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Click here to check out the conference programme.

What a great day we had on 17th October! It was a lovely way to spend most of my birthday haha!

You will find below a summary of my main takeaways. I hope they help you too!

My takeaways from Michael Wardle, Ofsted Lead Languages:

  • The main pillars of progression are: phonics (pronunciation and intonation), vocabulary and grammar.
  • There has to be interplay between what the children can understand (listening and reading) and produce (speaking and writing) – the curriculum brings it to life!
  • Example of good progression: teach adjectives for colours which are regular 1st, maybe those that go before the noun, as in English; move on to irregular adjectives and adjectival agreement in a different year.
  • The curriculum has to be ambitious; it is not necessarily planned around topics (these must not be forced into the curriculum); it definitely should not just be about words: as far as vocabulary is concerned, “do more with less”.
  • There has to be a BROAD curriculum (including languages) for ALL (including SEND children). Exercise books help to see learning and progression, but they are not a collection of evidence.
  • OFSTED checks the impact of the teaching: are children keeping up? Can the children remember what is being taught?

My takeaways on grammar with Rachel Hawkes:

  • Build links with primary English.
  • Knowledge about language (its patterns, rules) is needed.
  • Essential grammar can be found in the programme of study.
  • How do we teach questions? Are we consistent? A reflexion is needed there…
  • Practise grammar in all 4 skills: in input and output.
  • Gradually build up the system.
  • Practise.
  • Ask yourself: what do I want to focus on at this point in time?

My takeaways on phonics with Sue Cave:

  • Phonics is the relationship between sounds and letters.
  • Teach those that are different from English.
  • Map out phonemes in scheme of work.
  • Select vocabulary to teach accordingly.
  • Tell the children if the alphabet is the same but letters in another language can make a different sound.
  • Use speakers of other languages to make more connections.
  • Provide an action and image to help recall.
  • Provide explanation as to how to make a sound.
  • Take baby steps.
  • Use in context.
  • Provide classroom support: on wall, desks.

My takeaways on vocabulary with Clare Seccombe:

  • We need to present, practise and perfect vocabulary.
  • Vocabulary is not just nouns, but also lexical chunks.
  • Remember to teach verbs as they are key!
  • Teach motivating words for the children.
  • Need to know its meaning, part of speech, pronunciation, spelling, how it relates to other words.
  • Allow children to forget, then recall – revisit vocabulary.
  • Be aware of interference with English.
  • Practice tracing new forms, e,g é in French.
  • Use knowledge organisers to reduce cognistive load.

My takeaways on culture with Suzi Bewell:

  • Not all children love language, but they are all interested in culture.
  • “Adding culture makes a house into a home”.
  • When learning fruit, learn different fruit from a different part of the French-speaking world.
  • When learning sports, look at popular sports in different countries.
  • Use authentic book characters.
  • Use flags of French-speaking countries when learnign colours.
  • Use the outfits of the Mannekin Pis when teaching clothes (!).
  • Use the Moroccan royal family for family.
  • Refer to and celebrate festivals and special days.


Click here for the document I have put together with the recommendations that came up in the chat at the conference.

You can contribute to it too, so please feel free to do so… Let’s share our best songs, stories and rhymes!!