World Book Day – Roald Dahl



Last week I found out that our school will be celebrating world book day (on the 2nd of March) by focusing on Roald Dahl.

As far as I know, he only wrote in English, however many of his works have been translated into French.

I plan to hand out a sorting task as the starter for my lesson.  Pupils will be required to read and attempt to match up Roald Dahl book titles in French to their English counterparts:


Hopefully this won’t be too difficult as there are many cognates (words easily recognisable from English).

I then plan to discuss the characteristics of some of the main characters of Roald Dahl novels with pupils.  Our objective shall be to write short sentences in French, describing them.

So, in discussing with pupils; we should be able to come up with:

Il s’appelle ……l’énorme crocodile……

Il est ……….méchant et gourmand….

Il est  …..grand et vert…. 

I shall provide LA pupils with a picture of the enormous crocodile, and expect them to annotate it with the short phrases we have discovered together.

More able pupils will be expected to choose their own main character and work using a dictionary.

Will have to let you know how it goes!



Y6 to Y7 Transition (MFL)

fishI have just emailed a lot of local Secondary Teachers – the Head’s of the MFL Departments no less, to pass on a basic summary of what my lovely Y6s have covered in their primary MFL lessons.

This is what it looks like:

Transition-document july 2016 Sample

I was feeling low about it, to be honest.  It took me a couple of hours to do, and – having done this all last year.  I have never heard back from any of them.  So I don’t know if, frankly, I am wasting my time.  After all, if you are a secondary school, you are going to have kids arriving with all sorts of prior learning in MFL, and the simplest way is to just force everyone to go back to lesson 1. Bonjour / Salut / Je m’appelle ……….. etc.

This is, incidentally, what happened to me – way back.  I experienced my first year of MFL lessons when I was in  Y5.  I then happened to move schools (to get away from bullies). In my new school, I then experienced my first year of MFL again in Y6, because that primary school did MFL differently.  I then transferred to secondary, where I experienced my third ‘first’ year of the same MFL. ” Je tourne en rond ”  (as they would say in French)  round and round like a goldfish, never seeming to make any progress.  Résultat? Funnily enough, I was bored stiff and tuned out by Y8.

Please comment and tell me what you do to help ensure a smooth transition for your students.

Our children deserve our best, and our  cooperation!




Teach the basics, again and again – progression with Y2

I have used the Catherine Cheater schemes of work for MFL in KS2 on and off for about 5 years now.  Whilst I don’t always follow her plans to the letter, they have slow but surely helped change my methodology when teaching the infants as well!

Many MFL schemes focus on vocabulary (just word level), with maybe one or two sentences taught per unit.  Then, you all move on to the next unit and rarely revise prior learning. Catherine Cheater ‘s schemes are more helical, they go around and build slowly, and children use their vocab to build mini sentences from day one, almost. 

Just the basic: c’est + proper noun 

Start with a collection of familiar cartoon characters/ photos of school staff.  Print out a flashcard picture of each/ or have a small bag of plastic figure toys – and reveal one at a time: C’est Madame Smith,  C’est Superman, C’est Peppa Pig,….

And we go over that structure again and again in different ways, until it is thoroughly engraved in the pupils minds. So for instance, when we covered shapes, I asked: C’est un triangle ou un carré? And they answer: C’est un carré. (I use a drawstring bag and fill it with the same 2 D shapes that their Class Teacher uses during maths lessons)

This time, the structure is C’est + determiner (un/ une) + common noun 

But using determiners isn’t too hard, especially if you teach each item as ‘un cercle’  from the start, rather than just ‘cercle’ 

Maternelle de moustache has some excellent authentic and free resources you can download on shapes  (les formes géométriques) 

This week I revised the colours with my Y2 class (most could remember them from last year, but we have had several children join the school, so it was worth it).   Our objective  was describing shapes + colour. Eg. C’est un triangle rouge

My highlight of the week was a new girl, who joined us only a matter of months ago and who isn’t always collaborative-spontaneously coming up with “j’aime violet! ” 

(This was particularly surprising as we did j’aime sentences before Easter, but we have unofficially been revising it, because of the following song: j’aime les fruits

I am so proud of her. 

Going solo: setting up a French Club in a new school 

  After a year or so of dithering, I finally launched a fee paying after school club at my children’s school. We have been going 8 weeks now. 

It’s been an emotional roller coaster ride. Numbers have fluctuated , but encouragingly, there seems to be consistent and growing interest.

This is the first time I have run a fee paying club, and it’s quite different to teaching full lessons, there is more pressure to make things really fun, and use lots of stickers, rewards, sweets and games to keep kids interested. 

My big problem is that as time constraints currently  only allow me to run one club, I have to cater for infants and juniors in the same session. Typically, the juniors want to write, and infants don’t. (Often I get the impression  juniors think that they aren’t learning anything if they aren’t writing!)  Another issue is prior knowledge. Some children have been attending French lessons in other settings for many years, others are just beginning. 

As I am not with a franchise, I have felt isolated somewhat, but luckily the school’s MFL Coordinator and Office staff have been very supportive and helpful. 

The big reason for doing it is because I struggle to teach my own children French at home, and this provides a good opportunity for them to make progress. I am pleasantly surprised that (so far!) they have been enjoying it, bringing friends along etc.

I look forward to hearing from you about your own experiences  running after school language clubs. 

Une souris verte


I taught this nonsense rhyme for the first time ever, this week in an after school French club. I had always thought it was maybe a bit long to learn easily, but eventually I found a recording with the first bit only, which was manageable.

You can listen to it here:

Our objectives were to revise colours and learn the rhyme.

We began by whizzing through the colours, using flash cards.

Next we listened to the rhyme, I explained the meaning. And we learned it together, repeating line by line. I wrote “une souris verte” on the board, and explained briefly that this is a “girl” mouse , so the colour takes an e to match with her. (This was for most of them the first mention of the concept of masculine/ feminine words).

We did a quick craft (see photo!) during which they had the opportunity to listen to the rhyme on repeat in the background, and ask for a strand of wool (for the tail) from a selection- by responding to me in French, and naming the colour they wanted.

Once the craft was completed, we were able to use the paper mice as we recited the rhyme together:

Une souris verte (hold up our green paper mice)

Qui courrait dans l’herbe (make the paper mouse run across the table)

Je l’attrappe par la queue (grab paper mouse by the tail)

Je la montre à ces messieurs   (hold the mouse up, as if to show someone else)

Ces messieurs me disent (wag your finger as if giving instructions)

Trempez-la dans l’huile (pretend to dip the paper mouse  in a pot of oil)

Trempez-la dans l’eau (pretend to dip it in water)

Ça fera un escargot tout chaud ! (Put paper mouse down and wiggle your finger to represent a snail)
I was gratified to hear one of my more reserved boys proudly show his mum the craft and say that the French for mouse is ‘souris’ (without pronouncing the final s of course) 

Going places with early years MFL (Transport )

I cover means of transport in year 1, and revise and extend it (adding local places) during year 2.

My first activity in most lessons is the magic bag, from which little transport toys are pulled out.

Initially , I would use them to teach the vocabulary “un avion”, “un vélo”,  etc.

Then build up to (holding up toy ) ” Oh, qu’es ce que c’est? ” and pupils will answer ‘avion’ (LA)  or “c’est un avion” (HA)
I have struggled to find a good, authentic song which names all  the vehicles…

In previous years, I have used this one (Only teaching the chorus, explaining the verses myself)

This year I ended up teaching a finger rhyme, which went down well:

Patrick a un vélo (fists make pedal movements)

Avec un trou (make a hole, using thumb and index finger)

Dans son pneu (use hands to draw a circle)

Il le bouche (thumb up, pushing straight ahead, as if to block the puncture!)

Avec son chewing gum (hands near mouth, pulling out immaginary chewing gum)

(You then repeat, but omit the final word of each line in turn. First get rid of ‘vélo’ but keep the action. 

Patrick a un ……. (fists make pedal movements)

Avec un trou (make a hole, using thumb and index finger)

Dans son pneu (use hands to draw a circle)

Il le bouche (thumb up, pushing straight ahead, as if to block the puncture!)

Avec son chewing gum (hands near mouth, pulling out immaginary chewing gum)

Next time through, lose ‘vélo’ and ‘trou’,  and the next time, lose ‘ vélo’, ‘trou’ and ‘pneu’. And so forth…

By the time the class gets to the end, it’s a nonsense rhyme with loads of missing words and a lot of silly actions.  It’s also very funny, as it’s almost impossible not to slip up at some point !
By the end of the half term, they were able to explain / translate longer sentences back to me ; such as:

” Je vais à l’école en bus” “Chloe va au musée en voiture” “Jack va en France en avion” 

Reaching everyone? The delights of monitoring

Y4 Assessment sample from earlier this year

After the pain of preparing, delivering and marking my MFL assessments in November, came the  interesting task of looking at the results, class by class.  This year, my boss had asked me to monitor the performance of certain groups of pupils; those with EAL (English as an additional language), those receiving free school meals(FSM), and those on the special needs register (SEN). I had never tried this before!

I am no academic, but overall there did seem to be some conclusions / correlations.

  • Pupils receiving FSM seemed to be low achieving in KS1 MFL, but rise to average when reaching KS2.
  • Pupils with EAL , I divided into 2 categories; those who are still struggling to speak English, and those who have learnt to speak English pretty well.  The data I have (highly unscientific, I grant it) seemed to show low achievement whilst their level of English is still not established. However, EAL pupils usually then accelerate and become amongst my highest achievers – once they are operating well in English. I am presuming this to be because key language learning skills have then been acquired, and they transfer well into MFL.
  • Data for SEN pupils did not provide any easy/ obvious answers.  Some pupils achieve in line with my expectations in MFL, others don’t, even when they try hard.


NB. I know I  have not posted for a while.  Those of you who know me understand why Christmas is an important time  to me.  Preparing for Christmas this year has mean putting aside the blog for carol singing, craft, card writing and wreath making.

Happy Christmas everyone 🙂

When you have a great Headteacher

   They trust you to do your job

They appreciate what you do 

They encourage you to try new ideas, however crazy

They don’t burden you with unnecessary tasks

They provide you with the resources you need 

 They keep staff meetings/briefings short and to the point

They tell the pupils they are lucky to have you

They stand between you and the occasionally irate parent 

They stand up for you when Ofsted come to call

They  listen and care, if you are going through a rough patch.

They make sure the necessary paperwork  gets done in order for you, the pupils and the school to stay safe and to progress 

To HP, DUB and AP in appreciation.

Sentence building 

I often struggle with getting pupils talking in sentences in French.

One or two word responses, such as greetings “Bonjour!” “Ça va” are fine, but there comes a time when pupils need to be developing their sentence building skills. Especially if they have been learning French for more than a couple of years .

I spotted a new idea –  on one of the language Facebook groups – which lead me to develop a dice game. It went down exceptionally well in my Y5 and Y6 classes, so I thought I should share it.   (By the way, our topic for the last few weeks has been ‘home’.  We have been learning about where we live, the rooms in the house, and the rooms at school.)


Pupils worked in pairs, they had this grid each and two die.  Upon rolling both die together, they use the scaffolding grid to build a sentence. Eg. Rolling a 4 & 6 would create…….”Dans la cuisine il y a une lampe”


Il y a

1 Chez moi 1 des livres
2 Dans mon école 2 une armoire
3 Dans ma classe 3 deux chats
4 Dans la cuisine 4 un sac
5 Dans ma chambre 5 un lit
6 Dans la bibliothèque 6 une lampe

After playing the game for a while, you can extend the activity but inviting pupils to fill in a blank grid underneath. This is self-differentiating (if there is such a word?!) as lower ability pupils can just recycle the vocabulary from the exercise above, middle ability can use vocab from previous lessons and higher ability students can use dictionaries and really stretch themselves.

Here is the link to the printable worksheet, should you need it: dice game – house sentence builder – il y a Y6

Planning for Autumn 2

This half term  will consist of three main elements:

  • Revision / extension of material  taught in Autumn 1 (2-3 sessions)
  • Formal, in-house assessments in all 4 areas (speaking, listening, reading and writing)  (2 sessions)
  • Fun and educational Christmas related activities (3-4 sessions)
The Christmas activities will be a series of lessons, often around a craft.  Last year, we made Christmas cards with a felt pocket on the front, containing a chocolate coin.  I  found this book invaluable;  it provides clear instructions for crafts in the target language, and I would highly recommend it.
 So for instance, the learning objectives for the series of lessons progressed as follows:
  •  Lesson 1. LO: I can read and understand instructions in French
  • Lesson 2. LO: I can ask for items (stationery)  I need in French
  • Lesson 3. LO: I can follow instructions in French  (making the card)
  • Lesson 4. LO: I can ask for items (chocolate coin)  I need in French (finishing the card and adding greeting)
Here are my Christmas lesson plans from last year, should you  wish to look at them in more detail. Four christmas lessons – Craft based
I also included learning some carols.  I have a set of  30 or so of laminated Chants de Noël carol sheets,  which I use year after year, enabling pupils to  grapple with 3 seasonal songs. These contain some known vocab, and some new words which will stretch them.
Yes, it is early to be thinking of Christmas – but it will be upon us soon enough now, and it’s best to be prepared.
Bonne continuation à tous et à toutes!