MFL - Step on the gas

22nd February 2013 at 00:00
Find out how different countries approach sustainability issues

The topic of climate change provides a great opportunity to look at how different countries are tackling the problem. Once you get them started, pupils could pick one issue from the country in question and research it themselves. They could then present their findings in simple forms such as posters, giving them plenty of focused practice in the target language.

Start with simple, everyday vocabulary that you want them to learn anyway. Words such as "car", "tree" and "water" are useful for a wide range of topics. You could get pupils to suggest the range of words they might need. Nouns would be a good place to start but you could also include some verbs, such as "use", "waste" and "recycle".

You could look at a few different countries, depending on the target language or languages. You could have a wall display with a map of the world, and little cards with pictures and the words you taught. Let children take it in turns to pin "the rubbish in Germany" and "the cars in France". This will help them to build simple phrases about "les voitures en France".

If you have already done some work with pupils on numbers, you could revise that next. Children love huge numbers. For example, Spain recently spent EUR72 million on promoting electric cars.

Another approach would be to find out how many electric cars have been sold in different countries. Pupils could research this with your help and produce a wall display that shows the position of each country as a little car on a big graph. The car furthest to the right represents the country in the lead.

Electric cars are a great topic because they are exciting and visual, with inspiring stories you can find in the press. Tell pupils the story of the two French engineers who completed the first world tour in an electric car in September last year. Their excellent blog has a map of the route - great for learning place names in French - and information about the trip.

Recycling is another good topic for young children because, like cars, it is visual and familiar. At the same time, there are amazing stories of recycling projects across the planet. Some Peruvians, for example, make their living by rifling through rubbish and selling recyclable items. The Times Magazine estimates that the Peruvians reprocess about 1,800 tonnes every day. China is another great source of recycling stories.

Children could produce some colourful work for a wall display using the target language and examples you have given them. These could be persuasive - for example, posters and leaflets. Or pupils could create simple front pages for an environmental newspaper, using the stories you have explored with them. You could supply the text and help them to understand it. They could then illustrate the page and produce headlines and captions - perhaps even a snappy name for the newspaper itself.

Catherine Paver is a teacher and singer-songwriter who writes songs about her travels. Listen to them at

What else?

Consider the world around us using this termly plan and suggested language for comparing countries from QCDA_Resources. bit.lyTheWorldAboutUs

Take a look at this French blog charting the first world tour in an electric car. bit.lyElectricOdyssey.

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