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Graham Davies

Websites for MFL

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I have created a substantial set of annotated links to websites for Modern Foreign Languages:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/websites.htm

Feedback and suggestions for new sites are welcome.

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So have I ! Here are some interesting links for Secondary French, taken from my French Department website :

Exercises

Songs with blanks (in progress)

Films : scripts and vocabulary tests

Fun stuff : interactive games and stories, slang and tongue-twisters

The International School Of Toulouse French Website contains links to tutorials in different languages to use Hot Potatoes software’s last version and many good links to on-line dictionaries, interactive stories and games, tongue twisters, slang French and to on-line exercises to practise verbs / tenses, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and assess your knowledge of French. You can find information about French culture - television, radio, cinema, press - and about living in Toulouse. To learn vocabulary through French pop music, listen to the audio files and fill in the blanks of a few songs. There are also vocabulary exercises about some good French movies and Christmas French activities.

A whole section is dedicated to examinations: there are the syllabi of the IGCSE French as a First Language and of the IGCSE French as a Foreign Language, with some lists of vocabulary required by the Cambridge International Examinations Board and some past papers for the Speaking Test. And there are also the syllabi of the International Baccalaureate French Language A1, A2 or B ( and links to useful websites for IB French B ). Finally, our students have created their own exercises which closely match to our books “Encore Tricolore - Nouvelle Edition” and to Nathan’s “Textes / Grammaire et Expressions / Méthodes”.

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Adeline - send me a 200 word description of your website and I will include it in a future edition of Education on the Internet (42,400 subscribers)

... and I'll add a shorter description to my "Favourites" list.

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The online Language Learning & Technology (LLT) journal is an excellent source of information about ICT and language learning - worth a close look!

http://llt.msu.edu/

A review of the ICT4LT website by Jean W. LeLoup & Robert Ponterio appears in the latest edition VOl. 8, 1 (January 2004): 3-7

http://llt.msu.edu/vol8num1/net/default.html

We thank the authors for their comprehensive and positive review.

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Andy Walker writes (in the section headed Government Initiatives / E-learning Credits):

Free teacher produced websites are infinitely more useful than anything the private sector has yet produced or is ever likely to.

Not in my subject area - Modern Foreign Languages (MFL). There are, however, a few good teacher-produced sites around, some of which I list on my "Favourite Websites" page:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/websites.htm

Most teacher-produced sites for MFL consist of unexciting materials in downloadable PowerPoint or Word format - i.e. the sort of materials that someone with a bit of knowledge of ICT and the relevant applications can knock up in an afternoon - see my training materials at:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/lspinset.htm

The above materials describe the process of producing a simple PowerPoint or Word presentation for MFL.

Some of the teacher-produced materials that I have seen on the Web are in blatant breach of copyright, including large chunks of text lifted directly from coursebooks and photographs that I recognise from a variety of sources.

Developing good quality, interactive MFL materials requires a level of expertise that the average MFL teacher does not have. For example, you need to be able to write 100% accurate texts in the foreign language or have access (particularly at the higher levels) to copyright-free authentic texts. In addition, you have to be capable of producing high-quality sound recordings using native speakers’ voices. I worked on German Steps for the BBC, and I know just how much effort went into producing this introductory course of 25 lessons. The sound recording quality is excellent, and the course materials are enhanced with sequenced still photographs shot on location in Berlin – language teachers often require authentic pictures of life in the target language country or, even better, video clips. The BBC ducked out of producing video clips for German Steps, mainly because they do not work well in a Web environment, where most of the users are accessing the materials via a 56K modem - the BBC's target audience is mainly home users. I think the German Steps course looks good. If you want a taster course in German, try it! It's at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/german/lj

Web materials for MFL have one important drawback. It is difficult to produce interactive materials in a Web environment that include listen / respond / playback activities. These are vital for language learners so that they can hear what they sound like. Since the 1960s, when the Audio Active Comparative (AAC) tape recorder was invented, language teachers have been using these types of exercises, e.g. for pronunciation practice, role-plays etc. Even the BBC could not produce such exercises in a Web environment, with the result that in German Steps the learner is invited to talk to the screen without making a recording and playing it back. Exercises of the listen / respond / playback variety are commonplace in CD-ROM-based and DVD-ROM-based materials, e.g. those produced by Eurotalk, Auralog and many other commercial companies. The Web is therefore not the panacea for learners of foreign languages.

For examples of what can be done in a Web environment see LeLoup J. & Ponterio R. (2003) "Interactive and multimedia techniques in online language lessons: a sampler", Language Learning and Technology 7, 3: http://llt.msu.edu/vol7num3/net/default.html. It's an interesting collection of Web-based materials, but almost everything illustrated here could be implemented better and with more spontaneous interaction in an offline environment, e.g. on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. Furthermore, you need to ensure that you have installed up-to-date plug-ins, that you have broadband access and can access the sites at a quiet time of day as they may become congested at peak times.

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My teaching and research interests lie in the delivery of the curriculum in general, and modern foreign languages (MFL) in particular, to those with special educational needs (SEN). I have a teacher education website with case studies of MFL learners with cognitive, communication, behaviour, sensory and other impairments at

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/case/

and a bibliography of modern foreign languages and special educational needs at

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/biblio.doc

with over 1100 online and print references. Although many projects dedicated to "MFL for all" exist worldwide, there is little or no coordination among them, which is why I maintain this bibliography to raise awareness of what work is currently in progress in the MFL/SEN field and to address what is a common issue in educational innovation, the "reinvention of wheels".

If anybody thinks that MFL/SEN is an esoteric area, then consider the saying in the SEN world that whatever is successful with learners in difficulty is likely to prove equally effective with learners in general.

Hope this helps.

David Wilson

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/

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The following websites have recently been revamped:

ALL: The Association for Language Learning's website: http://www.all-languages.org.uk. Lots of information and useful links.You can browse the ALLNET Discussion List archives at: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/allnet.html. See also Languages ICT (below), a new CILT/ALL initiative.

CILT: The Centre for Information on Language Teaching, London - now known as the National Centre for Languages - which is a single national body embracing CILT and the Languages National Training Organisation (LNTO). CILT is, in my opinion, the leading information centre on language teaching in Europe - maybe the world. They’re doing a grand job! CILT is a partner in the ICT4LT project and collaborates with the LTSN Subject Centre for Languages Linguistics and Area Studies, Southampton University. ICT features prominently in CILT's activities - check the website's publications section and the ICT links. See also Languages ICT (below), a new CILT/ALL initiative.

This is a new initiative:

Languages ICT Website & Forum: A website and a forum for people interested in ICT and languages, maintained by CILT and the Association for Language Learning: http://www.languages-ict.org.uk & http://www.mailbase.org.uk/lists/languagesict-forum

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