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NQT: Lesson plan strucuture

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by cuffin, Aug 29, 2015.

  1. cuffin

    cuffin New commenter

    Hi there,

    I am an NQT and was primary trained. However I have been very lucky to get a job in a secondary school and having to teach French as a subsidiary subject to Y9. I am concerned that I don't and won't know how to plan my lesson and how much I should expect to achieve over the course of 35 minute lessons (I very rarely have double classes) and how much repetition etc I should do. I want to avoid it being too teacher centred.

    5 mins at the start for reviewing the previous learning and 5 mins at the end as a plenary. But everything else I'm at a loss with! I haven't taught a language before!

    Any help or tips at all would be fantastic, I'm just so nervous!

    Thanks so much in advance :)
  2. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    Until you know your classes well and what works best with them, I would advise a quiet settling activity at the start (eg: matching up vocab, unjumbling sentences, translating sentences) because obviously behaviour in Y8 and 9 is often an issue and you want to get them sat down quietly ready to learn. Having this kind of task is great to allow the good kids to start recapping prior learning straight away while you deal with other pupils who take longer to settle.

    Compared to other subjects I think MFL lessons tend to have a larger number of shorter activities. A History teacher from my school was given a few French lessons to teach last year and said he found it exhausting!

    It's also generally more controlled/teacher-led. Pupils can't do as much independently when they're not working in their own language.

    One way that language teaching is sometimes described is

    Presentation (giving pupils new knowledge)

    Practice (time for pupils to apply their learning in a structured and supported way - eg: gapfill, translation, mini-whiteboards)

    Production (pupils forming their own sentences/paragraphs).

    A common mistake when starting out is not spending enough time on the middle stage which is essential. In 35 minute lessons, I suggest that production will have to wait for every few lessons.

    Have a look on TES for KS3 lessons and hopefully that should give you an idea. I've got lots of Y8 lessons on here which could be a starting point for some of the topics you will be teaching.
  3. whizzbangbang

    whizzbangbang New commenter

  4. lifereallyistooshort

    lifereallyistooshort New commenter

    Ask to observe a few MFL lessons in the school to give you a feel for how the lessons work. Also, the MFL dept ought to offer you some help and support. If you are based in a different dept it can be difficult to feel part of the team, but approach them - most MFL teachers are a friendly and helpful bunch, especially in September, when they are not yet run ragged and exhausted.
  5. cuffin

    cuffin New commenter

    Thanks so much for all your help, I really appreciate it! Do you have any ideas for small games/activities that can be used without much preparation to make the lessons more student centred and to help the kinaesthetic learners?
  6. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter


    Personally I wouldn't see either of those things as desirable! I don't want student-centred lessons - I'm the person in the room who knows how to speak French so I kind of need to be the centre of attention!

    And I think the idea of "learning styles" died a death a while ago - I remember it being all the rage when I was a secondary pupil (1999-2004) but I haven't heard it mentioned positively since starting my PGCE in 2012.

    But I certainly do use games as a way of getting pupils to practise new language and structures in a variety of ways. As I said before, the "practice" phase is really important so I want to give pupils the chance to practise the same thing over and over again without feeling like they're doing the exact same thing. So games can be really useful to trick pupils into thinking they're doing something different when linguistically they're really not.

    The main games I do in class are:

    -3 in a row (grid of 12, picture representing words/phrases in the grid, to claim a square for their team pupils have to say the phrase correctly - yesterday I did this with Y8 revising descriptions with "j'ai" and "je suis", and with Y9 talking about activities in the near future tense).

    -Contre le prof (pictures on board, teacher points at picture and says the word, pupils repeat. If the teacher deliberately says the wrong word for the picture, pupils must stay silent (basically Simon Says but with repeating instead of actions). If they successfully stay silent the class gets a point, if I successfully trick them, I get a point. Better with younger age groups).

    -Slapboard - pictures on board, 2 pupils up at the front - teacher says the word/phrase to go with the picture and pupils race to hit it (I just use hands, but colleagues use novelty flyswats or magic wands (just because it's funny to watch Y9 boys getting excited about hitting a picture with a sparkly wand!)).

    -Donner/garder les points (you'll see slides for this if you look at my Y8 resources, normally at the end of a lesson). I show a sentence on the board and pupils have to translate it (could be Fr --> En or En --> Fr - I normally start with the easier way round then ramp up the difficulty a bit). One team (girls vs boys or left vs right) has to translate the sentence then decide whether to give or keep the points. Once they have decided, I reveal the points, which can be positive or negative - I use big numbers like +300, -500, -200 etc. as they feel the stakes are higher and get really into it.

    There's an example of the final game mentioned in Lesson 3 here - I just reuse the same template and change the sentences and the points for different groups.

  7. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    If you really want to get them worked up and running around (personally I wouldn't do until I've been teaching them for a while and know they can be trusted to settle down properly after the activity), you could try a reading relay.

    They take a lot of setting up but I've found they really do focus pupils on reading intently - especially when they bring me an answer to the question and I tell them it's wrong/not detailed enough and they have to go back and get it right before they can answer the next question! Pupils who would normally half-heartedly answer half the questions on a normal worksheet get really into it and want to answer all of them.

    Here's a Y8 one:


    (Just spotted a mistake - missing agreement on copine. I will try to find the original text on my computer and upload a corrected version, but otherwise you'd just have to write the "e" on by hand before photocopying).
  8. Vladimir

    Vladimir Senior commenter

    Some very good information here by -myrtille-. Credit where it is due!

    I'll add that MFL classes are supposed to showcase use of all four skills in every lesson skills, and demonstrate progress in each. This is often unrealistic and gets in the way of teaching.

    Love the bit about student-centered classes and kinaesthetic learners. If the pupils are good enough in an area of language in which they could be effectively student-centered then they should be moving on to another area they don't yet know, which can only really be taught in a teacher-centered way in MFL. As regards kinaesthetic learners, I guarantee that they'll be out of their seats and moving around constantly. You are in for a baptism of fire, cuffin. It ain't the cuffin that carries it off, it's the coffin they carry her off in! Yes. I like that.

    I find activities involving active and expressive ballet moves and Renaissance poetry work especially well for Y9 classes, especially amongst the boys. Hot tip there!

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