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'Read aloud' - Utilising engaging activities that spark excitement

As the 'newish kid on the block' in terms of the new GCSE MFL specification in England, incorporating read-aloud activities in the modern language classroom offers numerous benefits, including improving listening comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary acquisition, and fostering a deeper understanding of the language and culture.

In this blog entry, my goal is to highlight a range of activities that I have either implemented or plan to incorporate into my classes. While some of these activities align with those I already use in my own classroom, there are numerous new ones that have been graciously shared or created by my colleagues. I will strive to acknowledge their contributions to the best of my ability.

Nevertheless, these activities have been compiled by colleagues who may have encountered them elsewhere but can't recall the source. Therefore, if you notice an activity that originates from your original idea and you haven't been credited, please let me know, and I will update the post accordingly with proper attribution!

The main aim of this post is to share good practice within our Languages Community!🙂

Examples of activities:

A multitude of fantastic colleagues shared these activities on social media.

On X:

  • „Swap and Stop“ (pupils have a sentence on a strip of paper, walk around reading to each other & swapping every time until I (or another pupil) says „Stop“ & randomly chooses one of the sentences (usually projected on the board) for the winner.

  • "Find your partner": Pupil has one part of a sentence (e.g..: 'Ich mag Deutsch. / I like German.') goes around constantly repeating their phrase, the partner that they need to find might have: 'weil ich gern Sprachen lerne / because I like learning languages.' & also walks around repeating it until they‘ve found each other.

  • Playing some kind of authentic song in the background and they have to try and read above the music! Works well!

  • "Quiz Quiz Trade": Write phrase or sentence in target language and English on bit of paper. Pupils move around class. Read aloud in TL. Partner should try to translate (can give hints). Then partner reads theirs, translates, swaps papers, moves on. Low stakes and lots of reading aloud.

  • Mine love "Trap Door" texts: texts with variables to choose from, then guess what your partner has by reading the full text with one option, taking turns and restarting from the top every time they make a mistake.

  • We also like "Loopy Texts": a longer whacky narrative where TL (German) sentences and their translation alternate, and they read that in pairs, one language per person, on a loop until I say stop.

  • "FASE Reading Beat the teacher": You have a few sentences of language on the board colour coded. You challenge the class to take it in turns to speak. 'I'm red, you're blue.' I always make sure they've heard me speaking it first. Then swap the colours around. Teacher says red, class says blue. You could split the class in two and get them to compete against each other. Second round: quick fire questions: How do you say...? Either Target language to English or vice versa. The best bit is, it's really low prep and some of my most reluctant classes will have a go. Third round: you can start to cover up words as part of a memory game. Fourth round: questioning - which word contains the sound...? You can include loads of differentiation.

  • "Little fingers, little ears": After a 3 2 1 countdown, all students read a text simultaneously. Seems to reduce anxiety as everyone focuses on their own reading. Teacher circulates, picking up on difficulties, mispronunciation - original idea by BarryNSmith79.

  • "Any reason": Some sentences on the board, students work in pairs & take turns to read them, they can read up to 3 sentences in one go within their turn but the person who reads the last sentence is the loser.

  • Another is "High 5": Apee with a sentence in it, students go around and read the sentence to different people, who translate. When they find someone with the same sentence as them, they do High 5 (chócala, in Spanish).

  • "Coloured reading": Version 1: sentences in different colours. Teacher reads one and pupils say the colour in TL before teacher reaches the end (then doing pairs). Version 2: Teacher reads sentence and pupils have to read the same sentence more quickly and reach the end before the teacher. Again, play in pairs.

  • " Dice reading": Six sentences on the board. Students throw a dice and read that sentence. Then increase challenge by doing the same English to TL. Helps memorising new structures.

  • "Hands up when": Student A closes their eyes, student B writes a word from sentence builder on w/b and shows to whole class. Student A reads from sentence builder and when they say the hidden word first hands up in the class gets the point then repeat.

  • "Red, blue, amber, green": Have a text for students to read aloud. Select words (could be random or could be used to identify core grammar points/items of vocab). Colour them in the colours above. Students read aloud - maximum of 4 words a time - in pairs. Red +1 point, blue -1, amber +3.

  • I read short text 3 x (with English translation),I narrate pronunciation challenges & then get individual students to read sentences from text - lots have a go. I’m effusive about their fab reading. I know who might struggle so I read short bit for them to mimic-so everyone’s successful.

On Facebook:

Secondary MFL Matters & Teaching German:

Gisèle Cortese:

  • In pairs, they take it in turns to read a text but they can only read 1, 3 or 5 words. The person who reads the last word loses. For a few weeks I dictate the date and title of the lessons, then I progress it to a volunteer to read it out to the class - original idea by Best_Lesson_Ever

Christelle Bernard:

  • "Bingo with Sentences": I have about 10 to 12 similar sentences on a slide eg: j’ai un chien, j’ai deux chiens, j’ai un chien noir etc…. Ask the pupils to pick 5 of them and write them down in their books. Then I start calling them out , either in TL (French) if it is a the start of the teaching sequence and I want them to hear the words over and over or in English if I am checking understanding. Once a pupil has their 5 sentences called out he/ she wins. We repeat the process but with 4 different sentences and the winner doesn’t have to write anything as he/she calls out the sentences. My pupils really like it and get their listening well focussed.

Helen Tamsin:

  • "Shadow reading" (but this is my own adaptation of a Conti activity) - students in pairs, reading a text broken down into lines. Optional pre-activity would be to highlight any tricky sounds we've talked about in Phonics focused activities to draw their attention to it. Otherwise if the text is just on the board, just highlight tricky sounds in a different colour to draw attention. One student is the Reader first, other one is the Shadow. The Reader counts down 3,2,1 and starts reading. The Shadow must try to read at the exact same time as them. The Reader makes this difficult by speeding up, slowing down, randomly stopping! If the Reader makes the Shadow come 'unstuck' they get a point. If the Shadow makes it to the end of the sentence without coming 'unstuck' they get a point. Then swap roles! The kids get really into it.

Bernie Saline:

  • "Popcorn reading": ask student to read a line or a sentence and stop. Call out a name and that student must pick up and continue reading. (To be honest I'm not sure if this one reduces anxiety, but it's something they're quite used to doing in English, so generally ok!).

  • "Student dictation": one student reads text. The other must try writing it down. This one is student centred pair work: good for lowering the anxiety levels.

Sarah Caroline:

  • My classes like playing "21 dares": I just play with 11 sentences though as teach KS2. They can read out 1,2 or 3 sentences ( it could be adapted to 1, 2, 3 words) but the person who says number 11 loses. Makes them recycle a lot of language. They could even write their own if you wanted it to be a longer activity.

Marie Massè:

  • This is an idea I got from Rachel Hawkes a few years ago at the Language show in London. I put a dialogue on the board. Person A, Person B, prior learning language. First time, students read aloud the dialogue, exactly as it is. Then, second time, students add some emotions, they may read aloud as an angry person, happy person, confused etc… and then third time, they change the information underlined. The second reading makes it very fun, lots of angry reading or funny characters They forget they are reading aloud. Usually lots of gestures as well, lots of smiling faces in the room.

Jayne Pritzlaff:

  • "Fast and furious" with some gaps to spontaneously fill in. I read aloud and point to the text then stop, they shout the word I’ve stopped at - usually a tricky one or one they all get wrong a lot but they’re all shouting it together so less stressful.

Nicole Wiesmann-Hubbard:

  • "Reading train": first student in a group reads first sentence, next student in that same group reads sentence one and sentence 2, third student in the group reads sentence 1,2 and 3 and so on. I time them. The second group then does the same and tries to beat the time and so on. My students really like the competition element. I always give them time in pairs to practice first and you could give them the option of organising the group themselves from weaker to stronger.

Additional activities referenced by colleagues include: 'Sentence builders reading', 'Mind reader', 'Sentence stealers' (original ideas: G. Conti), 'Reading Battleships', 'F Factor' (original idea from McKie Mastery Power Phonics & Power English) , 'Be the last one', 'Paired reading', 'Algo game', 'Back-to-back dictation', regional accents, and emotions...

Last but not least, a heartfelt "THANK YOU" to everyone who has generously shared their classroom practices! I am confident that your contribution will leave a meaningful impact on every colleague who reads this post, and it will undoubtedly influence my own practice as well!


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