The aim of the material is to help my Y9 students revise their grammatical rules and in this particular case, verbs, tenses and pronouns in French. “Frequent formal errors at Basic Level include the use of infinitives with pronouns, inability to form the present and past tense with a mixture of present and past tense form” Engel, D., & Myles, F (1996). To reach a level 5 in French, you need to assimilate the use of present, past and future tense within your comprehension (listening), speaking, reading and writing skills. Without it and as good as the person may be, it is not possible to mark them at a level 5 or higher. One problem I have been confronted with throughout my teaching career is that many students do not know or understand the vocabulary related to the subject given especially when talking about grammar. I have found this is mainly due to a lack of grammatical content in their English lessons throughout their education. i.e the words: tense, infinitive, pronouns or even verb can make no sense to many students. This is why the idea of a website specialised on grammatical content has come to mind. Using this website as my lessons’ backup would save me precious teaching time which I could devote to help my students develop their speaking and listening skills.
To help me reach my goal, I have essentially used a programme called Hotpotatoes. With Hotpotatoes, I have created writing games related to the grammatical content taught in my lesson. I have used JCloze, JCross, JMix and JMatch, I will spare you a fully detailed description of each of them as they are available on my website for you to try. All of these games have helped me create entertaining ways to revise my lessons without needing human contact (to some extent). This is why creating different grammatical rules pages in Wordpress was essential. If I wanted to erase the human teacher factor as much as possible, I needed to include a quick recap on lessons which could be easily accessible to my students and was straight to the point. To avoid a cognitive overload, I have tried to keep my exercises as simple as possible and allowed my exercises to open in a different window so my students can use an integrated format by splitting their screen with the lesson refresher on one side and the exercise on the other side (Al-Shehri, S. and Gitsaki, C. , 2010). Embedding Hotpotatoes within my Wordpress web page was not an easy task but the two of them together prove to work well. As said earlier, the main advantage for me is that it is time saver in my planning and for my students; it is a tool easily accessible and entertaining (at least more than standard homework). My main concern resides in the limitations of using Hotpotatoes to create more complex exercises. How far can I stretch the level of questioning? All of my exercises require a “lower-level” of thinking but to create exercises which would involve a “higher-level” of thinking, how could I do this without involving human contact? I believe the answer lies in researching and trying different programmes.