Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

Language 'success' through School Report

Modern Foreign Language teachers have been using BBC News School Report to develop students' linguistic skills.

The bulletin included reports on:
The Oscars
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Teacher Demi Wild from South Chadderton School in Oldham reported that a News Day in French created "a feeling of success amongst the students" adding: "They now believe they are good at French and that they can do it."

During School Report 2007/8, students from Pensby High School for Boys Specialist Sports College in the Wirral recorded their news bulletin in Spanish, covering a mix of stories from the UK and Spain.

En francais

Ms Wild, from South Chadderton, who was at first "apprehensive about the day and whether it would go smoothly" evaluates School Report as a way of teaching Modern Foreign Languages:

The next morning, I came into my form, which had some of the students from my Year 10 French class in it, to hear them telling others about their day and about what they had done.

It was obvious from my French lesson that the students with internet access had been on to listen to the bulletin at four o'clock, as they already knew how it sounded and were talking about it and asking me if I'd listened.

We played the bulletin again and they listened in silence to it.

Normally they would never let me play anything they had said in French out loud to the class; it shows they are proud of what they did.

For me the day was fantastic for several reasons: getting students to use their French, find vocabulary, put grammar rules into practice and do their best with the writing as they were under a deadline.

Although it was difficult, the challenge was the right level as they all did it. If only I could get them to produce coursework in under an hour!

Student looking at monitor
South Chadderton students recorded their reports in French
It also created a feeling of success amongst the students; they now believe they are good at French and that they can do it. It has changed how they think and feel about French.

Although they have chosen to study it at GCSE level, many are still not confident in their own ability. I think that for many students the day built up their confidence generally, having to make phone calls to people they have never met.

One student who does not speak in class and is so quiet when she talks, not projecting her voice and whispering, recorded a full news report!

Students practiced many other skills in a real setting including research and working as a team and to a deadline. It also raised aspirations; one student wants to be a journalist.

In terms of teaching and preparation, I think this group are better prepared for GCSE as I have taught them much more grammar than I would normally do, and grammar they actually need for the exam.

We have studied the past tense of regular and irregular verbs and the imperfect, which I would not normally teach in the depth that I have done, but the students understood it.

Writing an actual piece to record made them see the implications of why we had studied an aspect of grammar. It worked better than when I give them 'fake' writing tasks to practise.

It really challenged them and they gained a lot from it. I can't wait to do it with Year 9.

Practice News Day in French
13 Jan 09 |  School Report


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