Shopping online in a foreign language is such fun that pupils absorb new vocabulary without too much effort. Words in the target language are illustrated with photographs without the need for intervening translation. It is a great way to connect the new words with the reality they describe.
Of course, you do not want a class of children running up debt. But with careful preparation you can give them a taste of an authentic online experience in a modern foreign language.
Grocery shopping is a good choice, as it gives pupils useful vocabulary for everyday life. And by exposing them to a major supermarket, such as the French Monoprix, they will see how different cultures buy and eat different foods.
Prepare them with some basic vocabulary. Set homework in which they have to list 20 items from their family's grocery shopping, then give them this vocabulary in the target language. Games that get pupils to match words to pictures are another great way to prepare them for online shopping.
Quantities are worth teaching once pupils have the vocabulary for fruit, vegetables and other everyday groceries. Start with numbers and move on to weights and measurements.
"Thousand" and "million" are tricky words in Romance languages such as French and Spanish. Since pupils are unlikely to want to order a thousand or a million of anything, let them have fun with big numbers before they shop online. Create a funny character - Monsieur Bloggy, perhaps - and put him in ridiculous situations. He could be a simple stick person for use on the board or in worksheets.
Monsieur Bloggy is a complete disaster when it comes to quantities (he once ordered a million bananas), so he is never allowed near a shopping website. Give pupils some sentences with ridiculous quantities in them. They will love shouting "Non, tu as tort, Monsieur Bloggy!" at the board. Occasionally, though, let him get it right to keep the children on their toes.
Once pupils are ready to shop online, give them plenty to look for. For instance, ask them to find 20 new words in three categories. Get them to put the items in their baskets and copy out the new vocabulary. Set a time limit and perhaps give a prize to the one who finishes first.
Tell pupils to find internet vocabulary such as "basket", "search" and "more details" in the target language. You might want to teach the most important one first, though: "cancel". And don't let them near a credit card.
Catherine Paver has taught French in England, and English in Italy and South Africa. Read more of her articles at www.catherinepaver.com
Help pupils to understand food quantities in French using this resource from rosaespanola.
rhawkes' lesson teaches pupils to buy food in Spanish. bit.lyComprandoComida
Match photos of food with Spanish words in a game shared by Martin Lapworth.