What it's all about
These days the pupils have easy access to a zip-zap virtual world and the demands of foreign language learning can seem tedious, demanding and unreal. To survive, we need to harness the new technology - and have our zany moments, writes David Clark.
After far too many years spent hammering the French words for common pets into the heads of my pupils, I decided on a change of approach. I had kept a bag of my children's soft toys: chien (dog), chat (cat), cheval (horse), chameau (camel), chouette (owl) and chevre (goat). The cuddly toys were funny. They were tactile. The pupils guessed which one I was holding in a bag and won it. I threw cochon d'inde (guinea pig) and chauve-souris (bat) into the follow-up PowerPoint. They still remember them all. They had a pattern to ease their memory. They invented some new weird pets. They were having fun.
Alternatively, try "passing the bomb". Form groups of about 10. Each pupil has three lives. Buy a few pretend plastic ticking bombs cheaply off the internet. Once set, these bombs make an exploding noise at random intervals. Give the pupils a vocabulary category or a sentence to complete orally. The pupils pass the bomb around. They cannot pass it on unless they have added a new word or phrase. If the bomb goes off in their possession they lose a life. Pupils become ingenious under pressure and revise or embed language effectively.
For a colourful narrative introduction to animal vocabulary, in French, try rubiales' La Petite Poule Rouge (The Little Red Hen) interactive storybook. Bring some mystery to the German classroom with taz444 `s Cluedo question.