If a teacher cannot speak French or Spanish, how are they able to teach them as subjects? With the numbers of language teachers falling precipitously it's becoming more and more normal for a class to be taught by teachers who cannot themselves speak the language they teach. How can that work? Games like chess can harness human intellect I know many of the world's greatest chess players (in a previous life I ran the world chess championships) and it's interesting that the great Chess Grandmasters have chess coaches. It's interesting in that the chess [...]
As exam results roll in, games are shown to boost performance In the UK, it's the season for academic results...students opening letters followed by squeals of delight or moans of despair. There is a lot of post exam analysis...where could I have improved this? What could I have done differently? At the same time an article in the Sunday Times caught my eye: "Maths GCSE for girls 8 and 9!" Improve academic performance through games GCSEs are UK exams taken by 16 year olds...to pass a GCSE at aged 8 or 9 is remarkable. So you wonder [...]
Sometimes Language teachers want to pack some fun into the last ten minutes of class...but they don't want to waste it.
Turning language into a game So you’ve decided to learn a second (or third!) language, and you’re thinking about how to improve your skills. Like anyone learning a foreign language, you want to get better as quickly as possible. Does this mean you’ll have to cancel your weekend plans with your friends because you’ll be paging through textbooks all night until the library closes? Does this mean you’re doomed to lonely nights locked in your room studying lists of vocabulary? Nope. Not only does this not have to be your life, but it actually shouldn’t [...]
Context helps lock Spanish words in the long term memory Young Man learns speaks 11 languages fluently including Spanish I was struck by the recent news of a young man who is fluent in 11 languages. There is a lovely piece on him on the BBC where he does in fact speak in all 11 languages - including Spanish. It is significant that he said only one thing about what makes it easier for him to learn new languages and I wrote it down word for word. He stated: "THE EASIEST WAY TO LEARN IS [...]
Spanish Language Learning Tips Don't learn to talk Spanish like a Parrot! We're not parrots! So why do we still learn parrot fashion? Independent research has shown that some, much used learning methods, are totally inefficient ways to learn a foreign language. The main practice to be placed in the naughty corner is learning by rote (this includes vocabulary lists, phrase books and repetition exercises). Dr. H. Douglas Brown in his excellent book “Principles of Language Learning and Teaching” states that if you learn using such products and methods you are likely to suffer from “Systematic Forgetting” – a scary [...]
How to spice up language lessons with MFL Games Sprinkle a little fun into lessons for language learning to grow Even now, after being immersed in language for some time, I look at how language is communicated and wonder at how difficult it all seems. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, agreement, tenses, person, form, gender, negatives, subjunctive, conditional....Oh my! When we started learning languages as an infant it was fun, even a favourite lesson. We sang songs, played games and were never troubled by a gerund. But then, at about the age of eight, Spanish lessons [...]
I firstly ask them to make a sentence, as long as possible, with their seven cards - and explain that it's really easy, even if you're an absolute beginner....and then 10 seconds later, they do it. Their reaction? Genuine surprise and delight.
You won't be stuck for choice in terms of what MFL resources you can use. Far from it. The problem is that many of these resources are poor and not based on sound language learning principles. Suffice to say that choosing the wrong language tools is akin to playing tennis with a golf club....almost impossible.