Friday, 9 May 2014

Revitalising Reading

How often do we just give pupils another text to work through, answer questions on and then find the French/Spanish/German? After doing mountains of past papers with year 11 and reading assessments with years 7 and 8, I've been fed up with the whole idea of reading for a grade rather than enjoyment. Reading for pleasure should be something that we try to incorporate and encourage in our language lessons. So how can we help our pupils get more from their reading?


Infographics are something that only really came to my attention when I opened my Pinterest account. I kept seeing these long texts filled with images and wondering what they were. As I started to research these a little more, I realised how invaluable they could be within the classroom. They are really eye-catching, full of facts but also full of authentic language!

Here are some examples:

As you can see, this type of infographic is perfect as an interesting hook or brief overview of a forthcoming topic. There are a huge amount out there about a whole variety of topics! There are even sites out there that allow you to create your own infographics so they make for a great homework too.


I gave my year 11s something else to read this week after bombarding them with past papers. I gave them the option of picking from a range of magazines and newspapers that I picked up from France last Summer as well as some Mary Glasgow magazines I was given in a trial pack.

While some would argue that giving pupils texts that are too high level can be discouraging, I found that the mix of magazines aimed at schools and authentic resources (albeit aimed at 9-10 year olds) really engaged the girls. They were working around vocab that they didn't know or simply using a dictionary to supplement their knowledge.


The Internet is a language teacher's dream. We can access written and spoken language from all over the globe but how often do we actually use them? We tend to be keen on using texts lifted from textbooks with our own additions to raise the level. Again, if we spark a genuine interest by providing pupils with websites that are similar to what they would read in English, we can hopefully increase engagement!

A quick Google search can come up with a whole wealth of blogs and sites geared towards teenage audiences.


I stumbled across Pow-Toon yesterday on Twitter but it has already been a roaring success. After sharing the site with my colleague @willowtuits, we started to play around with the intuitive software. Pow-Toon basically allows you to create your own slideshow with moving visuals and interesting animations to really engage your pupils.

Here's my first attempt:

Many of my Year 7 pupils didn't believe that I'd actually created this! I asked them to write, jot or draw as much information as they could from the video and we watched it three times. Having the visuals there really supported the weaker pupils while reinforcing vocab that we had seen previously in the year. When asking questions about what the text, every hand was up dying to give an answer.

iFake Text

In a world where everything you need to say can be done in 140 characters or less, your technology savvy pupils will love this. Instead of giving them a reading task, you can make it a bit more pupil friendly by changing the format to something they are all familiar with.

Below is an example of a reading task I gave Y8. The text is from a textbook and adapted but is much more visually stimulating and engaging. Again, iFake Text is a free site to use so can be set as a homework too.


When teaching the Health topic to year 9 earlier this year, I decided to use French adverts and poster campaigns. My pupils had picked their options at this point and those who hadn't picked French were slightly disengaged to say the least. A lesson on extracting info from posters and websites really seemed to perk them up and was a fantastic way to get them interacting with authentic French.

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