Modern Languages - Royal 'oui' to fun in French

25th May 2012 at 01:00

What it's all about

How do you plan a foreign language lesson about a British Queen? Well, you could start with the fact that the Queen speaks French fluently, and she loves animals. Why not get pupils to pretend they are French journalists writing a piece on "La Reine d'Angleterre et ses Animaux", writes Catherine Paver.

For more fun with kings and queens, explore the connections between the French language and the British monarchy. Trace this back to William the Conqueror, who made French the language of the ruling class for centuries after he conquered Britain in 1066. This is why French appears on the Royal Coat of Arms, on a blue and gold garter: "Honi soit qui mal y pense." It's the motto of the Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III, who apparently said these words when he was dancing and his partner's garter dropped to the ground. He picked up the garter, put it on his own leg and said: "Shame on him who thinks evil of this."

Take this story as the basis for a fun activity. Each group invents and acts out a story in which a king or queen says something clever that turns an awkward situation around, just as William the Conqueror did. This will become their group motto.

Before starting, give each group a piece of grammar, such as the future tense of "voir", and ask them to use it correctly in their motto.

For homework, pupils design a coat of arms featuring their new French motto.

What else?

Watch Les Rois Maudits - short, gripping films with English subtitles introducing pupils to Maurice Druon's novels about murderous medieval monarchs.

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