Category Archives: blog

Growth Mindset In Practice

The school where I teach has been working hard to embed the key values of the Growth Mindset theory. Each year, I do an end of year assembly to celebrate the success of students who have applied this philosophy to their language studies. Below is a video which demonstrates how much progress one can make in language learning  in a relatively short space of time. Also doing events like this keeps me motivated and out of my comfort zone. The written test involved both colloquial and formal language. I remember once being told that you can’t teach Year 7 pupils “En ce qui me concerne” or “Ce que j’adore le plus” (as far as I am concerned/What I like most) nor the irregular past/future tenses so early. Apparently that is for KS4. However, in my view learning “je m’appelle” or “j’ai douze ans”are as demanding as the previous phrases. I believe we need to get away from labelling phrases/language structure this way. What is essential is that they are taught them when they are ready.

Unfortunately, the camera suffered a technical fault and stopped recording but you do get a feel about the demand of the test.(From 5 minutes onwards on the video) Two students managed to translate all verbs and phrases 100% correctly. More importantly, they were able to apply this knowledge in a creative manner. Most impressively, they did all of this in 12 minutes. The pupils watching played their part beautifully repeating to a deafening level “Allez!” as a way of cheering on their respective House groups.

 

The Transparent Classroom

“I learnt that I still have a lot to learn”

Maya Angelou

This is my first post for some time. I created a blog as a way to improve my teaching and collaborate with others who are also excited by how the internet can revolutionise how languages can be taught. However, I very quickly realised that if I was going to improve as a teacher then I needed to keep teaching myself new skills and continue to be a “struggling” learner. So, I basically left the blogosphere and now I devote some of my spare time on acquiring new skills which give me a great deal of enjoyment as well as making me a better teacher. I do believe that having empathy in the learning progress is essential to developing well structured learning activities.

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Some colleagues at my school have this sign at the entrance of their classroom. (Myself included!)

Having said all this, I still remember reading blogs by inspiring teachers on how they were trying to improve. For instance, Chad Evans from the US, blogged about the “Transparent Classroom” and this idea resonated with me and is something I always wanted to pursue. In a nutshell, this initiative is about allowing all stakeholders to have an opportunity to see teachers in action. It also helps with developing a good relationship between the home and the classroom which is an important factor, in my opinion, for improving standards. So, I am about to embark on allowing parents/guardians watch me teach a group of twelve year old students for forty minutes.  Will I be nervous having parents observe me? Yes, but I am more excited by what I am going to learn by the experience of interacting with them in a classroom setting.

Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why our teaching assistant is so brilliant!

 

I am very fortunate to have such a wonderful teaching assistant called Julie working with me. Since joining the school last year in May, Julie has worked really hard on acquiring the relevant subject knowledge in order to be able to assist the students effectively. Like me, she is a massive fan of Memrise which is a fantastic learning tool.

Within eight or nine weeks, Julie was able to lead the learning during certain periods of Year 7 lessons. Please bear in mind that she had never studied French before. (Thanks Memrise!)For me, it is important for the students to see that you don’t have to be “fluent” in order to use a language effectively. Also, Julie has such a wonderful presence when she is teaching from the front. Her ability to model language is done with real skill and humour. She always carries out the learning tasks with a wonderful big smile and an energy which creates a climate for learning to be effective. In my view, students learn best when the ambiance is relaxed and happy.

Now, she has complete control of half of the classroom and her questioning techniques are very good. Students automatically seek her out for guidance and feedback. In the students’ eyes (and mine) she is the teacher. Julie’s management of behavioural issues is first class and it has certainly influenced me. She is always positive and chivvies the students along. However, she is no mug and the pupils can’t pull the wool over her eyes.

Year 8 have recently just started a taster course in Spanish and Julie got stuck in straight away. She is not afraid of making mistakes and having a go and the students appreciate that. I know she has been working on improving her Spanish as well as her French which clearly demonstrates her excellent work ethic.  She is also comfortable leading the teaching in more challenging classes and is able to engage them.

Without doubt, having a teaching assistant like Julie really does make an important difference to the students’ learning. Finally, it makes me a better teacher because I am able to focus more on individual students during the lesson.

I just wish that I could have her in all my classes!

Visit to a French restaurant October 2014

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My French teachers took me to a French restaurant called Chez Jérôme in Dunstable. For the starter I had onion soup which was served with tasty French bread. I choose chicken which was cooked in a typical French way for the main course. For dessert, I ordered a chocolate mousse and it was very pretty. It was served with kiwi, strawberries and white chocolate ice-cream. We had to order our food in French and Ms Young was very helpful. She took her children along and they spoke really good French and English. They were very polite too. It was great fun and my friends and I had a wonderful time!

Lizzie Year 8

Song

When we saw the hall starting to fill up with year 7’s we got really nervous, but we remembered that we were with each other and it was going to be okay. Our biggest fear was messing it up and getting it wrong but we knew that we had chosen to do this and it was just for fun. It was a great experience performing in front of our year group , and we would definitely do it again. We can’t thank the teachers of the French and Music departments enough for giving us this opportunity. We would recommend this for anyone because you get great rewards!!!!

Memrise Visit

I organised a visit to Memrise because I wanted to thank them for making such a brilliant learning tool. Also, I wanted to show them how their technology and ideas were having a real impact in my classroom. I know the students loved it too. We all thought the office was really cool. The staff at Memrise made us feel very welcome and immediately provided everybody with cold drinks,tea,coffee and snacks. The students were also very impressed with Ed Cooke’s memory trick too.

Unfortunately, I lost a student’s write up about our visit. So, you will have to put up with this rather short description.

How much French can you learn in three weeks?

My name is “Amandine” and I am in Year 7. Memrise is a website and app that anyone can use to learn a new language. I use it because it helps me learn really fast. It has a special way of making you remember the words and I would recommend Memrise to anyone who wants to learn a new language. There are lots of courses with really cool words to learn. Also, you can make your own levels and courses so that you can help others.
Finally, you will never be able to find an app/website better than Memrise for learning languages.