Introducing Group Talk to Yr9 German beginners

My pet project this year with Year 9 has been to introduce Group Talk as a regular and coherent part of lessons, in other words to get Yr 9 beginners confident enough to use German in the lesson to have spontaneous conversations and to begin to use the language to actually communicate with each other, rather than just parrot back what they have learned.

I developed these Group Talk strategies partly to help Yr 9 gain enough confidence in German to enable them to feel that taking it at KS4 despite only having learned it for a matter of months, was no longer a scary concept. To put this into a bit more context, we are an Upper school in Suffolk and students arrive in Yr9 from middle school, having learned French there since Yr 6.  They are therefore relatively confident about their abilities in French (which they continue at our place) but everyone picks up German as a second language. We have just one year to get themselves up to scratch to do GCSE. Take up at KS4 has in the past benefited French more than German, but this year the numbers appear to be more equally balanced. 

When I conducted an absolutely unofficial and unscientific survey amongst who have chosen German, many did say that they felt at ease with the language as a result of the emphasis on the speaking work that they had done in the lessons with me.  So: result! The resources that I used with the groups are available on Scribd and also on TES resources. 

  • The ppt simply takes students through the stages of the lesson.  It is very student busy and PLTS/thinking-skills heavy, and other than chopping up a few cards and going round with a video camera to record their efforts, teacher input is relatively low.
  • Students work in groups of 3-5 (any more and it gets cumbersome) and have a pack of Group Talk cards and a worksheet per group.  They then follow the activities on the worksheet, recording their answers and ideas in their books to refer to later.
  • Encourage them to use their knowledge of phonics and pronunciation to work out how to say what is on the cards and also their language detective/reading skills to work out what the cards mean.
  • By the end of the 50 minute lesson, many students were constructing their own mix-and-match conversations with the cards and were super confident about using tone of voice and intonation to really emphasise their speaking.  Some were even able to go further than the cards and adapt the language to make their own conversations.
  • Whenever we work on a new topic, the Group Talk cards come out and students practice discussing their opinions and reasons about whatever we have covered. We have for example just done food, and so students were freely able to discuss their likes and dislikes about food, ask each other questions and tackle complex answers.

All resources can be downloaded from the TES here.

Mug of Misery – Tasse de Tristesse – Tasse der Traurigkeit


In case you missed it on Twitter earlier this week, this week I have been inflicting on my classes my Mug Of Misery (MoM), as inspired by @dominic_mcg and his ideas on increasing student participation. My bulk order of lolly sticks of eBay arrived a short while ago and I have been busy scribbling names onto them in spare moments since then.

The students seem to be rather tickled by it and like the idea that it is so random the same person could keep coming up again and again (I haven’t yet mentioned the ‘put-the-name-of-annoying-kids-in-more-than-once’ trick…).  They also seem to like the idea that even though Miss is always trying to get them to use the web for their work, we can still use good old traditional names in a hat methods too.

I’m rather tickled by it as it represents misery in more ways than one:

  • It was my favourite cup, a Christmas present from someone special and was only used once before being broken in the sink;
  • Love It or Hate It – the Marmiteness will bring misery to some; and
  • Names go back in the cup once they have answered, so students may get picked on again.

Extra misery it seems at MsMFL Towers, as I can’t for the life of me work out how to get the blinking pictures the right way up…


Yr 11 Reading exam revision tips


They’re at it again!  Yr11 have come up trumps and produced this excellent set of hints and tips for tackling reading exam papers, any language, any level.  Please do visit their virtual noticeboard on and share and contribute to this great collection.