Email French exchanges

5th March 2004 at 00:00
"I really, really like learning French. I like it a lot when the children send us a story email in French and we work out what it's all about" - Year 2 child reflecting on email partner activities enjoyed by the whole class.

Motivation, interest and enthusiasm for learning the French language and culture will be increased by exchanging emails with children in a partner school in France. Cross-curricular links between ICT, literacy and EFLL (Early Foreign Language Learning) are strengthened when children are involved in email projects.

The first step is to contact a school. The National Advisory Centre on Early Language Learning (www.nacell.org.uk) and the British Council (www.britishcouncil.co.uk) have useful links. Next, contact the teacher with whom you plan to work and establish the frequency of the planned email exchanges, the language in which they will be written and the content of the first few messages.

It is important to have a clear reason for embarking on an email partnership. My aim was to improve the key skills of language for communication - listening and responding, responding and speaking, reading and writing.

Once you have decided who will send the first message, you are ready to start. The early exchanges are useful for children to get to know each other. They need to be short and simple. The simplest way to start is for the children to write in their own language and then receive messages in the target language.

They are fascinated to read each other's first name, as some will be familiar and some quite unfamiliar. They can simply write "My name is I (first name only). I am I years old. I have I brothers and I sisters."

Exchanging digital photos of the class group brings the project to life. A useful strategy for whole-class teaching when referring to the messages received is to display them on an interactive whiteboard or enlarge them and use an overhead projector. The children enjoy reading and writing words and phrases from the message on their own whiteboards. A full account of our email partnership can be found on the website of the International Learning and Research Centre (www.ellnet.org).

Jo Cole, EFLL co-ordinator, Wick CE Primary School, South Gloucestershire

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