Bilingual Bart;Modern languages

19th June 1998 at 01:00
Tony Elston and Andrew Wallace present a page of teaching ideas based on America's most famous dysfunctional family.The exercises offer reading activities targetting different levels of ability, and suggestions for further exploitation of this and other authentic French reading matter

The start of each episode of The Simpsons includes a sequence showing Bart writing lines on a blackboard, of which the sayings in exercises A and B are a selection. The French versions are on the Internet. The Simpsons is transmitted in English on BBC2 and Sky One, and in French on CANAL+.

One of our favourite episodes is "The Crepes of Wrath", a glorious spoof of the film Jean de Florette. Bart goes to France on an exchange but is ruthlessly exploited by greedy wine growers, who take him prisoner. To his amazement, he ends up speaking fluent French and this is his salvation. The English subtitles of Bart's French interludes have made the episode perfect end-of-term viewing for all our classes.

The Internet includes sites in a variety of languages. A search under "The Simpsons" throws up thousands of sites, including a large number with no connection to the television series. A short-cut when looking for sites in other languages is to search for "les Simpson", "die Simpson", "los Simpson", and so on. The inverted commas are important as they prevent a search for all entries including the name "Simpson". Your computer can usually store the addresses of sites you want to revisit.

But when trawling through the World Wide Web, always remember Sod's Law of the Internet - finding a useful site always takes far longer than you think - and that's after taking account of Sod's Law of the Internet.

Tony Elston and Andrew Wallace teach at Stretford High School, Manchester. Tony Elston is co-author with Patricia McLagan of the key stage 3 French course Genial, published by OUPl The Crepes of Wrath episode of 'The Simpsons' is next broadcast on June 29 at 7 pm on Sky One

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