MFL motivators

Engagement in MFL

Have you had your five a day? What could this mean for a language learner?

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These were the questions that we posed in this week’s Butterfly staff briefing.

In the same way as our body need a varied diet, successful language learning requires lessons that have a mixed diet of activities and skills being practised on a regular basis. This not only facilitates a more well-rounded learner, but additionally pupils are more versed at practising the skills required for the new linear exams which in addition to the traditional 4 skills of listening; reading; writing and speaking; pupils now need to be able to translate from English to the target language and the other way also.

In exploring how we might vary pupils learning whilst enhancing their skills we looked at a variety of activities to ensure that learning is engaging and fun. Since pupils need to know how to conjugate verbs why not try your hand at battleships as a mini-review? This activity, allows pupils to practise pre-learned knowledge whilst speaking out the French, Spanish etc as they try to seek out the ships on their opponents map.


It’s important in our busy work lives not to forget treasures that are already out there. In this morning’s Butterfly, staff were challenged to a game of noughts and crosses using Spanish vocabulary previously unlearnt, but using pictures to decipher meaning and get a place on the game. To do this we use Linguascope Website, which has proved invaluable to use as min-plenaries in class when reviewing vocabulary on a topic.

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For our more competitive students a spelling bee to practise vocabulary on a unit as a starter activity, could easily give way to whole year group challenge. Why not go the whole hog and compete against another local school?

Whilst we are thinking of bees, a further fun activity is a pupil bee writing activity. Teachers print texts and place them around the room or in the corridor and pupils in small teams have to collect the words (pollen) from the texts and bring it back to their team (the hive) for their team to write down the target language phrases. This could be adapted to a translation activity also, but may require a bit more time.  Here is an example of our Teacher bee this morning.

Finally for those who struggle with listening skills, an alternative take on the traditional listening is pre-planned version of Chinese whispers. This could take the form of phrases in different tenses that have to be successfully passed down and spoken out. Winning teams are the fastest and most accurate in retaining the target language sentences.

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Finding new ways for pupils to use their ‘five a day’ is crucial for future exam success, and we continue to look for new and innovative ways to review, practise and enhance these as we strive for greater exam success in the future.


Shining morning faces

Success, so they say, is 80% just turning up.

During the course of this year, aside from the 25 hours a week of lessons, our students have turned up after school and weekends amounting to 1100 revision sessions since April. This is obviously more than just turning up. They are the acts of buying in, of making a start and accessing opportunities. The hard part is the getting up, the travelling and the arriving. Once through the doors the opportunities can open up, 1100 sessions of them.

Time travels so fast; going back to previous posts I found a clip of our current Year 11 as Year 8s. They were preparing for a fashion show as part of a recycling project in their Building Learning Power lessons. Sam Cole organised the show with some local help, and the clip has some ‘faces’ from the current cohort. This is their 2nd act on Shakespeare’s world stage. Contrary to the perceived wisdom they are not ‘whining with their satchels’ or ‘creeping like snails’, but are showing enthusiasm, energy and activeness with their ‘shining morning faces’. They’ve grown up fast  and make us very proud.



The Library has all the answers (and weapons)

Image-3 (2)This week the Humanities department looked at how we use the library and its resources in our lessons. Using the library is something we incorporate into our teaching and have special “library lessons” based around research tasks using the libraries resources.

There are a number of benefits to this. Firstly, it helps build our students to become more independent learners. The lessons’ main focus is on research tasks, meaning students have to find information for themselves, and are developing their own independence and study skills. In our media-age this is vital that young people access for themselves a multiple set of resources to compare and contrast.

We focused on this in our session by giving staff a list of topics and then asking them to find books on those topics using the library guide. This is an example of the independent research skills we are trying to build in our students. This allows students to take responsibility for their own learning and engage them by allowing them to discover information for themselves.


The second aim of using library resources is to link student’s research directly to GCSE exam style questions. We did this by giving staff a GCSE style question based on the Battle of the Somme and asked them to research the topic using selected books and articles.


This half-term, Year 7 & 8 students have been spending time in the library during their History lessons to develop their research skills. Year 7 have spent time researching the Witch trials whilst Year 8 have been studying the Battle of the Somme, as well as discussing the actual causes of the Great War.

We use a research strip grid when teaching this, which allow students to format their research. This is important as it gives students an opportunity to practise skills needed for writing a bibliography such as author, publisher, and year published of any of the books/articles or websites that they use.

The students  have enjoyed their time in the library and have picked up some valuable skills such as how to use a glossary, finding information for a bibliography and researching using trusted internet sources, but not Wikipedia.

Most importantly, books are coming back!




The art of Instruction & Skill- Creative Arts take over CPD

On Wednesday, the staff participated in some acting hosted by the Creative Arts faculty. As a department, we really wanted to showcase some of the areas within the faculty and Drama we thought would allow everyone to enjoy themselves and display not only the skills we all use in our subjects but the thespians in all of us!

One of the threads that runs through the whole faculty and many other areas within the school is:

  1. confidence
  2. team work
  3. creativity
  4. listening
  5. communication

Staff shared some of these skills using a range of physical theatre tasks- this was a fantastic opportunity for staff to appreciate the importance of explanation/ clarity and the learning direction of the lesson. Sometimes it is really easy for us to get an idea of where we want our learners to be by the end of the lesson, however, it is not always as clear for the pupils. Enabling staff to practise the 5 core values above really helped embed and made us much more reflective as teachers.

Now for the fun part- Staff had to form groups and create a crane, a dinner service and a functioning Tower Bridge which was purely for our entertainment I think! (Much harder than it looks- credit to the pupils!)

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We have Tower Bridge with boats passing through and in particular a free water swimmer which was most impressive.


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Thank you to everyone for getting involved and enjoy the pictures! 🙂

A week of watering

Our 1st week back and Year 11 have been fantastic in getting right into their revision for the exams.

On Wednesday we held our 1st whole year group waking talking mock. The Humanities Faculty bravely planned not just a 2 hour RE session for the whole year group, but this was followed by 3 hours for the 99 students who study History.

Up to now we have gone small-scale, with cohorts of 10-20 students walking and talking their way through Maths, English and Science papers. This week we crashed out the microphones, resources and Hall for a full-scale look at the key questions in RE and History. The students were prepared to actually answer the mock paper, but we went for the Plan-Do-Review model of the 12 and 16 mark questions to maximise their understanding and readiness for the real thing.

The student response was fantastic throughout the day, and this was supported by the planning and resourcing of the Humanities faculty.

Questions were chosen, broken down with mark-scheme precision and resourced into student-friendly packs. Each question was talked through, with staff in support to circulate and further explain in classic assessment for learning mode. The students grew in confidence throughout the day, and the positivity that staff were imparting had a great effect on the whole Hall. This was the case the whole week, with after-school sessions from all faculties supporting the classroom learning.

I am writing this on Saturday morning, and I can hear the revision sessions  in Maths and English. 50 students have come in to carry on the focused start to the term, and once again colleagues of all Faculties are with them every step of the way.


**Breaking news: WESTFIELD ACADEMY TEACHMEET 27th June**



On Wednesday 27th June, Westfield Academy, Watford are hosting their 2nd Teach meet on the topic of ‘Raising Achievement’.

After the roaring success of our previous teach meet 2 years ago and our beautiful new building- we thought it a perfect time to host another CPD event for all of the enthusiastic teachers out there!

Teach meets are a golden opportunity to hear best practice, get some fantastic ideas, listen to inspirational teachers and win some prizes along the way! Our set up will be relaxed and fun, so please come and join us for superb and FREE CPD.

Have a nosey at our previous Teachmeet success  here:  

Westfield Academy would love to have as many new visitors to our new school and use the opportunity to hear/ or share some amazing strategies teachers/leaders/mentors use to raise achievement in pupils. 

You can visit us as simply a spectator or even better- offer to deliver a presentation 🙂

Presentations format:

  1. Between 3-10mins long- short and purposeful is our goal!
  2. Presentations can be classroom based strategies, whole school, pastoral or leadership orientated. We would love to have speakers from a variety of different educational backgrounds and use this opportunity to learn from one another.

**If you are interested in joining us from 4.30-7pm on Wednesday 27th June please email Emma Keys at  or by the 10th of May. **   



Polishing our use of consolidations


Consolidation is a lesson stage where new material is reviewed, and learning is reinforced. It normally occurs at the end of the lesson. Consolidation can be compared with revision, which takes place at a later time and serves to remind learners of key learning points. As well as helping learners retain material and reinforcing it, consolidation is an opportunity to clarify and address any doubts. It can also offer a different ‘angle’ on new language, which is productive for learners with different learning styles. The key to any consolidation activity is to ask students to complete a short task which enables them to show their understanding of the learning objective but in a different way to which it was taught.

This week during our Teaching and Learning Briefing, teachers were asked to create a t-shirt design to show their understanding of what consolidation means in the classroom. Check out their masterpieces:


As a group, we spent some time sharing ideas and designing a variety of ways students can show what they have learned in their lessons.


  • An answerphone message.
  • A newspaper editorial.
  • A twitter style message of 140 characters. Also, known as a tweet.
  • A wallpaper design.
  • A billboard design.
  • A picture of a postage stamp.
  • A modelling-clay sculpture.
  • A comic strip.
  • A game of charades.
  • A stand-up comedy set.
  • A medicine explanation leaflet.
  • A short film.
  • A short film script.
  • A slow-motion sport’s replay.
  • A podcast.
  • A T-shirt design.
  • A railway platform announcement.
  • A puppet show.
  • A 3D mind map.
  • A set of flash cards.
  • A greeting card.
  • A Mr Man character.
  • A short rap or poem.
  • A magic spell.
  • An illustrated menu.
  • A notice in a workplace.
  • A traffic sign.
  • A message in a bottle.
  • An astrological prediction.
  • A weather forecast.
  • Partner quiz.
  • This is the answer. What’s the question?
  • Create a revision card.
  • 30 second JAM time. (Talk about topic without stopping)
  • Character profile/ Top Trump card.
  • Glossary for the lesson.
  • Story/ information mapping. Draw a set of pictures to explain what you have learned.
  • Plan a lesson.
  • Kahoot.
  • Revision Pong.
  • Demonstration of activity.
  • High 5. Draw a hand and fill it with 5 key words.
  • Problem-solving quest.
  • Write an email to explain to your parents what you have learned.
  • Expert Instagram. Create 5 tiles sharing your expert account on the ‘gram’.
  • Snapchat video.

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Take the time to experiment and plan some new ideas for the next academic year- trial them in the summer term and see what works for you! and most importantly- Share your ideas with your colleagues 🙂