Monday, 18 September 2017

Spicy Phonics

Two weeks ago I started teaching in a new school.  Well, not brand new, but new to me.  And I started teaching Spanish there, so now I am teaching Spanish in both my schools and no French anymore.  My Year 6s there have already done three years of French, and I have a year in which to get them to substantial progress in Spanish.  So I am having to come up with ways to move them on quickly.

The first thing we are doing is a big push on phonics, starting with ñ, silent h, ll and accented vowels.  I have started with these sounds because we met them in the first words of the first Spanish lesson - español, hola, me llamo and adiós.

Like me, you may have come across Takeaway Homework.  Indeed my Y10 daughter brought home her first one last week, for English.  It gave me the idea for this phonics activity, where the words all contain the relevant phonemes, but are graded according to their length and relative difficulty.  Therefore the children can choose whichever number of chili peppers they want, whichever one they feel comfortable with, to read aloud to practise the phonemes.  Whichever one they choose, they are still practising the sounds.  It also means I can use the same resource with Year 3 all the way through to Year 6.  Less printing and less laminating, and we can always revisit it.

So we are doing the above one first and will then be using this one once we have learned the numbers 1 to 10:

If you'd like to use them yourself, you can download them from here.  They will be equally useful for Key Stage 3 beginners, I'm sure!

Can you think of any other activities that could be made "spicy" in this way?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

130 Activities for the Languages Classroom

A week ago I finished and published this resource.  It was inspired by a teacher on the Secondary MFL Matters Facebook group who had been asking if there was a list of activities anywhere, and by other colleagues who have been saying for a while "You should write a book!"

All the activities listed and described are ones that I have used in the classroom or blogged about or both.  It was originally going to be called "150 Activities.." based on my original list, but the list was reduced when I saw that some activities could be put together.

Each activity has a key to show which skills it addresses - Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, Grammar, Phonics or Translation.  Here is an example of one of the activities:

It's available from my Sellfy shop now. I hope you like it, and that you find there some activities that you didn't know about, as well as some that you did know about but had forgotten.

Saturday, 22 July 2017


A few days ago I saw this tweet from Lindsay Williams (@LDLanguages):

I asked her about how Clozemaster works, liked the sound of it and had a search for it.  Very luckily there is an Android app!  There is also a web interface, and I presume there is a fruit-based app also.

I've mentioned before that I am learning German at the moment (daughter #1 begins her GCSE German course in September) and so far have been using Duolingo and Stimmt 1.  

Here's how it works.  You need to sign up for an account and give yourself a username.  Then you choose the language you want to work on.  This is my dashboard:

I've chosen to work on the 100 most common words to begin with and am quite chuffed how much I know from Duolingo.

When you select the words you want to work on, you get different options:

I've chosen the top multiple choice.  I might be brave and do the text input version later!  This is an example of a question.  You have the sentence with the gap and four options underneath.  Helpfully, you have the English translation as well to help you to find the correct word.

You tap on the word you think fills the gap, and you get instant feedback:

If you get it wrong, the same question comes around again before you finish the round.

I think this would be very useful for Key Stage 4 students wanting some consolidation of basic sentences, and of course anyone who, like me, is learning a new language in their own time!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

28 in a row...

So I managed 28 days in a row of blogging.  Not quite the 31 that I was expecting, but there we go.  I have officially run out of ideas.  For now!

Sunday, 4 June 2017


A little word about copyright, if I may.

In 2004, I uploaded for the first time a languages resource website called MFL Sunderland (you may have heard of it).  It contained 99% of the language resources I have ever made.  Then, in April 2014, MFL Sunderland ceased to exist, and I moved its content to a new site, Light Bulb Languages.  It continues to contain 99% of the resources I have ever made, as well as a number of resources that have been donated by kind and generous users.

All the resources are available to users free of charge, but they are not copyright-free.  Every resource has a copyright statement giving the website name, the URL, the year it was made and the name or initials of the person who made it.

This afternoon I have, once more, found copies of my own resources available on TES Resources.  And the user offering them is not me.  In this instance, the resources are being offered for free, and so I have left blunt reviews on each of them detailing their provenance, and also giving links to the originals.  A few months ago, I received a message from a user to say that they had seen resources of mine being offered for sale on TES Resources.  Sure enough, many of my resources were there, with my copyright statements still on them in most cases, being sold on TES Resources, by one user.  I reported it to TES, the resources were taken down and the user has since deleted that account.

Neither of these cases is an isolated incident.  Neither is TES Resources the only guilty site, but it is the main one.  Neither is this problem confined to language teachers - I have been corresponding today with an English teacher who has had the same thing happen to them.

This is wrong.  Why should other teachers make a profit out of my work that I offer to them for free?  Why should other teachers get the praise and the nice comments, when it's my work?  It's wrong, and it's theft.

So this is my way of saying PLEASE respect other peoples' copyright.  Think about how it makes the original authors feel to find their hard work being plagiarised.

Thanks for reading.

For your reference, the Light Bulb Languages copyright statement is here.