La France en Photos

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.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

My First Podcast!

Get me! Used Audacity to record a short sound bite of myself speaking using my recently purchased Logitec headphones, saved the file. Created an account with where the MP3 file could be uploaded to. Then sent the html text via it's "share" facility to my own blog! How great is that. (For those of you who don't want to use 3rd party applications to upload sound files use for your blog. It costs a small amount but I'm assured it's a bit more flexible than blogger in terms of sound files etc...). A big thanks to Joe Dale for pointing me in the right direction with this and for the earlier Audacity tutorial. I see no end of possibilities ahead with personal or classroom use. No webcam use means no child protection issues (although I will double check that as one cannot be too careful these days). I might trial a webcam version of myself too, but that can wait until I've washed my hair...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

I love! Check out my current use on my other "just for fun" blog: (make sure you have your sound on). However I really want to use this on a classroom blog but with French music.

As a filler I sometimes access to enrich my student's knowledge of the French Top 50 in a desire to a) provide some intercultural understanding of the target country of the language we are learning, but also b) to destroy the myth that French music is not "cool" (I'm not allowed to say "hip and happening" - no one says "hip and happening", my year 9 1.2 class told me so). The dominance of English and American cultures has a lot to answer for in terms of the lack of appreciation of foreign music in the eyes of our youth.

We choose a song to play, hopefully with a video to accompany it, from the Top 50 French charts (refusing point blank to play any anglo/US music despite the agonising adolescent pleas), then I ask them what they think with a show of thumbs. Some groups and singers have come up trumps so far - check out the weblink list on the right under "Music Matters" (Kidtonik is an S-Club juniors equivalent don't you know).

I wanted to develop this further by searching for our favourites on in order to create a specific French music playlist for a classroom blog. However no searches provide fruitful, apart from Vanessa Paradis or MC Solaar which, although current artists, are not proving that motivating for my pupils.

Any ideas to help with my search for modernity welcome...

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Cryptic Reports

Inspired by the Independent's "Get The Picture" regular series of cryptic puzzles and searching for an innovative procrastination activity, with one set of class reports down and one to go, here is my own version. Answers on comments please. No prizes. Just for fun.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Pink link with the "en" pronoun

This is my latest inspiration for teaching the "en" pronoun in French. Check out Pink's "So What" song (see below video 01.06 minutes in). It's a motivational starter / brain break tool to help pupils remember the "en" pronoun rather than teaching its use specifically. However it's fun nonetheless to see your pupil's faces when you break into ""Unh Check my flow Uohhh" in a Pink stylee in the middle of a French lesson...

Or use this link -

Interestingly enough you can find this "sound bite" spelt out in lyrics at:

OK so the quoted "Uohhh" delivered delicately by Pink is not 100% the sound of the "en" pronoun ("Uohhh" / J'"en" veux deux), but there is a tenuous link if one wishes. All in the aid of making MFL teaching fun.

So all that leaves me to say is: "Unh Check my flow Uohhh"/"en"

This blog post is dedicated to my 8D French class for putting up with my Pink impressions and also Andrew Stapley and Huguette Hopkinson at Norton Knatchbull for our recent enjoyable ideas bouncing session where they humoured my madness, and I theirs.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Symposium Language Laboratory

We are using the Symposium Language Laboratory suite at school. I've just recently delivered a practical workshop on using Symposium for teaching MFL at the SSAT SE Regional Language College's Network Meeting. I focused on it's practical use in a series of language learning activities as opposed to just looking at the technology itself. I also provided notes on how to successfully mananage a language laboratory lesson, looking at the things that you need to consider which are specific to managing pupils and teaching in language laboratories as opposed to normal classrooms. I received 100% "excellent" feedback from the delegates which made it worth while. Check out the Activa website for our case study at Weald of Kent Grammar School

Languages lead to...

One evening in to hosting our French exchange lead teacher and I'm reminded why I love learning languages. If it wasn't for learning French I wouldn't have travelled to France, if it wasn't for travelling to France I wouldn't have eaten in nice restaurants or stayed with welcoming families, and if it wasn't for these experiences I may never have discovered CHEESE & WINE! The combination of creamy, tangy, salty, savoury cheese, washed down with a fruity, medium bodied wine of the red variety is pure gourmet heaven...

My cheese favourites: (This is a work in progress - I'll add as I discover!)

Camembert (French)
Brie (French)
Wensledale and cranberry (English)
Emmental (Swiss)

My wine favourites:

I never remember names, but I do remember grapes. However my latest trick is taking a photo of a well enjoyed bottle on my mobile phone to add to my current library, ready for referring to when in the aisle of the local supermarché. Highly effective for the visual learner you know (the obligatory education link!).

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Personalised Learning Networks

There is a whole new world out there. I've just joined Twitter and discovered a whole new universe of contacts. Investigating joining a teacher network. Take a look at Joe Dale's write up of the twitter world. Contains some good links and information for productive use. I'll add more here when I've had time to get to grips with it.

Follow my twitter upates on the right hand menu...

Interesting Twitter Articles:
Tools to Keep Your Twits Organised
Thirty Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

Monday, 16 March 2009

Videoconferencing in MFL

Have you ever Googled yourself? I know this seems like a completely self indulgent thing to do but in order to procrastinate and thereby delay starting my 60+ year 8 reports I decided to quickly update my blog i.e. delay what you don't want to do and do what provides you gratification first whilst the oven is warming your dinner - it's the way forward you know...

I hadn't yet entered links to a past, yet still relevant, videoconferencing project that I completed with a colleague using Flashmeeting in 2007. Not being able to find the presentations at home I searched for them by my name on the internet, knowing they were added as links on to various sites (see below right on the menu of links). In looking for the links to post I found my photo on the web! So much for hiding behind my virtual Voki physique. So here I am in the middle being presented with a certificate at the Teachnet Awards 2008 for the work we did on the project.

Daftness aside I hope the videoconference resources on the Teachnet site are useful to anyone hoping to embark on such a cross phase project (KS2/KS4 French). See also Joe Dale's blog write up of our project.


I'm experimenting with inputting sound files into a PowerPoint document which I understand need to be WAV files. Easi-Speak microphones are easy to use in the classroom and fun for the pupils, however they seem to automatically save in MP3. Instructions say toggling between MP3 and WAV is possible but I've experiemented with no joy. If anyone has had any success let me know.

Update 13/05/09
Success! We have successfully changed MP3 files to .wav files via CDex software (thanks goes to my ICT department at school!). We then discovered how to add these onto clip art within the PowerPoint so that the sound file still works once sent outside of our network. We did this by right clicking on the clip art, selecting "Action Settings" and then browsed for the sound file...

Easi speak microphones have proved to be easy and effective ways of recording in a classroom with the ability to charge the microphone in the USB port whilst setting up the class. Once an opportune moment in the lesson has been found and recording has been completed, immediate play back is possible, again via the USB port which means that pupils can self analyse and record again quickly in order to correct their language as necessary. I love using them at the moment and hope to order more!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Dyslexia and L2 learning

I am curious about dyslexic students. My question is does interference in the aquisition of first language (L1) learning also interefere in the learning of a second language (L2), or is it specific to the L1 where the learning of L2 allows for the neurological / cognitive links to be created afresh? I don't have any answers yet but will add to this post when I find more research on this topic.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Le Foot!

In the search for resources that might motivate boys when learning languages, I've stumbled across Girondins de Bordeaux club (see web links on the right) - lots of play lists, top scorers, field positions etc. There is a web link to the Girondins TV channel too with the video feed itself below the posts on this page. Not to be out done by the French, check out the Arsenal Double Club link too.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

International Edublogger 562

It's official! I've been accepted into the International Edubloggers Directory, member number 562!

Thank you Patricia!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Why Learn Languages?

Preparing to take part in an assembly talk on the importance of learning languages at another secondary school, has made me relive all that learning languages has done for me: prompted travel opportunities both prior and during university, gained me employment, saved me from redundancy, kept me in higher paid temp jobs when redundancy finally did occur (in the financial sector!) and finally helped me pursue the profession that I am still in today. The benefits are still relevant given the economic crisis and rise of job losses on what seems like a day by day basis during some periods. So I can only encourage you to learn languages!

3 Oct 2009 - An update to the cause of the importance of learning languages:

Guido Westerwelle snubs BBC reporter for English question at press conference

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Café Life

I love this photo. It was taken out of a coach window (hence the reflections!) during a school French exchange trip to Versailles palace May 2008. It epitomises French café life for me with the trees, table layout, sun umbrellas, window shutters of the background building and people enjoying lazy afternoon refreshments.

Here is another one taken that same week. It's in the streets of Paris in the St Germain area. Spurred on by our hunger we eventually headed to La Taverne de Cluny, 51 rue de la Harpe, 75005 Paris where I did my usual Croque Monsieur rating commentary...

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