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Modern Languages - The Lego of language

What it's all about

How do you give primary children a good grounding in a modern language when they are still struggling with their own? Start by reminding them of something they can already do in English, such as saying "I like", "he likes" and "she likes", writes Catherine Paver.

That shift from "like" to "likes" is what you do in every language - it's "grammar", or "how we stick the words together". Little children can relate it to building blocks: grammar is Lego made of words. You can use it to make everything.

Spelling is how you stick letters together to make words. Grammar is how you stick words together to make sense.

Tell the class to write down the words "fish", "cat", "the" and "like". Then tell them to make up short sentences: "Cats like fish." "Fish like cats." "The cat likes the fish." Grammar is the magic glue which reveals what someone is trying to tell you about cats and fish.

Write up and recite together the simple, regular English verb "to like". Little changes to a word such as adding an "s" are like a spot of glue that makes it ready to stick on to another word.

Now teach them to recite a simple, regular verb in the new language, such as manger (to eat) in French. Feeding them a little at a time when they are young will give them pronouns and "er" verbs for life.

What else?

Practise present tense in Spanish with delnon's PowerPoint. bit.lySpanishPresentTense

For a range of activities to improve French, Spanish and German grammar, try the TES Resources MFL grammar collection. bit.lytesMFLGrammar.

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