MFL revision activities

We just invested in new textbooks, which brings with it opportunities for a highly structured approach: teach chapters from books, assess chapters from books, support both with vocab sheets from the book, and have a revision lesson using the vocab sheet the lesson before you do the assessments.

Here are some activities I’ve been doing for that revision lesson just before the actual test. The emphasis on this has to be students using their vocab sheet in depth in ways that go beyond just looking at it.

My old go-to was a form of snakes and ladders. Students begin by using the vocab sheet to prepare 30 questions, where the questions is a vocab item or sentence from the sheet which someone else will have to translate.  Once four people have 30 questions, they can play snakes and ladders with each other on a basic board with counters and dice. They use their questions for each square they land on – if they can’t answer their team-mate’s question for that square they go back to where they came from.

Obviously the main revision activity here is creating the questions, but the game has a nice fun element as a reward for creating 30 questions. You can be specific about the target, eg 15 word level translations and 15 sentences, or 30 sentences for stronger classes. You can have them create questions in pairs and then two pairs play the end game.

One-pen-one-dice is a great end of unit activity too – as the teacher you write 20 sentences in the target language and print enough sheets for everyone, with enough space to write translations underneath each sentence. Steve Smith gives details on how to play the game.  My end of unit twist was to go back through the text book, look at the listening and reading resources you’ve used over the last few weeks, and get the 20 sentences from there.

I have been using my version of the three column vocab sheet  for a while. Learners have a column of English words, a column of target language words in a different order and a blank column. They then write the correct TL word next to the English.  To help make this more understandable, I’ve started putting the TL words in a box at the bottom. Here’s an example with my layout, revising the spec vocab for charity words in French. You can introduce vocab as well as revise it this way – although I find I do end up using quite a lot of lesson time to go over the answers, and that may not be the best use of time on what is essentially a word level task.

My new revision twist is to get the learners to make their own sheets, again based on the vocab sheet from the topic. I initially created a resource to give them blank sheets to complete  – this particularly helps with counting to make sure they have exactly 20 TL words and 20 English translations – but it is equally possible to just explain what you want and have them create it on blank paper. Once everyone has made a sheet, they can swap with a partner, or, have them make their sheets on a deadline towards the end of the lesson, and photocopy them before the next lesson, so that students have to complete several sheets to complete the task.

You can even combine this with the “red pen/black pen” revision task (NB actual colour of pens not important… could be pen/pencil or your pen/borrowed classroom purple pen).  Students complete all the items they can do from memory in one colour writing implement then switch to another colour so they have a very visual sheet in front of them showing what they know and don’t know.

As with many classroom tasks, both creating and completing these sheets is something that learners will do at very different speeds, so you need something else for fast finishers… I still have many blank 80 Word sheets in my filing cabinet, so that was my go to.

Reconstruct a paragraph (MFL)

A colleague I share a class with set this task for one of my lessons with younger students. They seemed to enjoy it a lot and I have subsequently used it with KS4 students – and added a twist.

It starts with a model answer to a 90 word GCSE question. You can either write your own, or I heartily recommend Kate Jones’s resources – her writing booklets have questions for every AQA theme and sub-topic, every style of question, and a full set of model answers.

Start with your model answer. Remove sentences so that it only answers 3 bullet points.  Add in sentences that are not relevant. Print it big (eg big enough to fit 3 A4 sheets landscape) and cut it into strips*. Get kids to sort back into paragraph order.

My most recent iteration of this task had a double sided worksheet with the mark scheme for a 90 word question on the back, and on the front, the question (in the target language, like in the exam) and a translation of the text they are aiming to build. Most students used this, and recognised at least one word per strip, which they could use to get their bearings through the paragraph, but the most able could hide this support and try to rebuild the sentences without it.

The worksheet also had these tasks:

  1. What do the 4 bullet points mean ?
  2. Reconstruct the text from the strips to form an answer to this question.  (You can use the English translation for support, or hide it if you prefer.)
  3. Assess the response using the markscheme on the back. Are all bullet points answered? What does this mean for the score it can get? Are all sentences relevant to the task?
  4. Redraft an answer to the question, based on the paragraph you have reconstructed. Eliminate anything irrelevant. Add in some sentences to cover any bullet points not already answered.
  5. Higher students – what super structures and fancy phrases could you add to this to improve it to the point where it would be an answer to the 150 word question?
  6. What topic specific vocab is there in this text that you didn’t know? What structures can you find that could be used in lots of different topics?

* To speed up the cutting, you can prep the photocopier with a pile of coloured sheets in the bypass tray, eg 3 yellow, 3 blue, 3 pink, 3 orange. Copy onto those sheets then cut up all 12 in one go and separate  out by colour.