publishers have courses in "XXX as a foreign language"and they are worth the time investigating.
  2. http://www.editionsdidier.com/collection/et-toi/ressources/ http://www.editionsdidier.com/discipline/fle/adolescents/
  3. When learning languages in Spain, I always used books published in the country the language come from. And when teaching here to adults I tended to use books published abroad, until I realize that people are used to a different type of being taught here and it was just easier for students to buy books published in England.
    The big problem that I would see with using books published abroad for GCSE and A level, is that abroad they don't learn through topics, they don't use the topic system we have here.
    Also, in Europe the tendency is to learn "grammar" and use it as a skeleton, building vocabulary and topics around this base. While here the tendency is to learn "words" in the set topics and hope that the grammar falls in somehow, or just learn the "set phrases". Besides the topics are very restrictive... school uniform... holidays with family...
    So, unless you want to spend hours and hours writing a scheme of work, I would just get the GCSE and A level books published in England, that have the specific topics all well drawn out. Unless, you are teaching a general class whose aim is learning the language and not pass an exam. Then I would probably try something different.
  4. This "way of doing things" here is what I disagree with about MFL education in the UK. The working through set topics instead of competencies is what causes language learning to become less relevant to the whole notion of what language a learning should be.
    Rather than just accepting the way it is done in the UK, I prefer to take a more active approach by trying to change this phenomenon of "topics" and "set phrases". I believe we should be teaching with the aim of learning a language, rather than the aim of passing an exam. The qualification should be just a bonus of learning a language, rather than the only reason for it. That's why I dislike the GCSE specifications. They make teaching become "learning what is neccessary to pass the exam" rather than "learning what is necessary to become an effective language user". I would much prefer pupils took DELF scolaire for French, DELE for Spanish etc.
    I have much contempt for a topic-system. When we use authentic language, we don't speak in topics. Language should be applicable to all situations, so that's why I prefer a competency-based approach, which most UK textbooks don't follow.
  5. "learning what is necessary..."* Please excuse the typographical mistake.
  6. Don't missunderstand me, I agree with you. But the point is that at least for GCSE and A level you need to teach to the syllabus. If you had more time, you could "teach" properly and introduce the vocabulary needed at the end. But in my opinion there is not enough time. GCSE are taught in one year really, Y10, because most schools start doing mocks and tests in Y11 so that doesn't leave much time for teaching. And Y12 and Y13 is the same story.
    I suppose you could start teaching properly in Y7-Y9, and leave all the rat-race vocab for Y10-Y11.
    To be honest, although it is true that the English-published books I've seen are plagued with mistakes, like saying in Spanish "turnate" for turn around, which should be "date la vuelta". There is also quite a lot of good material. If students really learnt what is in, for instance, the GCSE books for Spanish they would have a very good level. However, in the schools I-ve been they don't really use the books, they use bits here, bits there, and a lot of photocopies that the students loose.
    The problem you will have with Spanish books published in Spain is that learners won't understand the instructions. It is stupid, I know, when I learnt Russian, our teacher used to translate the instructions and we noted them down for future reference. However, I had been trained to take notes independently since I was very young. We don't have a culture of note-taking in England. Once I taught a Spanish taster class to a group of teachers, who complained when I asked them a question that was not on the flipchart, as I had turned the page over, I replied jokingly that they were teachers and should know that they had to take notes, they said that they would tell their students to write it down. Of course, that was my first year in this country, then I learnt that if you want people to write down something, you need to spell it out and make it really obvious. Apparently, even this group of teachers didn't realise you actually need to make notes, if you want to be able to revise something later on. So, how can you expect students to know then, if they are taught from the tender age of 6 to just do as they are told and follow instructions, nothing else is important. So, basically, they will not do the homework because they "don't understand the instruction".
    For French I have been using Le Nouveau Sans Frontières, which is a really old method but kind of worked for me and many thousands of people in Europe. For Spanish, Español 2000 is quite good for grammar, although a bit dry for communication and kids may not find it attractive. But the European Bookshop has many good methods, and you can check their catalogue online.

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