Thursday, 7 August 2014


Actually, there hasn't been much so far!  I get all creative at the start of the holidays and loads of ideas find their way to the front of my mind and then I stall!  I just know that I have a lot to think about.  I have to think about how to make the language accessible straight away, whilst also intriguing my shiny new MFL learners and make them want to find out more.  It's like giving them a taste of a really yummy cake, but not the whole thing.  I don't want them to go away feeling confused and lost, but neither do I want them to think that they can understand everything immediately; I would be doing them a disservice because you often find yourself, as a language learner, struggling for meaning and this is good - it stretches your mind and makes you think about connections and word families and, 'Where have I seen that before?' and so on.  I am also lead teacher for Talented, Able and Gifted (TAG) education in our school and therefore am trying to challenge pupils as much as possible; although as language teachers, teaching in the TL, I think we are actually rather good at it anyway.

So, thoughts on the first lesson.  Well I will have 3 Year 7 classes; 1 German and 2 French.  As German is my specialism, I will probably concentrate on that class mainly for the benefit of this blog, although I am sure that the 2 French classes will pop up.  I will assume that most of the pupils in the class have done French before, which is the norm here.  Therefore, it will be appropriate to start from zero knowledge.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I do not want to start with the usual boring rules and expectations lesson, which is all done in English as this will be defeating the object somewhat.  What to start with and how to go about it is the issue.

I usually start with a registration routine pretty sharpish.  For those of you who have never done this I thoroughly recommend it to get the party started(!).  In German, I usually introduce 'Ich bin hier' as their answer to the register and 'nicht hier' for those who are absent.  I do this because it is all about thinking ahead and using structures that are going to be future friendly.  'Ich bin' is a phrase which will be used over again, so that's why I use this for the register.  'Nicht hier' is just a simple foot in the door.  In the future, they will be taught:  'Er/Sie ist nicht hier/krank/im Urlaub' etc.

However, before they even enter the classroom, they will have to be put in their seating plan; so, I think a visual representation of the plan on the SMARTboard would be a good idea, accompanied by 'Fred, du sitzt neben Bob und Joe' with lots of gestures and pointing.  After this, a greeting and a simple intro accompanied by a visual presentation (PPT, Emaze, Haiku Deck) with images and cognates where possible:

Guten Tag/Morgen!
Ich heiße Frau Wylie.  Wie heißt du?

Eliciting some meaning from them would be the next step, then drilling with mimes.  It's essentially a dialogue, so it would make sense to get them out of their seats and using it with their classmates as soon as possible to get to know each other - it is after all a communication tool - that it why we are learning it and teaching it in the TL!  After that I will need to use it to get to know their names, so a ripple effect conversation would be good:  I start it off and address one of them - maybe I will throw a ball (Or my knitted snowman, Peter) and the conversation will move from child to child.  An element of competition may need to be introduced - maybe a timer...teampoints for each conversation delivered.  Maybe a timer with a random explosion - if it explodes on you while you are talking, you lose points.  Maybe a musical chairs type activity - play some music quietly in the background (German of course!) and when it stops, points are lost???   Lots of things could be done.  I want them to leave their first German lesson, having had fun and excited to come to the next one.

Something that we do in our department is hand out Schultüten to all our new Germanists on their first lesson (like they do in Germany).  These have been made by our Year 9 and 10 and filled by Year 12.  We put sweets from our Austria trip in with stationery items, like rulers and pens.  They love them and it rounds off their first lesson really nicely.  The whole experience needs to be as real as possible, so that they expect the same kind of thing in the next lesson (not the treats, the learning experience!) - we use German to communicate and it is normal practice in our lessons.

Phew - lots of thoughts and possibly rambling here!  I'll have to come back and sift through to plan the lesson.  I also started to make some phrase signs for the door for colleagues in other subject areas to use with us if they knock at the door for something - got to lead by example!

Bis bald!

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