Monday, 25 February 2008

Phonics music and rhythm.

What do the Kaiser Chiefs, The Bangles and the Pink Panther have in common? Not much you might think, but all provide the backing to French songs demonstrated today by Steph Hopkins at her conference Creating a compelling curriculum.

In a session entitled Phonics, music and rhythm – developing confident speaking, Steph talked of the enhancement of creativity, engagement, independence and communication skills achieved through the use of song and rhyme in the MFL classroom. Citing Heather Rendell and the work of Leigh McClelland and Rachel Hawkes at Comberton Village College as her starting point, Steph quoted research pointing out that a child cannot read aloud effectively in another language if they cannot decode single words using phoneme –grapheme links. Starting from that point, Steph showed us some examples of synthetic phonics in French – complete with very amusing animations – which she has used in her classes.

Steph went on to talk about the rhythms of French, clapping phrases to enable the cadences of the language to be more apparent, and to enable good intonation as well as pronunciation. I’ve always found this effective in PLL as it is something with which pupils are familiar from literacy. I liked the use of ‘encore’ by the pupils to ‘boss around’ the teacher that Steph cited – shows that they have engaged with the task.

And then to the Kaiser Chiefs! With one of her groups in need of practice of the French alphabet, Steph put it to a karaoke track of Everyday I love you less and less by the boys from Leeds – and off we went! Next up, the verb etre to the theme tune of Pink Panther, followed by Eternal Flame by The Bangles for the verb avoir, complete with lines about brown rabbits and mischievous hamsters :o) Certainly works as I’m sitting blogging on the train humming Je suis, Tu es, Il est, elle est, on est etc – and we were also shown video evidence of a class singing – and dancing! You can download powerpoints of these songs from here on Steph's blog ( I know that Chris Fuller uses song in his Spanish classes – he blogged a lovely video of one of his classes singing the verb ir to Kumbya - and here's another group recording it on their mobiles!)

Pigloo then made an appearance with a couple of exercises to complete as we listened to the little penguin’s take on YMCA Moi j’aime skier – ordering a text, grouping words from the song and a gapped text with all –er verbs missed out. A comment was made that there was more interest in learning the dance than the lyrics, but, as Steph pointed out, if you’re watching it enough times to learn the dance, something must be going in of the lyrics!

Some great ideas that can easily be adapted for use in any classroom - I feel the need to raid my record collection for inspiration!


Intrigued by the french alphabet to kaiser chiefs. Can't quite imagine that one yet. Etre - pink panther easy.
Showing your age though Lisa by mentioning your record collection, shouldn't you be saying my iTunes library

Good point - letting Ms Nostalgic take over from TechieGal :o)

You can download the PPTs of the songs from Steph's blog including the Kaiser Chiefs - lots of repetition of first line needed. Will add link to blog post now!
Lisa xx

SUPERinspired! Wish that I could have been there! Can't wait to check out links. I developed a ditty for 'avoir' to the tune of 'Summer Lovin''; you can blame that one on inspiration found in the bathtub. 'Aller' became 'Inspector Gadget'! Year 7 either really liked it, or really knew how to make me feel less stupid!

Great ideas Leanne - any for Spanish?? I'm trying to think of some and will share any inspiration I find in the bath - like you, I often get my best ideas whilst soaking in the tub :o)

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