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Work Group - content in MFL

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by patros, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. MFL teaching has faced a number of difficulties over the past years - I think we all agree on that. Numbers of GCSE and A Level candidates are in decline. New KS3 guidelines have focused on skills, intercultural understanding, maintaining motivation etc.
    Based on my own teaching, I have to say that I found students react extremely well to focusing on the content level; choosing longer texts right from the start, avoiding to teach single items of vocabulary and, basically, tailoring the SoL to the interests and needs of the respective age group; rather than finding the whizziest activities finding something students are genuinely interested in. While I find it extremely important to teach the basics like pets, family members etc, this is not necessarily what students want to learn for an entire year in year 7. I also feel that most stduents feel they do not progress enough.By reading longer texts -even in year 7- students realise their potential and once they see that they can learn a language well it is easier to keep them motivated. It is surprising what kind of language students can understand and use. Motivation and enjoyment comes with achievment. Of course most teachers use authentic materials - but mostlly at GCSE/ A2. I would like to exchange ideas on how to make use of the content level at a much earlier stage.
    I would very much like to exchange ideas with other teachers who feel they would like to focus more on content. How could SoLs be adapted? What are students really interested in and which resources could we use? How can the language itself be in the center again?
    I am based in London and I thought thatit would be great if there were any other people based in the area if we could have a kind of work group, exchanging ideas etc.

     
  2. MFL teaching has faced a number of difficulties over the past years - I think we all agree on that. Numbers of GCSE and A Level candidates are in decline. New KS3 guidelines have focused on skills, intercultural understanding, maintaining motivation etc.
    Based on my own teaching, I have to say that I found students react extremely well to focusing on the content level; choosing longer texts right from the start, avoiding to teach single items of vocabulary and, basically, tailoring the SoL to the interests and needs of the respective age group; rather than finding the whizziest activities finding something students are genuinely interested in. While I find it extremely important to teach the basics like pets, family members etc, this is not necessarily what students want to learn for an entire year in year 7. I also feel that most stduents feel they do not progress enough.By reading longer texts -even in year 7- students realise their potential and once they see that they can learn a language well it is easier to keep them motivated. It is surprising what kind of language students can understand and use. Motivation and enjoyment comes with achievment. Of course most teachers use authentic materials - but mostlly at GCSE/ A2. I would like to exchange ideas on how to make use of the content level at a much earlier stage.
    I would very much like to exchange ideas with other teachers who feel they would like to focus more on content. How could SoLs be adapted? What are students really interested in and which resources could we use? How can the language itself be in the center again?
    I am based in London and I thought thatit would be great if there were any other people based in the area if we could have a kind of work group, exchanging ideas etc.

     
  3. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Hi partros,
    I have recently been on a course about precisely this - the technical term is CLIL (content and language integrated learning). I have written a blog post about my experience of planning a series of lessons on the French revolution in French, with some links you might find helpful. Interestingly, a course I went on recently to raise achievement at A-level was advocating precisely the same - stop teaching kids the basics, give them some meaty content to focus on and to get stuck in. I don't have much experience of this but I'd love to keep in touch. Are you on twitter? That's where I get most of my creative ideas and challenges to make my lessons more inspiring (and I don't even have the internet on my phone, I just log on to twitter every few weeks and get a whole load of ideas in just half an hour!).
    @mfl_noemie
     
  4. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Totally agree. To be honest I am still at the trying out stage - I am not sure how keen everyone else in the department is to change the SOW!
     
  5. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    Completely agree with the use of longer texts to further learning and demonstrate language in use. We had a working group in my LA about 10 years ago about this and about the explicit teaching of phonics. You can see some of the resources that came from this:
    http://www.sunderlandschools.org/mfl-sunderland/resources_fr_ks3_anthology.htm
    http://www.sunderlandschools.org/mfl-sunderland/resources-fr-ks3-txt.htm
    You don't say what language you do, but there are similar resources for Spanish.
    Primary languages has a strong emphasis on songs and stories, which means that KS2 learners engage with longer texts on a regular basis. It seems only right that this should continue into KS3 and beyond.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. In my view, there is no right or wrong way to teach MFL. So, I fully respect and am interested in the opinions expressed.
    Over the years my teaching has become quite influenced by Michel Thomas.I find students like to say everyday things in a foreign language rather than tackle more complex subjects.
    So Year 7 would be taught things like (school subjects) What do you think maths? I think that....peronally I don't agree/ I hate it. Monsieur X est trop/etc.
    In my view, students like to express opinions spontanously. Also I find it rewarding when they do it because they are taking risks with their learning. At the beginning, I do very little reading but concentrate on grammar, speaking and listening. There are now some excellent sites for practising key vocab/grammar. However, by Year 8 we did a mini project on letter writing (booking a hotel room/requesting info/ etc) Then students had to reply to their partners letters as hotel receptionists. We also did quite a bit of reading of formal letters etc.
    This year I want to concentrate a bit more on pronunciation which I feel I need to focus on more often during my lessons.
    I am based near London and I would like to meet with other teachers who want to discuss different strategies for improving their practice. Twitter is great for getting ideas but I feel face to face contact is very important too.
    Here is my wiki address please join and leave a message if you want to meet up with.

    http://mflmac.wikispaces.com/
     

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