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Modern Languages - Get their teeth into it

What it's all about

How do you encourage your pupils to pick up a book written in a foreign language? Start with illustrated books to help them follow the story. Children's books are good because they are designed to teach new vocabulary but have matching pictures, writes Catherine Paver.

Select a range of children's books in the target language and get your class to analyse the language. What tenses are used? What vocabulary?

Then get them to plan, write and create a short book of their own in the target language - for a younger brother or sister, perhaps. Divide up the tasks so there is a writer, a proofreader, a researcher and so on.

Encourage them to keep the story simple and focus on writing clearly and accurately. Loss is a classic subject for a story and involves useful verbs such as "lose", "look for", "ask", "help", "wonder" and "find".

Who the character is and what they have lost will also determine the vocabulary. If Jonny Guitar loses his iPod, he could call on musical friends for help; if a squirrel loses a mobile phone, vocabulary would include animals, the natural world and technology; if a vampire loses his coffin, it could be the language of night and day.

Pupils could visit a younger class on World Book Day and show them the books, reading to them and explaining any foreign words that might puzzle them. All this will place your pupils in the position of being modern language teachers, without even realising it.

What else?

A French website about illustrated children's books is great for vocabulary and introducing French writers. www.grasset-jeunesse.com

Get your class telling stories in Spanish with rhawkes' activities. bit.lySpanishStories.

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