Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - by the Book: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - by the Book: Resources

Article excerpt

Don't bin textbooks - they can complement innovation.

When the revised key stage 3 programme of study for modern foreign languages was launched in 2008, it did not seem too different from its previous version. But it contained no defined list of linguistic content or topics to cover. Many departments decided to update their schemes of work, and the lack of defined topics at KS3, seen as an opportunity by some, was seen as a threat by others, who felt under pressure to design new modules from scratch and throw out the textbooks.

But instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, why not use textbooks to complement innovative new work? The textbook will provide the overall structure, while opportunities for consolidation and extension will be given to pupils by dipping into new contexts.

Many pupils start secondary school having learned some language at primary, so it's important to check that the topics in the textbook are not repeated in exactly the same way. For instance, colours and adjectival agreement in French could be revisited by describing Impressionist paintings, rather than in a traditional "learn 10 colours" textbook-based lesson.

All textbook-based schemes of work usually cover topics such as food, parts of the body, festivals or the environment and can be greatly enhanced by cross-curricular links with practical subjects like art, music, dance, drama and food technology. In some secondary schools, these links will lead to developing Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) lessons to enable pupils to be taught another subject through the medium of a foreign language. …

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