Europe a la carte

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
2001 is the European Year of Languages. Here, teacher Richard Smith provides activities that will introduce your pupils to the delights of other languages. Although modern languages is a junior subject, infants will enjoy the song and tongue-twisters, and the preparation work on learning modern foreign languages can be incorporated into the literacy hour

Like all tongue-twisters, those in foreign lanuages are designed to test verbal ability rather than to make sense. The translations for each are given here.

French: Six scies scient six cigares.

English translation: Six saws are sawing six cigars.

Italian: Tre tigri contre tre tigre.

English translation: Three tigers against three tigers.

Spanish: Mi mam me mima mucho.

English translation: My mum spoils me a lot.

German: Der Packer packt Papp-Pakete.

English translation: The packer is packing cardboard packets.

Cueillir des cerises (Picking cherries - English translation below) PUPIL ACTIVITIES

Can you find any words that you recognise?

Do you know what any of the languages are? There is a clue on each menu!

Can you find any things that are on all four menus? Look for similar words.

The children are saying: "I would like..." Can you make up a sentence to order something from the waiter?

What do you think the sign on the door says?

Can you match the flags to the languages on the menus?

Can you write a similar English menu?

Literacy links

Why do you think that menus are not written in sentences?

Can you find the adjective "green" in each language? Does it come before or after the noun it describes? Where would it go in English? In the dictionary, can you find a connected English word that begins "verd......"?


Musical annotation NOT availble on this database.

un, deux, trois, allons dans les bois,

quatre cinq, six, ceullir des cerisies,

Sept huit, neuf, dans mon panier neuf,

Dix onze, douze, elles seront toutes rouges.

Richard Smith teaches at Trafalgar Junior school, Richmond. Prepared with the assistance of the Centre for Information Language Teaching. For details of the European Year of Languages, visit


Cafe Europe:

Unlike real menus, those on pages 30-31 feature the equivalent of "a", "the" or "some" (une, la, des, etc.) so that children can construct sentences. You can discuss with them why real menus might not be presented like this.

You don't have to be a linguist to use this project, nor does your school have to teach a foreign language. Here are some valid literacy activities.

Look for: Words or phrases that are recognisable because they are similar to the English equivalent.

Words that are alike in other languages but different from their English equivalents.

Words that we have "adopted" into English.

Unfamiliar letter strings ("apf" in Apfelstrudel may be the only one).

Words with accents - discuss what the accents do and the absence of them in English.

Links between adjectives and nouns and the positioning of the adjective in different languages.

Things to do: Invite children who speak languages other than those included here to contribute their own menus, tongue-twisters and songs.

Make a collection of tongue-twisters in English or other languages spoken by children in your class (ask adults at home to help).


One, two, three, let's go to the woods Four, five, six, picking cherries Seven, eight, nine, in my new basket Ten, eleven, twelve, they will all be red.

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