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Last update: 19/01/2014


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ALL London January Event 2014 Report

A great crowd of enthusiastic language teachers at ALL's January Event 2014.  Thanks to Richard Margerison for this great pic which he posted to Twitter using the ALL Twitter feed.

Click on the image to see more in Helen's Flickr set.

What a lovely morning we had on Saturday 18th January 2014! Teachers came from far and wide to enjoy listening to superb speakers, Rachel Hawkes and John Connor as well as to enjoy each other's company as they browsed through exhibitor stands over coffee.  Many thanks to Renata Albuquerque and  the staff at SOAS for making us feel so welcome and for inviting us back for the June Event when we will be in the building opposite - the Brunei suite.

We are sorry that a few people could not make it because of transport difficulties (power lines down and floods!)... but here are some links to give everyone a flavour of the morning.

Stéphane Derône coordinated the interesting exhibition, and thanks to sponsorship from our exhibitors (Oxford University Press, Maison Claire Fontaine, the Goethe Institute,  Vocab Express and others who sent us leaflets) and our generous speakers who only receive a token payment, we can keep the costs to a minimum.  Thanks also to Linguascope for providing us all with a lovely calendar!

Helen Myers introduced the committee, generally enthused about being a member of ALL, encouraged people to become members and to go to the annual conference, and outlined future events which include a workshop day at The Ashcombe School where she works, a Webinar with Joe Dale on using iPADs in the classroom and the next June event to be held again at SOAS with great speakers including Colin Cristie, Tom Crapper and René Koglbauer. 

Nick Mair invited people to the ISMLA annual conference which is always well attended, with very useful sessions.  He later led a very useful session for students on how to prepare for interviews.

Joe Dale invited people to sign up for the annual ICT Languages and Technology Conference at Southampton University 'Putting the pedagogy into the technology' .. a must for anyone even vaguely interested in how to use ICT!

Renata Albuquerque told us about the wonderful opportunities available at SOAS and we are really excited about the prospect of sending pupils to SOAS for free courses to learn languages, and about the fact that plans are being made to provide a similar experience to teachers.

Rachel has uploaded her PowerPoint to her site here and it is stored on our site here.

'Alternative approaches to teaching key language at KS3/KS4'



John Connor has sent us his Powerpoint which is stored here.

 'Real Purposes - Authentic resources'


Rachel Hawkes talked about alternative approaches to teaching key language at KS3/KS4.  She argued persuasively that such an approach was vital for classes which increasingly have mixed prior experience and therefore will be de-motivated by 'more of the same'.

Her talk was simply packed with fantastic practical ideas which were grouped into six areas as follows:

  1. Starting with a written / spoken text (in contrast to the conventional sequence from word to sentence to text level .. they can cope!)
  2. Flipped classroom (in contrast to presenting and practising core vocabulary and phrases in the classroom, students do this at home prior to the lesson which can then concentrat eon the productive stage)
  3. Translation (Explicitly drawing attention to the meaning of individual words and the different patterns in languages)
  4. Categorisation (Explicitly teaching the 'categorisation' words so that pupils instantly understand questions asking for details e.g. furniture, pets, clothing)
  5. Harvesting / transfer from a previous topic (Avoiding re-teaching all the standard strands of a topic in prepartion for GCSE with every topic .. teach it once then explicitly show pupils how they are 're-using' structures e.g. holidays/ school share e.g. opinions / last year / when you were younger / in the future)
  6. Questions (The importance of explicitly teaching question words - a 'light bulb' moment from listening to Greg Horton speak.  Sinngle question words allow for natural, interesting conversation .. too often we do not teach them , or only include them in full sentences.)  Rachel teaches the question words with gestures which are captured on  YouTube video here.

John Connor's talk complemented Rachel's talk perfectly.

After an excellent summary of the current languages landscape (KS2, No NC levels, EBacc, OFSTED) and a masterful trashing of 'levels' (Albert Camus level 4, Year 9 pupil Level 6), he involved us in trying out a variety of activities which undoubtedly 'engage' people through use of authentic materials and interesting tasks.  These included guessing the age of celebrities, having the language to participate in debate ('The Toolkit') matching current news headlines with pictures  from the popular press, and matching film synopses with titles... an excellent idea in anticipation of the forthcoming Oscars!

He then went on to give a wealth of ideas for giving pupils a sense of 'audience and purpose' for their work.  These include blogging, wikispaces and podcasting, and finally he gave links to some excellent 'authentic' sites for presenting and practising language and thereby 'keeping it real'.

Prim Herridge introduced and thanked both speakers in her inimitable style, but echoing what we all felt ..  excellent speakers who were nevertheless ''down to earth' and 'normal' (!) ... providing ideas which any of us could imitate and put into practice on Monday.

The delegates were fantastic .. everyone friendly, positive, enthusiastic .. they make it all worthwhile!  And here are some of the comments written on the feedback forms: (Admittedly Helen advises them to be positive!!!!)

'Great, thanks! | Great speakers today, thank you | Great talks | Brilliant today!  Exactly the boost I needed!  Thank You! |Yet another excellent day - always made very welcome and worth the trip from 'up north'.  Thanks to East Coast sake train only cost £10 return from York.  Brilliant to visit SOAS and see what they have to offerFabulous speakers - thank you very much | Found it very inspiring | lots of excellent practical tipsExcellent, interesting ideas | What a lovely morning! | Thank you so much - a truly inspirational and useful morning.  So many easy and great ideas which are really helping engage students | All excellent, top marks!

And this is what people would like for future sessions

More of the same please! | Ideas of real information and how it can be used | 'closing the gap boys/girls | Pupil Premium'| 'How to differentiate in MFL'| 'CLIL/Flame ... strategies and models which work'| 'K2/3 transition ideas'| Group talk in primary | More for primary | Build in a small section of time for structured networking - groups / game / ice-breaker for new attendees | AS and AL teaching teaching cultural topics/literature' |iPAD when only the teacher has one! |New curriculum linking primary and secondary

Those of us who were still loitering  at the end decided to go to a nearby cafe for a snack where we embarrassed the Italian staff by forcing Italian language on them ...!  What a rowdy bunch!!  The end of a lovely morning. Ciao a tutti!