This is a guest blog by teacher Siobhan Daly. Thank you for sending it.
As a relatively young teacher fresh from university, I was well aware of the importance of games in the MFL classroom. Active teaching methods, encouraging a love of the language, making students more confident and comfortable in the classroom- the merits of games in the classroom were numerous. And the games of course proved worthwhile - indeed, so successful that I admit that I was slightly resentful that my own teachers in secondary school didn’t include games in classes when I was a student.
Games for junior classes were simple and efficient- bingo, charades and various quizzes. However, I was stumped when it came to organising games for older MFL classes. Being well aware of their self-proclaimed “cool” status, I knew that a simple game of bingo would do little to engage them (unless there was a promise of an interesting prize, which my student budget failed to stretch to).
Here are a few games that really did work for senior students:
This is extremely simple, and basically involves each student saying a sentence in French. Each student has to repeat the previous student’s sentence from the very beginning, so it’s a good test of concentration and memory. It is particularly useful for practising tenses - for example past tense, where students can describe what they did yesterday or at the weekend. This is also useful for perfecting pronunciation. It's a simple all rounder!
Running to the board games
Again, this is really straightforward but is really useful for reinforcing vocabulary learned for a particular topic. Split the class into two teams, and ensure that each student takes turns to write vocabulary related to the topic on the board. The team with the most vocabulary wins. This even makes learning about the environment in French fun!
Again, this is topic-focused. Split the class into small groups. Give each group an important topic related to the written answer on the syllabus, for example healthy eating. One student from each group must speak about the topic for one minute without repeating themselves or pausing. If they do so, the next team member must continue speaking about the topic for one minute. Teams are awarded points for completing the minute, as well as not hesitating to intervene. The first group to achieve six points win. I’ve found this particularly useful for solving students’ fear of speaking French in class.
Here, each student will have a card with a French phrase and the English translation. Students stand up and find a partner, asking that partner what the phrase on their card means in French. Each student will guess each other’s card and swap cards. Each student then continues and finds another partner to swap cards with.
When the activity ends, students will use their card with their new phrase and incorporate it in written work. They will also aim to incorporate the first card that they had, as well as any other vocabulary or phrases that they learned in the game. I find this effective for learning vocabulary for written pieces- it certainly makes the learning process slightly less tedious for the students.
I hope that these are helpful. Bon courage in incorporating them into your own classroom!