I firmly believe that technology is one of the best ways of hooking children into language learning. The use of blogs to promote creative writing, podcasts, vokis, glogs, video editing software etc opens a whole new world for language learners and language teachers. Despite all of this, I do have one huge reservation with a number of technologically fabulous pieces of exemplar languages teaching - not the how but the what. Why do we think it is still appropriate to be teaching children ten items they have in their pencil case, 14 different types of animals and how to book a hotel room. Most of them don't have a pencil, never mind a pencil case, can look up the nouns they need if they really want to talk about their pets and to be honest very few 15 year olds book hotels in France (and even if they were to do so, they would inevitably book online and simply follow the signs to the restaurant...). Where is the emotional and intellectual challenge in the tasks we give them - especially those tasks upon which their GCSE marks are based. I quote from a religious studies GCSE paper "Explain why Christians believe that both prejudice and discrimination are wrong." Now let us contrast this with a French GCSE question "Role Play - You are speaking to your French friend about your sister - say what her job is, say she is divorced, say how many children she has ask your friend if he/she has any brothers or sisters." Perhaps if we were to further unpick the idea that your sister is another exampe of a single parent struggling in modern society then we could get some thinking going but as it stands, this is factual recall of vocabulary and of no real intelectual or emotional challenge. And we wonder why students do not engage with languages, why, although they do everything we might ask them to they are actually emotionally truanting our lessons. In RE, Humanities and PSHE they are doing sex drugs and rock'n'roll and they turn up to their languages class to be faced with giving directions around a town they will never visit and even if they did visit it they would just use Google Maps on their iPhones to find the directions ...I told you technology was key!
There are tons of excellent resources available to help us achieve this, look at the fantastic resources from plan-ed here . for KS5 material on how girls around the world suffer from war, slavery etc and here, also from plan-ed are a Spanish and French scheme of learning on climate change. Also look at the great videos here from Learning and Teaching Scotland, check out the Allons en Haiti materials I blogged about recently from Action Aid - so much more rewarding for both us and them! So what do you think? Up for taking the new curriculum by the horns and throwing out the old content? As they say in the Corsa ads...c'mon!