Support where it's needed most

Psst! Do you want a real French teacher for your primary school? Help with a French theme day? A visit from a French artist or actor? Heaps of lively material, with no Sellotape marks? Then ring Marie Doublier - now.

Ms Doublier is the attache linguistique at the French cultural delegation in Manchester, which has moved from a its broom-cupboard headquarters in Oxford Road to a plush suite of rooms at Bridgewater House in nearby Whitworth Street. The premises are big enough for a teacher's centre, which the delegation hopes to have up and running by the end of the month.

The Manchester cultural delegation provides support for language teachers from the Midlands to the Scottish borders, with the Alliance Francaise of the London Embassy covering the southern counties.

Ms Doublier is in great demand, providing help and support with French theme days for A-level students. She often brings in specialist performers and artists from France. The new premises will enable the delegation to cater for A-level students wanting to research some aspect of French life.

At the moment she has a party of student teachers from the University of Nice placed in North Yorkshire primary schools. Ms Doublier is busy building up links with schools of education in other French universities. She would like to have exchange arrangements for English student teachers, but English money isn't, as yet, available to subsidise the English teachers.

Ms Doublier has spent some time in Sheffield schools as part of the Sheffield Multi-lingual Society project to make every child in the city bi-lingual. She has trained primary teachers and now a "French teacher of French" is working in four of the city's primary schools every week for a year.

"English children speak French quite well to the age of 12," she says. "But then come the examinations. Quality and enthusiasm don't come back until university level."

"It's difficult for teachers to get out of the book and teach something other than grammar. We try to get them to use materials such as videos and newspapers. And teachers should not be asking what use is the Internet in language teaching. Young people use the Internet and videos as we use books and we have to adapt to that.

"You can't separate culture and language. You have to use the culture. Then you get switched on to the national mentality."

Football is a part of culture, she insists. And the French cultural delegation has a competition for sixth-formers - Allons en France 98 - inspired by the World Cup, the finals of which take place in France next year. Extensive knowledge of football is not needed, and girls are encouraged to enter. The 11 best entries will win a trip to the finals.

Students have to choose one of the towns staging a World Cup match and write a journal linking the town's history, geography, culture and sporting interests. They also have to record a local radio-style interview. The competition closes on February 20, 1998 - and extra time will not be allowed.

Details of the competition are on the France @ la carte website: http: www. Campus bt. Com Campus WorldpubFrance ALC

For information on the World Cup and other French matters: Delegation Culturelle Francaise, Bridgewater House, 58 Whitworth St, Manchester M1 6LS. Tel: 0161 236 7117, fax: 0161 236 7997 open weekdays 9am to 9pm and Saturdays 9am to 12 noon.

Alliance Francaise, 1 Dorset Square, London W1 6PU. Tel: 0171 723 6439, fax: 0171 224 9512.

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