Learn to speak French in a flash

Eleanor Caldwell

Miniflashcard Language Games, Age group: 10-plus, "The Right Place Resource Pack" (French) with cards on adjectives and prepositions. Pounds 27.90. "The New Look Body and Clothes Resource Pack" (French) Age 7 to adult. Pounds 27.90. "Groovy Grammar Games Copymasters" (Packs in French, German and Spanish) Pounds 35. Miniflashcard Language Games, PO Box 1526, London W7 1ND

From first-year to adult learner, they're all primary pupils at heart: produce a game with cards or pictures and the rigours of language learning are momentarily forgotten, replaced by an overwhelming desire to play and win.

Ask the average pupil for the definition of a preposition or adjective and you'll be met with a blank stare. Hand over the picture of a football pitch with cartoon-style players and a set of preposition prompt cards and there's a sudden new ability with prepositions. With "Noisy Neighbours" suitable housing arrangments have to be made for the elderly person, the dog owner, the rock musician or the journalist. Children will gain perverse pleasure in housing the elderly lady next to Eric Clapton.

Looking at this latest batch of Miniflashcard Language Games, it's really not so much a case of listing the possible games and activities as once more expressing admiration of the enormous variety of ideas available. The coloured Miniflashcards in The Right Place Resource Pack and The New Look Body and Clothes Resource Pack alone open up a whole new dimension for group and pair work on a refreshingly basic level. Added to this are new levels of imagination and humour: in one game, for example, there are mini scenes In the Ladies Toilet, Giving Blood and At a Group Counselling Session. The type of language to be gained from these is hilarious discussing brands of lipstick, fainting at the sight of blood and so on. For departments who have invested in earlier editions of the Miniflashcards series the inclusion of the new clothes and body and prepositionadjective sets will build on an already wide collection. For new recruits, they would offer a great start.

The Groovy Grammar Games series however, is targeted at a very different range of both teachers and pupils. This is real "get to grips with grammar time" with adjective endings, word order, use of tenses and separable verbs. All are teased from pupils through Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, Verb Dominoes and a whole gamut of popular games with accompanying pictures. What is now required is a highly motivated, co-operative and able pupil with a similarly dedicated teacher. After considerable preparation time for pasting and photocopying, the teacher could build up a unique library of grammar games. With care of dice, spinners and counters, the able student could then achieve standards of grammar now often lacking even at advanced level.

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