Author Archives: Heike Krüsemann

About Heike Krüsemann

Research Assistant. PhD Candidate. Education, MFL, Teaching & Learning, all things culture.

Proposed MFL Assessment Framework- what do you think?!

Thank you everyone for telling us how the Principles have made a difference to your teaching. But what about the alternative Assessment Framework which goes hand in hand with the Principles?

We would love to hear your comments, either by leaving a reply on this blog or by  emailing us (

Have a look at our proposed AF  here:

Speaking and Writing Assessment Framework (revised Jan 13)

Listening and Reading Assessment Framework (revised Jan 13)



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Working with the Principles: Action Research possibilities

Many teachers and ITE tutors who attended our workshops in the summer have been working hard to use some or even all of the principles in their teaching this term. Some have told us that they would like to turn their work into an action research project and others simply want to see if the principles have had an impact on their students’ attainment. If you would like to have a go, here are some suggestions to get you started!

To go to the materials, videos and ideas website pages please click on the relevant link below:

In order to evaluate what impact implementing the Principles has had on your teaching, you need to firstly identify one particular aspect of students’ learning on which to focus.

Here are some examples of Action Research possibilities (there are of course many others and you may just have focused on one very small aspect of a Principle):

Oral Interaction

What impact does implementing Principle 4 have on the length of spoken phrases learners produce in pair work? (P4: Students need to be given opportunities to develop oral fluency but also taught how to use communication strategies when faced with communication difficulties). For example do they appear to use more gestures, fillers, and paraphrases in order to put across meaning when in difficulty? Does repeating a task with (for example) a week’s interval lead them to be more confident and fluent in speaking?

What impact does implementing Principle 3 have on the number of different verbs learners use in whole-class question and answer work? (P3: Although not all oral interaction can be ‘communicative’ (some will be practice and/or form focused), it has to demonstrate nevertheless ‘quality’ (among other things, student length of turn; adequate wait time; cognitive challenge [e.g. by requiring a verb phrase or subordinate clause]; appropriate teacher feedback; nomination rather than elicitation). For example, are learners more likely to use a verb in their answers; do they attempt longer and more complex answers?

What impact does implementing Principle 2 have on learners’ stated enjoyment of MFL lessons? (P2: Learners need to be encouraged to speak and to say things that they are not sure are correct). For example, do they make comments? Do they occasionally start ‘a new idea of their own’?

How successful is using two of the ‘ tick sheet’ materials presented at the workshops (e.g. a tick sheet where students record when they have asked a ‘classroom language-type’ question; a tick sheet where they record having answered a question in their heads which was actually aimed at other students)?  Do the sheets lead to better participation, more pupil target language use, etc?

Listening and Reading

What impact does teaching comprehension strategies for reading and  listening  have on learners’ ability to gain a global understanding of a passage?

What impact does teaching comprehension strategies have on learners’ level of confidence/self-efficacy for reading / listening?

What impact does teaching some  grapheme-phoneme (sound-spelling) rules have on learners’ ability to understand reading passages?

Does teaching a range of comprehension strategies for  listening/reading lead learners to use a wider range of such strategies?


Does asking learners to write at the very start of a topic rather than at the end lead them to use previously learnt language in new contexts? Does it lead to use of a wider range of vocabulary? How successful is the  four stage approach to writing that was presented at the workshops?

Feedback and reflection on strategy use

Does learner recording of strategies use on a task, and teacher feedback on that strategy use, lead to greater levels of confidence/self-efficacy on the part of learners?

Methods of Evaluation

How ‘scientific’ and ‘rigorous’ your evaluation is will depend on how much time you have available, whether you planned the evaluation before you started implementing the principle, whether you have access to a similar, parallel class  that has not been exposed to the Principles, etc.  However, some things you could try are as follows:

Oral interaction

If you haven’t planned the evaluation before starting implementing the Principles:

You or a colleague observe the ‘Principle’ class for some or all of the following things, after you have been implementing the Principle for a while:

-number of instances of a pupil asking a question in the TL in whole class or small group work

-number of instances of a pupil initiating a conversation (either in a small group or in whole class work)

-see if you can record a small group activity (a short one). Analyse it for the number of different verbs used, number of attempts to use a communication strategy, etc., depending on what you have been aiming to develop); time how long the average ‘run of speech’ is for each student in the small group. You might also be able to do the latter for whole class work.

Then do the above for a similar class (in terms of age, attainment level) which hasn’t had the treatment, and compare.

If you haven’t yet started implementing the Principles, it’s best to plan the evaluation at the start, and observe the two parallel classes both before and after the Principles have been implemented with one of the classes.  This will give you a better sense of what changes have occurred in the ‘Principles’ class. Also, if a parallel class isn’t available, you could just observe the ‘Principles’ class before and after the implementation.

Listening and Reading

The same structure could be used for the other skills.  For example, before teaching any listening strategies, ask learners to listen to fairly short but reasonably challenging passage. Ask them to write down in English everything they understood. Analyse these responses for how many ‘correct’ ideas they contain.  Then teach the class one or two strategies – for example, predicting the themes/language (phrases, verbs)  that might come up in a passage using a  prediction grid followed by careful verification (using paired discussion) of what was actually heard.  Then ask learners to listen again to the passage you gave them before teaching the listening strategies and to write down in English everything they understood.  Analyse as before and compare the ‘before’ and ‘after’ scores. The same procedure could be used for reading.


For writing,  you could compare what learners write over two topics – one, with writing only happening at the end of the topic; the other with writing occurring at the very start of the topic, and then again at the end, following the cycle outlined in the Writing Principle.  You might analyse the written work for number of different verb forms used, range of vocabulary, etc.

Self-efficacy, self confidence

The above methods for listening, reading and writing could be combined with an assessment of how confident learners feel before and after you have implemented the Principle in question.  You could give learners, say, the initial listening passage, then after the task give them a simple questionnaire or something similar.  After implementing the Principles you could do the same thing again. You could look at if, and how, individuals’ self-efficacy score changes, and also calculate the average score for the class, before and after.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on!

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Additional workshop at the University of Nottingham

A further workshop took place at the University of Nottingham on Friday 28 September 2012 following the high demand from language professionals who wanted to take part. More than 84 language teachers, ITE tutors and trainees attended the workshop. Professors Suzanne Graham (Reading University) and Ernesto Macaro (Oxford University) presented the evidence underpinning eight principles for effective teaching and learning practice in MFL classrooms. The response from delegates was extremely positive and many have committed to sharing the principles with their departments this term, when they will also start putting the ideas into practice with their students!


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Calling all Modern Languages Colleagues!

By Heike Bruton

 For information about the Consortium, contact details, and instructions how to register for a workshop, please see the ‘About’ section.

The first Professional Development Consortium in MFL workshop took place on Wednesday 13 June at the Willink School in Burghfield Common.

Despite flooding of many roads in the area, delegates arrived numerously and raring to go! Professor Suzanne Graham and Professor Ernesto Macaro of Reading and Oxford Universities, together with Consortium teachers Sarah Rae and Jenny Skinner (both from the Willink), presented a session each on Oral Interaction and Listening, Reading and Writing. The feedback for the day was very positive- here are just some selected quotes:

Really good and useful day. Lots of food for thought. Definitely recommend! – via twitter

Discussed the training with my current dept today who are all v keen. Have passed on the flyer too and hope one of them could join you at another date. I really want to launch it to my new dept too! – via email

Thank you for the workshops yesterday. We have always been very keen on developing skills in our department but so far, we have been missing a coherent and coordinated approach. So this is fantastic! – via email

Many thanks to you and the rest of the team for a fantastic workshop today. It will take me a while to digest all the brilliant ideas that
Ernesto, Suzanne and the other speakers gave us, but I’m looking forward to sharing with my department and having a good think together how we can implement some of these ideas. I hope the rest of the workshops go just as well as today’s did! – via email

Back at school today, have been v positive about PDC- my HoD is interested- hope it’s not too late to register for another workshop?! – via twitter

I really hope the project will snowball – many of the colleagues in the audience seemed strong, reflective and enthusiastic practitioners – so I can’t wait to hear more! -via email

Very useful to see video clips with examples for all skills. Very good to have the teachers involved deliver the workshops- via evaluation form

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