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Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:00

Summer Newsletter 2014


News update from Post-Primary Languages Initiative - latest news, activities, and compeititons Is this email not displaying correctly?
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What makes a great teacher? 
Reflections on three years of classroom observation in Ireland

 by Yumiko Kondo, Japanese Language Advisor 

A great teacher is the common denominator in classes where students’ learning is supported - the following are some observations I've made as I've sat in Japanese classes in Ireland over the past few years.
A great teacher knows their students: He/she is attentive to the needs of the students and watches them carefully noticing what they are doing, how they are they feeling, what they are they good at, and what they enjoy doing. They ask themselves what kind of supports their students need in order to learn, why their students aren't able to answer the questions given them or why they aren't even bothered to try? As a result of this, he/she is able to give advice on a variety of methodologies and means to learn in order to help a variety of students.
A great teacher is a coach: A student preparing for the Leaving Certificate is like a runner getting ready for a race. Along the way, they are likely to become weary sometimes, to lose interest or motivation, or to take a wrong turn. The teacher can’t actually do the training or running in place of the student, but he/she can show the students how to train and how to achieve the best results (showing them how to learn), he/she can train the students to run better (step-by-step approach to their study), and he/she can encourage students to run using the strength that they have within them (supporting them in becoming autonomous learners). 

A great teacher is an entertainer: When do we become so engrossed in something that we forget time? Isn’t it when we’re really enjoying ourselves? Great teachers engage their students in a way that they are enjoying the learning process as well as being focussed on the task they are doing.

A great teacher involves everyone: There are students who like doing group work, and those who don’t, those who are quick to comprehend every new concept and others who understand better when they work through things slowly, those who like to talk and others who prefer to read. Every student is unique and great teachers manage their classes in a way that enables everyone to participate actively.

A great teacher is a learner: A great teacher finds the latest interesting information and makes it accessible to students, continues to study the target language, becoming a good influence on his/her students. The great teacher makes it his/her business to keep up to speed with ever changing and emerging methodologies and tools, thus ensuring that their methodology is both effective and relevant.

A great teacher engages in self-reflection: Would you say that you fulfill the roles above? How do you think your students see you? Is there anything you need to work harder at? What else do you need to do in order to become great?Would love to hear your responses via Twitter @languages_ie 

Highlights from recent conferences relevant to MFL teachers

ALL Language World 2014 

Some great teachers and very useful and inspiring presentations at Language World 2014, the annual conference of ALL (UK Association for Language Learning). The theme this year was ALL Joined up and here are just a few links on three of the key themes that emerged which might whet your appetite to go searching for more!   

Strategies to help us use more Target language in the classroom
- Getting students to talk spontaneously (Chris Fueller):
-Increasing students’ production of language in the classroom:

The Flipped classroom for MFL teachers: The emphasis here is on developing students’ thinking skills, autonomy and collaborative learning. Homework time is for knowledge acquisition and classroom time is used to encourage acquisition of skills and understanding. This presentation introduces real possibilities for Flipping the MFL classroom  (Helen Bates)

Building engagement: Chris Fuller describes his teaching context as ‘Low profile, low motivation, low skills’ and shares some of his strategies for developing thoughful contexts for thoughtful students:  Blog:

Lots more links available for download  here

CESI 2014

Integrating Digital Literacy across the Junior Cycle Curriculum - Challenges and Possibilities. This presentation gives examples of which ICT tools fit in to Key Skills in the context of the MFL classroom. It examines how learning outcomes in a MFL course can be enhanced by digital tools and is available here

ICT in Education Conference 2014

Sandrine Pac-Kenny did a great presentation on tablets and apps for the MFL classroom which you can see on her blog La classe de Sandrine here
Ireland Poster

My Ireland: My Area

'My Ireland: My Area' was an invitation to students to showcase the diversity of languages spoken in Ireland. It was also a challenge because content was limited to 15 secs, the time limit for an Instagram video. Svyatoslav Zherelin from Oatlands college won first prize in the Senior category for his introduction to Donnybrook in Russian which you can view here.  Watch Bandon introduced in German by Josh O'Regan of Bandon Grammar School here (2nd prize), Kilbeggan introduced in French by Peter Spillane from Mercy in Kilbeggan here (2nd prize Senior), Malahide introduced in French by Ciaran Murray of Belvedere College here (1st prize Junior) and by Ethan Osborne of Belvedere College here. Special prizes were given to Padraig O'Donovan of Midleton CBS who introduced Midleton in Italian and Alexandra Bashkirova of St Cuan's College Galway for an innovative depiction in Russian of where she lives here
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Remember there are lots of useful links, materials, and resources on our website. Make sure and follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook (just click on the icons above) to be keep up with what's happening in Post-Primary Languages and other material of general interest to anyone interested in Modern Foreign Languages education.

Would you & your colleagues like some CPD?

Let us know what we can do for you and what kind of support you would like. We are currently preparing online tutorials but we can come to your your region or your association or even your school - maybe you would like to use some Croke park hours? Sample CPD that we have delivered recently includes: Increasing use of target language in the classroom, raising the profile of languages in your school, developing schemes of work, exploring tasks versus activities, and integrating the four skills, but we would love to know what YOU want. Email Karen at karen.ruddock[at] 
Scholarship to Spain

Spanish Scholarships for two students and their teacher

This competition was run in collaboration with the Consejeria de Educación,  Castilla y León es vida and the Spanish Tourist Office in Ireland. The prizes were two scholarships for students and one for their teacher to cover the cost of flights, home-stays, and language school for one week in Castilla y León during the summer of 2014, and the same excluding flights for 2nd and 3rd prize winners. First prize was won by Chris Lee and Kevin McMahon and their teacher Ms Coveney from Templeogue College (can be seen on our Facebook page here), 2nd prize by Stephen Daunt and Adrian Verba De juan and their teacher Olan Geaney from Ashton Comprehensive in Cork ((can be seen on our Facebook page here) and 3rd prize by Amy Temple and Elizabeth Smyth and their teacher Ms O'Sullivan of Loreto Bray (see here). Congratulations to all.

Souris c'est lundi

Don't forget about Souris c'est lundi - it's a weekly post with an emphasis on young people’s interests, on diversity in French, France and Francophonie and on easy access.The blog is  video clip-based with  reading ‘extras’. Students at all levels will get something from it whether just an infectious melody for some, or a lot more for others. Tips for teachers are also included. Thanks for completing the survey on the recent competition we ran on Facebook. All the emails of those who completed the survey were entered in a draw for 50 euro iTunes voucher and it was won by Aisling Carroll, a French teacher from Kilkenny. Thanks again and remember you are welcome to send us feedback any time!

We wish you all a fabulous summer!

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