French is no trivial pursuit

21st June 1996 at 01:00
POURSUITE ROUTIRE. Sponsored by Christian Salvesen PLC and Lincolnshire County Council Technical Vocational Educational Initiative. MBA Publishing Ltd, 44 High Street, Boston Spa, West Yorkshire LS23 6EA Age range 14-16

Commercial involvement in education inevitably raises legitimate questions about the sponsor's motivation. Teachers tend to have suspicious minds when confronted by blatant advertising on what purports to be a classroom tool. "What's in it for my pupils?" is a more relevant question than "What's in it for the shareholders?" No doubt a student playing this board game will become familiar with the firm Christian Salvesen. Poursuite Routi re is, however, a valid educational tool for French teachers, providing realistic but fun linguistic practice. The involvement of Lincolnshire Technical Vocational Educational Initiative has underwritten the relevance of the language content to the world of business. Cultural awareness and the potential for cross-curricular study are valuable spin-offs.

The game is designed for four pupils or teams who have to manage a lorry trip with a consignment of goods from the UK to France. Four trucks progress around the board, moving after a task has been completed and marked. Listening and reading are tested as telephoned instructions and radio weather forecasts are heard on tape and information on maps is read and acted upon.

Writing is less evident and oral skills almost optional. It is suggested that, with an able class, the teacher could insist on French only as the medium of communication.

The first group to finish each task gets maximum points, with a lower score for those who lag behind: transport and distribution function, after all, in a competitive world.

Chance is present, too, as in life. At each move a fait du hasard card is drawn. These will either award bonus points (calm crossing) or incur penalty points (illness, ferry strike): there is strong motivation for prompt reading comprehension.

Copyright is waived on the cassette and on task-sheets, which need to be reproduced in advance. The teacher will need to know the components thoroughly in order to mark each task quickly, as speed is the name of the game.

The winners reach the destination, gaining the highest score. All, however, will have had fun, enjoyed the chase and learned plenty of French without tears. There is nothing trivial about this pursuit.

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