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Play your cards right

Here are two tips to strengthen the memory skills that are a great advantage to linguists. When I teach new vocabulary, I sometimes make a set of cards, some with the French words, and some with the English.

In groups of two or three, the students match the cards up. They then play the "pairs" memory game, placing all the cards face down. One turns over two cards and if it is a matching pair (for instance, "une maison" and "a house"), they win those cards and get another go.

The winner is the person with the most pairs. Even my Year 11s love it, and it forces them to practise recall on two levels, what the vocabulary means and where the cards are.

I have also made a card game for reinforcing the point that the perfect tense in French is a compound tense.

The noun or pronoun cards (Fred, je, il,) are in blue, the "etre" and "avoir" cards are in green, and there are some pink "past participle" cards, some of which are "agreement" cards.

Each group has a pack of the cards, which they spread out on the table. I call out in English a brief sentence, for instance "she made", and they have to find the three cards to make up "elle a fait". Two points for the first team to get it, and one point for all other successful teams.

Again, it's very popular with GCSE classes, and my Year 12s still enjoy it as revision. It helps avoid the all-too-common mistake of missing out the auxiliary verb when writing the perfect tense, because they picture needing to find three cards.

Barbara Hockey, languages teacher, Wollaston School, Northamptonshire

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