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Modern Languages - Soapsud shanties

What it's all about

"I'm a pirate, look at me!Stealing, sailing, wild and free!" That sounds fun. But how do you give a lesson on pirates to secondary children without teaching useless vocabulary such as "cutlass" and "doubloons", writes Catherine Paver.

You could start with a song. In Spanish, there is Yoho, Yoho, Un Gran Pirata Soy! and, in Italian, Yo-Ho, La Vita di Un Pirata Per Me! Both are lively ways to practise the first-person plural. In French, there is La Fiancee du Pirate, a dramatic way to practise first-person singular and the future tense.

Pupils could listen to the song while reading the lyrics, with necessary vocabulary. The whole class could then speak, sing or chant the words together. The rhythm helps pupils to memorise the language.

What do pirates do when they're not pirating? Tell pupils that pirates in the old days voted for their captain. They had a democracy and shared their tasks. They had rules about things such as not fighting each other at sea, only on land.

Now give them whatever language of everyday life you want. Healthy eating, doing housework, feeling sick: in the mouths of pirates these things are hilarious and memorable.

For written work, pupils could write a pirate's diary, or a letter home to a girlfriend or boyfriend, using everyday language to make them convincing or funny. Or they could write very short stories.

What else?

For pirate songs in French, Spanish and Italian, see CatherinePaver's profile on TES Resources, bit.lyQ6YEPn. Help your sick classroom pirates to explain their illnesses with French resources from Lnortcliffe, bit.lyUg3Wcc. And for a treasure hunt vocabulary quiz in any language, try sommersprossen's resource, bit.lyUxZe9F.

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