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Tips for A-level teaching

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by Fresa82, Apr 20, 2020.

  1. Fresa82

    Fresa82 New commenter


    I'm a trainee currently sat at home, having had my training year cut short. I threw myself into my training with everything I had, so I'm quite happy with what I have got out of it so far. However, I was about to embark on A-level teaching in the summer term, which I obviously now won't have. I have a job lined up for September where I will need to teach French and Spanish to A-level.

    My main training school have given me access to their SOW for guidance, but I was wondering if anyone of you have any tips, advice, websites for resources that you'd be willing to share? The school my NQT post is in does not use shared lessons (I mean on a shared drive etc) and each teacher plans their own individual lessons.

    TIA :)
  2. ChocolateChunk

    ChocolateChunk New commenter

    I can only speak for AQA, which does not do any Controlled Assessment. Which exam board will you have the students on?

    In my experience, A-Level can be very challenging because of needing to fit two years of content: cultural, political, along with grammar too.

    Grammar should be the main point of focus as students will not be able to get away from mistakes that they could make in GCSE, even for Higher entries. Students need to be able to write down summaries and essays in an articulate manner whilst answering the question accurately.
    You may want to have them in a routine by assessing their grammar as a starter perhaps or as homework on a regular basis. It does not need to be deep, therefore you could focus one one grammar point per assignment: complement pronouns, pluperfect etc. https://www.francaisfacile.com/ has many of these and they are self-assessed, that is great for independent learning.
    Many students seem to struggle with Listening and you can use an array of resources for that starting with BBC Bitesize, TV5 Monde, Un Jour Une Actu off Youtube - which also has newsflash.

    For the film/book, students need to have the work dissected as it will allow them to develop a strong understanding of it.
    Start by the context in which it was created: La Haine for instance was made as an answer for the multiple police brutalities in the 80s and 90s.
    Then analyse the work scene by scene or chapter by chapter (smaller chunk if it is too dense), and have students take their own notes. This will greatly help them when preparing essays for you or for when revising for their Mocks and the actual exam. You should check the content to ensure that it is all accurate, they may be in Post-16 and some may need more guidance and a few may not complete the work.
    You can then focus on your themes. As the students will have all their notes by then, it will much easier for you to discuss the broad picture that the writer/director tried to achieve.

    In regards to speaking, I hope that you have a Language Assistant as they can prepare students for the speaking exam. They could work on past papers and even prepare a small IRP in perspective of the real one?
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
  3. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    Have they told you if you can choose the set text/film?
    Have a good look at the speaking exam cards and see what topics need to be covered and what the level of cultural knowledge will be.
    MarieAnn18 and agathamorse like this.
  4. madcatlady

    madcatlady Occasional commenter

    I do French.

    If there is a decent textbook it will have electronic resources that are useful. Do use them.

    For grammar I find this website useful https://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/ with pdf explanations of all the points and exercises.

    I am a big fan of www.frenchteacher.net which costs £30 per annum but is money well spent. My dept pays for it for us all but I'd pay myself if I were starting out, it'll save HOURS of your time and energy. Very good for hwk activities.

    FWIW I would try to get my dept to share things. I don't know how many there are in your dept but it seems the height of folly for everyone to be making their own lessons and resources and not sharing. We have a shared drive for all year groups and languages, we put everything we prep in it (usually smartboard presentations and hwk sheets etc) and then whoever wants it can use it. We often use someone else's idea and tweak it for our own class etc etc. It saves bags of time. There are some that share more than others of course but we don't keep score. If you started a folder called resources and put yours in it might others follow suit?

    Good luck
  5. rios_laura

    rios_laura New commenter

    Hola, I do Spanish.

    This has been my first year with AQA A-Level. I do knot know how many lessons you will have a week but something that is working for me is having a clear structure and planning. You have plenty of resources here in Tes, and you can also download free samples from the AQA website (like AS photocards).

    This is the planning I'm following to cover everything (5 lessons every 15 days): 2 grammar/vocab/topics + 2 book/film + 1 speaking only.

    Something you need to bear in mind is that, in the case of doing one year the book and the film during the next one, Y13 students will forget a lot of things seen in Y12, so you will have to start reviewing content asap (including topics). I have used the first speaking lessons to go back to Y12 topics so students keep practicing and refreshing. Also, my Spanish girls are writing an extended essay every week, doing the film/book on week A and topics only on week B. If you have a small group.

    A recommendation, try to do an online course on the exam your school is doing. I did a general one for Spanish A level AQA and another more specific on 2019 exam feedback and that was really helpful!

    Feel free to send me a message if you need more help, we can exchange emails/twitter accounts :)

    PS. It seems a lot at the beginning, but you can do it!
  6. chachapluche

    chachapluche New commenter

    So daunting at first, I understand your frustration and need for guidance! I agree with Chocolate Chunk, students need to build on their grammatical base (and expand vocabulary) to start with. I have been a big fan of “Tex grammar” for years, and“français facile” provides great practice exercises. For cultural knowledge I’d fully recommend using “1 jour, 1 actu”, their videos are friendly and short enough for students to get to grips with the topics. Books and movies are another kettle of fish altogether. I’d recommend to start making a move on them as early as possible, as they need to not just read/watch and understand, but also be able to structure full essays. Start with putting them into context, eg a few worksheets on the enlightenment if you’re studying Candide, or life as an second-wave immigrant if you’re doing La Haine.

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