La France en Photos

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Croque Monsieur in Rouen

I can't believe it's been 3 years since my last Croque Monsieur entry! I've been a lazy blogger in this time. But then I have been studying on top of full time working (i.e. teacher work load working) for 2 years. Nevertheless, here we are again, with another entry into The Croque Monsieur Challenge. This entry comes from a cafe where the same culinary delights were tasted last year, but alas, I failed to blog the event. The hotel bar/brasserie 'Les Initiés' in Rouen, was the choice location, having tasted their delights last year. It's a small, friendly and casually French 'eaterie' which serve a range of 'Kir' flavour options. Despite revelling in its  onto the serious business of Croque Monsieur rating:

Location: Rouen 3 April 2014
Rating: 7/10
Comments: Great solid 'Croque' in taste, texture and presentation. Egg on top (strictly this is a Croque Madame challenge...) was garnished well. Salad: good range of colour and leaf type. Alas, the chips let down the main as they were slightly over cooked. The accompanying Kir was unfortunately disappointing. However, this was my error. I was intrigued by the range of flavours on offer, and in a moment of spontaneity, (I am reminded why I spontaneity isn't always a good thing), I chose the most exotic option: 'coquelicot' which, after an initial enquiry, was revealed as poppy flavour. I plumped for this feeling mature enough to embark on such a gastronomic journey, only to be disappointed. It leaves an aniseed after taste in the mouth, leaving one to feel that you are drinking a cough medicine. This unfortunate, and personally inflicted error, spoiled the overall round off of the experience. Note to self: stick to Cassis next time i.e. don't mess with a classic. Nevertheless, despite being undermined by my alcoholic choice error, I still retain that the chips and accompanying beverage do form an important part of the Croque experience. I thus award this entry as 7/10. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

je ss malad dps IR.

Excellent! Our foreign language assistant, Jessica, kindly wrote out a text in text speak which students in 9PU and 9RE French translated into French, having studied the text in detail the lesson prior. We then used the activity 'Sending Messages' on MYLO to reinforce this. They are now asking for a text speak test at the end of the unit. Oh language teaching JOY!!! A+!!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Reflections on #ililc2 25-26 February 2012

Well it's finished but not over. This year's ICT and Languages conference #ililc2 at Southampton University was as successful as last year with a wide scope of attendees from as close as Southampton to as far as Ethiopia.

Key note speakers Joe Dale and José Picardo set the scene for using social media in education and how Mr Michale Gove seems to be finally tuning in to the educational benefits of technology, whilst workshop speakers (including Annalise Adam, Wendy Adeniji, Alex Blagona, Vanessa Burns, Joe Dale, Catherine Elliott, Stuart Gorse, Esther Hardman, Isabelle Jones, Helen Myers, Carole Nicoll, Juliet Park, Bertram Richter, Jo Rhys-Jones, Amanda Salt, Clare Seccombe, Lisa Stevens, Jenny Turner, and Sara Vaughan) provided a wide range of information, activities, ideas and inspiration to enhance current practice and take us forward. Not to mention the infamous Show and Tell event Sat evening which had delegates and bar staff alike in stitches on various occasions.

More updates here soon along with my session presentations from "Using ICT to enhance Teaching and Learning in MFL" and "Flashmeeting for Easy Videoconferencing" (both available on my SlideShare profile page until I can sort out an "embed glitch" here on the blog). All resources will also be found on the Languages South East website shortly.

For now, here are some wonderful pictures of teachers in action at the Show and Tell as @elvisrunner demonstrated her "Human Dominoes" game for language learning:

Monday, 6 February 2012

ICT and Languages Conference 25-26th February

With memories still alive from ILILC 2011, it's not long now till the ICT and Languages conference which is taking place on 25-26th February 2012 at Southampton University.
A range of speakers are taking part with well known ICT consultant Joe Dale and Education Consultant José Picardo booked as Key Note speakers for the event. A show and tell event is planned for the Saturday evening which, if anything like last year, will prove to be a fabulously inspiring, encouraging and fun way to network. Quoted as "Quality CPD on a budget" book now on theLanuages South East website.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Esther's Delayed TES Round Up (17/06/11)

Due to the recent successful yet work heavy French exchange I am behind on my TES reading!

Summaries from the 17 June edition below:

Gove to force the 700 worst performing primary schools to switch to academy status using existing outstanding Secondary Academies as sponsors. However, NAHT is wary of using academies as an over arching solution to improving performance and believes schools that have the opportunity to pair up with other schools on their own terms have more chance of succeeding.

Major unions warning against schools switching to academies as they loose the "safety net" of local authority support.

Gove announced recently that he is raising the floor standard for secondaries so all schools must see 50% of their pupils achieve five good GCSE's, including English and maths by 2015.

BSF (Building Schools for the Future) / PFI (Private Finance Initative):
Despite tighter capital allowances Gove has pledged to rebuild or refurbish around 700 schools since scrapping the £55 billion BSF programme, using PFI. A capital investment programme be set out for 2012-13 onwards.

Search Powers :
Ministers must water down plans to dramatically extend teachers' search powers because they infringe pupil's human rights, a panel of MPs and Lords has warned.

Curriulum Review:

High-performing countries achieve better secondary results by ensuring that primary pupils are not allowed to progress at different rates, according to the Government adviser heading the national curriculum review. They do fewer things at greater depth and don't move on until everyone has "got" it. Their emphasis on thorough understanding challenges the trend here towards accelerating pupils with early exam entries.

The national curriculum review may replace key stages with a year by year structure.


The EBac debate continues with continuous backlash against the absence of Arts subjects. Also fears of social divides where schools may focus on particular pupils to improve their scores.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Croque Monsieur - New Discoveries

Zell I q, typing excitedly fro, Frqnce - cqn you tell§ Itùs q French keyboqrd§§

OK I'll finger type from now on (why did I never learn to touch type on French keyboards?? My life takes twice as long now...).

Anyhow - I have great news to empart on my continuous search for the perfect Croque Monsieur to emulate the near paradise experience found in Calais almost 10 years ago now... : They make cheese & ham ("lardons") stuffed baguettes here!!! Oh my it is delicious:

Let's waste no time with the all important Rating:

Location: Elbeuf, Normandy, France, June 2011
Rating: 8/10

Comments: Yes, this new found version of the well known cheese, ham and bread combo started with a sensual delight as the unknown prowess of this baguette was given away by the wonderful waft of warmly cooked ham & cheese from the depths of the surrounding paper bag. Then the next sense was satisfied with the visual delight of a soft bouncy interior, visible as a cut in the "baguette" top side, was complimented by the crusty sides of the "baguette" and the scattered "lardons". Oh my, add to that "salade verte" dripping with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing and a glass of Rosé to accompany in a glass encased with cold refreshing water droplets, and there you have it - the closest thing I have found so far to my near paradise experience in Calais. The only reason why it doesn't get a 9 or 10/10 in the ratings is that it isn't truely a Croque Monsieur. However it is truely worthy of note. Until the next time a gorgeous gastronomic experience comes my way...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Student "Word of the Day" creativity

Forever trying to make the school blog student centric rather than a blogging tool for teachers only, I've been having fun experiementing with "The Word of the Day" homework. I normally use the word of the day concept in class as an extention tool from which students create a phrase using the word that has been chosen, by a student, for that lesson. The girls have come up with some great photos representing a key word in the target language. Wall displays are also now forming from this concept, and department staff are not being shy in coming forward with ideas. All in all a simple yet creative concept which reinforces the fun in language learning! Check out the creative entries so far.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Esther's TES Round Up (10/06/11)

,Ofsted: (Front page)

Ofsted's new regime, to be introduced in January, will mean harder measures for schools in deprived areas unless they can prove that pupils are "improving steadily", regardless of pupil background."Headteacher Jason Brook is responding by reluctantly introducing BTECs to push up scores. "...We were delivering the curriculum that we knew was right. But I can't afford to do that any longer. I have got to join the game". Union opinion is that "we don't need more perverse incentives to play the league tables. Inspections should be looking at the overall quality of education". Also to be noted is that the English Baccalaureate will not count in Ofsted Inspections.

Governors: (Editorial p.2)

Are governors more representative than effective? As govenor accountability has risen the lines of repsonsibility have blurred. Can govenors (a body of lay people) cope with being the final arbitrators of budgets, exclusions, curriculum strategies, staff, appointing the head, behavioural and other policies? Potential solution: professionalise the role of chair and pay them.

Pensions: (News p.4)

Heads offering ultimatum. No pensions, no cooperation with the Coalition's educational reforms.

Teacher Training:

Training places for Business Studies, Art, Music and RE falling due to Government cuts, whilst places for the sciences and Foreign languages are rising. Courses closing for the former in a range of universities.

Phonics: (p.12)

Children's laureate Julia Donaldson (of "The Gruffalo" fame) thinks that phonics tests for six-year-olds is too young. Pupils may not be able to read at six and therefore will early on feel a failure.

Creative Curriculum: (P.15)

Independent schools are signing up in droves to the creative curriculum, the very thing that Mr Gove has rejected for the national curriculum, as he has chosen instead to emphasise "essential" subject content.

Building Schools for the Future (BSF): (p.18-19)

Tim Byles stepping down from Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the agency responsible for delivering the BSF programme. Defends himself against critics who believed the money was misplaced (deprived area school knocked down to rebuild when not that bad, whilst better areas had leaking roofs etc... but were in a better area so didn't qualify). Per Tim Byles the deal was "come and sort out BSF and these are our priorities", not, "come and change our priorities". Also whilst the budget swelled from £45 billion to £55 billion, some suggested this was mis management and overspend. Tim Byles said it was due to the additional responsiblities of taking on the delivery of the academies programme and special educational needs schools.

Higher Education:

Suggestions by Harry Judge (former Oxford University admissions tutor and head of both a grammar and a comprehensive school) to simplify the secondary schools / higher education link by offering no places until August results were known. Student applicants would make more informed applications. Universities could make more informed choices. Universities could start in January to ease administration time, also allowing students to settle into their futures or contribute constructively to the Big Society.

Plus the usual weekly "page 3" equivalent sensationalist round up of scandals involving teacher misconduct, identifying those who have been struck off the register. A strangely compelling, yet uncomfortable read.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Esther's TES (03/06/11) Round Up

You see I told you I was always behind. This is the round up for last Friday's TES edition. Anyhow here goes. Esther's TES Round Up number 1:

League Tables:

Future Government league tables will no longer take account of the CVA measure (contextual value added) when comparing school exam and test results... // CVA uses nine contextual factors including gender, first language, post code, ethnicity, deprivation and whether or not pupils are in a local authority care. // Unions warn that abolishing the CVA measure without a replacement will further stack the odds against heads and teachers who choose to work in the most deprived areas. // Performance tables will continue to show how much progress pupils make compared to their prior levels of attainement plus number of SEN students. // The white paper: "It is morally wrong to have an attainment measure which entrenches low aspirations for children because of their background". // Ben Slade, head of The Manor, Cambridge, which as above average CVA said: "It is divisive to remove CVA because it will camouflage coasting schools whether they are oustanding, good or satisfactory.

Academies and finance:

Most contracts with Capita (school admin system) have previously been with local authorities rather than individual schools, but when a school opts out of local authroity control they are forced to pay for an individual licence. // The DfE provides £25k to a school converting to academy status, but many heads say almost all of this is being used up to pay the re-licencing fee for their Sims (school information management system). // When still part of a local authority, secondary schools can expect to pay the council about £3k to £4k for their Sims. // Millions will be going out of the education budgets of schools with no change to the service other than a transfer of the licence. // Dr Bousted, general secretary of the ATL: "This is one of the hidden costs of becoming an academy". // Capita spokes person: "Due to Capita Children's Services' strong standing in the school marketplace it would be seen as using its position unfairly against its competitors if it did not pass these costs onto its customers."

National Curriculum Review 1:

Finland's schools system, a holy grail for educationalists worldwide, is actually a "red herring" that cannot be replicated in England, according to the leader of the Government's national curriculum review. // Finland is a devolved system but it achieved its success on the back of a heavily top-down education policy 30 years ago. // Ministers in England and their Labour predecessors have claimed that they are moving from rigid, centralised command and control and now emphasise school autonomy. // However, Mr Oates says we shouldn't compare ourselves with Finland: "It is dark half the year, so they read and talk to each other a lot more during the dark months of the year"

National Curriculum Review 2:

English teachers are concerned that the committee overseeing the national curriculum review could be biased in favour of synthetic phonics and includes a member (Ruth Miskin)with a business interest in promoting the reading method.

Controlled Assessments:

The end of GCSE coursework has "fundamentally" changed English teaching and means pupils no longer learn essential drafting skills, according to an influential academic. // Drafting is an important skill which is used in universities and by professional writers. Pupils were able to assess each others' drafts and suggest improvements. // Controlled assessments, the replacement for coursework, allows pupils to prepare in advance for a piece of work which they actually write in the classroom under controlled conditions. // Dr Marshall writes: "We do not want the first attempts of a student at writing an essay. We want their considered and well thought through opinions".


The EBac requires GCSEs or IGCSEs of at least a grade C in English, maths, a humanity, a langauge and two sciences. - Where the Ibac encourages 8 subject areas, the Ebac favours only five (and is heavily prescriptive within those: no Religious Education in the humanities, no IT in the sciences). // Matt Grists, senior researcher at Demos: "it is only likely to be achieved by a minority of pupils." // Sir Michael Wilshaw (Mossbourne Academy), one of the Government's favourite heads asked the Government to include a "technical and craft-based curriculum option" in its national curriculum review.

Specialist Leaders in Education:

SLEs will be tasked with improving the middle management of schools - classroom teachers are already able to call upon Advanced Skills Teachers and heads can use national leaders of education. // The National College is now consulting on the role, and says the next 12 months will be spent "developing" it. // The specialist areas of expertise will be based on the new key areas of focus for Ofsted.

Esther's TES Round Up - INTRO

It's time to get organised. For too long I have had the TES delivered on a Friday, only to still not have touched it after a month plus. And so they build up. Piles of untouched TES papers, still in their transparent light reflecting plastic covers, getting out of date each day that I don't touch them, and reducing the amount of available sitting space in my lounge. My desire to stay on top of events and changes in the world of educational reduced to a tattered dream.

Then comes some spare time and a morning is spent ripping open the plastic of anything from 5-10 TES copies, sifting through for useful or interesting articles in both the paper and the magazine, throwing out the FE section, deciding whether to route though the job section or not, recycling any paper wastage... and what am I left with? A brain full of information only for 80% to be forgotten by tomorrow, and piles of paper sorted into different themed cuttings from the paper (ICT Resources, MFL teaching ideas, proposed curriculum changes, how the teenagers' brain works, creative teaching and learning theories etc...). And then what am I left with? Piles of paper sorted into different themed cuttings from the paper left to get dusty until I have time "to really digest the information and read in more detail" or "to do something with the information within". Oh so many best laid plans...

So enough.

I shall from hereonin create a regular (?) blog entry called "Esther's TES Round Up" within which I shall store a summary of key points of interest from that edition. This shall therefore remain forever to hand in electronic format thereby reducing the need for extra piles of paper at my home. I hope...

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Finally, finally (!!) I am getting around to merging the sound files from my sessions at the ICT Links into Languages conference with the PowerPoint slideshows that accompanied them. At first glance the slidecasting process on seems horrendously complicated. However, once you have a play and get into the flow (play audio, work out where the end of the first slide is, move the marker there, click on the next slide - repeat process...) it is really simple. Proving once again that taking the time to become familiar with an online tool takes the uncertainty away and facilitates future use. Here are my presentations.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Croque Monsieur Challenge

Having had the opportunity to travel to Bruges recently the Croque Monsieur (/Madame) Challenge has had a rebirth. Let's get down to business:

Location: Bruges 7 April 2011
Rating: 5/10
Comments: Hmmm, no bechamel sauce, no wonderful after taste of good French cheese. The salad was 80's -esque and uninspiring. Its redeeming feature was the presentation of the chips. However, being famous for "frites" I was disappointed after the build up. Conclusion: this was a dressed up toasted sandwich at best. The search for the perfect Croque Monsieur experience to match that of Calais back in 2000/1 continues...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Foreign Exchange Culinary Delights

Are there no end to the benefits of exchange trips? Having hosted one of the French exchange teachers for a week I embarked upon a fresh recipie for the week: Spinach and Goats Cheese Tart! (Does this pass as French cuisine??) Here are my efforts:

OK so a bit overloaded on the goats cheese front, but who wouldn't ;o)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bolton Blogging - BBC News Live

BBC News has reported from Heathfield CP School in Bolton (@heathfieldCPS) due to their pupil blogs. Each class has a blog, as well as the teachers, and their website shows examples of pupils work with peer assessment. I look forward to reading it in more detail...

ICT Links into Languages Conference 12-13 Feb 2011

A second fabulous day at the ICT Links into Languages conference at Southampton University. My brain is full, ideas are refreshed, and my motivation is renewed. Everyone was such fun and it was great to be around such inspirational practitioners, some of which I had met for the first time and some I was meeting again after previous conferences or videoconferences. My Flashmeeting for Easy Videoconferencing session went well (thank you to Joe Dale - without your prompting I wouldn't have had the guts to try such a risky adventure!), and the delegates were both attentive and ready to input their ideas. I also have a BIG thank you to make to @josepicardo who patiently sat the otherside of the videoconference link, helping out with the demonstrating of various FM tools on his Sunday. I have uploaded the presentation to authorSTREAM ready for download for reference. It will also be on the Links into Languages conference page with all other presentations from the conference over the weekend.

Well done to Zena Hilton, Joe Dale, Sara Vaughn and all of the Links into Languages team that organised the whole event.

I'm tired now, updating my twitter list of contacts and thinking of the path ahead...

Thank you again for leaving positive feedback:

Saturday, 12 February 2011

ICT Links into Languages Conference 12-13th Feb 2011

What a fantastic first day at the ICT Links into Languages conference. It has been wonderful catching up with MFL Twitterati friends and getting to know new ones behind those avatars. I encourage anyone at the conference who is not already a member of Twitter to join up and begin networking. It has done nothing but enhance my ICT knowledge and confidence to try out new things.

There have been a range of sessions today which have all gone really well and have received good feedback (see Twitter feed #ililc for details). My session entitled "Using ICT to Enhance Teaching and Learning in MFL" went well and the audience was a kind one given the tired brains! Thank you for listening so intently and for your positive feedback. The PowerPoint from the session is saved on authorSTREAM where I have made it available for download for those that requested it if the above stream doesn't work. It has been an honour to speak alongside such esteemed and knowledgeable colleagues. I look forward to tomorrow for more!

Thank you also for the kind feedback that I received after the session:

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

MYLO Teacher Feature

MYLO are encouraging teachers to provide feedback on how they are using MYLO in lessons. CILT are posting a MYLO Teacher Feature on their website which also features on the MYLO Facebook page. Click on the links for updated feedback features.

We are also getting more teachers signed on and creating groups at The Weald of Kent Grammar School. MYLO has a great inbuilt motivation system: avatars which are unlocked the more points the students get, competitiveness between individual students on activities, between classes/teachers, between individuals on a national level and lastly between schools nationally. This multi-layered motivation system drives the students interest to look into more language learning activities. We look forward to higher rankings!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

MYLO's Winning Formula

Well it's a sunny day (what a difference the sun makes!) and time for another MYLO update. Having set up another 2 sets of classes on MYLO recently I have been reminded of it's key to success - competition. Members of one class announced that they had been on it in their own time unprompted, with one girl gaining 700 points within a week! The development of personal avatars is another hit as students gain options for personalising them once they have worked through various stages. Valerie McIntyre, another MYLO ambassador, is using it successfully in her MFL department and has written a comprehensive write up on the Merlin John Online website. See the MYLO site for more information.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

ICT Links into Languages Conference, 12-13th February

Fancy some professional development on using ICT in MFL teaching and learning?

The ICT Links into Languages conference 12-13th February 2011 is being at Southampton University, Avenue Campus. With a range of speakers across the two days, plenaries by Joe Dale and Rachel Hawkes and a chance to contribute to Show and Tell events there is a lot to gain from attending! I'll be providing two sessions: "Flashmeeting for easy videoconferencing" and "Using ICT to enhance teaching and learning in MFL", and I'm very much looking forward to it. For more information or to book follow this link. Scholarships are available.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

FIFA HQ World Cup Presentations

It's a snow day today, preventing the school from opening, so I'm at home catching up on world news, watching the live country bids for the World Cup in 2018. Once again I am reminded of how important interpreters are in helping ease communication between the various nations and the communication of their speeches to the rest of the world. Here is The Guardian's write up on our chances. Come on The Lions! Live coverage of our bid on SKY NEWS channel 517 NOW! SKY updates

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Webcam Wonder

To the MFL Twitterati:

Perhaps we should try this next FM Meet?

Esther :o)

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Importance of Learning Languages

The recent media coverage of the Chilean miners rescue has highlighted the importance of languages in the global community. You only had to witness Tim Wilcox, prized journalist for the BBC, switching effortlessly into Spanish in order to interview the family of a miner and then translating the conversation back into English again for the viewers at home, to understand how much of an asset his knowledge of Spanish was to the BBC at this crucial time and indeed, for making him, usually the studio anchorman, the ideal man for the job abroad.

"And the other secret weapon the BBC had was its remarkable on-site anchor, Tim Wilcox. He is normally an anchor on the domestic BBC News channel but he was sent to Chile three weeks ago and he showed a remarkable change in persona anchoring on-site rather than from the studio. It was obvious how well he knew his story, that he knew and had spoken to all those involved – officials, family, and the like, his Spanish was impeccable in being able to interview family members and officials live and give instant translation – he was just so natural." (

His Twitter feed also shows the benefits of his language knowledge, as well as the power of Web 2.0 technologies:

Just spoke to the father of the first miner expected up, Florencio Avalos. Father Alfonso says he is excited but anxious.
1,286,908,596,000.00 via web

Interpreters were also important in the international communication process of the rescue attempt:

The voice of an interpreter on hand to translate the words of the miners and rescuers for the English-speaking audience watching at home, could sometimes be heard directing the miners to get out of the way of the camera set up to beam images across the planet.

Interpreters were also used to communicate Presidential speeches abroad, and Chile's President, Sebastian Pinera, even showed up or own PM by speaking to him in fluent English.

All in all languages were at the heart of international affairs. So if you want to get ahead in the world - learn languages!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

MYLO 1st Lesson

The first MYLO lesson with my year 8's was very successful today. We were based in an ICT room which allowed us time to set up individual learner accounts for each student. As the school administrator I had previously registered the school online and then set up teacher accounts. Each teacher then sets up groups which the students join once they have each set up their own learner accounts. To do this last step you provide the students with a website link and the username/password of the site, and once they have set up a learner account they simply "Join a group" with the group name that you created it under and the access code that you were provided with at the time.

Once I'd got more experience of the "site map", as with all new websites to navigate, and tried a few activities under the guise of my own Screen Name, (Speedy out I'm on the leader board!), I became more familiar and realised how easy setting up learner accounts for the students would be.

1) Ask students to use their school email when creating accounts in case your school blocks access to their personal email accounts - they can always forward the details to their home account later; 2) Remind students to take care with the spelling of their email addresses (yes a few rogue emails have been sent out there - only 6/30 so not too bad), and 3) Remind students to create "acceptable" screen names...

All in all the set up took about half of the lesson (25-30 mins), but this process will only need to be done once. This time period includes troubleshooting which was more often than not correcting student's typing errors when entering the email addresses/user names etc... Note: If you are a current user of the trial site, warn the students that when first entering the site the username/password may need to be entered a few times i.e. there isn't a problem with the page. This will be rectified when the site goes fully live. We were then ready to start some activities. However, prior to letting the students "loose" (they really were chomping at the bit!), I asked them to fill in a vocabulary table that I had prepared of the phrases needed to complete the activities online (English provided, they find the French in the phrases list on screen). This was with the intent of the students retaining a written record of the phrases once having left the ICT room. I am planning also to use it for reinforcement activities once in a normal classroom (i.e. acting out the role plays).

As we are trialling the online software I decided to record our students' opinions of their experience so far - albeit limited. They had some interesting things to say, including comparisons with other online language learning sites. My publishing of the students' comments on this subject are not intended to be to the detriment of other language learning sites, yet to discover what MYLO can offer that is different through the students' eyes. As a teacher I am also aware that the excitement of a new technology can cloud a student's judgement to a certain extent. The range of language learning sites already on offer on the web are vast and of a high quality. It is the interactive features of the MYLO site (students competing against other students and the storing of personal scores) that are sticking out for me on first use in comparative terms. However, what I will be looking out for is the quality of LEARNING that takes place regardless of it's software features.

Note: the student interviewer (budding journalist in the making I think!) and the students' comments were completely unscripted.

Until the next MYLO update!

Esther Hardman

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Successful Videoconference with France!

On the 31/03/10 we held a successful videoconference at school between the French and English sides of our French work experience exchange. We set up 15 web cams on our side, with the students sharing in pairs, whilst the French side used one web cam interchanging the students as they took their place to speak. Time was tight given the only mutually convenient time was 8.30 am to 9.00am that morning. However, 10 of the students from the Weald of Kent Grammar School held conversations in French with their corresponding partners in France. Eventually no photos were uploaded from the French side but the time was used with the English students posing questions in French to the French students about their on coming stay in France in June. At first the students were nervous to take part and speak on camera, however, they were eventually encouraging us to use as much of the time as possible to allow as many students to take part. All in all a successfull videoconference which we hope to follow up with another before June so the French side can practise their English.

This has been a successful use of our recent purchase of 15 web cams for the MFL department and we hope to integrate their use in other exchanges across the department. Videoconferencing provides students with authentic language experiences which help improve their confidence in the use of the target language.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Have you heared about MYLO? See this link for School Teacher information. It is a government sponsored initiative to bring the "real world" back into the classroom making languages relevant and engaging for 11-16 year olds, and it's free! Having been to a meeting back in February at CILT (the National Centre for Languages) I was given a taster and the concept is an exciting one.

What will learners do? The website above states: "MYLO is organised into a series of challenges. Each challenge is designed to offer a fully-rounded and self-contained learning experience, promoting language learning through creativity, problem-solving, decision-making and enquiry." These challenges have the potential to be very engaging as the innovative use of "best breed technologies and interactive routes to learning" culminate in "a social approach to learning and creative output". This embraces the rise of the "digital world",(even the PM is delivering speeches entitled: "Building Britain's Digital Future"), and how education is moving with the times.

MYLO is marketed as "Engaging, Valuable, Creative, Real-Life, Flexible, Innovative, Complementary and Evolving". Reading futher into the justifications for these descriptive words provides a sense of a well planned and conscientiously put together educational tool. My fellow MYLO Ambassadors (links to follow...) and I were given the opportunity to meet the designers from Lightbox Education and to feedback both positive and constructive comments as to its design, potential for implementation and impact on learning. This brought alive the concept of MYLO's "evolving" nature as they welcome feedback from both learners and teachers as the project develops.

I, for one, am looking forward to putting MYLO through it's paces in the classroom in the near future and will feedback on how my classes gained from the "stimulating content" and "innovative online environment", along with any reflective feedback in terms of any improvements that could be made if there are any to be found. I am eager to put into practice the different stages of the MYLO learning journey: Meet the contact, Get the skills, Compete, Take the challenge and Review my work, and to see the process through from beginning to end and how the students react to it's imaginative link to the real world via new technologies.

On y va!

Monday, 8 March 2010

ICT in MFL Presentation

On the 22nd February 2010 I delivered a presentation to the whole school teaching staff re our developments in the use of of ICT in MFL. The idea was to share our ideas across the school and to inspire the use of web 2.0 tools in education to address the knowledge that will be coming up from primary levels of education in years to come (if not indeed now). Here is the presentation - spot the members of staff dotted along various slides...

Successful Flashmeeting with France #2!

Excellent! We have just completed another staff test of the Flashmeeting videoconference software with our partner school in France. Both sides were able to load pictures (excuse the bucket - it was a practice!) and URLS which will be useful when asking the French side of students to familiarise the English side with where they will be staying prior to our trip out there in June. This time the test was based on our respective school sites. Next stage the videoconference itself!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

iTunes Podcasts

I came late into the day in using podcasts (iPod/Broadcasts) but am enjoying them more since getting to grips with iTunes and my iPod. I

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Personalised Learning Networks

Another nod to the power and usefulness of Personalised Learning Networks (PLN's) recently researched in the TES article "Technology - Pick of the Crop" 26th February 2010. Thanks to ICPJones for the heads up via Twitter!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Flashmeeting Practice with France

How very exciting! I set up a practice videoconference using Flashmeeeting with an exchange partner English teacher in France yesterday and it went excellently! I used the whiteboard function which I had not used before and by trial and error learned how to upload photos and draw squiggly lines. I'm not sure of a use for the latter but using shapes to disguise photos then perhaps slowly reveal them for a KS3/2 videoconference that I have planned for later might work a treat. I will play some more with that. However, for the up and coming French work experience exchange videoconference with our year 11s the photo option will be useful for the French students to show photos of the area / house they live in to help familiarise the English studenets before they go. The URL tool will also be useful to upload links to their home town etc... I saw these potential activities forming before my eyes as we played around with them. It's nice to see there is more potential to Flashmeeting than I had realised and that it can be used for a real purpose.

Monday, 8 February 2010

MYLO Ambassadors Meeting 08/02/10

I've picked up my violin again yesterday after years of not playing (happens with renewed enthusiasm once a year!) and having bashed my way through a page of sheet music it struck me again how languages are like music and the words and grammar that tie a language together are like the musical notes that create the sound of a musical piece (how high brow!). I took part in discussions during the MYLO Ambassadors meeting today at CILT re their Goverment funded online language learning project, and I was reminded again a) how I love learning languages and b) how I liken the skill of speaking and listening of a language to music (amongst other codes that exist - hence my blog title). To imitate a speaker you need to copy their sound, and their intonation like the rise and fall of a melody. The "code" of a language is not just the words but the rise and fall of the language aswell. The Swiss are often teased by the French not just for their slower pace of speaking, but also the rise and fall of the sound of their spoken French.

"What about SingStar?" I thought. Using SingStar technology to aid learning the intonation of target language expressions. As important as the pronunciation if you want to gain confidence and sound authentic I say. (I was so happy to get karaoke into the day's events somehow!).

More information on MYLO as the technology develops and classroom trials have been carried out...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Languages Save the Day!

I went to buy a Spanish newspaper today (well a French one actually but they don't sell them any more). The shop owner couldn't tell me how much it was in English £ - despite scanning the international prices small print. Feeling the pressure of the growing queue behind me on a busy Saturday morning I had to help him out...

OK, I admit, the guy was set up into making knowing languages look good by my fair handed self - however it felt good at the time :o)

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Mind42 Mind Maps

I've been playing around with's web mind map tool. I created a mind map on the topic of "Communication". See the results below:


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

MFL Dept Blog Training 08/12/09

Dear Colleagues,

Today we are going to learn how to create a blog; add text, photos and web links; embed html codes for youtube videos, podcasts, PowerPoints and photo slides shows.

At the end of the traning please add feedback on the training session by clicking on the wall below. Please consider whether the training as a whole has helped you become more confident in using blogs to enhance the teaching of MFL with your students:

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

TDA Course Feedback

Here we invited our attendees to give feedback on the course as a whole.

ICT in Primary Languages (Easi-Speak, Audacity, podcasts...)

Here will hopefully be some feedback from today's session to test out this new gadget I've found. Hopefully the session attendees will find this useful in their classrooms too!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Homework / Les Devoirs / Los Deberes... by Miss E Hardman

Oh look - you can just "share" it as a link into your blog too...

Homework / Les Devoirs / Los Deberes... by Miss E Hardman

Going to trail this website for homework ideas. Different to Wiki in that can't edit work of others but easier to access as no need to set up pupil accounts - at least it seems not at the moment. Will experiment with one of my classes. See below:

ICT in MFL - Sound files training morning

I'm looking forward to a morning training session that I'm leading for some local primary school teachers tomorrow. Preparing the final touches to the session notes. Should be good fun: recording with Easi-speak microphones, Audacity, and all the fun that comes with it, followed by uploading into for later use in classroom blogs. So much to do and so little time!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Tips on Videoconferencing

I'm not sure where Tip #1 went...

P.S. the below contains a joke which may or may not be suitable for your classroom students!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


Just discovered where you can make creative word clouds. However, the code they gave me for the one I created doesn't seem to work in this post box. Here is the link for the time being until I work it out...

Got it! Needs to be in an HTML gadget on the right....

Check out Tom Barrett's Edublog for "Thirty-Eight Interesting Ways to use Wordle in the Classroom".

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Songs in MFL

I love using songs in MFL, whether they are songs that are already published or ones that I have made up myself. I don't do the latter often but early in my teaching career I gained some great inspiration from Steven Fawkes, formerly from the BBC and now working for the Association of Language Learning (ALL). He often demonstrates at language shows how he puts target language to popular well known songs. I have one example of my own here, put to the tune of "Mamma Mia", which is to help me teach the French rule for "à + towns" and "au/en + countries" (annoyingly the authorSTREAM format is too wide for this post list but I can always email it to you if you leave a comment with your details):

TIP 1: I use kareoke CD's as the originally sung lyrics of a song would interfere with what you are trying to sing in the target language in the classroom. Ones that I have used in the past come from the Avid label from which I have used the Kylie Locomotion successfully with Spanish Classroom language (cheesy kareoke beats but it does the job - I'll add the PowerPoint with lyrics...). However, this time I used an Abbamania CD which is less cheesy but does have light singing of the chorus in the background (no bad thing if the song flops in class eh?).

TIP 2: If you need access to the original lyrics of a song to work out the rhythm of the words without incessantly rewinding (gosh that just made me feel old!)/ replaying your music source, try a lyrics website such as Lyrics Freak

It can take some time getting words to fit the tune of song, which is why I only tend to do it when inspiration hits rather than seeking to do a song for the sake of it. However, the results are worth it. One of my year 7 classes, to whom I taught Spanish classroom language using the Kylie locomotion tune, used to sing it, without prompting, whilst running around the track during their PE lessons (so I'm told!), and they could still sing it word for word when they reached year 10. On one occasion they burst into a rendition of it as I entered the classroom for a cover lesson those 3 years later. That was one of the best moments of my teaching career so far. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Intercultural Understanding

Check this video out: Eels

I love this video as it really shows the need for Intercultural Understanding. As we welcome our new year 7's into the school we are embarking on a transition project which includes Intercultural Understanding. This features in the KS2 Framework for Languages and we hope to build upon this as they begin their KS3 language studies.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

I have just discovered the delights of SKY TV via my SKY+ box. Much to my father's dismay I have refrained from subscribing to SKY Sports, but have subscribed to the Style and Culture package instead which provides TVEi on channel 795 (Spanish) and TV5 on channel 799 (French) TV programmes. Cinémoi movies is a French cinema channel on 839, but you have to subsribe to another package to get this.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Combining two loves...Food and French!

After a near paradise experience whilst eating a Croque Madame (a Croque Monsieur with an egg on top) in Calais back in 2000/1, I set my sights on a World Tour...the aim? To experience as many Croque Monsieur/Madames as possible and to rate them out of 10 with my Calais experience as the bench mark.

The Big Question: would I find one as good as this again?

So what made the "Calais Croque" so good? To experience such a cullinary pleasure set against the back drop of the industrialised port of Calais begged the phrase: a jewel amongst rocks, a rose amonst thorns...

The Croque Tour so far:

Location: Calais 2000/1
Rating: 10/10
Comments: What a memory, what a dream! Alas the image remains in my head. Yet the comination of an unexpectedly large (size in food terms matters) Croque Madame with a large (again good) pile of French Fries as accompaniement, with the remaining space on the large (good) plate filled with a large (g...) pile of lucious lettuce dripped delicately with a subtle French salad dressing, created a meal made in heaven...oh but the "pièce de la résistance" was the small glass of red wine to accompany such a feast. "Does a humble Croque Monsieur meal live up to the class of a good glass of red wine?" I hear you ask. "Who cares!" I cry. It worked! Especially the cafe style glass that it was held in. Oh I could go on... Now for the rest...

Location: Geneva 2005/6
Rating: 0/10
Comments: Disappointment on first sight. Bad "pain de mie" bread and dry. The Swiss should stick to what they do best: chocolate and Swiss watches.

Location: Rouen 2006
Rating: 2/10
Comments: No notes made so can't remember the rating...Can't have been amazing. Satisfactory at best.

Location: Paris 2008
Rating: 8/10
Comments: What a great find! In the fashionable area of St Michel we sourced a bar that would serve our World Tour delight. Good portions, fries, salad and wine (with good company!) made this an enviable contender.

Location: My flat 2008
Rating: 6/10
Comments: Wonderful! Had a great time sourcing a good recipie (no it's not just a cheese and ham sandwich...) and making it for my good friend Anabela. Insecurities on using too little cheese resulted in too much cheese and big fat bellies afterwards. Indeed we were unable to finish - a shocker and source of much pride breaking on my part. Nevertheless, lesson learned and more shall be attempted in the future. (I cheated with frozen chips but when one is busy...)

Location: Versailles 2009
Rating: 4/10
Comments: This rating is generous. The cheese was nice but the sauce lacking. The bread was toasted - possibly as using up the previous day's bread.

The bottom line - is it right to rate it against a classic? In fact is it right to mess with a classic at all? In the light of this we placed it in a category of its own: "Tartine facon Croque Madame" / Bruchette (I was assured by our French colleague on the exchange that the latter exist "au resto à Nice qui semble des Croques Madames ouvertes").

We move on...

Location: Eurodisney 2009
Rating: 5/10
Comments: Classed as a "Euro Croque" we gave the following critiques: Miss Hinge - Bechamel sauce good and not too heavy but more ham needed. Grilled bread not good. Miss Hardman - good top bread layer, soft and springy, with a layer of soft grilled cheese. The runny sauce was nicely warm.

Overall, however, is it right to compare a Croque Monsieur with a Croque Madame (the latter being my true love of the two and source of this World Tour)? However, I think it fought it's corner well - despite the lack of fries and salad as accompaniement.

A last attempt on this leg of the tour...

Location: Service station, France 2009
Rating: 3/10
Comments: Satisfactory - surprisingly good for a service station or does my memories of English services stations marre my open mindedness on this matter?

This post shall be continually updated as I yearn to seek the eternal pleasures that are held within the humble meal of a Croque Monsieur/Madame...but for now some advice for anyone inspired to embark on similar such tours: do your research, know what to expect, and aim high!

One might say that I have too much time on my hands, yet the promise of school reports as my next task forever pushes me to further creative ventures.

The next generation...

Location: Starbucks, Kent, June 2009
Rating: 0/10
Comments: The "Starbucks Croque Monsieur Panini"....panini??. Ghastly idea. Didn't even go there. I refuse to mess with a classic (see comments - Versailles 2009). No photo, no rating, no nothing. The tumble weed moves on...

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

WKLF MFL e-learning Group Videoconference

I have just finished a successful videoconference between myself, Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge, Stewart Dearsley at Mascalls in Paddock Wood, and Anita De at the Tonbridge Grammar School, also in Tonbridge. We were trialling the Polycom PVX software in order to move further foward with projects involving other schools within Kent, both Primary and Secondary, and hopefully also with other schools abroad. This was a successful first step in our MFL e-learning group's vision to use the software on a bigger scale in order to bring students together from different classes, year groups and countries.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Language Labs, Videoconferencing and Blogging

A big thank you to Joe Dale and his great efforts in editing our recent interview and creating such comprehensive blog notes to accompany it. In it we explore the use of language laboratories, videoconferencing and blogs within education. It was exciting to exchange ideas and for me, to continually learn about new Web 2.0 technologies as a result. I am continually impressed by his blog and the wealth of information and practical support that is contained within it.

Foreign Delights

  • Du vin!
  • Emmental
  • Gratin Dauphinoise

Foreign Favourites

  • Lyon, France
  • Bejing, China
  • Lausanne, Switzerland

Favourite French Films

  • La Haine
  • L'Appartement
  • Ma Vie en Rose
  • La Reine Margot