French and German films to use in the classroom

Steve Smith discussed a year ago “Should MFL teachers show films at the end of term?

Clearly some of my colleagues do, because there was a recent Facebook conversation which discussed which French films to use in class.

Our media scheme of work includes Les Choristes (Barratier, 2004) which has gone down well with many classes. It’s sentimental, cute and has some catchy choonz.

Dom’s MFL recommends Les aventures extraordinaire de Madame Adèle Blanc-Sec (Besson, 2010), which is a fantastic adventure romp in the style of Indiana Jones, based on a French comic book.

Dom’s blog also links to a super resource pack to go with the film.

The other week, P was watching Priceless (Hors de Prix – Salvadori, 2006) on Netflix – I think, recommended for him because he likes Amelie (which I still have never seen.) I came in late to the film but watched the final bits with him and it did seem to be something that classes might go for.

Finally in conversation a colleague suggested Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Boon, 2008) which I have not seen, but whose trailer looks good fun. In the second half of the trailer there is some extraordinary work done with subtitling – what is in the subtitles is not at all what is said in the dialogue, but it has been altered so that the dialect / speech impediment jokes still work.

On the German side of the curriculum, our scheme of work includes Lola Rennt (Tykwer, 1998) which is a film I like a lot, but is getting old now and has baffled more than one class. It’s too short to use for two complete lessons. It’s also a 15 which means it can’t be used for many classes without parental consent.

Also in the cert 15 is Good Bye Lenin (Becker, 2003) – a good long film that can lead into lots of interesting discussions about German history. Not seen for aages.

A colleague has been showing her classes Sophie Scholl (Rothemund, 2005). Personally I think the curriculum gives rather too much time to Germany and world wars and I would rather not add even more to that. I suppose this film is at least dedicated to the German resistance and many students may not have considered this even existed.

Let me know in the comments if there are films you use and if you have any resources for them!

Next time you’re at the Gare du Nord

Delia has an awesome suggestion of how to kill some time near the Gare du Nord in Paris if you need to: the Marché St Quentin

Last time I had some time to kill was when heading to Munich by sleeper train a million years ago. That time, I walked from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l’Est – it’s really not at all far – and spent the time on the terrasse of a street café having a steak-frites and a carafe de vin rouge.

Checklists in MFL – building on marking

Frenchteacher.net has a post about checklists which is helpful, taking Mr H’s idea and running with it.

Here’s a way I’ve been using something similar to raise achievement in all my KS3 classes this year.

Our assessment scheme means all KS3 students do two or three pieces of formal, levelled writing which contributes to their termly reports. Last year I found they were too happy to keep making the same mistakes and not make any progress in their writing, so this year my idea to prevent this was to get them to look at their previous piece of writing before planning the next.

Since we are trying to help them prepare for GCSE controlled assessment the KS3 writing they do is planned and prepared in class, learned off by heart and then regurgitated under test conditions with maybe a cue card to help.

Our school has the Purple Pens of Progress as this year’s Ofsted gimmick – we mark in green and they respond in purple. So at the start of every planning lesson I make them write, in purple pen in their book:

My target level is ___.
This time I am aiming for ___.
To achieve this I must write __ sentences and include
____________________
____________________
____________________
My feedback from last time was
____________________
____________________
____________________

This makes them engage with the marking feedback I spent hours writing on their last assessment (which is copied by them to a sheet in APP folders which they carry around with them at all times, so they should always have a copy). It makes them engage with the marking criteria to preempt conversations like “But I wrote LOADS!! Why didn’t I get a L6?” They know before they begin what features they need to include and a minimum length for their writing piece.

The most common things I tell them they need to include are

* three sentences in French learned off by heart (for people going L2 -> L3)

* five sentences and CORN (L3 -> L4)

(Corn is connectives, opinions, reasons and negatives – they have sheets in their book and I have a display – the CORNwall – that helps with this.)

* 7 – 10 sentences, CORN and another tense (L4 -> L5)

* 10 – 12 sentences, CORN, two other tenses, “very few mistaks”.

(The Y9 helpsheet talks about tenses and accuracy and has “very few mistaks” in it as my little joke to amuse myself. It was a loooooong time through the year before any student noticed.)

Eurovision hors d’oeuvres

We’re taking finger food to a Eurovision party this year, so I have made devilled eggs and puff-pastry pack two ways.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/niles/13964749290

Devilled egg recipe here. Glut of teeny eggs from newly laying small hens, so used them up in this. Quite faffy, hard to transport and not the sort of fiddly work my clumsy fingers are any good at. I should probably stop even trying anything with piping in it.

Then a block of all butter puff pastry is divided – this time I did 1/3rd tartlets 2/3rds croissants.

Preheat oven to 200 deg C

Roll the pastry, cut rounds. Halve cherry tomatoes and optionally pre-roast them a little in the preheating oven. Stick each tomato half to a pastry round with tomato purée and top with a sprinkling of grated parmesan. Bake until crispy, about 10 minutes.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/niles/13964750420/

Roll the remaining pastry and cut into triangles, either from a large circle of rolled pastry, or less wastefully from rectangles. You are looking for very tall isosceles triangles. Place a small piece of cheese (camembert, goats, etc) and half a spoon of interesting chutney (I’m using something from the Garlic Farm) on the wider part and roll them up to form a croissant. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden.

Eurovision hors d'oeuvres

Serve with Meg Pickard’s Eurovision Bingo cards [PDF] .

Food topic in MFL

We’re just moving into a food topic with Y8 at the minute and with my five classes last year and four this year, it’s now something I’ve had a bit of practice in.

My first lesson is about breakfast food and opinions, so it starts with a textbook vocab list and pictures – students have to match the target language words with the pictures and then write a vocab list in their books.

Then I get them to generate English words to fit the sentences “I like bread because it’s _____” and “I don’t like cheese because it’s _____” and they go off to the dictionaries to find the words they need. They need to be able write sentences like this – opinions and reasons – to get through level 4 in the National Curriculum for modern foreign languages and do well in their end of term exams.

I like doing it this way because it means each different class has a slightly different word bank and when I’m marking 250 versions of the same thing there is enough variety to keep it interesting for me.

They have to run the words by me at first so that I can advise and guide a little – they will need delicious and disgusting, so they have to have those. If they want to look up “sweet” I make very sure they know the difference between “sweet” and “sweat”. I can point them in the right direction to make sure they are looking for adjectives and not nouns, and that they know that the squiggle represents the headword again and so on. I can stop them trying to find dialect or youth speak words that I know won’t be in the dictionary as well as talking them down from things that are too complicated. (“mouth-watering” last year turned out to be “qui met l’eau à la bouche” which didn’t fit properly with parce que c’est and so meant an awful lot of corrections in one set of books)

This year’s students have all wanted to know the word “bland” which caught me a bit on the hop. Happily our native speaker teaching assistant could tell me the French is “fade” without me having to resort to Wordreference.com. I didn’t know that word as a 12-year-old, but learned it a little later on at a very memorable family dinner. It turns out they have all learned it in food technology, so it’s nice to have a bit of cross-curricular working.

I’m currently avoiding marking a set of books where some of the words they went for were mouldy, divine, and rank, so I am getting sentences like j’adore les croissants, parce qu’ils sont divins, and je déteste le fromage parce que c’est nauséabond.

Which is nice.

A little later on to get them using connectives more creatively, and get them practising future and past tenses for levels 5 and 6, I will be getting them to do these Barry-Smith-style sheets which I have put on the TES.

Writing about Food (French)

Writing about Food (German)

My first parkrun!

A year ago, more or less, I wrote about parkrun, registered, got a barcode, and then prevaricated and didn’t get around to trying to run around the park for 5k.

Last Friday, I went and checked I could indeed run 5k around a park in under 50 mins and wouldn’t be the absolute slowest person there.

(If you’re interested, you can get the GPX for any parkrun on the “course” page of the parkrun website and convert it into a Runkeeper course using these intstructions.)

And this Saturday I got up early to be at the start line long before 9am and ran with the people there.

The email with the results just arrived and they’re here. I came 77th out of 92! Clicking through on my age group result, I see that of all 83 men aged 35-39 who have ever run Forest rec in the last year, only one has ever run it slower.

I’m actually pretty chuffed with the time, I didn’t think I could do anything like that. I also know that to improve, the next step is the easy to say, hard to do, “spend less time walking.”

Now, having got up early on a Saturday, must try extra hard not to waste the rest of the day.

Pudding club: marshmallow cheesecake

Quite often with recipes as I flick through Olive magazine or follow links on the internet, it’s a new technique that piques my interest. This was one of those. It starts with melting marshmallows in milk and using the gelatin from there as a setting agent.

I used hobnobs for my cheesecake. The idea that a biscuit base doesn’t have to be digestive comes from Nigella’s Grasshopper Pie where she uses bourbon biscuits. I’ve just been to find that recipe again and was amazed to find that uses the same marshmallow technique!

The cheesecake I made was not massively successful – it looked bad because the cream cheese wasn’t beaten enough, the frozen fruit mix was not nice, and the fruit juice soaked into the base and meant that the whole pie did not slice properly but fell apart. Next time I think I would either make a rough jam from the fruit or try blitzing the frozen fruit to a purée and then blitz it through the cheesecake mix to make a sort of smoothie cheesecake.

Anyway, here’s the recipe I was trying to make:

Serves 10

300g marshmallows
200 mls milk
200g biscuits
50g butter
500g cream cheese
150 mls

Line a 23cm tin. Make a biscuit base from 200grams biscuit and 50grams butter.

Melt 300grams of marshmallows in 200mls of milk stirring regularly over a very low heat. Once the marshmallows have fully melted, cool the mix. Mine separated a little at this point.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/niles/13946999691/

Put most of a bag of defrosted frozen fruit on your biscuit base, reserving some fruit and juice to make a coulis to serve.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/niles/13973376573/

My original recipe now calls for you to beat 500 grams of cream cheese with a teaspoon of vanilla essence, and whip 150mls of cream. Because that was two separate bowls, I decided not to let the Kenwood do the whipping, which was probably a mistake. Whilst I can whip 150 mls of cream by hand, it does make a bit of a mess of the kitchen. The texture of the final cheesecake shows clearly that the cheese wasn’t beaten enough to fully incorporate with the marshmallow mix.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/niles/13972881313/

Some recipes get you to microwave the cream cheese a bit to check it properly integrates.

Because of the sugar in the biscuit base and the marshmallows, there’s no need for any more in the fruit.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/niles/13950248381/