French resource pack
Age range: 3-5
Teacher's book and two audio cassettes, Pounds 39.95; children's cassettes Pounds 25 each LJR Educational, 33 Long Acre, Bingham, Notts NG13 8AF
All together now! "La tete, les epaules, les genoux, les orteils, les orteils I" It's singing time at the nursery and the little Europeans of the future are well on their way to achieving a level of linguistic confidence and competence only mildly dreamed of by their parents.
It is quite difficult to understand properly the challenges set by teaching a language to younger primary pupils. The happy, highly organised and apparently chaotic atmosphere of the nursery arguably poses a daunting task. However, the nursery teacher can always revel in the sheer enthusiasm, thirst for fun and lack of self-consciousness which can make children in this age group so receptive to learning a new language.
Providing an introduction to the already widely-used and popular programme for 4-11-year-olds, La Jolie Ronde, Entre dans la Ronde takes language learning right down to where it belongs - with the very smallest people in education.
Within the overall context of introducing themselves - "C'est moi!" - the children learn the words for their toys, pets, members of the family and, courtesy of that old favourite song, parts of the body. Through stories and rhymes, an even wider range of language is developed to include descriptions of houses and clothes with appropriate interjections on the seasons and associated weather conditions. Add to this a less linguistically pragmatic, but lively fun section "C'est magique" and the children can enjoy imaginative activities with "le sorcier" and his "bote magique". An integral part of each section is the ideas for practical activities: finger puppets, mobiles, masks and wall displays.
Entre dans la Ronde is an attractive package, best suited to a relatively didactic nursery. The fact that a sample 15-minute lesson is provided underlines the point that lessons will be largely teacher-led. Teachers and assistants working in an open-plan, entirely child-centred nursery felt that it would be difficult to integrate many of the activities into sessions, not least because of the lack of a quiet area in which to work with small groups or a large play area for the more physical activities.
In a system whose central pivot is the observation of children at play and the development of discussion and activity from this, Entre dans la Ronde as a complete resource pack is not ideal. However, as a "dip-in" resource, particularly for the songs on cassette, it could be well used.
The less able, less confident child might be daunted simply by the complexity of sound in the language in some rhymes - "Regard les feuilles qui tombent par terre en automne ..." - and quiet support might be needed to maintain the fun factor. Although the book's graphics are photocopiable, they are quite basic and some more colourful flashcards or posters would make a welcome addition.
Clearly, Entre dans la Ronde will provide an ideal introduction to its sister La Jolie Ronde, but there could be problems of continuity with a different follow-up resource. Les Trois Ours and La Reine des Neiges will ensure popularity among the children. Nursery teachers worried about their pronunciation will appreciate the native speaker cassettes. If all else fails, they can always retreat to "rrrr rrrr, dit le cochon".
* La Jolie Ronde LtdTel: 01949 839715
Education Show stand PV179