Je suis une celebrite

24th November 2006 at 00:00
And now for an all-singing, all-dancing way of learning a foreign language.

Charlotte Becton discovers how teachers can use I'm a Celebrity... and Strictly Come Dancing

It's on the television, it's in the newspapers, it's in your face. And now it can be in your classroom. Yes, I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here and Strictly Come Dancing really can be educational. Now you need no excuse to watch them.

An energising starter sets the scene for an engaging lesson, and television can be a fantastic way of getting pupils involved. Even beginner language learners can access some basic ways to express their opinion, for example: it's sad interestingcoolboringimportantworryingannoyingstupid.

A range of photos shown on the whiteboard can provoke discussion: the Bushtucker Challenge from I'm a CelebrityI, soldiers in Afghanistan, or even size zero models.

Strictly Come Dancing, my favourite show, could be used to introduce colours (using pictures from the website of the contestants' dresses) or, for more complex work, to describe outfits worn by the dancers. Students could write descriptions and challenge other students to match the description to the couple.

Also very successful is putting statements in envelopes for learners to discuss. Last week my Year 12 students nearly came to blows (all in French) over: "Pete Doherty is ugly", "eating in the school canteen is super-cool", "young people are lazy", "homosexual marriage is not necessary" and more.

The most banal of language learning staples can be made more appealing.

Have to cover the topic of school? Use Hogwarts. Speak about a family? The Simpsons. Say what pets you have? The Osbournes and their dogs. Write about where you live? Buckingham Palace or the Big Brother house. Daily Routine? Victoria Beckham.

Teaching the perennial languages topic "how to describe yourself", my students loved a webcam video of an Ozzy Osbourne figurine describing himself in French. Year 7 students produced their own clips of their favourite celebrities using homemade finger puppets. On another successful occasion Year 9s parodied a recent Star Wars film when we used the school's digital video camera to film sketches written by them entitled At the restaurant.

New technology means that the classroom can connect to the outside world.

In sixth form lessons students enjoy using video streams on news websites such as www.tv5.org to identify the main issues of the day.

On www.euronews.net the same clip can be watched in different languages so comprehension can be checked with a final viewing in English. Information found on the online encyclopaedia www.wikipedia.org has provided the backbone of many competitive activities such as against the clock dictations, putting a cut-up text back together the fastest or finding information in the text to unlock the next question. Giving the members of the winning team a sticker has made such activities very successful Charlotte Becton is head of modern languages at St George's College of Technology in Sleaford, Lincolnshire

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