A buzz in French

How do teachers learn to teach? How do they keep their lessons fresh? It is not always easy, but sometimes something comes along which makes you really think.

At the end of the Summer Term I attended some training with Gianfranco Conti. He is an inspirational language teacher who has done considerable research into how best to learn a foreign language. Following an intensive day course, I decided that the time had come to re-assess my own teaching and to bring a buzz in French. After 30 years in the classroom this was no easy thing to do and the ‘Conti’ method is so different to the way I was taught to teach!

So, what happened at Fyling Hall in September? I launched the new style language lessons onto all my classes from year 7-11. I’m certain that many of our pupils’ parents remember their own French lessons at school, and I’m also very realistic about the fact that many would not list French as one of their favourite subjects. It is however, very encouraging to see pupils who previously struggled to pick up new language really engaging with lessons and looking forward to showing me how much they can learn and remember.

Call me mad, but I asked all my classes to assess their French lessons in terms of what they were enjoying and what changes they would make if they could. I absolutely loved reading what my pupils were writing about language learning and their positivity and excitement about the activities I have introduced into the lessons is tangible in the classroom. The enthusiasm my classes have shown restores my faith in the value of learning a language. It is all about fun, communication and a real love of words.

I was overjoyed to see so many of them saying that French was their favourite lesson! Certainly, something of a turnaround! The French room has a real buzz about it this year. Long may it last!

Cathy Hornung, Head of Modern Languages

I find the lessons fun, exciting, interesting and I am learning so much without realising it. (Y10)

The lessons are so much better than my classes in Spain. I am really enjoying it. (Y9)

French is my favourite subject and the new way of teaching is so much fun. (Y9)

The lessons are very interactive and the atmosphere is so supportive. The general vibe in the classroom is positive and great for learning. (Y11)

I look forward to French lessons and I love the activities we do. (Y7)

Every lesson is different and it makes the classes more interesting) (Y8)

I really enjoy French lessons. They are so much fun and I don’t know that I am learning so much until we do a little test when I realise that teaching is so good and the standard of work I am producing is so much higher. (Y9)

I have learnt so much this term. Thank you. (Y7)

There is nothing bad about French lessons! (Y8)

The way I am taught now has given me much more confidence in speaking and writing. I can remember so much more. Everyone works so well together. (Y10)

J’adore le français car le prof est sympa et c’est utile. (Y8)