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Perfect tense for the plot

This languages activity works best as practice for tense work. I have used it mainly to practise the perfect tense with Year 9, although it could also be used easily in work on the future or present tense.

First, collect as many objects as you can find, ranging from the everyday (a pen, a beer bottle, a take-away bag, a flower) to the more unusual (a plastic duck, cold spaghetti, that horrendous holiday souvenir or a bandage stained with tomato ketchup).

Put these objects in a bag or a box - divided boxes for wine bottles are excellent because you can place one object in each section.

Set the scene for your class. For example: someone has disappeared leaving the suitcase behind - it could be somebody famous, or one of your students, or just someone who went away for the weekend and accidentally picked up a suitcase with these objects inside it. So, who does it belong to?

Ask a student to close their eyes and pick one of the objects at random.

The idea is then to collect as many suggestions from the class as they can think of about what the owner did (or does or will do) with each of the objects.

Students can comment on how interesting each sentence is and, perhaps, even vote on which sentence is their favourite.

This activity will help to make your students more creative - "il a mange le spaghetti" will no doubt be rejected in favour of "il a essaye d'ecrire une lettre avec le spaghetti parce qu'il a ete kidnappe".

Each time a valid sentence is offered by a student, write it on the board so that the students can follow the pattern of the sentence structure which they are practising.

When you have collected enough examples, students can be split into groups and given a random three or four objects to work with and create a story.

At the end of the lesson, pupils can present their accounts to the rest of the class, who can decide which of the groups has produced the most imaginative story.

Karen Lamming, head of languages, William Farr School, Welton, Lincolnshire

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