Encouraging speaking skills in MFL


This page provides teachers with a background to the 'Group Talk' project, designed by Greg Horton at Wildern School in Hampshire. The project was devised to encourage more spontaneous talk and was the subject of an Ofsted good practice example which can be viewed here.


Background

The Group Talk project was born out of dissatisfaction with traditional formulaic speaking activities, and the need to engage learners through a more dynamic and spontaneous use of language. In a Group Talk environment, pupils sit around tables and interact within small groups. Conversations are prompted by a given stimulus and then sustained through opinion, conjecture and debate. Pupils learn how to agree or, better still, disagree with the views of their peers. ‘Ni hablar!’ ‘Du spinnst!’ ‘Tu rigoles!’ is the language of Group Talk at its animated best.

Motivation

Group Talk changes the language learning landscape. The classroom environment becomes a much more vibrant and pupil-centred one, and oracy is a key feature of most lessons. Pupils enjoy the increased opportunities for collaboration and self-expression. As one Year 9 pupil put it: ‘You get to say what you really think about things and to find out what other people think.’ In the words of another: ‘You’re talking about the stuff you would usually talk about, so you might as well do it in German.’


Group talk in action (clip 1)

German - opinions on clothes


Group talk in action (clip 2)

German - opinions on school


Group talk in action (clip 3)

German - healthy living

Group talk in action (clip 4)

Spanish - healthy living


Implementing Group Talk

MFL Departments wishing to use the 'Group Talk' model to encourage more spontaneous speaking skills should plan carefully and introduce the necessary words and phrases in stages. In order to facilitate this, Wildern School devised a Group Talk Progression chart which can be downloaded here.