Teacher to teacher

28th April 2006 at 01:00
Queen Elizabeth Grammar School is an independent school for 720 boys. This year, the languages department has been looking at ways to raise the profile of German, as the number of pupils studying it are dwindling. In particular, all Year 9 classes were challenged to create a board game that would test pupils' knowledge of the perfect tense. In the weeks preceding the challenge the boys learnt the perfect tense as part of the normal curriculum. Then they were issued with a brief for the task.

They had to design a board game that was new or based on one they were familiar with. They also had to produce the board, the counters, a set of rules written in English, and questions on the perfect tense with an explanation of how to form it. The brief gave a list of verbs that could be used, which included those the teachers felt the boys ought to know and be able to use by the end of the year.

Questions were on a range of areas, from elements of the grammar behind the perfect tense to simple translation tasks and multiple-choice answers or "spot the mistake". The boys also had to provide answers to their questions.

Following about four lessons, related homework and the half-term holiday, the games were submitted. The German teaching staff then picked the best ones to go into a play-off which was held during a lunch hour. The director of languages at the Goethe-Institut London was one of the judges.

The winners were awarded certificates and media vouchers. Their game, chosen for the accuracy of the questions, was based on snakes and ladders.

To move, you had to answer a perfect tense question correctly. Another was based on the World Cup and you had to answer questions to play the ball a number of moves in a centre stadium. Once you had answered enough questions to score a goal you moved on to the next stadium until you reached the final. The challenge was a resounding success. We wait to see if numbers increase, but the profile of German has certainly been raised.

Lindsay Slack

MFL teacher, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield

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