Competition is the key to a brilliant new government-funded languages website, reports Valerie McIntyre
As a hard-pressed head of department for modern languages I’m always on the hunt for new ways of engaging pupils. I’m impressed with MYLO, a new DfE-sponsored website which provides language learning challenges in French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. It’s a highly motivating, fresh take on just the sort of areas of interest that our pupils like – and it’s free!

The site is designed for key stages three and four and we have used it with Years 7, 8 and 9 so far. Our pupils love the challenges. One colleague even reported excitedly that a boy who hadn’t picked up a pen without being nagged since the beginning of the year was suddenly working at MYLO in his own time! The secret is competition.

MYLO, short for My Life Online, provides interactive learning experiences, “promoting language learning through creativity, problem solving, decision making and enquiry”. Once you register your school, you can create class groups for your pupils and get them to log on. You suggest which work they should do on their class group page and teachers know what National Curriculum level the work is pitched at. Pupils can see how they are doing compared to their classmates, other classes and, in fact, other schools across the country. You need to see it in action to believe how well you can use this facility to promote participation! It really helps if you have a nearby school to beat!

Mylo screenshotPupils win kudos points for their completed preparation games and challenges, giving them a chance to win additional items for a personal avatar – an excellent new motivational feature. MYLO provides teachers’ notes, cultural pointers and some learning videos, as well as the interactive games and tasks themselves.

The challenges are based on the notion that someone needs help to convey their ideas in another language and the pupil has to assist. It could be cartoon drawing, menu planning, designing a new football strip, commenting on the fashion industry… My pupils have found the work engaging and easy to access once they have cracked the business of setting up their own account. To get the most out of MYLO, pupils need to be able to access an email address in school.

As a MYLO ambassador, I met the designers last February and I know that there is a team of extremely supportive technicians behind this package. They are sensitive to the real needs of teachers and pupils, responding readily to any queries we have had.

Our pupils are working well with MYLO and we have started to build it into schemes of work. It’s free, well-designed and it works! Allez-y! Visit the site for more information http://mylo.dcsf.gov.uk

Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose   4 (will rise when the KS4 materials arrive)
Ease of use               4
Features                   5
Quality                      5
Value for money       5

MYLO
Free online language learning website (internet connection required) aimed at pupils studying modern foreign languages at key stages three and four. It contains interactive challenges and support material in French, Spanish, German and Mandarin.
MYLO, has been developed by Lightbox Education, in partnership with the Department for Education, Cambridge University, CILT, ALL and the University of Salford.
MYLO website
Email contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Technical support line: 08453 077 834

Valerie McIntyre is head of modern languages at The Blue School, Wells, Somerset

BETT 2011 logoBETT 2011, January 12-15
Olympia, London
Lightbox Education: stand C60