Chat and mousie

17th October 2003 at 01:00

LEO LE CHAT COMES TO PLAY. By Opal Dunn Illustrated by Cathy Gale. Frances Lincoln. (hardback pound;10.99).

DRAGON AND MOUSIE. Twin books in English and Welsh with translation. Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrations by Gini Wade. yLolfa pound;3.95 each.

SKOLDO AND THE LITTLE FRENCH RABBIT. By Lucy Montgomery. Storybook (pound;4.99 each), stickers, (pound;3.50 for 150) photocopiable resource pack (pound;12 each) , flashcards (pound;9.99 for pack of 32). Ecole Alouette.


Video. KELEWELE CLUB. Modern African languages. Email:

Web-linked. USBORNE INTERNET LINKED FRENCH FOR BEGINNERS (with CDs). Usborne pound;9.99.

Gillian Maynard shortlists a lively selection of language resources

In primary languages, the fun factor is all-important. Varied and lively resources maintain children's interest and make different languages part of everyday experience. The mixed bag of teaching materials here should give you some ideas for broadening your pupils' language experience.

For younger learners, story books can introduce the first simple words and phrases. Leo le chat comes to play is a bright and colourful flap book for three to five-year-olds. The story line is in English but children have to address Leo in French, and in doing so learn various everyday questions and commands such as "Arrete!" and "Fais voir!"

which could easily be integrated into pre-school routines. The book offers sound advice for non-specialist teachers and a vocabulary and pronunciation guide.

While Leo mixes English and French, Dragon and Mousie comes in an English or a Welsh edition. Beautifully written and illustrated, the English version is likely to be a storytime favourite for two to six-year-olds, while the twin Welsh book is ideal for bilingual pre-schools and families.

It could also be used to raise children's general language awareness in any primary school with a Welsh speaker on the staff. My local school is planning to use it with Year 6 classes next year before their residential trip to South Wales.

Back on French territory, Skoldo and the Little French Rabbit is a simple English story in rhyme which introduces a limited number of French words and phrases. Pompom the rabbit, who springs out of a bush "with a loud French whoosh!", will appeal to under-sixes, who can also develop their literacy skills by predicting the rhymes. This book is part of a series for ages five to 13 and comes with accompanying flashcards, audio CD and worksheets.

Spanish is growing in popularity in primary schools and the cassette Come to a Spanish party with ZoZo is a lively collection of singalong songs loosely based on the activities of Zozo the clown. I particularly liked the songs with associated games and actions. With this cassette, your class can play "The farmer's in his den" or "Oranges and lemons" in Spanish and do the hokey cokey as they sing along to "Boogie Woogie" Moving continent, the Kelewele Club videos show London children enthusiastically learning their first words in a variety of African languages and practising traditional dances, led by the exuberant Auntie Janet. The African Musical and Dance video features a live amateur theatre show. These resources could be used by teachers of community languages or selected extracts could contribute to a school's wider languages awareness programme. "Head, shoulders, knees and toes" in the Ghanaian language Twi would be fun for any primary class.

Finally, the Usborne internet-linked French dictionary could be a useful addition to the class or school library. Essentially a topic-based picture dictionary, it is probably too advanced for most primary children; several vocabulary areas are outside their range of interests and verbs in the infinitive form could confuse. However, my Year 6 pupils enjoyed using it in small groups to find specific words in French. They tried reading these aloud, then used the CD or the internet link to check their pronunciation.

A valuable lesson in independent learning - and they thought they were just having fun.

Gill Maynard is languages development officer at the Anglo-European School, Ingatestone

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