9 Ways to Make the Most of Cross Curricular Opportunities in Modern Foreign Languages Teaching – No Disadvantages
6 min (+ optional videos)
What relevance does learning in one subject have to others? Or any other part of a child’s life, come to that? Chopping up a school day into isolated subject blocks is enough to make you think that one area of study has little (if anything) to do with the others. If the information we pick up in one ‘block’ seems to have no other use outside of this, then why should we bother learning it at all? Fortunately, there’s a better way. I’d like to think of it as the cheese board of teaching. But then again, as a cheese-lover, I would do, wouldn’t I?
MFL is a fantastic subject for cross curricular opportunities.
If you’re not convinced, then read on to find some fabulous ways you can take full advantage of these. And if you don’t need convincing, then read on too! You’ll love the fun ideas shared here.
Start ‘Em Young!
OK, so it’s not officially part of the KS1 curriculum, but why not introduce foreign languages early on? Learning about, say colours, or body parts, or numbers in a new language can be fun! I’ve seen some grand work on this in PE lessons.
It’s also being taken up as part of teacher training.
And then we get to KS2. You can start with the topic. Let’s stick to colours, body parts and numbers for now – we’ve got those covered. Those links will take you to French resources, but they are also available in Spanish or German too.
But then, after some teaching here, why not recap by ditching English in your PE lessons for a bit?
Keep it Real
Anyway, let’s get back to the cheese, as promised. Or food in general, come to that. It always hits the spot with young learners when there’s a snack involved. I’m talking about a FRENCH CAFÉ. Apart from the opportunity for children to interact in French, they can take advantage of the opportunity to prepare bills, create menus, posters, labels and bunting or research some ambient music. You can involve the whole school community. Here are some top tips and tricks:
- Make a café serving a simple French breakfast (keep it simple – coffee, orange juice and croissant for example) or lunch (crêpes, sandwiches, including cheese, of course!) for the whole school community – children, teaching staff, parents, relatives, governors.
- Children could act as French speaking waiters and waitresses.
- Staff or parents could prepare and serve the food and drink for the waiters and waitresses.
- Most supermarkets have a Community Champion. You may be able to take advantage of this to source food for free from there.
- Practise the French to be spoken by the waiters and waitresses in advance.
- Practise with the rest of the school community how to order in French.
- Waiters and waitresses will need to be aware of hygiene and safety issues.
- Carry out a risk assessment.
- Ask an adult or confident child to seat and greet ‘customers’.
- Children can act as cashiers using knowledge of numbers.
- Ask for volunteers to wash up.
- Ask the children to wear black and white – bow ties would be perfect!
- Put out an advert on social media, or if you’re lucky enough to have a Music Service, try to find an accordion player.
- If you can get hold of some cafetieres, that would complete a truly multisensory experience.
Can’t you almost smell those coffees and croissants?
Or how about learning some new words by checking out menus in a different language online? English-French dictionaries at the ready… Here’s a starter for ten: https://www.dominos.fr/la-carte
Cross Curricular Hitch Hiking
Twinkl’s mission is a simple one: we help those who teach. So when it comes to cross curricular language teaching, we’d certainly pick up a hitch hiker.
Did you know that you can request a resource from us?
So why not save yourself some planning time? You don’t have to make resources for cross curricular teaching. We have a whole team of teachers, designers, illustrators and editors that will do that for you. Give us as much detail as you can about what you want and leave the rest to us!
Simply navigate to any of our resources and scroll down a bit.
Give Festivals an Extra Little Cross Curricular Fizz
Festivals could have been designed especially for cross-curricular teaching. And they get you right inside a culture. There are so many cracking resources to help you with this.
And let’s not forget the opportunities in celebrating the European Day of Languages. It’s great for data collection tasks from bar charts to pie charts (languages spoken in school, in European countries etc…). Or why not cost up a weekend away?
A Day in the Cross Curricular Life
Organising a day around the language you teach can be fun for everyone. You can involve your feeder schools’ language departments. And you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be a lot of cross curricular activities going on.
A Very Cunning Cross Curricular Plan
This black adder has its own cunning plan
If you’re mapping out the learning for the whole school, then get to know the topics being taught. Make them part of your language planning. This is a great example.
If You’d Care to Step Outside… In a Cross Curricular Way
At the Top of Your Cross Curricular Game
Lots of the games onsite at Twinkl encourage maths skills or are theme-based.
With the upcoming Men’s World Cup there are sure to be many keen young footballers who would love to get their teeth (or feet) into these resources.
Cross Curricular Upgrades
The Planit Schemes of work are theme-based units which cover a whole range of cross curricular topics.
Interactive online games are fabulous for engaging cross-curricular language learning.
Cross curricular teaching helps students to make connections. It gives more meaning to the subjects and skills they’re learning. You can begin to show them that the things they’re learning do mean something beyond an isolated classroom.
French President Charles de Gaulle once asked, “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?” I doubt he’d tried to find out which ones went perfectly together. But we know better, don’t we? It’s all about making connections.
Thanks for reading.
To all of my teacher friends… please do get in touch, on Linkedin, with a governor of 30 years’ experience (Nigel Cox
out of network3rd+ Senior IT Industry Executive, Business Owner and Leader in Education and Government sectors) who posted this:
“Teaching is a very easy job. Teachers progress through a structured pay process without particular supporting merit resulting in highly paid teachers who don’t really pull their weight. As a result new entrants to the career are trapped at the bottom of the scales and responsibilities by the highly paid dead people’s shoes above them. The result is a stagnant and stale profession that people leave despite their vocational commitment. TeChing had to become more of a meritocracy and less of an institution. As a former chair of governors and currrnt governor I have never encountered a profession so out of touch with the rest of the working population.”
Perhaps someone could help this Leader in Education and Government sectors with his use of accurate English here? Please do help this poor soul. If you would like to comment on his suitability to be a school governor please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigel Cox – Chair of Finance Committee and Governor – Uplands Junior School | LinkedIn
View Nigel Cox’s profile on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional community. Nigel has 15 jobs listed on their profile. See the complete profile on LinkedIn and discover Nigel’s connections and jobs at similar companies.
I love it when my clothes smell of smoke, like they do tonight, but thought wildfires were in mainland Europe… until the farmer’s field 100 yards away caught fire at about 4pm this afternoon. Ye olde good neighbours of the street went out with buckets and wheelie-bins full of water – even hoses for those closer – whilst our next-door neighbour’s son went out with a can of cider. “I don’t think you’ll put it out with that Sam,” I said, “But we sure do appreciate the sacrifice.” Meanwhile, the fire engine had turned up at the bottom of the field. Luckily the wind blew it downhill towards the river where the said fire engine was doing its thing, and another fire engine shortly turned up in our road and went up and down for the next four hours to the water supply in a hole (one of those square-shaped covers in the roadway) at the other end of our street. And who doesn’t enjoy watching firefighters through the window? Don’t answer that! I make light of it, but with a different wind direction, we could all have been that farmer’s field.
Sadly, we must sell Peaches now. £18995. Use contact page if interested.
- Groundhog Day – An event that seems to recur over and over again, or which seems depressingly familiar and predictable.
- nuke the fridge – The point at which something demonstrates itself to be of inferior quality to previous installments.
- phone a friend – An indication that someone requires help or advice addressing the issue in question.
- the usual suspects – The set of people or things that are usually associated with an event.
- does exactly what it says on the tin – Something that performs in precisely the way it claims to.
- phoned in – To do something in a half-hearted or uncommitted way.
- The computer said “no”. – A situation where decisions are made based on computer-stored information rather than common sense, or where inflexibility prevents a seemingly straightforward resolution.
- jumped the shark – To go beyond the realms of credibility; the point at which something stretches plausibility to breaking point.
- the $64,000 question – A particularly important or important question or issue.
- all-singing, all-dancing – Something that features an array of impressive features.
- bucket list – A list of things to do before dying.
- Walter Mitty – A daydreamer; someone who indulges in imagined flights of fancy regarding personal triumph.
- collateral knowledge – Information learned as a by-product of researching or reading up on something else.
- difficult, difficult, lemon difficult – An indication that a problem is not straightforward (the opposite of easy peasy, lemon squeezy).
- need a bigger boat – An indication that a situation has been underestimated, or that the task in hand is going to require a different approach.
- first world problems – Problems or annoyances that are sarcastically acknowledged to be comparatively minor compared to issues elsewhere in the world.
- squeaky-bum time – A time of extreme nervousness or high tension.
- turned up to eleven – Something increased beyond its normal limits.
- hairdryer treatment – To shout fiercely and directly at someone whilst telling them off.
- going postal – To become extremely, uncontrollably angry, often reacting in a violent way.
- sliding door moment – A pivotal moment where a different decision could lead to an entirely different course of events.
- Godwin’s Law – The maxim that the longer an argument goes on, the more likely it is that one of the people involved will compare the opposing side to the Nazis.
- wardrobe malfunction – An unfortunate failure of clothing causing the wearer to be unintentionally exposed.
- turning it off and on again – A piece of advice offered in any situation where a device is not functioning as expected.
- “OK, boomer.” – A phrase used to dismiss or mock someone of the baby-boomer generation for expressing ideas that seem out-of-touch or condescending.
- take the red pill – To choose to become more aware about a situation, learning the potentially unpleasant truth rather than remaining blissfully ignorant.
- corridor of uncertainty – A situation where the right course of action is unclear.
- park the bus – To set oneself up to defend a position at all costs.
- Sophie’s choice – An impossible or extremely difficult decision with negative outcomes whatever choice is made.
- mic-drop – An expression of triumph at the end of a speech or performance; an impressive action that has a show-stopping effect.
- jumping the couch – To display frenetic or erratic behaviour.
- no shit, Sherlock – A sarcastic exclamation to indicate that someone has stated something obvious.
- It’s not rocket science – Used to suggest that something is relatively straightforward and uncomplicated.
- mental safari – A period of brief insanity; a series of rash or stupid actions.
- … is my middle name – An indication that X is a particular forte or interest of the person speaking.
- all is quiet on the Western Front – An indication that nothing is happening, often with the implication of stagnation or boredom.
- break the internet – to cause massive interest or reaction online.
- Trigger’s Broom – Something that is claimed to be the same despite extensive modifications.
Having taken away some interesting reads on holiday, I got to a book that I had been wanting to read for a while: “Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics – Modern idioms and where they came from”, by Gareth Carrol. Given the interest in my previous ramblings on idioms and hoping I’m not going to nuke the fridge with this one, I thought about this after reading the book and wanted to write a piece for you to spot and explain the modern idioms here. There are 38 of them to find. They have all appeared in reputable dictionaries and are acknowledged to have become accepted as generally-understood words/phrases in everyday use. I will provide the answers, of course, but if you want to know where they came from, then you’ll have to phone a friend or read the book. So here goes…
If you like beachy things, cycling or sunbathing, then the Île de Ré will float your bateau. It is France, after all, and so expect the usual suspects: drinking things you would never think of drinking at home (like kir); eating too much cheese and splurging in Hypermarchés. Good food, good wine… France does exactly what it says on the tin.
Sadly, I needed inspiration from Gareth Carrol’s book to write about the Île de Ré and could have phoned in a post. Let’s start from the top. When we arrived at the Huttopia Côte Sauvage campsite, the barrier was down. I pulled up and walked through, expecting the patron/ne to open it for me to drive through to check in. The computer said “no”. I was informed that I was blocking the entrance, so had to back up and go to the carpark around the corner. It takes a while to sort it all out and squeeze into our pitch.
The write-up from the camping website had definitely jumped the shark with this one: the Huttopia Côte Sauvage campsite. It was described as offering spacious pitches. It did not.
It said something about your not knowing where the campsite ends and the beach begins. It was obvious. There was a bloomin’ great hedge and fence between the site and the beach, which you had to access by exiting via the aforementioned barrier and walking up the road a bit. But here’s the $64,000 question: how do these camping sites get their info? I know that some don’t even visit the site, and rely on information provided by the owner, who pays to be on their website. It reads like an all-singing, all-dancing campsite, but not one for my bucket list, for sure. The owner must have had a Walter Mitty moment when writing about his place. Nevertheless, the collateral knowledge from reading “Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics” makes it fun to write about, even when the place for me is difficult, difficult, lemon difficult to like. But if I were going to like it, then I’d need a bigger boat, to be honest.
Back at the pitch, we were struggling to cope with first world problems: is there room enough in the fridge for beers; squeaky-bum time when Peaches looks like she’s about to run out of petrol and how to find shade when the sun’s turned up to eleven? In the next door pitch, a woman is giving the hairdryer treatment to her partner. She is going postal on him and I am sure it will not be long before Godwin’s Law comes into play. The lady also has the un-nerving habit of engaging in a self-inflicted wardrobe malfunction by pulling her dress up above her waist when she needed to scratch her buttock. Iona’s i-phone won’t charge because it is saying there is liquid in the charging port, and I advise turning it off and on again, which elicits a response of “OK, boomer.”
We end up going out every day just to find some shade. The hairy dog is suffering. To be fair, I knew it was all beach, bikes and watersports: that sliding door moment where I agreed to take the red pill and find out for ourselves, that corridor of uncertainty where the choice is to go with the Île de Ré and keep the others happy, or to park the bus on a trip I would find more interesting. Sophie’s choice.
Tash said to me, one evening, “It’s what I think of as France. Sitting in a bar of an evening looking out over the sea. People trying to sell you things..”. And then the mic-drop moment of: “Of course, you’ll have to drive us there.” I did try to look out for little vignettes of travel. Like when I was sitting on the grass/sand by the beach front. A van from a swimming pool/landscape garden company pulled abruptly to a halt in the no-parking zone over on the road. Three large black men got out wearing nothing but their boxer shorts and sprinted for the decking walkway down to the golden sand and warm sea. I’d seen excited children sprint for the beach, but this was a bit more left-field. After a quick dip, they came sprinting back, pulled on their clothes behind the van and drove off to the next job. Just three working men, on a blistering hot day, jumping the couch and cooling off between jobs.
You may have gathered that I was not too taken by the Île de Ré: no shit, Sherlock. It’s not rocket science, or brain surgery, or even rocket surgery – the Île de Ré was not my sort of France. I don’t cycle, hate beaches and don’t do water sports. So after this little mental safari, I think “The Summer Grinch” is my new middle name. Yes, all is quiet on the Western Font, because this is the Île de Ré.
But I can give you…
Ten things I have learnt about the Île de Ré:
- There are no mountains; it is very flat. In every sense.
- You are better off leaving three days early and heading north to a charming village like Loyat, near the medieval town Ploermel with its wonderful Friday market and nearby forest and 6000-year-old megalithic standing stones. A spacious pitch too.
3. People are proud of their island and everything seems to be “de Ré”. So you have “les bières de Ré”, “le biscuiterie de Ré”, or villages like “Sainte-Marie-de-Ré”, “Les Portes-en-Ré”, and “Saint-Martin-de-Ré”.
4. I liked lying on a forest floor, taking a break from a bum-busting bike ride, and looking up at the treetops, or collecting very large pine-cones.
5. It would be hard to break the internet if you write about the Île de Ré.
6. If you hire a bike, be sure that it is not one of those whose saddle is perfectly-designed to give you a very sore
7. It costs a lot of Euros to use the bridge from the mainland.
8. Shade is at a premium during globally-warmed summers here.
9. There is not really much to do. On each day and in every direction, it is the same old.
10. The Île de Ré is the Trigger’s Broom of France as I know (and love) it.
If Kenneth Williams were still with us, I think I’d like him as our Prime Minister. At least when he said ridiculous things, he expected us to laugh at him. One of the things I have clocked during this lockdown is how it is influencing our use of language in rather a ridiculous or bizarre way. Some words, like “lockdown” itself even, or “quarantine“, or “pandemic” have stepped to the forefront of everyday language when they were formerly rarely used. In other cases, words have been put together in a new way to name the actions or situations new to us. “Self-isolate”, “shielding”, “social distancing” or “support bubble” come to mind.
Meanwhile, while I mused on this, the Prime Minister, as it turned out, was not “shielding“; instead he was partying in Downing Street and certainly not “social distancing“. Several times. Even the day before the Queen sat alone in Westminster Abbey, mourning the death of Prince Philip, following the prescriptions of our leaders, our leaders were ignoring their messages for us all to “self-isolate“, “shield” and practise “social distancing“. And then Boris lied about it to the House of Commons. This is something completely new to me in politics. How can he get away with it? A Prime Minister given a police conviction while in office who stays in post? That really is a new one to me, especially when you consider that in most civil service professions, like teaching for example, it would be termination of contract and instant dismissal if you had even the slightest little misdemeanor coming up on your enhanced annual criminal records’ check.
And I have learnt some new words too: “furlough” is an example. This word has been around since the early seventeenth century and comes from the Dutch word vorloffe, meaning permission literally, or “leave of absence,” especially in military use. It was also applied to conditional temporary releases of prisoners for the purpose of going to jobs (work-release). But with Covid, it acquired a new nuance with the government’s “furlough” scheme.
But actually, here’s another nuance from the times we live in: Brexit is making us suffer now and, along with the crisis in Ukraine, has seen us all taking leave of absence from being able to pay our bills and struggle with the cost of fuel, petrol and food. And thinking how the meaning of “furlough” morphed from military to pandemic, let’s consider how some words are now morphing their meanings to the levels that “Carry On” films made their name on.
Now, in the House of Commons, Tory MP Chris Pincher was doing his best to support our love of double meanings, or new meanings of words. Start with his name: who is he pinching? He was the Deputy Chief Whip: who was he whipping? He was caught in the Private Members Bar (let’s not go into privates and members – those double-entendres would be going too far) trying to grope other men. And after an unacceptable length of time, he resigned from his “position“, saying he had just had too much to drink. He hoped that he had prescribed his own punishment. But Boris withdrew his whip. Oo er, missus. Suspended him (oh please, not suspenders on the Deputy Chief Whip now). But only after leaving it long enough to make us all think that he would just accept this as acceptable behaviour from his Deputy Chief Whip. Words and phrases from the good old linguistic past make me want to go back to those un-pc good old days. The former MP Neil Parish recently resigned when he was caught watching pornography when he was meant to be sitting in the House of Commons taking part in debates. Interestingly, he was one of the first to condemn the Deputy Chief Whip. I mean, how many of us really would expect to get away with watching porn in a work meeting? Come to that, how many of us would actually do it? This is a radically new way of seeing our elected leaders. How many of us would expect him to have become an arbiter in condemning sleaze? This really is a new way of seeing things.
In some cases, words and phrases seem today reflect the new way of seeing things that Covid has brought about. I am thinking of the terms “non-essential retail“ and “keyworker“. In the first case, it seems like a slap in the face of the excessive materialism that is part of our everyday lives and media. And what about those people whose career is now defined as pointlessly needless? What must this do to their self-esteem when someone asks them what they do for a living and they must reply: “I am a non-essential retailer”? Compare these unfortunates to those whose vocations are not simply essential, they are the very key to our existence. Perhaps this is a new leveler of social inequality? It doesn’t matter how high class you may be as a purveyor of the finest quality luxury merchandise; you are still unnecessary now. So this means that Bertram Burnley, jewelers by royal appointment since 1825, is now completely superfluous, whereas Chelsea Noakes, who works down the Co-op at weekends, is pivotal to the very survival of our species.
I’d say that was Chelsea one, Burnley nil. Meanwhile, we are being led by sleaze-balls and liars. Interesting “positions“. Doubly so. Oo err, Missus.
This Weekend, Iona challenged us to make a PowerPoint to show to each other. Fun game. So this was mine. I know hers will be about Harry Styles and extoll both of his qualities – he is rich and he is famous. But no doubt she will find a few more that I hadn’t thought of. I stayed closer to home with mine. The walls of our house to be precise. Wherever we have spent time, we always tried to pick up an original artwork from that location. This is mine from Jordan…
If I were talented enough, I would write and play a piece of music that would give listeners the feeling of sitting by a loch, watching the colours slowly change, listening to soft lapping waters and catching the cries of birds on the wind.
But I don’t need to do that. It’s already been done.
I was lucky enough to come across a Scottish duo, who do this with such feeling, incredible musicianship and a soul that transports you away to such a place.
Listen to the Cosmic Hippos, who recorded this in their house, enjoy the slideshow below and come and sit awhile beside me on the shores of a loch in one of the most beautiful corners of the world.
If you want more then head to Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/search?q=cosmic%20hippos
Let me tell you why I love the FA Cup Final. Cup Final day, at the end or the middle of May, always seems to be a sunny, sunny day, heralding the start of summer (through my rose-tinted spectacles). It was the FA Cup Final this weekend, and it made me realise how much football is a barometer of life. It was also a gloriously sunny late-spring day. Just like favourite songs can take you back to a certain time in your life, the FA Cup Final does this for me too. It all started with the first final I can remember: 1970, Arsenal v Liverpool, where Liverpool scored first, but Arsenal came back to win 2-1 after extra time. I can still see Charlie George throwing himself onto his back, arms aloft, waiting to be jumped upon by his jubilant team mates after scoring the winning goal. He now runs tours around the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal. But he was a man of the times and truly looked like the hero of the early 1970s that he unquestionably was.
Every year, myself and my friend, Stewart Sutherland, over the road, would take turns to host FA Cup Final. It would start at lunch time with the build up and appearances from such greats as Eric Morcombe to lighten the mood. And snacks. We’d watch the whole three-hour build-up before the game. And eat snacks. Happy times.
And then there was the Wimbledon-Liverpool final in 1988. Having won the league already, Liverpool would have become the first club ever to win the League/FA Cup double twice if they had won. This takes me back to Zimbabwe, where I was in a small village/mining settlement deep in the bush near Masvingo. Wimbledon (known as the “Crazy Gang”) were an amazingly dirty outfit and much worse than their opponents. I could tell tales of the club I support, who are always underdogs, but on the rare occasions when they are the opposite (i.e. “hot favourites” – although I would prefer “overdogs”) always seem to fuck up big-time. I guess Gazza would be the man to ask about Wimbledon’s tactics and how they dealt with being the underdogs:
I don’t know why, perhaps it was because my brother’s friend, Jim, said it would be a walk over (as it should have been), but I took on a $Z20 bet supporting the underdogs. Jim was so confident that he gave me odds of 20:1, so it could have lost me one zimbo dollar. And we were able to sit in the middle of the bush in Africa and watch the match live on TV. The Dons went one nil up and Liverpool were awarded a penalty. The Wimbledon keeper, Dave Beasant, saved it.
And that is when Jim threw twenty zimbo dollars through the air my way.
Now to this year, where I was able to find a lovely spot in our garden to sit and watch the FA Cup Final. This one will go down as a football-is-life-experience, enjoying the terrace we had worked so hard to dig out and build.
And at half-time, going for a walk with the dog-hound and appreciating the fact that we live on the edge of town; although I can walk into town in ten minutes, if I walk in the other direction, I am in the countryside surrounding Totnes.
I can not tell you where I was for every Cup Final, but I do remember certain ones as benchmarks in life, just like certain songs. This is one of the reasons why I love the FA Cup Final.
A Photo-Challenge: WITHOUT ANY TIDYING UP take us for a walk around the room you are viewing this post from.