La France en Photos

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:


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