Friday, 9 April 2021

Learning by working collaboratively - for pupils and for teachers

 I've mentioned in another post our links with the Museum at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, and how they commissioned our Year 7 pupils to create a French version of their Farm Stamper Trail.

This ended up becoming part of a whole curriculum built around real tasks and tangible outcomes. Pupils could use their French in an Art Exhibition, a café, the Francovision Song Contest (thanks to Rachel Hawkes), Flat Stanley letter exchanges with pupils in France (thanks to Kate Shepheard-Walwyn) and story books in French for Primary pupils.

The idea was that challenging our pupils to be creative would mean we would have to put in place a curriculum that secured the language needed in order to equip them to be creative. A curriculum which supplied the building blocks and honed their ability to express themselves with increasing independence.

As part of the LinkedUp initiative in 2010, we worked with 3 other schools to run similar projects. Straight-away I need to show you this video. (Click here if the embedded video doesn't load.)

These are pupils from Broadland High School where teacher Catherine Van Battum was one of our partners on the project. There are several things to say about this. Firstly it was a huge event for them. The setting, as you can see is perfect and they had a wonderful afternoon. The company who did the filming was led by a local TV news presenter who brought immediate celebrity status. And the pupils' work was then used by The Broads Authority to advertise the Norfolk Broads abroad. They made videos in French, German and English. This was a big part of the project: Pupils' work to be commissioned for a real purpose, and then for  an external client to provide feedback and celebration.

Secondly, it also fulfilled the other purpose of the project, in that it threw light on the curriculum. When the pupils were first given the task and left to see what they could come up with, they produced almost nothing. The teachers had to work hard to show them how key structures for describing can be put with new words looked up in the dictionary. And how powerful language such as "on peut" can unlock a whole range of sentences. It also showed up different levels of confidence in speaking or reading aloud, including the importance of the sound-spelling link. The project became a powerful driver for pupils wanting to deliver work of high quality, and also for the teachers in thinking through how their curriculum enabled this.

We invited Mark Curtis of Sir John Leman High School to act as mentor to the whole project. Mark was a Senior Leader with responsibility for Curriculum and Learning, but he was also a Technology teacher. In the post on making writing in French into a hands on practical experience, I mentioned how we often use Technology Lessons as a metaphor for the processes involved in language-learning. Mark's input was invaluable, with his interest in Deep Learning. This was the model we adopted for the LinkedUp project and for many of the Units in our curriculum: The task had to be big, meaningful, and authentic; require independence, teamwork and creativity; and be used and celebrated by an external client.

This fits with the idea of Task Based learning in languages, although the "tasks" don't have to be as large scale as this. In fact a task can be an entirely classroom based activity. The difference between a task and an exercise being that for an exercise, there is an expectation that the pupil is practising a certain language point. For a task, the pupil has to draw on the totality of their language knowledge in order to complete the task. It has an important role in developing pupils' awareness of their evolving interlanguage - its usefulness and its limitations.

I should definitely mention the other schools involved in the LinkedUp project. Partly so you can see how their projects fit with the idea of tasks that drive the curriculum, and also to celebrate the wonderful experience of working with colleagues on exciting initiatives. Laura Chapman at Litcham High worked on teaching PE (handball) in French and on another project with Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum. This time it was with the museum café, producing an interpretation wheel which explained British dishes (Toad in the Hole?) to Spanish visitors. And Adam Berry at Hellesdon High School worked on producing guides to the local area in French for the Red Cross to use with refugees.

It was a great example of how CPD does not have to be about going on a course. It can be about a rich and enlightening collaboration between schools, involving staff and pupils. And it can have a permanent impact on the vision for languages and the curriculum.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Fun with Cheese and Chunks (Not Pineapple. It's not 1976!)

 As promised back to nice things today. With a look back to a special experiment with chunks from 2011. For some reason I took up the challenge of having a group of six Year 9 boys who were not enjoying French, and doing 3 compulsory after school sessions with them!

The idea was to re-engage them with French and help them understand that it was a subject where very practical knowledge could be used to create things they could be proud of.

In the first part of the first session, we played with lego. Well, one pair did. Another pair had meccano, and the 3rd pair had a basic model glider kit. Out of this came lots of discussion of how easy or how fiddly things were to put together, whether you could make just one thing, and what you could do with the thing you had made.

At this point, the Deputy Head arrived with cheese, to check we were getting on OK and because one of the conditions of them showing up was that cheese would be provided (at their request).

We then moved the discussion on to talking about how to build things out of French. We talked about blocks fitting together, fiddly bits that need tweaking, being able to recall set sentences and being able to create your own. Then we spent the rest of the session working with chunks of French to see what we could build - the picture will give you an idea of the sort of things we were working with.

It was important for them to realise that writing in French isn't something that some people could magically do and others couldn't. And that the same skills of building something out of blocks and making something of your own, also applied to French in the same way they applied to lego or meccano.

In the second session (before the cheese) we customised pictures of cars. This is my car, the Deputy Head's car and the Head's car. They have been personalised. And this time the discussion moved on to talking about personalising the French, adding things that worked, and things that wouldn't work. There were also some rather forced references on my part to futuristic adaptations and retro features in an attempt to bring in the idea of tenses.

After the cheese, we set about doing a similar process in French. We called the activity Pimp My French after the car customisation TV show. Each pair had a selection of extra features they could add to the kit from the previous week. We concentrated on personalisation, adding variety and features - customising the French.

The third evening we made a machine for making French. We assembled the machine, sourced the French parts and proceeded to put together amusingly long sentences. The pictures below are not from the after school detentions (sorry, re-engagement sessions) but the design of the machine is the same. It works as a shape sorter on a conveyor belt. The first chunk is selected and placed in the correct shape hole on the template over the conveyor belt. This will be a verb which can be followed by an infinitive. So "j'aime" or "je peux", for example. This is followed in the correct order by an infinitive or a phrase beginning with an infinitive such as "jouer du piano". Then comes a statement of where, when or whith whom. And finally a conjunction, before the conveyor belt is moved on into position for the next 4 chunks. So it produced "sentences" such as, "I love to play tennis with my girlfriend because I can't go swimming with my brother but I prefer to eat chips at the seaside especially if I can ride my bike at the park so I would like to go to Norwich at the weekend."

Of course the "sentence" is random. Although it could have been much more random if they hadn't started to select the words they chose. This was the point of the exercise: to realise that French is built out of components that you select, and that you put together to make something you want to make. It was a metaphor made concrete.

We use other metaphors, often linked to technology - for example the food tech metaphor of making some tasty French out of the ingredients you have. The whole experience was a fun experiment, re-engaging (through cheese) with a group of pupils, helping rethink their attitude to French, and something to share with other teachers about how we can explore the language-learning process with pupils. I am sure the lego versus meccano debate is also relevant to the chunks and manipulation of language debate. You will have to make up your own mind about that...

Monday, 5 April 2021

No More Mr Nice Guy (for now)

 Oh well, I suppose it was inevitable at some point. I tried in a previous post to be positive about a new new GCSE and wholesale curriculum change. But I have to admit I am struggling with it at the moment. Best to get it out there and then if it all turns out to be a false alarm, then all shall be well and the Nice Man can go back to being nice.

I don't think other subjects are having a new new GCSE. This seems to be just for Modern Languages, somehow based on the 2016 Curriculum Review. This is the first thing I am struggling with. The Review took place in 2016. Which is the same year we started teaching the new GCSE. So how could they recommend that we needed a new new GCSE? 

Furthermore, it means the Review was based on looking at MFL teaching in the landscape of the old "Learn Fancy Answers by Rote" GCSE which did so much to destroy the teaching of spontaneous speaking. So the conclusions of the Review and the proposals for a new new GCSE are in danger of responding to the wrong problems. 

In addition, since 2016 there has been a sea-change in MFL teaching, with more and more schools starting to teach with chunks of recombinable language. This has been driven by the new GCSE which requires pupils to be able to speak and write in response to unpredictable questions. And the standard of extended writing, for example, is unrecognisable since the days of ofsted MFL reports deploring pupils' inability to write. 

In a video in an earlier post, I describe how I move from chunking to manipulation of language as part of developing pupil spontaneity and independence. This popularity of chunking (pupils learning powerful language which can be recombined without manipulation of inflections) has been a strong movement in UK schools in the years since the Review. But the proposed new new GCSE ignores this and concentrates on manipulation, aiming first for grammatical knowledge rather than for growing communication. Wherever you stand on the manipulation-chunking spectrum, the proposals are based on an out of date Review. If they end up forcing teachers to throw away everything they have developed since the Review, we risk coming up with not just an answer to the wrong problem, but with the wrong answer to the wrong problem.

Much has been made of the use of corpora to define the vocabulary for the new new GCSE. I think we must have some misconceptions here that could be easily corrected. There are absurdities such as the fact that the grammatical content stipulates the difference between jouer au / jouer de for to play sport or to play an instrument. Yet apparently no sports or instruments are in the high frequency language list. This has led to confusion as to what topics will be in the syllabus or whether it can in some way be topic free. In some ways, the debate is irrelevant. Primary teachers will continue to use songs, stories and CLIL teaching, rich in vocabulary. And we should do the same at KS3. So what is the point of the vocabulary lists? 

It seems to be an attempt to solve some of the problems around the Listening and Reading papers. These were problematic in the old GCSE and continue to be problematic in the new GCSE. But thinking that this can be solved by defining the vocabulary to be learned, seems a naive misconception. There will be no change to grading, so the same numbers of pupils will have to continue to get questions wrong. Making the exam more accessible by limiting the vocabulary to be learned, will reinforce the need for the exam board to make questions "tricky". 

We already have questions where there is too much focus on language features rather than meaning. The Reading texts are on deliberately obscure topics to prevent pupils from using context and other reading strategies. The Listening is deliberately stripped of all listening cues, and is basically a Reading you have to do in your head. The new proposals for dictation, rather than responding to this problem, would seem to push it further to the extreme.

The worst aspect of the proposed new new GCSE is the apparent lack of a Conversation element in the Speaking. It is as if they have responded to the old Rote Learning of Fancy Answers GCSE (the Review happened in 2016) by abandoning all hope of pupils learning to extend answers spontaneously, developing their answers in response to further questioning.

I show in the video on a previous post how successful the development of a growing repertoire can be. I believe it is also fundamental to language-learning. It works through a carefully constructed and balanced curriculum, fine-tuned over decades. It ensures that there is progression in pupils' accumulation of language, while at every stage making sure they can use what they are learning to express themselves. And spend time making sure they can use it well. This is more than a "nice thing" to put in place. For any learning to happen, and for language-learning in particular, there has to be a process of systematization in the pupil's mind, a core of learning to which more and more is added.

We know the dangers of piecemeal learning, where what is new pushes out what was learned previously and the learning never adds up to anything. This may be another misconception about the new new GCSE, but I understood Michael Wardle to say in his talk at Language World, that he is happy for the pupil to acquire grammatical knowledge and only be able to use it to communicate at a later stage.

I hope this turns out to be a misunderstanding which can be addressed. But even if it turns out that the idea of a growing core repertoire is one we can hang on to, it seems that the language that makes up that core may have to be scrapped. At the moment, as I show in the video on the earlier post, pupils build proficiency in a repertoire that accumulates: Opinions, reasons (verb + infinitive), tenses, narration, difference of opinion, direct speech, narration combining tenses, disappointment and hope. This is to meet the GCSE criteria based around opinions, reasons, tenses and narration. It seems likely that these criteria will no longer hold sway. So a new core of language for a new purpose will have to be developed.

Ofsted is soon to produce more up to date reports on the MFL teaching landscape. Perhaps these will note the transformation in pupils' writing, a return to spontaneous speaking and the widespread use of chunking. Although, having said that, I suspect that ofsted are also looking through the lens of "phonics, high frequency vocabulary and grammar". Of course language-learning involves phonics, vocabulary and grammar. That doesn't mean that they should be separated out and tested separately. Taking things apart is easy. It's putting them together that matters. And in language-learning, it is how to put the process together that is being fine-tuned and tweaked. Throwing out the babies and the bathwater is never a good idea.

Please do read the previous more positive posts on Curriculum Change and watch the video on developing spontaneous speaking under the post on the One Nice Thing about the New (current) GCSE. And the Nice Man will get back to posting nice thoughts as soon as he can!

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Nice Things to Have Been Involved with: Gressenhall Museum - Farm and Workhouse

I mentioned in an earlier post how Terry Lamb's pupil voice research inspired me to create a curriculum which responded to pupils' desire to be able to use their French creatively and for real purposes. One of the most exciting things to come out of this was a long-running collaboration with Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse and the Norfolk Museums Education department. In particular Collie Mudie and then the incredible team of Jan Pitman and Mike Crisp.

At the Farm, there is a Stamper Trail, where parents are dragged round by excited youngsters, keen to get the stamps of the different animals on their sheet. What we did was get our Year 7 to create a French version of this trail, which is then made available to visitors to use.

 Everyone in Year 7 makes their own version. These are then judged and a committee of pupils are invited, under the supervision of the Year 9 International Leaders, to create the definitive version to be printed for the Museum.

As part of this, Jan and Mike have come into school to launch the project in assembly, commissioning the pupils to produce quality work for a real purpose. Also we have taken groups of pupils to the Museum to do their finished trail, including not just our own pupils but Primary feeder schools and our Spanish exchange visitors.

This was the original idea: to create projects where our pupils could use their French for real purposes and real audiences. But other important aspects came out of it. If you look at the example pictured, you can see that it has another purpose in developing pupil creativity. It provides a new context for all the language previously learned in Year 7. Pupils will have learned, for example, to describe people, order food in a restaurant or talk about their house. For the Stamper Trail project, it is up to them to draw on all this knowledge, applying it to the new context of animals around the farm.

But that's not all! We then turned our attention to the Workhouse part of the museum. It was peopled by strange lifesize figures: A girl looking down from on top of a cabinet, a man caught in a bear-trap, a motorcyclist with a hearse for a sidecar. Round these, we built a story so that the pupils could explore the museum, meeting the characters in any order, and build up a picture of what had happened. For each character there was a conversation sheet in French and English. 

The pupils had to use these to collect important information and key words for their glossary. When they had all the clues, they could find a letter, written in French, and interpret it using the key words they had acquired. It led them to the hiding place of the culprit. The drama over a whole afternoon was intense, and many pupils screamed when they opened the door and found him there.

We took groups of pupils to the Museum to complete the Mystery. Including Spanish exchange visitors one year when we had to find an extra day's activities because of a French air traffic control strike.

It was also the start of the idea that was going to turn into the later Street View Mysteries. And other projects at Norwich Castle Museum where pupils created stories and trails around artefacts that caught their attention.

Many many memories of sunny days on the farm (and the time we got cut off from returning to school by a flood), pupils who first came to do the trail in Year 6, then made their own in Year 7, did the mystery in Year 9, did the Spanish exchange in Year 10 and Year 12... Languages and doing things in languages part of their lives and their growing up. A lovely, lovely project to have been part of and which we will do again soon!

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

One Nice Thing about the New (current) GCSE

 The best thing about the new GCSE (examined in 2018 and 2019) is the way we can return to spontaneous speaking for the General Conversation.

The old GCSE was supposed to respond to the Dearing Review by making the Speaking Exam less "intimidating". This had damaging unintended consequences which may have set back languages teaching in the UK for a whole generation. The Speaking Controlled Assessment was set as a known task. A known topic, with known questions. Pupils learned it from memory, by rote. The markscheme privileged "variety" of language over a re-useable core, which again encouraged rote learning of specific one off fancy expressions rather than having a repertoire you could deploy across topics.

The new (current) GCSE specifically has marks for spontaneity and fluency. It has such a wide range of topics, that hopefully no-one would ask pupils to memorise all the possible answers by rote!

But have teachers adapted to the new GCSE yet? Have we lost the knowledge of how to teach pupils to respond spontaneously? After only going through the actual exam twice, have we managed to tweak our teaching so our pupils can give extended answers, developing coherent narration while improvising on the spot?

I have made this video on how I teach this over KS3 and KS4. (Click this link if the embedded video doesn't show.)

We don't know what the new new GCSE speaking exam is going to look like, and obviously we will have to make changes to our teaching to equip pupils to tackle the tasks and success criteria. I just hope the ability to speak fluently and develop answers in response to further questioning is something that continues to be rewarded.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Thinking Nice Thoughts about Curriculum Change

 With hints of big changes coming, through the new GCSE, I am determined not to be frightened of change. If I can recognise and admit to some of the obstacles, perhaps I will be better placed to be objective and effective.

Change isn't about creating a new curriculum on paper, with everything ticked off and covered somewhere. The curriculum is what happens in teachers' classrooms, in pupils' books, in pupils' heads. It is the flow of learning like the current of a river, heading somewhere and taking all along with it, moving and growing.

In languages we need to create a curriculum which does three things. 

1. It has to have a sense of overall progression and accumulation of language both in terms of memorisation and understanding, leading to growing mastery of the whole system.

2. It must not delay the ability to use the language until mastery of the whole system has been accomplished. Self expression, creativity and exploration of culture must be there throughout and for all learners.

3. The ability to use the language is as important as knowledge of the language. It requires constant practice, monitoring and development. New language must add to what pupils can do, and improve the range, spontaneity, sophistication and coherence with which they can do it.

The first two come together in the third.

Creating this on paper is hard enough. Making it happen in the hundreds of different lessons over all the year groups across a department, is a huge task. It has to be a task shared by all, where one person's vision doesn't stifle the contribution of others. And where the different versions of the vision that inevitably happen with different teachers, different pupils, different classes, are a strength not a flaw. Add to that staffing changes, personal circumstances, changes to groupings, to the school day, and it's a never ending labour that is extraordinary when it all comes together.

Then there's the messages to pupils about their learning, the assessments, the exemplars, the resources. The things done in Year 7 that you expect a class you pick up in Year 9 to respond to, like the "fish" hand signal to pre-empt a mispronunication of the word "coiffeur". The things you hear pupils say that show you they've got the message, "The French is easy, it's thinking what you can say with it that you need to work on." Or "It's like food tech - work with the ingredients you've got."

And what if the central thing you are working towards - increasing their ability to develop spoken and written answers spontaneously - is no longer rewarded or required at GCSE? We did live through a GCSE where rote learning of fancy model answers did trump the ability to speak spontaneously. But if we really believe in it, surely it is a powerful enough curriculum model that it will sweep along with it all the other debris of possessive pronouns and preceding direct objects?

You see, it was helpful to write this. I am more and more confident that we should stick with what we've got and the time to throw in some of the fiddly stuff is later, once the current is strong enough to take it onwards.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Much Nicer People than Me

 This is a post where I mention a few of the people who have shaped my thinking about languages teaching, and to whom I owe so much. Of course I have worked with many, many people over the years, found support and friendship, but if I wanted to illustrate how ideas have developed, then these people make the headlines. 

For the whole idea that language teaching is an intellectual pursuit in a process of evolution, Wasyl Cajkler was my first inspiration. An expert in linguistics as well as in teaching, he could answer any question and make the answer fascinating. My subject was no longer languages, it was language teaching.

In the 1990s, it was Anne Prentis and Iain Mitchell who first made me think about recycling the most powerful language that meant pupils could start to express themselves independently. Anne Prentis showed me the power of verb + infinitive to equip pupils to give opinions and justify them in detail. And I remember the exact moment in a talk by Iain Mitchell, that I saw how a whole lesson could be built about a grid of recombinable language. And how that language and fluency in using it could then be transferred to another topic.

Barry Jones, James Burch and Steven Fawkes were inspiring examples of how the communicative approach should work - full of energy and attention to detail in getting pupils to pronounce and memorise language, and with the Graded Objectives approach, they had more of a sense of step-by-step progress than we sometimes remember. Later on, in the same inspirational vein, I should add James Stubbs, with his insistence that instead of giving up on the target language approach, we should make sure pupils' use of classroom language dovetails with the progression pupils make. Not just keeping pace with it, but interlinked with it and ultimately driving learning along. 

At the end of the 90s Heather Rendall in talks and in her CILT Pathfinder Stimulating Grammatical Awareness, was the first person I saw talking about phonics and mapping it out in the same way in French as you would do in Spanish. And stressing its importance for accurate spelling, learning, reading, listening and writing as well as for pronunciation.

Ann Swarbrick always struck me with her indomitable determination that language teaching should be accessible and equitable. Pupils should be equipped to say what they wanted to say, and all pupils had something to gain from learning a language. It was also Ann who brought the BBC to film me teaching a lesson for the OU PGCE course at the start of the 2000s. I recently re-watched the CD ROM clips, and it was startling to see me teaching extended spontaneous speaking and writing with scaffolding, in exactly the same way as I do now, but with more target language interaction in the classroom. Ann included some of my work on reading strategies for authentic materials in her CILT Pathfinder Reading for Pleasure in a Foreign Language, which led on to me working on resources for OUP.

When I became Head of Department, Terry Lamb's research into pupil voice gave me the vision to build a new curriculum. This meant stripping back what was learned, concentrating on getting good at using it, and then using it for real or creative outcomes. 

A huge influence on us all is Dr. Rachel Hawkes, who not only has her own contagious passion for developing pupils' ability to take language and use it in exciting creative ways, but who also nurtures others individually and in networks. Her francophoniques are still built in to our Year 7 curriculum, and the Francovision Song Contest kick-started our curriculum built around tangible outcomes for each unit that won us a European Award for Languages. We also worked together on ALL Connect training, the Language on Film competition and a LinkedUp project where parents started Spanish in class alongside their children.

David Buckland's monumental Framework of Objectives remains the best and most powerful description of how to be ambitious in language learning, broken down into steps. It's just stunning. Get the folder down from the shelf. Forget about the ticking things off in a grid. Just look at the vision and the detail, the knowledge, experience and clarity.

Throughout all of this time, the Association for Language Learning has been central to my journey in language teaching. And through ALL, I have known Joe Dale and Helen Myers for many years. But in terms of their impact on thinking in MFL teaching, it's over the last couple of years that their influence has truly been felt. Both have been working for a long time on nurturing a professional, welcoming and supportive MFL community, which has come to fruition over the difficult lockdown period. It has reinforced what for me started with Wasyl Cajkler in the 1990s: that it is the openness to different approaches, visions, contributions that make MFL teaching exciting. There will never be a single silver bullet approach. All voices are welcome and there is no right answer.

Where to find more of the Nice Man being Nice and Teaching Languages

 Here is where you can chase up some things that I have written or posted.

On my YouTube channel, I have Remote Learning videos, so you can see what "The nice man in the videos" sounds like. And all my other videos, for CPD. My Year 8s did actually say, "You could be a famous YouTube French teacher" so you never know...

OUP guest blog on how language learning is like accumulating a snowball of language. Don't let your French melt! Make it yours, and make sure new French sticks to it so it gets bigger and bigger. A nice story of a chat with a pupil which turned out to be important for both of us. He went on to become a police officer. (Annoyingly the Spanish resource that accompanies the article has 2 of the boxes on the second line swapped round so watch out.)

Webinars and Conference talks: Language World 2020 on Going Beyond the Sentence. If you have access to the linguascope teachers CPD area, you can find a more up to date version of this talk from March 2021 hosted by Crista Hazell. A linguascope webinar hosted by Stéphane Derône on having a Game Plan to extend speaking and writing, and a linguascope teachlang conference talk on Metaphors and Metacognition - I don't know if this link still works as I don't have a facebook login. And a TILT video hosted by Joe Dale and Helen Myers where I talk about Creative Outcomes in language teaching. On these webinars, Helen likes to call me Early Man, rather than The Nice Man. Not because I am a Neanderthal, but because I like to get there early and have a nice chat.

Helen Myers hosts some of my resources from talks I gave at Language World in 2005 and 2007 on the Association for Language Learning London Branch website. They are useful for basic Keep Talking and Dice Speaking templates that can be adapted to any topic. More of my resources can be found on my TES "shop", many of them for free. Here is the page on Amazon with books I have co-written. Other bookshops are available. The Nice Man recommends the A Level Spanish Grammar and Translation Workbook, but warns you that the 2 different editions are basically the same on the inside so don't buy both.

Here is a Language Learning Journal article from 2005 talking about having a core of powerful language to enable pupils to talk spontaneously and develop ideas across topics. And an article on Cultural Capital on page 13 of the May 2020 Language Today. Some thoughts on the history of developing communication and spontaneous speaking for the Association for Language Learning's page on the GCSE Speaking Endorsement in 2021. Contains a nice story about my dad speaking Latin to a French car mechanic.

You can hear some podcasts I have been invited on to: 2008 at Language World with the very lovely Joe Dale in a very relaxed chat about French Nintendo DS club inspired by Ewan McIntosh and about teaching over the internet from home before broadband. With QKA languages talking about the Google Street View Mysteries and also how different GCSEs encouraged or thwarted teaching spontaneous speaking. And talking on the mfltwitterati podcast with Joe Dale and the equally lovely Noah Geisel about football as a metaphor for the speaking exam. On podcasts it seems obligatory to refer to guests as "the very lovely..." so that makes me "the very lovely nice man."