The Reception Evening for Language
Teacher Trainees in the London Area Monday, 7 October 2013
A Report by
Self-publicity is rarely easy, but the London Branch of the
ALL succeeded with this event.
Some 80 PGCE and other students
attended, from the University of East London, Kingston University, St.
Mary's University College and the host, the Institute of Education at
London University. They were treated to an intense hour of practical ideas
on a variety of topics.
Not surprisingly, the majority were
interested in French, but aspiring teachers of German, Italian and Spanish
were complemented by a group of Chinese.
Beginning teachers of any subject are
understandably concerned about discipline. Sharon Mangion's tips were
packed with useful advice: start by using the Observation period to find
out how the school deals with behaviour problems (how often do children
throw the furniture about?), then ask colleagues for advice and develop
your own approach. Her warnings about the dangers of using higher
authority too often were noted.
But it wasn't all about blame: praise
also plays a big part, and she demonstrated her system of awarding merit
"7 Tips in 7 Minutes"
from Cat Fox followed on naturally, including the need for consistent and
persistent practice of sanctions and "Let them do the work" -
excessive lesson preparation and/or teacher talk can be a danger at the
start of a career. Cat also stressed the role of clear instructions,
citing an instance when only at most one third of a class she was teaching
had understood what she required.
Beginning teachers of subjects other
than MFL could well have benefitted from both presentations, but the two
following were more subject-oriented.
Liz Fotheringham talked about:
"A Picture in my Pocket" (a USB stick, in case you're
wondering). Using examples from French and German, she showed multiple
uses of the "odd one out" technique, as well as tongue-twisters.
Up to this moment, PowerPoint had
been the medium used, but in the final presentation, Helen Myers provoked
lively discussions among the students by her use of song videos, notably
"Papoutai?" as well as references to the "Twitterati".
Helen also acted as MoC, reinforcing the message that the ALL is about
mutual help among teachers and advocacy on the national level. With a
contribution from Sharon, she offered a brief, comprehensive account of
the activities of the ALL and its London Branch.
Thanks are due to Colin Christie, the
Subject Leader at the Institute of Education, who supplied the venue.
Rodney Mantle, October 2013.