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KS3 MFL Lesson Plan – Let Learners Say What They Really Think…And See Language Skills Soar

Ever wanted the chance to argue with your students and know you’ll not get a parent complaint or get the dreaded ‘the head would like to see you’ email? Well, this might be the lesson for you!

  • KS3 MFL Lesson Plan – Let Learners Say What They Really Think…And See Language Skills Soar

The plan for this KS3 lesson came about when I became bored of teaching opinions and justification through text book style activities and restricting students to what it was they could express in terms of likes and dislikes.

The aim of the lesson is to allow students to really get creative with the language and allow them to argue in order to really express what it is they’re feeling and from this lesson you find they are able to transfer the skills to other topics as well as other subjects through the development of their oracy skills. The carousel stations help to develop their skills in communication and teamwork as well as to take responsibility for their own progress. And the phrases they come out with can’t help but make you smile!

For me, it’s been a successful way of promoting spontaneous speech and encouraging the use of the target language within the classroom across lessons, all without me not really doing much at all; after you’ve made the resources and laid them out, that’s all you really have to do. Oh, and maybe throw in a few conflicting arguments yourself, just for good measure and to stir the debate a little more.

Starter activity

Place an interesting painting – for example, Picasso’s Weeping Woman – on the whiteboard or printouts on tables and ask students to discuss what they think about the image. It’s likely that, at this stage, this will be done in English.

However, I often ask students to mind map their ideas and then add the translation in a different colour pen should they come across it in the lesson or independently find it. The more colour on their mind map, the more team points they earn and, ultimately, the more progress they make as they strive to find the vocabulary. Students will be immediately engaged through the wanting to ask questions about the strange image and everyone wants their opinion heard, right?

Before you move on to the main activities, it’s an idea to recap opinions or briefly teach them. I have always covered the basic opinions by the time I teach this lesson so it’s a recap for my students and on their information capture sheets (mentioned in more detail below) I have sentence progress boxes on the back. Box one involves them writing a simple opinion about art in general and the other boxes are to be completed after the main part of the lesson.

Main activities

This section of the lesson involves three carousel stations. Station one is your shapes station. Station two is the colour station and station three is the justification station. In terms of differentiation, I would generally start my lower ability learners on the shape station where I would use a variety of cognates. The more able should start on the justification station and the middle cohort on colours. Before students start, they are given an information capture sheet where the words they need to find are on the sheet in English.

They must work together to match up the English words to the target language words and complete their findings on the sheet. At this stage of the lesson, it’s important that you circulate and ask leading questions. You may find students finish the match-up task quickly so provide a challenge task to the side of the information sheet; I generally ask them to create a rap using the words they have just discovered or deeper-thinking tasks such as how to link the word star to square in exactly six steps. You mustn’t forget to offer support, too. A simple help desk is a great way to do this, with clues to help with meaning.

Once about seven minutes have passed, stop the students and bring them back together for a mini plenary where you ask questions about what they have learned up to this stage of the lesson. Refer back to the starter and ask if they could now use any words in the TL to describe the painting? Then, it’s time to change carousel stations and complete the next task. Ensure a mini plenary is implemented before any changes are made, but continue like this until all stations have been covered by all students.

Don’t forget that during the student-led carousel activity, you should be calling up the spies or your more able students to provide them with the phrases such as “you’re crazy”, “I don’t agree”, “I think that” etc. Progress kings and queens need to write them down and literacy lawyers can always come and check the spelling/pronunciation with you.

Now, the fun part! Ask students to turn their sheet over and complete the rest of their progress boxes. I have adapted this over time as students found it quite hard to complete it blind. My less able students generally need English prompts underneath the boxes such as opinion + the painting + because + it’s + adjective (all of these words should have been learned from the stations/resources) whereas my more able can cope without these and also have the challenge of including an intensifier.

On whiteboards, students write their opinion and the debate begins. Allow students to shout out “I agree with Joe” or “you’re crazy, Adam!” and get the opinions flying back and forth.


‘Don’t show your teeth’ is a fun plenary where students have to turn to their partner and say their favourite word from the lesson without showing their teeth. Try it and watch the hilarity unfold!

Home learning

Ask students to research paintings and find one that interests them and print it out. You could either have them annotate the shapes and colours and provide a basic opinion for lower sets or ask them to bring the painting in, swap with a peer and ask the students to provide a detailed description of the painting and their personal opinion.

Download this lesson plan as a PDF here.

Amy Sargent is director of MFL and computer science at Clacton County High School, and author of Outstanding Lesson Ahead.

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