Sunday, 23 September 2018

For easy interactive activities I have been mourning the demise of Sugarcane, which ceased to be in June this year.

This morning on the Modern Language Teachers' Lounge Facebook group, I found out about educandy, a new interactive game creator from the Linguascope team.

I have created an account and created my first activity.

I clicked on "My Activities" and then on the red icon to create a set of matching pairs:

I then entered my pairs of words or "questions and answers".

When I had done this, I could scroll down and see the selection of games that I could play using this word set:

When I scrolled down further, I could see the code for this set of games, its URL and also the embed code:

The code for this activity, as you can see, is 15b.  Students can enter this code in the box in the top right of the home page and go straight to the activity:

It's also possible to embed activities:

I have been trying all this out on my laptop, and it has been very straightforward.  I have also had a go at the games.  The only downside for me is that the text on the games is small (very small in the case of the crossword clues) and therefore not very suitable for using on the interactive whiteboard.  A big positive, though, is that there is an educandy app available for both Android and Apple.  Students input the reference code and are taken straight to the choice of activities that you have designed.  This is what is looks like on my Android tablet once I have entered the code.  As you can see, I had to enter zeros for the missing digits in my code.  The games are clearer on the tablet screen.

All in all, educandy looks like a promising resource, especially if, like me, you have a Sugarcane-shaped hole in your life that needs filling. It's easy to use, quickly and easily produces activities that are clear and fun to play.  Have a go!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Language Show 2018

The Language Show 2018 will take place at London's Olympia, 9th-11th November.  I am very honoured to be speaking this year.

The Sunday has a primary focus.  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

DIY cliparts

I get a lot of the cliparts I use from as it is a reputable provider of copyright-free images.  You can never guarantee that an image you've found via a Google search is copyright-free, even if you've selected "free to use, share or modify, even commercially" on an advanced search.

Sometimes I can't find the sort of thing I'm looking for, and so I make my own.  I do this using MS Publisher and its Autoshapes function.  Earlier on today, I needed some smilies to illustrate opinions, but couldn't find the exact images I was looking for in a high enough quality.  So I made the ones above.  Below is a screen capture to show you how I did it:

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required. I learned how to do this from the late, great Bev Evans, who was so generous with her expertise.  You can still find her videos about how to make faces, flowers and backgrounds on YouTube.

So if you can't quite find the image you want, why not try some DIY?!

PS  If you'd like to use these smiley cliparts, they are available to download on the Light Bulb Languages Facebook page.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Why I don't like trendy fonts

Imagine you are 11 years old.  You have just started secondary school.  You have spent the last two weeks trying to get used to a school that is very different to what you have been used to for the last seven years.

When you were in primary school, all the resources you were given were printed in a certain kind of font:

Your primary school probably subscribed to a certain handwriting scheme such as Letterjoin.  Your SAT papers were in a font very similar to Sassoon.  The resources on the walls around you were probably courtesy of Twinkl and their own font.

Then you got to secondary school and started to encounter materials in quite different fonts:

These appear to be the trendy fonts at the moment.  I saw them first in American resources on sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers.  But are they suitable for use in a time-poor classroom, where the students are faced with text in a foreign language?  They are hit with the double whammy of having to decipher the font and then having to decipher the text itself.  Surely it's in our best interest to create resources that students don't have to spend valuable time decoding before they can respond to them.

Amatic SC is all capitals.  Capital letters are harder to read than lower case letters, as they comprise so many straight lines.  Lower case letters have rounder, more easily recognisable shapes.  HelloCasual is my own particular least favourite, as all the letters are the same size and this makes it difficult to read.  I think also that a font should model good handwriting to students whose handwriting, let's face it, is still developing.

Imagine being faced with a text in one of these fonts, and think about how accessible that text would be to the average student:

These are my own personal opinions, of course.  I prefer to use Sassoon for primary resources and Arial for secondary resources.  I may dabble with a fancy font for a title.  I am liking SFCartoonistHand more and more for certain resources.

What do you think?