A workshop on active learning for primary teachers of modern languages was one of the highlights at this year's MLPS conference, run by the Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research at Strathclyde University.
Julie Oatridge, who teaches at Hopeman Primary in Moray, gave a whistlestop tour of some of the active games she uses to teach French to P5-7. They include:
- the "question gatherer game" - pupils wander round the classroom asking a set question, for example, Comment t'appelles-tu? Pupils collect points for each question and answer;
- Cinq minutes oral plan - pupils have to answer the same number of questions as come up on the throw of a dice. A variation is: Vous allez repondre d' une facon . triste, folle, impatiente, distraite, monotone, mysterieuse and so on.
- Scramble: pin up familiar vocabulary all round the room, but jumbled up. Organise the class into groups of three or four and set them the challenge of making as many sentences as they can, or the longest sentence they can, written on "show me" boards. The teacher awards points.
- Battleships: create a picture of, for example, different family members performing different sports on a piece of A3 laminated paper. Pupils ask each other questions about the person they "hit" upon in traditional battleships style.
Ms Oatridge also offered another tip: using origami, get each child to create a triangular book in which they write short stories. "Children love writing in them," she says.
She recommends the following website, created in Australia, as a source of good ideas for interactive language teaching: www.education.vic.gov.aulanguagesonline.