Skip to main content

Target Language Toolkit

Allison Chase published, earlier this year, a handy little book which would make a useful addition to a departmental library. It is called Target Language Toolkit (90 ideas to get your language learners using more target language).

The chapter titles are;

What does Ofsted say about the target language?
Identifying key language.
Implementing target language routines.
Monitoring and assessing learners' progress in using the target language.
Games and activities to encourage TL use.
Using ICT.
Target language beyond the classroom.
Cracking the toughest nuts.
Homework and independent learning.
Implementing a whole department TL initiative.

This is very much a practical book, with instantly usable ideas for the classroom. It reports Ofsted observations and guidelines (thereby ticking one teacher box), but does not engage in any discussion of the theoretical basis form using TL, which should be pretty self-evident anyway.

Allison provides useful lists of TL phrases for French, German and Spanish under the headings cognates, language for confusion, giving opinions, making excuses, asking permission, agreeing and disagreeing, teacher instructions and rewards. These form a useful list for new teachers building their repertoire of routines.

There is a handy chapter on implementing TL routines which includes one or two which appealed to me in particular. "Expression of the day" is where students tries to use a particular TL expression as many times a day. The expression could be displayed and every time a student uses it, a responsible student rings a bell! Sounds like useful recycling to me! "Talk time" is where you allocate 5-10 minutes to the end (or maybe the start) of a lesson. You have a secret box or bag in which you keep items to stimulate a discussion (probably with intermediate students). Allison says she once used three bars of chocolate, one white, one dark, one milk, and used these as a basis for a chat about what they preferred and how much they ate. Then students were invited to come to the front, were blindfolded and had to taste one of the chocolate types and say what they thought it was.

The chapter on monitoring and assessing includes tables to show how you might go about this. (I would never have got into that level of tracking!)

The heart of the book for me is the chapter on games and activities, most of which are new to me. I would choose to use all of them since some may fall into that category of being fun, but a bit time-consuming for the language generated. But this is a matter of personal taste.  One activity which looked a lot of fun is "Bush tucker trail". You supply a range of strange food items (weird-flavoured crisps, chili flavoured chocolate, German 'black' bread, strong coffee, strong cheese and so on. (Colleagues could contribute and it need not be expensive.) Students can prepare TL for talking about food: I think it will taste..., It's going to be, I want to try..., i don't want to try.... Then: I thought it was... and X was nicer than Y. then maybe questions such as Did you like...? Which was your favourite food? Why?

The chapter entitles Cracking the Toughest Nuts is a realistic acknowledgement of the practical difficulties facing the implementation of TL, e.g. during exam season. Allison provides a number of ideas for tackling this including a rewards booklet, speaking frames and 'emergency flashcards'.

Overall, teachers may appreciate the very practical nature of this book which comes from a fellow teacher who has, as far as I can tell, considerable experience of working with students of all abilities. I would have liked just a little more on how you incorporate TL within familiar drilling style tasks, but that was not the main aim of the book.

It is a self-published book (using CreateSpace) costs £10 and is available from amazon.co.uk

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

Three AQA A-level courses compared

I've put together my three reviews of worthy A-level courses which you might be considering for next September. They are all very useful courses, but with significant differences. The traditional Hodder and OUP book-based courses differ in that the former comes in one chunky two year book, whilst OUP's comes in two parts, the first for AS or the first year of an A-level course. The Attitudes16 course by Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri is based on an online platform from which you would download worksheets and share a logon with studenst who would do the interactive parts (Textivate and video work). The two text books are supported by interactive material (Kerboodle) or an e-text book.

Attitudes16





An excellent resource which should be competing for your attention at the moment is the Attitudes16 course which writers Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri have been working on for some time. You can find it here at dolanguages.com, along with his excellent resources for film and li…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…