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News and Updates

Find out what the latest is at PPLI, what are we involved in, what are we up to, what are we doing, what you can do for us! 

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:00

Summer Newsletter 2014


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PPLI Newsletter
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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 http://bit.ly/1fdrY6c  (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: 
http://slidesha.re/1ihIwdM  Blog: www.chrisfuler.typepad.com

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]languagesinitiative.ie 
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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Tuesday, 27 May 2014 00:00

ALL Languages World 2014

mainbottom 02MFL teachers: some useful material for you from Language World 2014

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

Three of the key themes at Lancaster 2014

Strategies that can help us to increase use of Target language in the classroom

-          Getting students to talk spontaneously (Chris Fueller): http://slidesha.re/1ihIwdM

-          Great presentations on increasing students’ production of language in the classroom:


The Flipped classroom The emphasis is on developing students’ thinking skills, autonomy and collaborative learning: Homework time to deliver knowledge, classroom time to deliver skills and understanding with the use of existing or custom-produced videos. Some teachers are applying the principles of the flipped classroom to MFL.

This presentations introduces real possibilities for Flipping the MFL classroomhttp://bit.ly/1fdrY6c  (Helen Bates

Building engagement

Chris Fuller describes his teaching context asLow profile, low motivation, low skills’ and shares some of his strategies for developing  thoughful contexts for thoughtful students: http://slidesha.re/1ihIwdM,   Blog: www.chrisfuler.typepad.com


Monday, 25 November 2013 00:00

Mandarin on menu in revamp of Junior Cert

mainbottom 04Article from the Independent by Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor.

ORDERING by number in the local Chinese restaurant will be a thing of the past for students of the new Junior Cycle course in Mandarin. Learning how to read and understand menus in Chinese, order dishes and talk about likes or dislikes are among the skills students of the new subject will be taught.

They may even get to show off their command of the menu in an oral exam, just one of the ways it will be assessed.

New-found communication skills could also be put to the test in an oral exam shopping expedition role-play where they would be expected to display how to haggle in Chinese.

Read more here



Wednesday, 06 November 2013 08:12


Lingua SwapLinguaswap was recently awarded The European Language Label Award 2013, recognition of its creative and innovative approach to language teaching and learning. Lingaswap gives students the opportunity to practice the language they are learning at school with a native speaker of their own age. It also provides students with curriculum based language courses and creates a safe place for students to improve oral skills as well as to enhance their cultural appreciation. A teacher area allows teachers to monitor their student's progress. To access the site click here.

Monday, 30 September 2013 11:56

Autumn Newsletter 2013

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New blog: Souris c'est lundi!

 We thought that it was time we did something to support the most widely taught and learned language in Ireland, French. Our language advisor, Frédérique Rantz, is enjoying preparing this blog, which has an emphasis on young people’s interests, on diversity in French, France and Francophonie as well as 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.

There is lots for young people to enjoy in French and Souris, c’est lundi! will present a weekly taste of what there is out there.

Every month, on successive Mondays, it will feature:

On 1st Monday: Chanson nouveauté, a song from recent charts

On 2nd Monday: Film du mois. a film

On 3rd Monday: Chanson nostalgie, a ‘retro’ song

On 4th Monday: En prime, something random - funny, thought-provoking, beautiful or just plain cool

Please let us know what you think, and we'd love to hear from you if you have any requests for future topics and features.

The new Junior Cycle Framework and new short courses in Modern Languages update

Work has been completed on the generic MFL Short Course Specifications and this document is available by clicking on the image above. The course has been created around four of the Junior Cycle Statements of Learning (2, 6, 16, 24). These translate into four strands: Communicative Competence, Intercultural Awareness, Language Awareness and Digital Literacy. In turn, these strands develop the six key skills of the new Junior Cycle. Examples illustrating how each key skill element can be addressed are given in the specifications. The four strands are further detailed in a set of 16 learning outcomes each. The decision to include ‘intercultural awareness’ rather than simply ‘cultural awareness’ and digital literacy make this short course very progressive and distinctive.
We are currently working on development of specific language courses including Japanese, Russian, and Irish Sign Language, and we are also planning to work on Polish, but if you think that you could offer an additional modern language as a short course in your school, please feel free to adapt the specifications for this language. Most of the work has already been done, and as well as the generic specifications, you will also find language functions, a learning journal, and self-assessment checklists by clicking on the image above.

Using the Target Language: Starting the journey

Presentation for those starting off trying to use the target language in the classroom. Includes great clips of teachers in Ireland already using the target language.

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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.

Competitions on the way!

This academic year we would like to organise more video competitions but we would like to give you more time to get them done. We would like the videos to be posted on our Facebook page and to award prizes on the basis of the number of likes your students' videos can attract. We would also like to get your ideas for a theme - for the general languages competition we have had 'Why learn foreign languages?' and 'Ireland: Many people many languages'. If you have a great idea please let us know in the next couple of weeks. For the Spanish one we have had students do an elevator pitch on why they should be chosen to go to Spain, and a promotion of Ireland targeted at Spanish students. Any ideas for this one? We would be particularly interested in hearing from teachers and parents who probably appreciate best what students would enjoy.

Leaving Cert Applied

In the PPLI we strive to support the teaching and learning of languages at post-primary level. With this in mind, and taking on board feedback received from teachers, we are working on supporting teachers and pupils involved in the LCA course. In order to ensure that what we do is absolutely relevant we would really appreciate if you would take a few minutes to complete one or more of the following questionnaires by clicking on the links relevant to the language/s you teach. Many thanks in advance for your help.

Don't forget these videos!

Don't forget this great set of short videos 'More Languages More Options', which focus on people working in Ireland (most of them Irish) who use foreign languages in their daily work. The videos do not focus on any language in particular but rather on the general value of learning any foreign language. They include people working in the IT sector, in the arts, in science, in sport, and in research. We made these clips in order to assist you with the promotion of foreign language learning in your school. We would appreciate it if you would remind language teachers, guidance counselors, and school managers, that they are there and are very useful when presenting foreign language options to parents and students.

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Our mailing address is:
Monday, 02 September 2013 07:46

New French Blog - Souris c'est lundi!

Blog Souris Banner

New! French blog!    

The emphasis of this blog is 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.

There is lots for young people to enjoy in French and Souris, c’est lundi! will present a weekly taste of what there is out there.

Every month, on successive Mondays, it will feature:

-        a song from recent charts

-        a film

-        a ‘retro’ song

-        something random - funny, thought-provoking, beautiful or just plain cool

See today's here.

Friday, 23 August 2013 13:10

Learning Russian in Russia



Learning Russian in Russia

 I was fortunate this summer to have had the opportunity to travel to Russia for the first time. I spent two weeks learning Russian in a language school in the lovely lakeside city of Petrozavodsk in the Karelian region of north-west Russia.

I found myself straightaway drawn into the rhythms of everyday life in this small provincial Russian city. Natasha was my Russian teacher. I opted for individual lessons. This meant I could move along fairly swiftly and cover two levels of language in just two weeks. The staff at the school “Enjoy Russian” have produced their own quality textbooks with particular emphasis on the city and citizens of Petrozavodsk. I liked very much the teaching materials and the intriguing insights into life in Russia which Natasha enjoyed sharing with me.

I stayed with a warm, hospitable family. They were very open to cultural exchange and curious to find out more about me and my life in Ireland. Of course I got to experience Russian food. Ба́бушка (grandmother) prepared the meals and every evening had a different dish ready. I loved the soups, especially borscht , both the hot and cold varieties  and the homemade pelmeni . On my final evening there was a special farewell meal with many kinds of fish and salads. During meal times Ба́бушка loved sharing stories about her former life in the Soviet Union.

I was surprised at how quickly I felt at home in Petrozavodsk. The transport system is excellent and easy to use. The weather was exceptionally good and I loved the embankment walk along the shores of Lake Onega with its many interesting sculptures. I visited the imposing state university of Petrozavodsk, a Russian баня (sauna) and the local history museum with its very fine exhibition of Karelian artefacts and reconstructions of life in Karelia in past times. I particularly enjoyed the visit to the island of Kizhi, an open-air museum with more than 80 historical wooden structures and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Most of all I liked the people I met. They were practical, down-to-earth and hardworking. They made me feel welcome. I savoured every moment of this Russian adventure.




Friday, 23 August 2013 12:51

In Bocca al lupo!


ibalIn bocca al lupo! si rivolge principalmente agli studenti di italiano nel ciclo superiore delle scuole secondarie all’estero, ma è utilizzabile anche con giovani adulti in altri corsi di lingua italiana. Il livello di competenza raggiunto a compimento del corso è il livello autonomo (B1-B2) del Quadro comune europeo di riferimento per le lingue.

La pubblicazione di questo libro è avvenuta sotto gli auspici e con il sostegno della Post-Primary Languages Initiative del Department of Education and Skills (Irlanda).

Caratteristiche del libro:

  • È composto da 17 unità. Gli obiettivi di apprendimento sono chiaramente indicati all’inizio di ogni unità
  • Alla fine di ogni unità c’è una griglia di autovalutazione
  • I materiali usati sono autentici (scritti, audio e iconici)
  • Contiene una sezione Grammatica
  • È accompagnato da 2 CD audio
  • È accompagnato da una Guida dell’insegnante online. Questa contiene le chiavi degli esercizi, le trascrizioni dei brani di ascolto, suggerimenti metodologici, note culturali, attività alternative, suggerimenti per attività supplementari, esercizi di grammatica e letture supplementari, collegamenti con gli esami passati (sistema irlandese), ecc.
  • Le abilità linguistiche (ascoltare, leggere, scrivere, parlare in modo coerente e interagire parlando,) sono sviluppate in modo integrato, con il sostegno del graduale sviluppo della competenza grammaticale e di quella lessicale.
  • Offre ampie opportunità di approfondimento culturale e di autovalutazione delle competenze raggiunte, nonché compiti finalizzati all’uso pragmatico della lingua

    Thursday, 08 August 2013 09:57

    Polish Leaving Cert courses 2014

    LC 2014 Plakat Warsztaty 512 x 716Polish language workshops for students – Leaving Certificate exam 2014

    The application process for the course for students who would like to take Polish as a non-curricular language at their Leaving Certificate exam in 2014 is now open.To apply please send the application form to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Application deadline: 20th September 2013

    The course will start on 19th October 2013 (Saturday) in the cities most frequently indicated in the application forms.

    A detailed program and rules of the course will be announced at a later date.

    More info here








    Thursday, 06 June 2013 13:34

    Spanish Competition

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    Spanish Competition

    The annual Spanish prize giving ceremony topk place in the Spanish Embassy on May 21st.

    Joel Nixon and Stephanie Dimitriova from Ashton College in Cork were the winners of the Spanish competition for 5th year students.

    Together with their teacher Mr. Guiney they were awarded a prize for a week´s long course in Spain with travel and accommodation. The prize was sponsored by the Junta de Castilla y León and the Ofician de Turismo de España in Ireland.




    Friday, 18 January 2013 10:20

    Comenius Programme

    ComeniusThe Comenius Assistantship Programme provides funding for future teachers or those considering teaching as a possible career path, to spend at least 13 weeks teaching in a school in a participating European country. The 2013 deadline for applications for Comenius Assistantships is 31 January. 

    Please note that this is a highly competitive selection round due to limited funding and all applications are subject to detailed technical and quality assessments. 

    In 2013, the duration of the approved Assistantships will be capped at a maximum of 25 weeks for approved outgoing Assistants.

    Additionally, the following National Priorities apply for the 2013 Selection:

    1. Priority for outgoing assistants will be awarded to applicants interested in host schools whose language is less widely used and less taught.

    2. Priority will be awarded to applicants who have never been awarded an Erasmus ‘Student Mobility for Studies' grant or an Erasmus ‘Student Mobility for Placements' grant.

    3. Priority will be awarded to current students/recent graduates from teacher training colleges or applicants who hold/intend to shortly pursue a Higher Diploma in Education but who have not been formally employed as a qualified teacher.

    Applications must be submitted online and a signed hard copy must be sent to Léargas by the deadline (applications cannot be accepted via email). Applications which arrive after the deadline will not be accepted. Applicants are advised to retain proof of postage.

    The application form, technical and quality criteria are available on the Resources page for Comenius Assistantships. For further information, please visit the Comenius Assistantshipssection of our website www.leargas.ie.

    We would be very grateful if you would disseminate this information within your institution, targeting students and other relevant staff members. 

    Kind regards,

    The Comenius Assistantship Team.

    Wednesday, 09 January 2013 11:44

    EU-funded Courses for Language Teachers

    ITILTEu-funded courses for Language Teachers

    The Universities of Antwerp, Coimbra and their partners in the EU projects iTILT and NIFLAR are offering  EU-funded summer courses in 2013 targeted at teachers of modern languages on:

    a) effective use of Interactive Whiteboards

    b) ICT & WEB 2.0 applications to promote oral competences, respectively.

    Find more information on the course descriptions at the EU Comenius/Grundtvig Training database and the course registration from here: http://www.koenraad.info/content/current-courses

    N.B. Those interested in applying for an EU grant are advised to start working on the application as the deadline for submitting completed forms (including a course (pre-)registration testimonial and employer signature) is January 16, 2013.

    To download the application form please go to www.leargas.ie 

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