Guest blog post by Jane Harvey, ALL President Elect

News and Events – keeping you updated

I’ve been having a good look at what there is under the News and Events tab on the ALL website – and very worthwhile it was.

I started with Consultations. Influencing government policy on Languages is a very important aspect of ALL’s work as the professional association for Language teachers. Currently, ALL is contributing to an OFQUAL consultation about the issue of severe grading at GCSE in MFL. Since 2006, studies have consistently shown that students gain on average half a grade less in a foreign language GCSE than in other subjects. This has a huge impact on what subjects students choose for their Year 9 options for GCSE and a knock on effect on take up of languages at A Level. It also colours the attitude of SLT to MFL in the curriculum and is a crucial issue for the future of language learning in the UK.

I was really impressed by the range of activities listed under Events. From the flagship “Language World” in March 2018 to workshops in each region of the UK there is something for everyone right on our doorsteps.

Looking for something to motivate your students? Check out  the “Challenges & Competitions” tab. Currently, for example, there is the “Have your Say” competition for Year 7-10 students of French, German or Spanish organised by the ALL Essex and East Anglian Branch.

Do take a moment to click on this tab – you won’t be sorry!

Research & Practice

In the “Learning from the classroom” area you will find short, up to date research projects by fellow language teachers on classroom practice. Many of us will have used target language songs in the MFL classroom and in her article,  “Music, lyrics and videos: an effective tool for teaching and learning Spanish in the second language classroom?”  Jackie Osei-Tutu shows how using versions in Spanish of English language pop songs from videos on YouTube helped her Key Stage 3 students memorisation, grammar learning and had them singing in Spanish!  Some great ideas here for improving our students motivation and learning.

If you are interested in introducing CLIL (content and language integrated learning) into your primary classroom, Amy Periam’s account on teaching electric circuits in French in her classroom is a great starting point.  Read the full article here.

For larger scale and international research on CLIL, ALL’s “The Language Learning Journal” is a treasure trove of scholarly material to inform research and practice.  Using the search facility, brought up to 61 articles on CLIL classrooms worldwide including  “T(w)o and fro: using the L1 as a teaching tool in the CLIL classroom” and its extensive archive is available on line for ALL members.

What is there for me in the Language Zones and Languages Today pages of the ALL website? 

We all know that “Languages Today” is a great resource. It is full of practical tips, articles about language learning in a wide variety of settings and examples of people using languages in their professional lives. But have you looked at the in-depth additional content on the “Languages Today” pages of the website?  The article on the need for Resilience as a language teacher particularly caught my attention – an interesting read on how to achieve it.

The Language Zones pages on the ALL website are a treasure trove for teachers. The breadth of topics covered is impressive. If you want to find more about flipped learning and its effectiveness, for example, look in the Practice section of Francophonie or Vida Hispánica, whilst primary colleagues interested in CLIL can see the benefits gained, including transferable skills, from a project in Scotland playing Handball in German, a project facilitated by the Goethe-Institut.

A touch of nostalgia in the Cultural sections of each Language Zone for language teachers who can relive their own student days through the  accounts (in the target language) by current university students on their year abroad. The language is straightforward and these could be really motivating texts for A Level students thinking of studying languages at university.

The Review pages are a great source of new materials. The resources are reviewed by language teachers with an emphasis on their practical classroom use. The reviews of “Radio Labo” and “One third Stories”, featured on the Francophonie pages, really made me want to use them in a primary setting.

But I am particularly excited on a personal level by a review in Deutsch Lehren and Lernen  of “Speed up your German”. I am trying to improve on the German I learnt as an au pair (before university!) as a member of a Deutsch Klub locally and this looks ideal, promising memorising techniques and help with common problem areas for learners.

Do make the most of your membership and have a look at the practical tips, cultural background and language resources reviews that you will find in the Language Zones.



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