French falls into place

26th September 1997 at 01:00
READY FOR FRENCH. Word Jigcards. Jigsaw game with 14 coloured picture French and English pieces and two language guide cards. Pounds 2.95

PHRASE JIGCARDS. Matching game with 12 double-sided EnglishFrench picture and phrase jigcards. Pounds 2.95

RACE TO THE FERRY. Board game with EnglishFrench word and phrase cards. Pounds 4.75

All games for age 5+. Orchard Toys, Formlend Ltd,Keyworth, Nottingham

Establishing an all new British nation of confident linguists is proving a predictably slow but arguably enjoyable process. Provision for language teaching in primary schools remains piecemeal and, by their own admission, many of the new breed of primary French teachers remain daunted by the task facing them.

Blending the introduction of four language skills with interesting activities, games and songs all taught, of course, in French, presents a sometimes awesome challenge for the new language teacher. Good resources are essential. But with primary languages still in their infancy and inevitable budget constraints, teachers too often have to rely on home-made materials.

This set of games offers realistically priced small word games that might add a gloss to group work. But will five-year-olds be expected to read daunting words like champignons? Will the words already have been taught? If so, will they have been introduced in oralaural work, ensuring accurate pronunciation before the written word is seen And what about accents? Will pupils already understand their effect on the pronunciation? All important issues for learning even at this young age.

The introduction of language through listening and speaking, particularly with young children, is essential. While reading skills are only being developed in the early primary years, listening and repeating are not new skills and can be exploited to great effect with new language sounds, creating accurate pronunciation from the outset.

Word Jigcards, will certainly offer a fun jigsaw and memory game, as well as satisfaction in successfully pairing up pictures with English and French words. It could even aid English reading. Colour co-ordination will also provide a useful mechanism for the less able.

The combination of words is rather disparate - essentially food, but also incorporating le chateau, le bateau, la voiture, l'eglise, la chaise and even le chat. These would be better saved for the next Word Jigcards pack.

With Phrase Jigcards, the fun, memory and matching elements are essentially the same - as are the potential problems of reading and establishing correct pronunciation.

The phrases are similarly disparate, including questions - combien ca coute? (with no answers provided), good wishes - bonne chance and apologies - je suis desole.

Hints at the possible meanings of some of the phrases from the pictures would have to be provided by the teacher before children could make a realistic guess at correct English translations. For instance, the picture of a grey cat wearing what looks like a gold necklace might not instantly indicate that bonne chance means good luck.

Finally, Race to the Ferry is an ambitious little game that aims to teach an incredible 120 words and phrases. The small board and word cards might be tricky for tiny hands. The challenge is to get to the ferry, gathering words and phrases on the way and making a sentence from the assembled cards on arrival. Older pupils will enjoy the challenge but the six-year-old could be disappointed with the nonsense of, for example: la douane quelle domage je suis le seau.

Used judiciously and with good oralaural preparation, these games could work well with small groups, in partners or even as individual activities and might help to dispense with hastily prepared home-made resources.

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