Topics: Linguistics, Language education, Teacher Pages: 3 (951 words) Published: September 19, 2013
Subject focus: Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

I have become aware of the following points through a series of observations this autumn term, focussing on the language teaching techniques used in school. The classes I observed ranged from Year 7 to Year 13, at all ability levels.

MFL lessons are more structured than other subjects, due to the content of the lessons and the need to keep expanding linguistic knowledge. For example, teachers plan a range of short activities for every lesson, covering all four language skills where possible. In other subjects I have observed, pupils have worked on one main activity for the duration of the lesson. More input is required from teachers in MFL lessons as pupils are less able to work unsupported. As pupils are more reliant on the subject teacher, pupil independence in activities is introduced gradually.

The amount of target language used in a lesson is dependent on the individual teacher. Though teachers endeavour to use as much target language as possible, grammar is taught in English and is often introduced through the pupils’ knowledge of English grammar. This is in line with the Key Stage 3 Strategy, alongside pupils working out new grammar rules themselves. Further evidence of the Key Stage 3 Strategy I have observed includes the importance placed on the starter activity (to engage pupils and for formative assessment) and the plenary.

Homework is always given in English. The rules for games and the teacher’s behaviour expectations of pupils during an activity tend to be expressed in English. To keep as much of their own input in the target language as possible, teachers ask more able pupils to translate task instructions to ensure that the whole class understands. As well as stretching pupils and actively involving them in the lesson, this approach can be used to assess how much language has been understood and to judge whether or not the pitch of the lesson needs altered. When introducing key items...
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