...Let's play French. Or Spanish. Or German...

There's nothing like playing games to lend interest to other languages; and nothing like other languages to add new zest even to quite straightforward games
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The Independent Online

1 Numbers and colours

You will need some sweets of different colours, such as Smarties, jelly beans or jelly babies. Go through a list of colours individually, encouraging the child to repeat the words after you (" Bleu, blanc, rouge, vert, jaune, gris, marron, violet, rose, noir, orange" etc). Don't worry if you can't match all the colours to a sweet.

Now arrange the sweets in sets, going from one to 10 and going through the numbers in the same way, pointing to each set and getting the child to repeat the numbers after you (" Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix" etc).

Then introduce the word for sweet (" Un bonbon") and ask the child to point to a red sweet, yellow sweet and so on (" Un bonbon rouge, un bonbon jaune" etc). If the child gives you the correct sweet, thank them (" C'est ça, merci!") and eat it if you like; if the child doesn't give you the correct sweet, say: "That's not it" (" C'est pas ça") and repeat your request.

Now it's the child's turn. Help them to ask for what they want. If all goes well, you could also add the words for please and thank you ("s 'il vous plaît", "merci"). This activity can also be carried out (though without the eating bit) with marbles or counters.

2 Kim's game

This game is excellent for developing vocabulary. Set out a tray with various items on it, naming each in your chosen language, encouraging the child to repeat the name after you. Then ask the child to close their eyes ( "Ferme les yeux"). Show that you are closing your eyes as you say it. Now remove an item. Ask the child to open their eyes (" Ouvre les yeux") and ask them what's missing (" Qu'est-ce qu'il manque?"). If the child finds it too hard to remember the word for the missing object, repeat the whole list, including the missing object, so they can recognise the word. When the child is more confident, ask them to hide an object for you to guess. Use different kinds of object; fruits, foods, household items, toys.

3 Picture lotto

Each child has a set of picture cards in front of him/her. You can incorporate making these into part of the activity, using pictures cut from old magazines, calendars or catalogues stuck onto pieces of cardboard. Choose animals, foods, household objects. The names of the objects are written in the language you are practising, on separate pieces of card. The name cards are drawn out of the bag one at a time and called out; the person who has the picture must raise their hand and claim the card by calling out the item in French/Spanish/German/ Italian. If the picture is not claimed correctly, it goes back in the bag. The winner is the first to cover up their pictures with the name cards.

4 Picture dice

Make a cardboard dice and stick a picture on each face. Again, this can be incorporated into the activity and you could also take the chance to introduce extras such as the words for scissors, glue, pencils, paper and other equipment. Choose simple pictures and use them to introduce the vocabulary to the child.

Roll the dice; whichever picture lands face up, the person who rolled the dice has to identify the picture and make a simple sentence using the word; this can be as basic and simple as "It's a dog" (" C'est un chien" etc).

5 Make a scrapbook

Make a scrapbook, labelled in the language you are practising. Add a few new pictures each day, from catalogues, old greetings cards, brochures and magazines, and also review the words already written. Choose simple images that the child already knows in English: animals, shops, fruits, vehicles and so on. Add labels for colours. Group the images together so that you can also add numbers (three brown rabbits, four red cars).

Alternatively, make your collection on a large piece of cardboard you can pin up somewhere. That way you will see it every day and can refer to it easily.

5 Action games

These are great favourites with children in this age group. The French variation of "Simon says..." is called "Jacques a dit..." with commands like "saute" or "touche ton nez" or "ferme les yeux". If Jacques tells you to do something, you follow the instructions; if not, you keep quite still.

The vocabulary is easy to explain by demonstration, and the game can be played with one child or several children, in any language, all you need to do is change the name to an appropriate one.

Let the child respond first. He or she will enjoy listening to make sure he or she only performs the action at the correct time in the game. Then let him or her give the commands and tell you what to do.

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