Modern foreign languages - Ooh la la, he's a star

10th August 2012 at 01:00
We netted a footballer when producing a video in French

We are always looking to promote languages in school. And as a north London football-mad school, what better way than to enlist a footballer to help the cause? It was through a university friend that we won the support of Bacary Sagna (pictured), who plays right back for Arsenal and who agreed to work with us to produce a video that we could use to support GCSE French.

This was such a great opportunity, we wanted to make sure it was spot on. We got Year 10 and 11 students to discuss a range of ideas for a video that would entertain and engage. We were keen for them to focus on spoken French, which remains a crucial part of the GCSE.

Students came up with the concept that Sagna would feature in the video as a new member of the school's five-a-side football team. He would appear to join the team just before the start of a big match, where he would be questioned in French by his new teammates and then turn the tables and ask the boys a series of questions in French.

Sadly, due to Sagna's schedule, the boys weren't able to meet him during the filming of his sections of the video. But this didn't deter them. Just knowing that the final video would appear to feature them questioning Sagna was enough (and he kindly signed photographs for them, which made their day).

Sagna reveals that his best friend is central defender Johan Djourou and that defence midfielder Alex Song is the funniest player on the team. He also talks about the fact that, when his playing days are over, he would like to become an architect.

Sagna was brilliant, understanding immediately what we were trying to achieve. Most impressively, he precisely gauged the language level of GCSE pupils studying French. Creating a video with such a positive, high-profile role model has not only excited students, but also fulfilled our aim of demonstrating the value of learning languages.

So, to all you MFL teachers out there, my advice is to give video-making a go. But do make sure you get the students themselves involved.

Our boys helped to get the questions and timing just right so that we could successfully edit the video into one four-minute sequence. And they loved taking ownership by writing the script - knowing, of course, exactly how to strike the right tone to engage pupils their own age. We teachers simply needed to lead, guide, tweak and sort out the grammar.

We are delighted with the video and are now happy to offer it to a wider audience through O2 Learn and TES Resources. Hopefully it will be useful for French teachers across the country, as a fun resource to reward students at the end of a lesson or as something to build a whole project around.

Peter Thackrey is a French teacher at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in London


Watch the video Peter Thackrey's students created.

Explore the regions of France through its footballers with KW2160's footballing map.

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