Danny Dice suggests an alternative method to get pupils to express themselves in a target language
Just when I thought I was getting to grips with promoting pupil target language use, I changed schools. This has been a humbling experience for two reasons. First, an alarmingly high number of my new pupils mysteriously fail to appreciate my considerable expertise as a modern languages teacher. Second, my new charges appear to have no use for any of the target language expressions I so painstakingly plastered over the walls of my last classroom, expressions which were lovingly illustrated by a departmental colleague.
As a service to all language teachers who may find themselves in front of a new class which is mildly reluctant to use the target language, I have compiled a supplementary list of suggested expressions for pupil use.
Strangely, none of these features in the section on classroom language in the national curriculum non-statutory guidance, Modern Foreign Languages. However, the guidance stresses how classroom language with which pupils are familiar can provide a springboard for highlighting grammatical points, so helping them to progress through the national curriculum attainment levels. I have therefore grouped the phrases below by grammatical content.
Negatives: I haven't done my homework.
I wasn't here when you set it.
You never told us there was a test. I'm not doing it.
Was it me? No, it wasn't me.
It's not fair.
You don't tell himher to move, do you?
I'm not coming back after school.
Tenses: I sat here last time.
I always sit here.
I'm not going to move.
Questions: What homework?
Did you see that?
Why should I move?
Why don't you put hisher name on the board?
Why do we have to do FrenchGerman anyway?
Imperatives: Tell himher, sirmiss.
Ask himher. Go on.
Ask himher if it was me.
Tell him her to move.
Third person: My mumdad says I don't have to do the homeworkdetention FrenchGerman.
Heshe's got my pen.
Heshe hit me.
Heshe just called me a . . .
(This last expression can also provide welcome opportunities for dictionary work.) Finally, forewarned is forearmed. I have given up pulling out my hair at the vociferous protests of my new Year 9 French group each time I have tried to get them to express in French what they wanted to say. Instead, I now respond calmly - and very inanely - with a ditty originally created to preserve my sanity when my daughters, aged three and five, were being impossible: Stop! This is a no whinge zone.
If you want to whinge, you must whinge on your own.
My department's assistante has provided a French translation: Stop! Ici c'est un zone o on ne doit pas se plaindre.
Si tu veux te plaindre, c'est tout seul que tu dois geindre.
Danny Dice is a pseudonym. The author is a head of department in the North