Rap and karaoke put the fun into French

25th August 2007 at 01:00

Francais! Francais! CD. French raps and songs for primary and S1S2, pound;18. The Language Factory, 12 Bayview Road, Aberdeen AB15 4EY

Working from the original training materials for the Modern Languages in the Primary School project, many teachers in Scotland continue to produce innovative new resources to add fun to French in the primary classroom. Using the unlikely medium of French rap music, Carole Nicoll who teaches French to P6 and P7 at Robert Gordon's College Junior School in Aberdeen, has gone one step further and turned CD producer.

Mrs Nicoll says she realised how easily her own four children learned repetitive pop songs and television adverts in English. "Children even use the same accent and intonation when they reel off all these songs," she comments. Recordings of the CD's 13 French songs and raps were made for authenticity initially by P7 pupils at the Total French School in Aberdeen and later mixed with contributions from pupils at Robert Gordon's.

Based on topics like weather, family and numbers, each section includes a recorded conversation in addition to a jazzy rap song. The language of the conversations is sometimes hallenging - "Dans ma trousse il y a un stylo, un taille-crayon, une gomme et des ciseaux" - but, as Mrs Nicoll points out, when used with actions, pictures and music, the words soon come to life. With an eye on key elements of the imminent 5-14 guidelines, she is keen to encourage teachers to introduce children to the written word too, and makes suggestions for wall displays of song lyrics and gender colour coding. A welcome Scottish slant slips into two topic areas which will go down particularly well in the north east.

Granite City pupils can rap to "Qu'est-ce qu'il y a a Aberdeen?" while children further south will enjoy national weather reports "En EcosseI il y a du brouillard et il y a toujours des nuages!" The CD also includes a section of recorded music without lyrics, allowing scope for French karaoke rap sessions. Designed primarily for classroom use, the CD (also available on cassette) will be popular with after-school French clubs. In one such group, the verdict from one seven-year-old was positively sparkling. "I like French. It's just rap and I can speak and sing it!"

Eleanor Caldwell


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