Keep on the ball with tricky French grammar

One of the hardest aspects of French grammar for sixth-form students to understand and then use correctly is that of direct and indirect object pronouns. But with the use of two small footballs you can help them to enjoy getting to grips with these, remain focused and make this particular lesson much easier.

Sit everyone in a semi-circle facing you (you are in a chair at the front of the class). Throw one of the balls to a student and say, in French, "I throw the ball to." and then their name. He or she uses the same construction and throws the ball to someone else. After a few examples of this, replace "the ball" with a direct object pronoun ("I throw it to." and then the person's name).

Carry on this version of the game for a short while, then introduce the second ball and the plural version of the pronoun, "them". Next, replace the indirect object with a pronoun ("I throw himher the ball") and continue the game. Finally, play the game using both pronouns ("I throw itthem to himher").

The activity should start slowly but then build to a fast pace, with plenty of practice at each stage. The good thing about this game is that it can easily be adapted to the ability and age of the group. With an upper-sixth group, for example, it can end up as a frenetic match of pronoun dodgeball, incorporating all kinds of tenses and singulars and plurals.

Once the initial activity is over and you have the attention of the class, give them a grammatical explanation of what you have just done and consolidate this with some written examples and practice exercises. Again, start off simply, as you did in the game, and gradually make things more difficult, depending on how much challenge the group can cope with.

Simon Ravenhall is head of modern languages at Yarm School, North Yorkshire

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