MFL - Multilingual Mr Men
Mr Men books are a great topic for language lessons. Excellent for learning new vocabulary and practising verbs and idioms, the books are almost guaranteed to be funny, which makes them perfect for a Red Nose Day class.
Secondary school pupils love inventing new Mr Men using words such as "sarcastic", "worried" and "technophobe" in English. By translating these into the target language, they will learn some quite subtle new vocabulary in a memorable way.
First, look at lists of existing Mr Men characters in modern foreign languages. Meet Don Cosquillas (the Spanish Mr Tickle) and Herr Glucklich (the German Mr Happy). Wikipedia and Amazon are a great source for these lists, as is the official French Mr Men website.
Now let pupils loose with dictionaries to create their own characters. Ask them to change the gender and the title, too. Doctor Clueless, Lord Fussy and Mr Tactless are always good value. So are Lady Disaster, Professor Vague and Miss Grumpy.
As well as making names from nouns and adjectives, you can also use whole phrases and expressions. After all, the Welsh Mr Nosey is called Mr Trwyn-ym-Mhopeth (Mr Nose-in-Everything). So how about Miss Get-Out-of-My-Way or Mr Annoyingly-Optimistic?
The classroom will soon fill up with strange characters and new vocabulary. Get pupils to choose one character to draw, label and describe. Then put them in pairs to let their characters meet each other. Pupils could write and perform scripted dialogues, asking you for colloquial language to make the speech more convincing. What will happen when Doctor Doom meets Mr Nice, or when Mr Angry meets Miss Technophobe?
Next, put pupils into groups to work on improvised role plays. They could start by making a seating plan for a dinner party. What would happen if you put Mr Friendly next to Lord Furious? Or Mr Nervous between Mrs Clumsy and Mr Sarcastic?
Mr Men are useful because each character's fate is predetermined by their name: we know that Mr Bump is always going to get hurt. Knowing the character's one essential quality helps pupils to guess and remember the meaning of new vocabulary.
Put up a display and keep your own copies of the clearest, funniest examples for future use. That way, you will be Sir Organised, Mrs Funny and Little Miss Smug all rolled into one.
Catherine Paver is an English teacher and singer-songwriter who writes funny songs as well as serious ones. Listen to them at www.paversongs.com
Take a look at the official Mr Men website in French.
Draw on this list of French Mr Men for inspiration.
Some Mr Men books have also been translated into Welsh.
Find a long list of Spanish Mr Men here: bit.lyLibrosInfantiles.