#MFL Chat

Catch up on our #MFLChat on Twitter!

Last Monday, Bili hosted the #MFLChat on Twitter @MFLChat and we had the best time!

The #MFLChat is a place for Modern Foreign Language learners and teachers to share their experiences, tips and skills. Simply, it is a chance to discuss all things languages! This was the second time Bili hosted the chat but the first time I, Rachel Eager (Bili intern) got to co-host! It was excellent to hear everyone’s stories of exchanges and how we can continue, even in these uncertain times.

Question 1: What are your (& your students) best language exchange experiences (in real life or online/penpals)?

This question clearly stirred up some conversation! Many remembered their favourite exchanges and disagreed with the Ofsted comment stating that pupils are discouraged by school trips. In fact, every answer exuded enthusiasm for trips and how each trip spurs pupils on to learn their target language. Exchange trips and staying with another family was noted as an “unforgettable experience”. The most notable impact are those pupils who absorb every moment of living in the life of their target language, so much so that they come back and say “ouais” as opposed to “oui”.

Some funny moments from the chat included newspaper clippings – everyone has to have their 15 minutes of fame! Or being popular with seagulls – one teacher noted that as a pupil a seagull stole her hotdog sausage! Undeterred by the greedy English gulls, she now lives here. One teacher shared a heart-warming story saying they have kept in touch with their exchange partner. This includes weddings, letters, being godparents to children and being friends for over thirty five years. This really encapsulated why we love language learning – it’s beyond grammar rules, it’s about exchanging cultures and sharing experiences.

Question 2: How has the pandemic impacted direct interactions with the target language and culture?

Many teachers say they use Padlet, Flipgrid or our very own – Bili Languages to interact with the target language. Another, more traditional route was to use penpals – one teacher said her pupils write three letters and receive three and this keeps their buzz for language learning alive! We at Bili, particularly loved this one since Bili is essentially an online penpal so this really resonated with us! Some extra fun ideas were to watch films, one school was studying films in the languages classes, doing salsa dancing in P.E and hosting a MasterChef challenge – a real cross curriculum immersion in the target language life!

Question 3: What exchange opportunities would you have in place for students in an ideal world?

This was our most fun and creative question we asked! One teacher said they would love to run exchanges every year for a month, not to get rid of their students but so they can truly immerse themselves in the target language! Another teacher suggested work experience in another country, taking over a radio show or magazine and also living in another country and partaking in all the things there, such as a choir, drama groups or debate clubs. Our favourite one has to be the teacher who suggested a Caribbean exchange or Morocco – a Francophone country outwith France so pupils can see what there is beyond French life. We loved this because Bili did this virtually with students in Francophone Africa at university level. If we were to answer this question ourselves, we would have said the same but at school level – we aren’t far from making this pipedream a reality!

Question 4: With no more Erasmus +, travel uncertainty – what’s the outlook for trips and global connections at your school?

We had a lot of optimism that our treasured exchanges would continue over the years, especially since this is also the best way for our teachers to learn and improve their language skills too. The wonderful and hardest thing about languages is that they are always changing and there’s always something extra to learn. The only answer that really kept creeping up time and again was the online virtual exchange, of course, at Bili – this is what we specialise in!

Do you have any comments or anything to add? Contact us, give us a follow on twitter, drop us an email and be part of our Bili adventure!

For a more comprehensive debrief – have a look at : https://learninglinguist.co.uk/mflchat/

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