Reading in the MFL classroom: The Big Read

Since lockdown, my school has been engaging with a big push on literacy. I have really enjoyed this opportunity to discuss words and the learning of them with a broader spectrum of colleagues. Having had CPD on Reciprocal Reading, and some fruitful conversation following it, I spent some time considering how I could revise the way I teach reading extended challenging texts. I have used the following routine with both KS3 and KS4 over the past few weeks and have seen a significant shift in both resilience and comprehension.


Prior to teaching a lesson on reading the core language would be pre-taught using a range of approaches all based around a sentence builder.

The text.

We tend to hand-write our texts or at least tweak pre-existing material. This means we have complete control over the content. A text will always contain:

  • Core language from the unit being studied
  • Structures that have been explicitly revised/taught during the unit
  • Language from previous topics
  • A small amount of ‘unknown’ language that can be gleaned from context

The lesson.

Starter Task: Review pre-taught vocabulary.

The most challenging 8-12 words in the task are displayed on a grid when students enter.

Students translate them into English. Some students might attempt the more challenging task of embedding the words into a series of sentences.


Students are given the key text. Lines are numbered. Lines are double spaced.

Teacher plays a recording of the text. Students highlight the words they know.

Students are asked:

  • What is topic is this text from?
  • Who is writing it?
  • What types of questions might we be asked about it?

Teacher calls out a series of words in English. These words have been selected because they are integral to the understanding of the text. Student scans the text, finding the French equivalent, and numbers it. These words are reviewed. Students may be asked to then recall the meanings – jotting them down by the side of the text.


Students are given one/two lines each. Students look at the words and circle any words they’re not sure how to say. These are reviewed with the class.

Students read out the text, one line at a time. The rest of the class are asked to circle any words/phrases they do not recognise / cannot work out.

Teacher clarifies these words.


Students are given challenging questions on the text. They complete these independently.

Have a structured conversation.

Teacher goes through answers. Asks students to indicate where they found the evidence for their answer (line numbers come in handy here).

Discuss any ‘faux amis’, signposts, distractors, negatives etc.

Summarise / Respond to the text.

Students write a third person account of the text.


Students write a statement that reflects the Q&A.


Q. What did they do during their work experience placements?

A. Filed important documents.

Student would then write… Elle a classé des documents importants.

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