Group Talk

The single most effective technique which I used in my (so far) 29 years of MFL teaching has been Group Talk, which was pioneered by Greg Horton, at the Wildern School. It suits the requirements of the new 2026 GCSE really well, and also engages and motivates pupils to speak in the target language, a holy grail of MFL teachers. When I used it consistently over 5 years with both high and low prior-attaining classes, my GCSE speaking exam results significantly improved.

“We thought we were hallucinating when we witnessed groups of teenage boys chatting animatedly in French about sport, cars and school uniform. The conversations were organic and the pupils were clearly not speaking from a script.” 

CILT European Award for Languages judges, February 2008

Its impact on learning has been significant and in 2008 it gained a European Award for Languages. I used it with learners from Y7-11 from 2011-16 and saw a significantly positive impact on learners’ enjoyment in speaking Spanish and on their GCSE speaking exam results. Teacher’s TV has a short episode on it which you can see here. You can also watch a training webinar delivered by me and Greg here, which explains how to implement it in your department.

There are four stages of group talk (stage 1 – Y7, stage 2 – Y8, stage 3 – Y9/10, stage 4 – Y11), and you can find resources to support you in delivering all four stages, from launch lessons, teacher’s notes, student support mats with key sentence stems and pictures to discuss in French, Spanish and German here.

So what is Group Talk all about?

The fundamental principles of Group Talk are:

  • Learner-centred use of target language
  • Small group interaction
  • Spontaneous interaction
  • Thought-provoking and interesting stimuli
  • The language of conjecture (it depends, maybe, probably)
  • The language of opinion and debate
  • The use of colloquial language
  • Asking questions