Category Archives: French

How did it all start?

Why knowing the origins of human communication helps us find better methods of teaching a foreign language.

There is much debate as to the way in which human language developed as our species evolved.   But many would agree that an early part of the evolution would have been the calling out of warnings of danger.

And it follows from this that the ability to tell stories must have come much later.

However, although as a species we had to wait for the evolution of the ability to invent and tell stories, this ability to tell stories proved to be a major evolutionary step. 

For whereas “Watch out behind you” can save an individual from injury, storytelling can bring a whole group together with a shared understanding.

In short, the few words that constitute a warning helps the individual.  The story preserves the unity of the whole group.

And it is because being part of a group remains so central to our lives that the use of storytelling in learning a foreign language is such a vital tool.   The children who learn French or Spanish with stories as a core part of their learning, can share their new learning and feel part of the group.

This is why our French and Spanish courses for years 3-4 and 5-6 are based around stories.  For just as our ancestors evolved language as a way of telling stories, so the power of the story remains, and enthuses children with the desire to learn a second language.

You can read more about our story based language courses for Spanish and French through the links below…

Learn French with Luc et Sophie 1ère Partie Starter Pack (Years 3–4)

Learn French with Luc et Sophie 2ème Partie Starter Pack (Years 5-6)

Learn Spanish with Luis y Sofía 1a Parte Starter Pack (Years 3–4)

Learn Spanish with Luis y Sofía 2a Parte Starter Pack (Years 5–6)

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, How children learn, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Primary school, Spanish, Teaching Ideas

The habit of memory

What is the most effective way of helping children learn to use French phrases and grammar without thinking? 

Although it may not seem always to be so, most humans forget very little.  In other words we don’t lose memories; we lose the habit of recalling that memory. 

Fortunately this can be overcome, for when we have a meaningful link for a memory, rather than just an isolated memory, the knowledge in that memory can stay with us for years. 
 
In these ways French phrases and grammar become memorable and instantly available – and if those memories are regularly accessed they become habitual. 

For example, the use of “pas de” in French can seem like just another random phrase to remember.  But there is a simple way of helping children to understand and use the phrase.

What we can do is tell children that when a French person ‘has’ or ‘owns’ something, that person cares about its gender because they are very interested in the things that are theirs.

However, for things that don’t belong to them, they see no point in indicating the gender. That is why, instead of using ‘un’, ‘une’ or ‘des’ in negative sentences, they just use ‘de’.

So they say, “Il y a un chien” (there is a dog), but “Il y n’a pas de chien” (literally, there isn’t any dog).

Here’s another little memory trick that fascinates children – the fact that son = his or her.  Although objects in French have gender,men and women are equal and, thanks to this, there is no difference between ‘his’ and ‘her’ in French.

Unforgettable French is full of tried-and-tested French memory activities based on sound and idea associations that help engage the memory and make phrases and grammatical points habitual.  

You can download our “How French Works” flowchart via our website to see the most logical way of introducing French grammar and vocabulary using the Unforgettable method.

For more information or to order the Unforgettable French 2nd Edition for just £19.99 as a printed book, £13.99 as an e-book or you can order both formats for just £24.19, visit the website. 

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Primary school, Secondary school, Teaching Ideas

FREE Les problèmes logiques et latéraux for developing French reading & interpreting skills at KS3 and KS4

This is just one of the activities in the FREE worksheet series from the popular resource, Les problèmes logiques et latéraux. To request your copy of the FREE worksheet series, simply visit www.brilliantpublications.co.uk/pages/render_page/115.

The puzzles in this book are a fun, challenging and engaging way to practise reading French, designed to consolidate and extend French vocabulary on a variety of topics whilst training the participant’s brain to solve problems.

Les problèmes logiques et latéraux is arranged by the main topics that are taught at KS3 and KS4 to make it easy to find a puzzle which fits a lesson objective. The puzzles have been extensively trialled in the classroom, and work well when used as starters, in plenaries and as a homework task.

This book is a not only a useful resource for practitioners of French, but also for cover teachers, because the easy to use answer section gives the teacher or learner immediate access to the answers, ideal for non-specialists and specialists alike.

Find out more: www.brilliantpublications.co.uk/book/les-problemes-logiques-et-lateraux-796

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Secondary school

Not when, but how.

A resource showing pupils HOW to use French Language whilst helping to deliver the KS2 Programmes of Study

The older pupils get, it appears there is a shift from wondering HOW they will use the knowledge that they have learned to wondering WHEN they will use the knowledge that they have learned. Yet the former approach to learning is far more proactive, not least because their futures are still unwritten.

Bearing this in mind, Brilliant Publications has produced a French language resource which uses drama to teach French language and thus teaches pupils HOW to use the knowledge that they have learned.

12 Petites Pièces à Jouer contains 12 age-appropriate mini French plays for beginner French pupils in primary school and lower secondary school to listen to and act out. The plays serve as a fun way to practise French, promote fluency, and develop confidence.

What’s more, these 12 entertaining mini-plays use simple, repetitive language, are ideal for use with mixed-ability groups and help to deliver the KS2 Programmes of Study: imitate pronunciation of sounds, recognise patterns in simple sentences, and take part in pair and group work.

The photocopiable book contains scripts, English translations, worksheets to extend the plays, and suggestions for performing the plays. Native French speakers perform the plays on the audio CD included with the book.

There is more information, a sample play and audio file available to download on our website.

A pupil from Yorke Mead Primary School in Hertfordshire having a great time performing the play <<Bobo le robot>> (photo reproduced with permission)

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Primary school, Secondary school

Sit still or wiggle?

Just because children are told to sit still, that doesn’t mean that’s the best way to study.

“Put a group of 8 year olds in a room and play some music with a clear rhythm, and they will move.  Some will move gracefully, others may jump about waving their arms and kicking out.”

We looked at my colleague as he said this – still an enthusiastic and highly energetic dancer himself, although well past the age most people associate with anything more than a slow waltz.

“So it’s a primitive response to rhythm,” said another of the editorial team in a ‘I’m stating the obvious’ voice.  “Does that help children learn French?” 

“Yes,” said the dancer.  He swears by dancing, dances modern styles rather than ballroom several nights a week, and travels across the country, even across Europe whenever possible.

“But most people don’t dance,” came the counter argument.

And then I got the point.  True, in our society most people don’t dance – but children do dance.  In most cases, no one has taught them, they just do it.  Which is why dance and movement are ways to teach other subjects – in this case French.

Because if you can actively involve the body, learning comes more naturally and stays in the memory far longer.

Which is why we have a DVD of simple routines which combine movements with repetition of important phrases, making learning languages easy and enjoyable.

To see how click on this link, it takes you to a part of the les couleurs video where Lynn Dryden, the author of Jouez, Dansez et Apprenez le Français demonstrates her dance routine with the children of Mountfield Primary School in Newcastle.

“Show me research that suggests that sitting still enhances learning,” I said, and there was silence for once in my office. 

“Movement is distracting,” replied the main objector on my team (why is there always one nay-sayer in every group?)  

“But not when everyone does it,” I replied.

And so here, for each topic, in addition to the main dance routine, there is also a bank of movement activities that introduce and reinforce the vocabulary, enabling the whole topic to be taught actively.

These tried and tested routines and activities have been developed by a language specialist who is also a qualified dance teacher and have been utilised with pupils and students of all ages, achieving outstanding results throughout.

There is more information on Jouez, Dansez et Apprenez le Français on our website.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 2, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Music, National Curriculum, Physical Education (PE), Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Do you find logic puzzles fun?

Many children and adults are fascinated by the challenge of trying to understand the puzzle writer’s thinking and solving the puzzle in as quick a time as possible. Debbie Leadbetter has taken this one step further and has written a collection of puzzles in French as a fun and engaging way to encourage children to practise reading French. They are designed to consolidate and extend French vocabulary on a variety of topics whilst training the participant’s brain to solve problems.

The puzzles in Les Problèmes Logiques et Latéraux take French cross-curricular! The puzzles are arranged into the main topics that are taught to children aged 11 to 16 to make it easy to find a puzzle which fits a lesson objective. Whether it is finding out which reindeer is pulling which coloured sleigh, which monkey has eaten which fruit, who won the cycle race or completing sudoku games your students will become expert in French problem-solving.

The puzzles have been extensively trialled in the classroom, and we’ve found that they work well when used as starters, in plenaries and as a homework task. Pupils find the puzzles engaging, challenging and most importantly fun, especially when they are set as a class competition.

This book is a not only a useful resource for practitioners of French, but also for cover teachers, because the easy to use answer section gives the teacher immediate access to the answers.

Love puzzles? Love French? This book is also an ideal book of entertainment for puzzle lovers who can read French, whether sat at home, travelling or on holiday. Why not try it this summer on your holidays? To tempt you, a free puzzle from the book can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

Les Problèmes Logiques et Latéraux is published by Brilliant Publications Ltd. To find out more, click this link: Les Problèmes Logiques et Latérau

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Filed under Answers, French, homework, How children learn, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), National Curriculum, Questions, Quizzes, Secondary school, Teaching Ideas

Have you seen our apps for Luc et Sophie?

Our new series for teaching French to primary children (7-11 years old) comes with apps which work on computers, interactive whiteboards and on most tablets. We have deliberately written software which is generic, which should work on every type of computer regardless of age and model. You don’t need to be a computer expert or a French expert to use the software!

Learn French with Luc et Sophie is a story-based approach to teaching French. There are 14 specially written French stories in each part. Each story is available as an illustrated book, and as an app (interactive pdf with audio), and as an audio track on a cd. If you’re not confident at speaking French, you can use the pre-recorded audio in the app, or on the audio cd. The audio tracks are acted out by native French speakers.

There are also songs, listening exercises, vocabulary lists, interactive sentence building activities for use on smartboards and laptops, reading passages and games. All of this is explained in much more detail in the comprehensive teacher’s book which accompanies each part. The stories are available on their own, or bundled with the apps and Teacher’s Book.

Why not TRY before you BUY? Download SAMPLE PAGES from our website: www.brilliantpublications.co.uk

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Filed under Assesssment, Brilliant Publications, French, Gifted and Talented, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas