Outside the Café Français in Surgères

Outside the Café Français in Surgères

I am Steve Smith and I taught French for over 30 years in English secondary schools. I did my first degree in French and Linguistics at the University of Reading (UK), my PGCE at the west London Institute of Higher Education (University of London), later an MA at the Institute of Education in London. I was trained in the London University "oral approach" (once described as "death by question and answer") which goes back to Henry Sweet. I wrote my MA dissertation on conscious and unconscious second language learning, with a particular focus on the work of Stephen Krashen.

I began my career at Tiffin School for boys in Kingston upon Thames. I then worked at Hampton School before becoming a Head of Modern Languages at Ripon Grammar School in North Yorkshire where I worked until I retired in 2012.

I began frenchteacher.net in 2002 as a means of sharing worksheets and links with colleagues around the world. Before retiring I had decided to turn the site into a low price subscription service so that I could continue making resources, something I enjoy doing very much.

The resources reflect my belief in a structured oral approach to language teaching based on considerable, if not exclusive, use of the target language. I believe in a combination of the "comprehension" approach espoused by Krashen and a commitment to structured grammar teaching through presentation and controlled practice. I have always believed that teachers can combine a communicative approach with explicit grammar teaching. I also try at all costs not to be dogmatic about "what works" in language teaching. Research in this field is young and needs to be reviewed critically.

Subscribers to frenchteacher.net come from all over the world, although mainly from British secondary schools. If you are new to the site, do have a look at the many free samples, teacher's guide, blog, testimonials and links pages.

Apart from writing frenchteacher.net and blogging, I have worked with AQA presenting and writing training materials for the latest A-levels, speak at occasional MFL teacher events, I help moderate the MFL Resources Yahoo forum and GILT Facebook forum and am subject lead tutor for the PGCE and IPGCE students at Buckingham University.

I am married to Elspeth Jones, Emerita Professor of Internationalisation in Higher Education and have a son, Joel, a physics graduate from Manchester University and now doing a PhD in the field of solar energy. In my spare time I sing in barbershop choruses, listen to prog rock music and play the drums for fun. We travel a good deal and make regular visits to our house in the Charente Maritime département in France.