My Language Competency

English is my mother tongue,  and I know a small amount of French from doing my National 5 at secondary school. I know a few simple phrases in German and Italian from Primary school (numbers up to 10, my name is…. Etc).    I felt Italian and French came a lot more naturally to me in terms of accent and prior vocabulary knowledge, as appose to German which I did not find as easy to pick up.My experience of being taught languages is mainly positive, it was a subject I always enjoyed at school and I feel I picked French up relatively well. I enjoyed learning languages in primary school more than secondary, this could have been because it was made more fun and aimed at younger children, there was a lot of speaking and listening rather than reading and writing.

The ways in which I was taught languages were not always very engaging or exciting, especially in Secondary school where it was mostly textbook based. There was not enough speaking involved when it came to learning languages at school. It was mostly writing, reading and listening. I think that this meant I didn’t have the confidence to take part in conversations, which is a huge part of learning a language. This could also be because I did not begin to learn a language until I was in primary 4. I was taught German in primary school but decided I would rather learn French when I reached high school. At no point did I feel at a disadvantage compared to my classmates, who had learnt French at primary school. This was good for me, but it made it clear that the teaching of modern languages was not that effective, if someone who had no prior French teaching could join the class and feel equal.

French is the most important language to me, out of the languages I have had experience in learning. This could be due to  the fact that some of my close family members can speak French very well, and my grandma taught modern languages as her profession.  Having gone to France for my second-year placement, the desire to improve my French and my interest in the language grew. I do not value German as much as it wasn’t a language that I had the desire to learn from a young age, hence why I swapped to French moving into secondary school.

I learnt Italian when I was in primary 4/5 so I think being younger meant that the learning was less serious, there was more games, songs and talking involved and it was more enjoyable for that reason. The teacher was a native Italian speaker, and this meant she could share her experiences of Italian culture with us. In Secondary school, we would sometimes watch films in French and I enjoyed the challenge of trying to work out what was being said. However most of the learning was through textbooks and listing to the teacher (who was not a native speaker of French). Having only taken French as far as National 5 level, I did not revisit the language until I went to France for my LfL placement. This is where I learnt a lot about the language in a much more hands on way. I was thrown in at the deep end, but I think this gave me a lot more motivation to understand what the teachers and pupils in my school were saying.

During my second year LfL placement, there was countless opportunities for interpersonal and intercultural communication. I feel that I managed these well considering I know a little amount of French for conversation. Throughout my placement I would need to communicate with the teachers in my school in order to plan lessons and discuss the pupils’ development. This would be in a mixture of English and French, as sometimes I really didn’t understand what was being said. However, the longer I was in France, the more able I was to communicate in French with the teachers and the pupils in my school. This was continued outside of the school environment too as I needed to be independent in everyday life (getting on and off buses, asking for directions, shopping etc).

LfL Experience – Teaching English in a French Primary School

This blog will look into some of the methods I used when I taught English to French pupils for my LfL second year placement. Throughout the ED31010 module, it has become apparent to me that the methods I used were actually really valid and effective. It has been interesting to take part in the module having been through the practical element of modern language teaching but from the opposing point of view (teaching English to French Children rather than teaching French to Scottish Children).

 Gesture, Voice, Mime, Eye Contact

A reason why I feel that my experience was authentic and easily comparable to teaching French in a Scottish classroom, is that my level of French is truly a beginner’s level. This meant that I had to put a lot of effort in for the smallest amounts of communication with the children. I also discovered how important the use of gesture, eye contact, mime and voice is when communicating, and how much it can help to get a message across. McLachlan and Jones (2009) discuss the use of gesture, mime, facial expressions and eye contact in their book. Most of my lessons would consist of me standing in front of the different classes of children (ranging from age 6 to 11), and trying my best to teach them new vocabulary or explain activities using the little French I knew or talking very clearly and slowly in English. On the first few days of my placement I realised that I was talking too quickly to the children in English. I remember one of the teachers asking me to introduce myself in English and see if her pupils could make a guess as to what I was saying. By my second sentence the teacher was already telling me to slow down because the pupils would not understand me. I realised then that if a French person spoke to me at that speed, I would have a similar issue. This corresponds with Krashen’s theory (1981, cited in Johnstone, 1994) on the ‘silent  period’, where time is given to pupils to respond or merely take in the information that has been spoken to them. I can relate to the pupils with this, as a learner, as I felt I needed a certain amount of time to respond to French that was spoken to me. Even after the first few days of placement I realised that in order to get my message across to the children, an essential thing to have was patience and perseverance. I felt that the words I used weren’t the most important thing as I was able to teach the children basic English greetings and phrases using a minimal amount of French.


I often accompanied the use of clear and slower speech with the use of flashcards. I found this was especially effective for the younger pupils, who needed that extra visual aid. I found flashcards helpful to use as it meant I didn’t need to speak an awful lot in order to practice vocabulary with them. Obviously at the start I would say the words with correct pronunciation, as well as using the flashcards, and have the pupils repeat after me. After this had been practiced I would then just hold up a flashcard, as a visual queue for the pupils. They were associating the words with the pictures, and I knew this would help them to remember the vocabulary better. The use of a visual aid can be described as a scaffolding strategy, where pupils are given extra support by the teacher (Swain, Kinnear and Steinman, 2010).  I found that less time was wasted using flashcards, as there was less risk for the language barrier to slow down the learning.

Stories / Comics

I found that I used stories and comics a lot with the oldest class in the school. Their teacher thought that their level of English was at a certain level that listening to stories and comics would not be too much. One of the first books I read to the class was ‘Monkey Puzzle’, which is an English book by Julia Donaldson. It has a lot of vocabulary in it, particularly animals and descriptions such as big, small, stripes, spotty, green, red etc. Again, I found that using gestures and slowing my voice down really helped the pupils to understand what I was saying as I was reading the story. It probably also made it more engaging for the pupils to listen to, using different tones and a range of volumes. Using comics was also a good way to get the older children speaking English, rather than merely listening to me. The comics that their teacher provided me with had a lot of dialogue and role play, meaning the pupils could stand up and practice the conversations, firstly reading from the page and then eventually being able to memorise and recite it. This was good in terms of the pupils practicing their pronunciation of words but I felt there was not enough spontaneity in the activity. Towards the end of my placement I began to read stories to the younger classes, as they got used to me and the English language. I read ‘Dear Zoo’ to them, which is a short story book, again with animal vocabulary and descriptions such as grumpy, scary, cheeky, small, perfect etc. The younger pupils absolutely loved this and they seemed to enjoy the challenge of guessing what each animal was. These were usually educated guesses, using cognates and the pupils’ prior knowledge of English. I feel this could come into context with Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximinal Development, (1934, cited in Shabani, 2010), where pupils are given work slightly beyond their developmental level and given guidance by the teacher.

Use of a Character

When I was working with the youngest class in the school, their teacher asked me to give my inputs using a character called Joe the Pirate. This corresponds with Jones and Coffey’s (2006) idea of using a ‘foreign character’ to introduce speaking as a skill to young pupils. She told me that the children were very interested in pirates at the time, and that this might help to increase their enthusiasm towards learning English. At first, I wondered if it might be too difficult for me to get the pupils to understand the concept, and I was right. The youngest children clearly would know the least English, so whenever I went into that class I needed to prepare a lot of French phrases and words, and ‘pirate’ was not one I was prepared to explain! However, despite this, the children did seem to be very excited about being pirates and using the English language through this context.  I really did feel that because ‘Joe the Pirate’ was introducing himself, it made the children feel more comfortable about introducing themselves and speaking English too. 

Simon Says

I feel I was lucky with the school I was placed into in France, as 4/5 of the teachers could speak English well enough for me to communicate with them easily. However there was one teacher that really did not know much English at all, and she taught the second youngest class. I found this class a lot more challenging to teach in, as there was no safety blanket of someone being able to translate if need be. The class teacher had communicated to me that she wanted the children to learn some classroom instructions and objects in English, and the game that immediately came to my mind was ‘Simon says’. The children called it ‘Jacques à dit’, and so already understood the concept of the game, which made it much easier to play with them. In order to introduce the vocabulary to them (sit down, stand up, listen, look, wipe the whiteboard etc), I had to repeat myself and get the children to repeat after me. This is associate with Skinner’s behaviourist theory, in which children must imitate and repeat in order to acquire language (1957, cited in Kirsch, 2008). I also had to use a lot of actions for the children to associate with the words. After a few lessons of practicing this, the children were able to respond to my instructions with only a small amount of hesitation. As the weeks went on, I began to make the game harder by including some of the classroom objects into it, for example, “show me your pencil”, “show me your jotter”, “show me your rubber” etc. Again, after a few days of practice the children were able to identify each object pretty quickly. The children enjoyed doing this themselves as well. I would ask for a volunteer to come to the front of the class and ‘be the teacher’ by telling their peers some instructions they could remember. The children really responded well to this game and I found it was easy to differentiate the difficulty of it as time went on.



  • Johnstone, R. (1994) Teaching Modern Languages at Primary School – Approaches and Implications, Edinburgh: Scottish Council for Research in Education
  • Jones, J. and Coffey. S (2006) Modern Foreign Languages 5-11 – a guide for teachers. London:David Fulton Publishers
  • Kirsch, C. (2008) Teaching Foreign Languages in the Primary School. Continuum International Publishing Group.
  • McLachlan, A. and Jones, J. (2009) Primary Languages in Practice: A Guide to Teaching and Learning.McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Shabani, K. (2010) ‘Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development: Instructional Implications and Teachers’ Professional Development’ English Language Teaching. 3(4) Canadian Centre of Science and Education. 
  • Swain, M., Kinnear, P. and Steinman, L. (2010) Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education: An Introduction Through Narratives.MM Textbooks

Lesson Plan – Gender Agreement / Self Descriptions

Class/Group:Primary 3 mixed ability           Lesson: French         Date: n/a

Previous Experience: In previous lesson the class were introduced to the vocabulary used for describing themselves (les cheveux blonds, bruns, noirs, roux, les yeux bleus, verts, marron, grand(e), petit(e)).

Areas to cover in this lesson: understanding that the gender the adjectives use must agree with the gender of the nouns used and the children themselves. (petit/petite, grand/grande)

Working towards outcomes of a Curriculum for Excellence:

Listening / Speaking –I can participate in familiar collaborative activities including games, paired speaking and short role plays. MLAN 2-05b

Writing –I can use familiar language to describe myself and to exchange straightforward information. MLAN 2-13b

Reading –I can read and demonstrate understanding of words, signs, phrases and simple texts containing mainly familiar language. MLAN 2-08b

Learning Intentions:

  • I will revise the words used for describing myself.
  • I will learn how to use gender correctly whilst describing myself

Success Criteria:

  • I will understand how gender agreement works when describing myself both verbally and in my writing.
  • I will be able to fill out a personal fact file with the aid of a vocabulary list.
  • I will be able to listen to the teacher describe someone in the class and try to guess who this might be.

Setting the context/Beginning the lesson (Introduction):

  • Ask class to discuss the vocabulary that they learnt in the previous lesson with their shoulder partner.
  • Get them to use their ‘show me’ boards to write down any vocabulary that they can remember.
  • Introduce the concept of gender, (when using an adjective and talking about yourself, you use an adjective that is agreeable with your gender and a noun’s gender).
  • As the teacher, clearly read out all the vocabulary with correct pronunciation so the class can hear how it should sound.

Teaching the learning intentions (Development):

  • Introduce myself in French verbally and written on the board. (bonjour, j’ai les yeux verts, j’ai les cheveux roux et je suis petite) explain that the ‘e’ is at the end of petite because I am a female and if I were male there would be no ‘e’. Ensure pronunciation is as accurate as possible.
  • Hand out worksheets that pupils will work on individually but with the aid of a vocabulary list (this will have eye/hair colours and small/tall).
  • They will fill these out
  • Once these are completed ask the children to swap with a partner for peer assessment. Children should check for correct grammar and spelling.
  • Collect these sheets in and select a few to read out to the class, in French, as a ‘guess who’ activity, where the children have to guess who is being described.
  • Ask children to turn to their partner and describe themselves using the vocabulary they have just learnt.

Ending the lesson (Plenary)

  • Use ‘show me’ boards once more to check for pupils’ spelling of the vocabulary, some pupils can use the vocabulary list if need be.



Lesson Plan – French Colours

Class/Group: Primary 2 (early years) Lesson: French       Date: n/a

Previous Experience: The class have covered basic greetings and in their previous lesson, began introducing themselves (bonjour, au revoir, je m’appelle, j’ai six ans etc).

Area to be covered in this lesson: colours in French.

Working towards outcomes of a Curriculum for Excellence:

Listening for Information:I can listen to and show understanding of language from familiar voices and sources. MLAN 1-01c

Listening and Talking with Others:I can participate in a range of collaborative activities. MLAN 1-05b

Learning Intentions – 

  • I will practice/revise greetings and introductions.
  • I will learn new vocabulary for colours in French.

Success Criteria – 

  • With a partner, I will be able to recall two ways to introduce myself.
  • By the end of the lesson I will be able to hear and recognise 5 colours in French.

Setting the context/Beginning the lesson (Introduction)

  • In order to get the children thinking about French again, ask them to talk to their partner and feedback what they can remember in terms of ways to introduce themselves, and practice this.
  • Ask for volunteers to speak aloud and introduce themselves in French (something along the lines of “bonjour, je m’appelle Beth”).

Assessment (Circulate among pupils whilst they do this to hear types of discussions they are having. Check for correct pronunciation/ allow children to peer assess their partner and give feedback.)

Teaching the learning intentions (Development)

  • Introduce colours using flashcards (hold up and show the class as a whole), using choral repetition and a variety of volumes/tones/pitches to engage the children.
  • Begin to do this in smaller groups/ individually once they get used to the activity.
  • Flashcard activity: each child has 5 flashcards with different colours on them (red, blue, green, yellow, purple), they listen to a colour that is given to them in French and hold up which colour they think that correlates to.
  • Point out any cognates to the pupils (e.g. blue/bleu) that may help them to remember the vocabulary.

Assessment (This is important as it allows you to hear better who is pronouncing the colours correctly and who is not. Scan the room and check those who are correctly holding up the colours and those who may be struggling.)

Ending the lesson (Plenary)

  • In order to consolidate the new vocabulary and assess the pupils’ progress, shout out a colour (in French) and ask the children to find an object around them of that colour. This is a similar activity to earlier but by doing this it is putting the vocabulary into context.



French Restaurant Menu – Lesson Idea

For our TDT this week we were asked to find a menu, advert and holiday brochure in the modern language of our choice, all with varying levels of difficulty. I struggled more than I thought I would doing this, as it seemed that everything I found would be too difficult for primary school pupils to comprehend. However, I came across this children’s menu for a restaurant that I thought would be suitable for children in the upper primary school to work with.

Questions to Ask My Pupils

I came up with questions that I could ask pupils after they have had a look over the text. These would be asked before the pupils attempt to thoroughly read the text and with the aim of them discovering that they knew more of the vocabulary than they had first thought, and also to look at the wider picture.

  • What type of text do you think this is? (gets the pupils to think about the structure, layout and style of the text without reading anything).
  • What is its purpose? (to inform, to entertain etc?)
  • Can you recognise any of the vocabulary or pictures? (starts to give an idea of what the theme of the text is, again, without the pupils reading very much).
  • Who is this text aimed at? (school children, adults, a specific profession etc?)
  • Can you find any words in French that look similar to words in English (cognates)? (this may build confidence in the pupils before they tackle the text fully).
  • Are there any words that you don’t recognise?

Pros and Cons of the Text

  • The first thing that grabbed me about this resource is that there are pictures, a great visual aid for pupils who might be struggling with the vocabulary.
  • The vocabulary is also relatively simple, with potentially a few words that cold confuse them, such as la viande and la fromage, as they are very different from their English translations.
  • A downside to this resource is that the English translation is directly below all of the French. I would say in order for this to be as effective as possible, the English should be eliminated, otherwise it is too easy and defeats the purpose of the pupils using their prior knowledge to figure out the new vocabulary.


  • This text could be used simply in a comprehension activity, the text is in French but the children would read and respond to questions in English.
  • Role play – ordering from a restaurant (further inputs would need to be had in order for pupils to build up their vocabulary for conversations).
  • Create menus for their own restaurants, could include their favourite foods (research involved if they don’t already know these words).
  • Culture – look into the traditional food that is eaten in France, food that they eat at different holidays and celebrations.

French School Culture (my experiences from LfL)


For my second year learning from life placement, I was lucky enough to be able to help out in  a French primary school in Orléans for 6 weeks. During this time, I discovered a lot of things that were done differently in France compared to Scottish primary schools that I’ve been in. This post will explore a few key things that I noted over my placement and that stood out to me. Firstly,  when I began my placement at L’Ecole Guernazelles, I noticed that the children’s handwriting was very different to their Scottish equivalents. It was mostly neat and sophisticated, and seemed to have a lot more swirls than the way children write in Scotland. These are the style of letters the children were supposed to be using, this poster was on every classroom wall for the pupils to refer to.

I did question whether this was necessary and thought surely making sure a child’s spelling is at a good standard is more important than the style in which they write. When I asked the French teachers about this they said that writing in this style it is a tradition. Also having watched a video about it (called ‘French – Teaching Handwriting’ which is part of a series called ‘How do they do it in….?’), I learned that in France, handwriting is taught in a formalised manner that allows children to be creative. Their belief is if pupils’ handwriting is good they won’t be held back in being creative. This style of handwriting has been used for sixty years and it comes from a font called “La Ronde”.

  • teachfind (2007) France – Teaching Handwriting. Available at: (Accessed: 15/04/2018)

Class Structure

In France, they don’t have Primary 1-7 in the Primary school. Instead, they have 5 classes.

  • CP (6-7 year olds)
  • CE1 (7-8 year olds)
  • CE2 (8-9 year olds)
  • CM1 (9-10 year olds)
  • CM2 (10-11 year olds)

CP is the youngest class in the French primary school. In the school I was volunteering at for my placement, the CP class was the biggest in the school, at around 30 pupils (the school was in a rural area, only around 100 children in total). Something that I observed whilst I was in at the school was that the CP teacher did seem to struggle with the number of children in the class, and often had to send a few pupils to another class, if things got too hectic. One of the teachers at the school told me that Emmanuel Macron (the French President) was aiming to have a maximum of 12 pupils in every CP class in poorer neighbourhoods of France. This would be so that pupils could receive more teacher attention, earlier on in their education. Something else that was recently implemented in some primary schools (particularly in Nice and Marseille) by The President, is only having 4 day weeks. Typically pupils get a half day on a Wednesday, but this would be changed to a whole day off instead meaning children are out of school for 3 full days a week. In Scotland, schools are open Monday to Friday, with no half days (with the exception of Edinburgh).

Emmanuel Macron also wants compulsory education to start at the age of three, from September 2019. This would be lowering the starting age by 3 years and schools would require a lot more staff.  The President feels that nursery in France should no longer merely be treated as ‘childcare’, but it should be educational too.

  • The Connexion, (2017), “Changes in Store as Children Head Back to School”
  • The Connexion, (2018) “School to Start from Age 3 in 2019”.


Exploring European Countries – My Primary 6 Experience

In our introductory lecture for ED31002, we were asked to think back to our primary school experiences of topic/project work. We discussed the types of topics that usually came up, such as The Victorians, World War 2, and a few that were more specific to different areas of Scotland.  The topic that immediately came into my mind from my primary school experience was when we had explored European countries in Primary 6. I always seem to remember this very well, it has obviously stuck with me because it was a topic that I enjoyed a lot.

My class teacher at the time liked us to work in groups for any topic work that we did. He could probably tell that we liked this too. Our task for the next few weeks would be to choose a European country as a group, and research every aspect that we possibly could about that country. This could include the food, flag, what language they speak, famous figures, famous monuments and the general culture of the country. Each group was to research a different country, as at the end of the project we would all listen to each other about what we had discovered and compare.

My group chose to research and learn more about Belgium. I think this was probably our way of not taking the easy route, which perhaps would have been France or Italy. If I remember correctly, other groups chose Spain, Greece, Ukraine and Germany (a nice mixture, I thought). After this had been established, we were then asked to focus in on a particular area….this is where the individual part came in. I chose to research sport, so this would include any famous sportsmen or women, popular sports in Belgium or if there were any stadiums that were of particular interest. Being a massive tennis fan at the time, I remember really being keen to research about Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, two number 1 players in the world. Being able to research something that I was interested in really allowed me to become enthusiastic about the project. It also gave things a personal feel, I was going to be able to report back to my group about something I was passionate about.

In addition to the individual research that we were assigned, our teacher also gave us some other home activities to do that would bring in different areas of the curriculum. The first thing I remember being asked to do was to create a model of a famous building, monument or statue from your country of choice. This was to be done at home, using only household items where possible. This was certainly bringing a more creative streak to the topic. I chose to create a model of the Atomium (crazy, I know). Just to give you an idea of how difficult this was, here is a photo of the Atomium in Belgium.

When I got home and it came to creating my model, I seemed to regret my choice. However, I accepted the challenge and managed to create something that looked slightly similar to the Atomium using the simple household item that is tin foil. This activity definitely encouraged me to think about 3D shapes, materials and how to keep a basic structure upright! The activity stands out the most for me, firstly because of how challenging it was but also because I had never been given homework like it before. It wasn’t your usual sheet of paper with 20 sums on it.

The aim of doing these activities was to allow us to incorporate different curricular areas into the topic and to explore a culture that we had probably never considered before. After all these weeks, the models, posters and research we had created and found were not going to waste. Our teacher had organised a day for us to show what we had been working on to our families and friends. We set up different stalls in our classroom for each group, with everything on display for our parents and guardians to see. We had all made (or tried to make) special dishes from our chosen countries, using traditional ingredients (I had made Belgian chocolate cookies). I remember being very excited about this day, and it really allowed the whole topic to come together in the end. It felt like there was a goal to work towards, we had to impress our families! It was also exciting to see what my peers had been doing, and I was able to learn little bits of information from their stalls too.

1+2 Approach – Language Learning in Scotland

1+2 Approach – Language Learning in Scotland

(Notes taken from

  • Children’s mother tongue with the addition of two other languages is recommended by the European Union and has already been implemented in other countries around the world.
  • There has been a “significant and worrying” decline in the last decade of pupils continuing their learning of languages to SQA level.
  • Young people are not being challenged or motivated enough whilst learning a new language.
  • The need for young people to learn additional languages will become increasingly important as the world becomes more globalised.

In order to deliver this framework:

  • An additional language needs to be introduced at an earlier stage in primary school.
  • Needs to be an enhanced partnership working between primary and secondary schools.
  • Needs to be a closer collaboration across all sectors of the curriculum.
  • More use of technology when teaching/learning a new language.
  • Regular access to native and fluent speakers to stimulate interest in learning language and other cultures.

Why does learning language matter?

  • Life enhancing
  • Opens doors to experiences which are not usually available to those with only one language
  • Enhances understanding of L1
  • Enable young people to participate fully in a global society and economy
  • Learning a language relates to the 4 main objectives in primary school (effective contributor, confident individual, successful learner, responsible citizen).
  • Business community recognises the importance of communicating in another language of potential clients.
  • ‘damaging perception’ that we don’t need to speak another language because everyone speaks English, has to be challenged.


  • The Working Group believes that the 1+2 approach is for all young people wherever they live in Scotland, urban or rural, schools big or small.
  • So much of children’s’ communication is in English (with their families and social media etc) that it does not seem as important to learn another language.
  • Only 6% of the world’s population has English as their L1.
  • English represented 51% of language usage on the internet but by 2011 this was down to 27%.

Starting Young

  • Lots of evidence to prove that young children learn languages more easily than older learners – mental flexibility.
  • Can enhance natural curiosity
  • Help to foster a positive attitude towards languages
  • Learning French, German, Italian and Spanish will continue to hold its importance.


  • Staffing, training and funding issues
  • Other curricular areas seen as more important to teachers
  • Teachers not confident enough to teach another language or deliver lessons


  • The best lessons include a variety of approaches such as games, songs, direct teaching, group and paired work.
  • Most effective teaching is where teachers implement language learning across the curriculum and not just in their allocated time slot for modern languages.
  • Learning about the culture of a country frequently arouses enthusiasm for learning the language.
  • Challenges for introducing L3 are similar to those for L2 (staffing, funding, training).

Time Allocation

  • The Working Group does not recommend a fixed number of hours for the learning of language in primary schools.
  • Building blocks of language learning into the daily routine for learners, plus the use of the target language across other aspects of learning can avoid the danger that a ‘language hour’ is the first to go when there are timetabling issues.





Week 6 of Placement – 16th to the 20th of April

Week 6 of Placement – 16th to the 20th of April

This week, the CE1 and CE2 classes are on a residential school trip for the week. This means that there is only around 70 pupils in the school, which is very little compared to what I was used to at my primary school in Scotland. There were a few of these pupil that were not going on the trip, who joined CM1 (Madame Royer’s class). This made her class quite full, similar to the size of a class in an average Scottish primary school. There would be other children put into the CM2 and CP classes too, so that each teacher was responsible for a few children.

CM2 – The class were learning a new aspect of English conversation, which was to ask, “Can I….?” or “Can you….?”, and reply “Yes, I can” or “No, I can’t.”. Mr Apruncule wrote some examples verbs on the board, such as to write, to read, to play, to sleep and to eat. I had to ask the class in English “Can you sleep in the class?” and they would have to give the appropriate response. Then once they got the hang of this, they were to ask each other questions, encouraging them to use the new verb vocabulary. A common mistake that the children made was that they would say “Can you to eat in class?” or “Can you to write in the class”. It was difficult to explain why we don’t say the ‘to’. This is something that I have found difficult throughout my placement as well. English is my first language and therefore all of the rules of the language come naturally to me when I speak, without needing to think. Due to this I would have never considered why we don’t say the ‘to’ in these sentences, or why ‘I’ by itself is always a capital letter. These are things that are embedded in my brain and are just facts, it is not something I have to think about when I speak or write. Therefore, explaining this to children is something I have found difficult to put into clear and simple words.

CP – at the first break Madame Girault found me in the staffroom and showed me some resources she had found for today’s lesson. She wanted me to talk to the children about Great Britain and England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to explain the Union jack and why it looks the way it does, and to talk about The Royal Family. She gave me the appropriate flags for this and a couple of photos of The Royal Family. I thought this would be good for practicing our ‘family’ vocabulary from last week. I also considered that these are quite complicated things to explain to 6 and 7 year olds in English, so I knew I would need to check the French vocabulary before the lesson. The different groups of children found this all very interesting and I could tell they enjoyed guessing who was who in the royal family. I found it difficult to remember all the words for sister, brother, son, daughter, aunt and uncle, but I made sure to write them all down and have them in front of me when I was teaching the children. To my surprise, the children all seemed to understand the concept of each nation making up part of the Great British flag, and thought that this was a clever idea. They enjoyed hearing me talk about the royal family and seemed to find it fascinating, as they do not have this type of thing in France.

CM1 – Madame Royer wants the class to do some activities this week that test their English vocabulary knowledge, as a bit of fun, considering how difficult the children found learning the time last week. She gave me a worksheet to complete with the class, called ‘what’s in the picture?’. This had a list of objects in English beside a picture of a countryside scene. The children had to tick whether or not the object could be seen in the picture. I went through this with the class question by question, and the children had to guess some of the vocabulary that they did not already know. They found ‘leaves’ and ‘ghost’ difficult because these are not similar to the words in French, so I had to draw pictures of these on the board to give the children a clue. I asked the children ‘can you see…. In the picture?’ and they had to respond with ‘yes, you can’ or ‘no, you can’t’, as Madame Royer wanted them to speak in phrases instead of one-worded answers.

Tuesday 17th

 CM2 – today Mr Apruncule was keen for me to help the children with their pronunciation of the numbers from 1 to 100. They had obviously already covered this in class in previous years but he wanted them to practice and hear me say the numbers. I thought that their pronunciation of the numbers was very good, although they did get confused with 13 and 30, 14 and 40, 15 and 50 and so on. This is an easy mistake to make even when you speak English, so I was not surprised to hear that the children found this confusing. During the lesson Mr Apruncule had to tell the class to be quiet a lot, it is a nice day outside and I think the children were keen to get outside for break, and therefore were a bit restless. Something that I have noticed is that there is a lack of sanctions and behaviour management strategies used in the older classes. Often, the children are simply sent out of the classroom until the end of the lesson, and this happened today in my CM2 class. In my experience, teachers did not do this until I was at high-school, children in primary school would never be completely sent out of the classroom. There was always reward systems or traffic light systems in use. I find this style of behaviour management more effective as it gives children motivation to behave, whereas if they are simply asked to leave the class they might not learn from their mistake. This is relatively evident in the CM2 class, as a few of the children are repeatedly asked to leave the classroom.

CP – we continued with our work on the Royal Family, and today I introduced the Royal Family tree to the children. Madame Girault said that they have been making their own family trees in class, so they would understand the concept of a family tree. I agreed that this would be a good way to teach them the English family vocabulary whilst also teaching them a bit about British culture. I could tell yesterday that the children found the idea of a royal family strange and intriguing. This was reflected in today’s lessons, as I felt I had the children’s attention. They enjoyed guessing who was who in the family and finding out what the words for son, daughter, husband and wife are. The class teacher and I agreed that the children’s next steps would be to create a royal family tree for them to have inside their jotters. This would probably allow the information to be consolidated as well.

CM1 – Today, Madame Royer had another more fun activity for me to complete with the class. It was about Red Nose Day. I explained that this is something that happens every two years in the UK, where we raise a lot of money for charity by doing fun and silly things all day.  Madame Royer had to help me with the translation of a few phrases here, as the children were confused about what I was talking about to begin with. The worksheet that I gave to the class involved me reading out a list of everyday school rules, mixed in with Red Nose Day rules, and the children had to determine which rules were for Red Nose Day. For example, ‘You must dance in the corridor’ would be a Red Nose Day rule, and ‘You must not chew chewing-gum’ would be an everyday rule. These were complicated sentences for the children to understand, so I had to do a lot of actions at the front of the class to give the children clues as to what the rules were. They gave a lot of good guesses as well, and it was good to see that they were thinking hard about what the rule could be in English. I find that this class are always fully engaged in the activity and really want to do well in them. It helps me to enjoy the lesson even more when the children are so enthusiastic.

Thursday 19th

Today began with a trip to the theatre. We walked to Théâtre Gérard Philipe, which was very pleasant as it hit 27 degrees today! The play was about Louis XIV of France. It was done by 4 young theatre students, two of whom were playing the violin and cello, and the others were dancing and acting for the performance. Luckily for me, for most of the performance there was no talking, so it was easy for me to follow. I think the children found the play difficult to follow, as I was unsure if any of them had learnt about Louis XIV before, and knew who he was. The performers made sure to include the children in their performance, with some of them participating in the play and they brought some Star Wars into it, which the children definitely enjoyed. The play was around an hour, and after it finished we walked back to the school, just in time for the children to have lunch. I asked the children what they thought of the play and they said they had not seen a play like that before, which was the case for me too. They said it was quite strange but they liked the part where they played Star Wars, which didn’t surprise me at all!

CM1 – we went through the topic of colours today. This is a topic that the class have done before but Madame Royer wanted them to complete a Red Nose Day themed worksheet on it. The children had to draw a line from the object to its corresponding colour. I think this task was made easier because there were pictures of the objects for the children, had there not been pictures I think the children would have struggled with some of the vocabulary such as ‘a witch’s hat’ and ‘a leaf’. I felt that the children were quite tired today, but it was probably because of the heat outside, and our long walk for the trip to the theatre that morning. I realised that these children would have to work in hot conditions quite a lot, as it is only April, and the temperature can get a lot higher. If it was 27 degrees in Scotland I’m sure the pupils would be complaining that they were too hot, the pupils in France do not complain although I can tell that it makes it harder for them to concentrate.

CP –  To round up my lessons about The Royal Family tree, Madame Girault wanted the children to construct their own royal family trees. Instead of the usual set up, which is the children coming to me in three groups of 10 at a time, we worked as a whole class today. This was with the help of Madame Girault and Jessica (the classroom assistant), as the class is very big and it can be difficult to control 10 of them at a time, never mind 30. The children had photos of members of the royal family, and a sheet with boxes and names of royal family members underneath them. The task was to stick the right pictures in the right boxes. The children also had to listen to my sentences in English such as ‘this is his wife’ and ‘this is her son’, and try to work out who was who. Madame Girault could help with this by translating if the children were completely clueless. The children were sad to hear that it is my last day tomorrow, but this was almost a good thing to me, as they had clearly enjoyed my time with them.

Friday 20th

Today is my final day of placement, and I can safely say it has flown by. I have enjoyed my time at Ecole Elementaire Les Guernazelles so much, I could not have asked for a more welcoming school. I feel that in comparison to when I arrived, I am more confident in my English teaching abilities, and communicating in French. I feel a sense of achievement at how well I have got on with the staff and pupils at my school, and how well the children have come along with their English since I arrived.

CM2 – the children had constructed some sentence in English that they wanted to ask me about my time here in France. They asked, ‘is the food the same in France and Scotland?’, ‘What do you like about France?’ ‘is school the same in France and Scotland?’ and ‘what do you like about Orléans?’. I was very impressed that they came up with these questions and could ask them so well! I told the children that in France, the bread and cheese is nicer and they have snails here which we don’t have in Scotland. I said that they have longer lunch times and they have two break times instead of one, like in Scotland.

CP – I decided to read the children ‘Dear Zoo’, like I had with CE1 and CE2, as this book is very simple and easy for them to understand. It has some nice animal vocabulary in it as well which I knew the CP pupils would enjoy, as well as the interactive parts. I read the book to the children in their three separate groups, which was easier for me as they can be very noisy as a whole class. I taught the children the new animal vocabulary and they repeated after me several times. I think they found the names for the animals quite entertaining, as there was a lot of hilarity at this point! After the story, I played lotto with them, as this seemed to be their favourite game that I had played with them. To my delight, the children knew the numbers in English very well, and rarely had to ask me for help, which showed how much progress they had made over 6 weeks. I also asked them one last time for their name, age and gender in English, and again, I could see a great improvement from when I taught them this on the first week. The children were adamant that they all got a photo taken with me and Madame Girault, so at the end of the lesson Jessica took this for us, which I thought was very kind of the class.

Nature of Organisation

Organisation: Ecole Primaire Les Guernazelles

  • Address: 4 Rue des Anciens Combattants d’Indochine 1940-1954, 45100, Orléans, France.
  • Public School
  • The school is situated in the region of Orléans-Tours in Zone B (along with; Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Reims, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg).
  • Number of pupils: 112

There are 112 pupils who attend the school. They are split into 5 classes, 1 for each stage in the primary school (CP, CE1, CE2, CM1, CM2). CP stands for Cour Préparatoire, CE stands for cours élémentaire and CM stands for cours moyen.

There are five class teachers at the School:

  • CP – Madame Alexis Girault
  • CE1 – Madame Mulon (also acts as headteacher).
  • CE2 – Madame Delaroche
  • CM1 – Madame Royer
  • CM2 – Monsieur Apruncule.

They teach the same year every year, this has been the case for a while in the school.

School’s Weekly Timetable

  • Most French primary schools in the Zone B area have a Wednesday afternoon off of school.
  • Lunch time is 2 hours, unlike in Scotland where it is around 1. At lunchtime the children are looked after by the dinner ladies and parent helpers. The teachers can go home at lunch time if they wish.
  • There are two break times, the first is at 10am for around 20 minutes, and the second is at 2:45pm for 20 minutes also.