Activities That Work /
D. Foreign Language mini-topics

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley

Back to Table of Contents:
D. Foreign Language mini-topics.
1. Art activities.
2. Clothing & body parts.
3. Colors, Numbers & Money.
4. Family.
5. For small kids. (Just for them?)
6. Geography and FL.
7. Idiom fun.
8. Learning directions.
9.-Poetry activities.
11.-Sponge activities.
12.-Student newcasts.
13.-Talking games.
14.-Teaching culture.
15.-Time expressions.

1. Art activities.

97/07 From-> "Poquette, Pat" <>
Subject: help with French art projects?

I teach Exploratory French to middle schoolers, grades 5-8. I'd love to
share some of my activities with you. BTW, what age/grade/level will
your students be? Anyway, I recommend that you purchase a fairly
inexpensive book called Un Peu de Tout ( A Little Bit of Everything).
It's a black-line master book filled with activities and ideas that are
organized thematically.

The same book exists for Spanish, Un Poco des Todos, I think.Activities:
Most of my activities are arranged thematically, incorporating holidays.

*Passports: We make a passport the first week of school. I have a
Polaroid camera and I have learned (after many years of practice) how to
pose four kids for each shot. We cut their pics out and paste them on
the passport.

Each time we visit a new country in class, study a city, or do something
spectacular, the students write a short description and I stamp on/below
the description. Sometimes I use rubber stamps and ink and sometimes I
use stickers. At the end of the course, which is 9-weeks long, I give
the kids an "Examen des Voyages." It's a fun type check-up. They can use
their passport to remember where we "visited" and what we "saw." An easy
grade for most.

*Pique-Nique: Instead of creating menus in French, small groups of
students make a 2-D and sometimes 3-D picnic table cloth. After studying
the food terms, they take poster paper of any color available, cut out
pics of food OR draw the food, place it on the table cloth in "une
version francaise" with French vocabulary for each item. I restrict
American type items like pizza, hamburgers, chips, etc.

*Les Repas: I vary the Pique-Nique activity with this one. It's fun and
it takes less time. I give each student (or pair of students) a CHEAP
flimsy paper plate. I assign a meal to each student: le petit dejeuner,
le dejeuner, le degout (tea-time), le diner. Students design French
meals on their plates with appropriate French vocabulary labels.

Le Corps: I use the body that is in Un Peu de Tout. Before I found UPDT,
I used coloring book figures and paper doll figures. The kids design it
and label it in French. Sometimes I provide braids for them to connect
the parts with so that the figure is moveable. Otherwise, I give them a
sheet of 8"x14" paper for a background for pasting it.

Les Vetements: I've been collecting clothes and accessories for years.
Some very strange! I even have wigs! BTW, just to be safe, everything
that I have in my clothing trunk, except for the jewelry, is washed in
hot water after each clothing unit... INCLUDING THE WIGS! The kids have
fashion shows using these clothes or some from home. It's tons of fun!
There is an announcer who in VERY elementary French describes the
outfits for the audience of classmates and guests.

I have many other activities and ideas, if you would like. Just let me

Bonne chance!

Veronica Dees


97/07 From-> "Poquette, Pat" <>
Subject: French art projects (responses compiled)

Here is what I received in response to my request for ideas on French
art projects to be used with elementary children in a summer course:
*A short study of impressionism with a culminating project of magic
markers being used to create a picture with dots. (This works with paint
if you use q-tips. I would also add the idea of viewing Linnea in
Monet's Garden as part of the study).

*A look at the cathedrals and their window designs followed by making
stained glass windows made on black construction paper with tissue

*Showing Matisse pictures and having them trace their hands or draw big
loopy flowers or bananas in many colors and assemble them on a sheet of
red, yellow or blue construction paper.


*Someone mentioned a Renaissance face made of vegetables that may be
French. I am not familiar with it. The idea given is to assemble faces
using cut out vegetable pictures from magazines. Cute!

*Other miscellaneous ideas I received were to look at or do something
with Madeleine or Asterix, and to include food such as croque monsieur
or meringue glace.
I am also forwarding a posting with more ideas, and would like to thank
everyone who responded. My class is lots of fun!

Ellen Poquette


97/07             From-> Frank Osborne <>
Subject: Re: Pointillism Craft

Hola French Teachers,

I am a Spanish teacher, but I saw something on TV today that I just had
to share with my French companeros. A lady gave this idea for simulating
a French pointillism painting. First, using crayons(preferably very
bright colors) draw a vase of flowers, a lily pond(something French, you
know) on a piece of sand paper about the size of a piece of notebook
paper. Put the sand paper drawing facedown on a thick piece of drawing
paper, and iron over it with a cool iron. The drawing transfers onto the
drawing paper with a plethora of little holes! She also used the front
of cereal boxes to make frames. If anyone wants to know the trick for
that, just ask on the list. If students were to do these paintings, they
could present them in class with a short talk in which they described
the colors and shapes they used....... They could give an interpretation
of the painting........Groups could choose a painting, come up with a
description or interpretation, and then the rest of the class could
guess what painting was being described. What fun it would be to think
of a creative French name for your painting.......etc, etc, etc. I hope
some of you French teachers can use this. If its an old idea, forgive

Frank Osborne


97/08 From-> Irene Moon <>
Organization: Wadsworth Senior High School
Subject: BookCover Idea

Just wanted to revisit this with you...some of us talked this summer about
having the kids design book covers using Aztec, Mayan stencils and/or designs.
I am doing that with my Sp 2's. I'm going to recommend that they buy shelf paper
or the rolls for finger-painting so they are attractive.

The covers are NOT an option, they are REQUIRED. I've prepared some
handouts containing designs and an explanation. (These were available
from Carlex and Teacher's Discovery). To this I added some info on the
Molas with about 3-4 typical designs that they could replicate or create
their own. I plan to have them explain in 2-3 sentences about their
design. I am also offering 3-5 extra points for students who cover theirs
with laminate ot contact paper...I'm concerned that the ink will fade or
rub off on clothing if it gets wet etc.

I figure this is good advertisement, all year long, for Foreign

If you want the handouts, send me a stamped 8 x 11" envelope and at the
end of the week I'll mail out any extra copies I have. Please don't
write me...just send an envelope
with 2-3 regular stamps.

Irene Moon

2. Clothing & body parts.

95/10 From -> "Patricia A. Kessler"   <>
Subject: activities that work

An activity that my students enjoy after learning the names for articles
of clothing is the "clothespin game". I place a clothes line across the
front of the room and attach several clothes pins to it. I split the
class into 2 teams and hand out articles of clothing (which had been cut
from magazines and placed on cardboard by former classes). Each person
gets at least 2 pieces of clothing, and each team has to have the same
clothes for it to work. After getting set up I call out the name of an
article of clothes in the target language and the member of each team
who has that piece of clothing has to race to the clothesline and be the
first to successfully pin it there. This continues until all articles
have been called out. The students get very excited and noisy, but all
are participating and having a great time in the TL. I give the winning
team X extra credit points on the quiz that follows this lesson. You can
do this near the end of class and it only takes 10-15 minutes. I
wouldn't let it go any longer. My Spanish IIs are begging to play a
similar game this year. There is no reason this idea couldn't work for
any type of vocabulary in which pictures can be found easily (ie foods).
Have fun!

Pat Kessler


95/10 From -> Hollie Linville <>
Subject: more clothespin

Hi all,

I do a variation of the clothespin game too. I use actual clothes that I
was going to give to the Salvation Army anyway...or other baby clothes
that I pick up at garage sales. I use two big bags filled with various
clothing items, and along side of the bag, I have different colors of
construction paper. I assign two teams.

Next, I call on two students from the opposing team, and call out an
item of clothing, but add a color. The kids get used to hearing the
adjective after the noun this way. For example, I'll call out: the red
shirt. The kids have to hang up a shirt and the red construction paper.
The first one to accomplish this wins the point.

Another activity teaching clothing and body parts. Again, I use two bags
filled with clothes. The students are in two teams. The "competitors"
will hear me say: Put the glove on your head or Put your shoe on your
hand. The first one to accomplish the task wins the point.

In both these activities, after about 10 minutes of playing, I ask the
students to take my place, and they say the commands instead of me. At
the end of the game, I let them turn the tables and tell ME to be in the game.
Of course, they all want me to put the sneakers on my head, or balance a
sock on my nose, but it is all done in fun.

Most times, just playing the game is reward enough. The kids have a lot
of fun, not to mention the teacher. Caution: Beware of flying clothes!  :-)
These games are noisy, but they produce results. I call these
activities: organized chaos.

Pictionary is a must in class. It never fails. It's especially fun when
teaching verb or adjectives. The kids get very creative. Just remind
them NOT to get too detailed in their "artwork."

Another game that I use when teaching numbers: Put the students in teams
of 4 or 5. Get several decks of cards, make sure the numbers are mixed
up. It's a good idea to take out the jacks, queens, and kings. I
distribute a bunch of cards to each team. It doesn't matter how many
cards they get, as long as they get a bunch of them. Ace = 1 or 11. The
rest are face value. The cards are shared by the team -- no one member
holds the cards -- everyone in the team must be able to see all the

I call out a number, and the students have to add up whatever cards they
have in their team to total that number. I let each team have a chance
at telling me their combinations. Everyone in the team is responsible
for making sure each member of the team knows how to say each number,
including the number that I call out. They never know who I will call on
to add up the numbers.

The stronger students seem to enjoy helping the not-so-strong students.

When the called-on student says each number, I add them up on the board
as they go along. If it is right, they get a point. If not, better luck
next time. There are so many combinations of numbers, it is not often
that students say the same things. Oh yes, the student must say the
entire thing: 2 + 3 + 6 + 4 + 9 = 24 to get the point.

One more: When teaching body parts and facial features, we play a game
that I call "Picasso." I send a group of students to the blackboard and
then blindfold them. YES! I blindfold them. Each student will do their
own individual "masterpiece." I ask them to draw a certain body part,
and eventually I'll call out all the parts that we know to form an
"entire person." The results are a lot of fun when the blindfolds come
off. After a few times at this, I ask the students, one-by-one, to call
out the body parts for our budding artists. You can imagine why I call
this game "Picasso."

Although there are only a few students at the board at a time, everyone
pays close attention because they love watching the drawings evolve.
However, another way to do this is have the students do this at their
desks...but it is a lot more fun when you send the kids to the board.
Kids love going to the board anyway, so it is a treat for them.

Sorry this post is so long, but I got involved in reading your
activities and wanted to share some of mine. I have a lot more...but
I'll save them for another time.

BTW, I'm going to try some of the activities that I've read here this
week.   I can't wait.

Hollie Linville


97/02 From-> Marilyn Nathanson <>
Subject: Re: BODY PARTS

Michele B. Grund wrote:

>Besides having students draw aliens/monsters, etc. and describe, playing "Simon says",
>or having them make a poster combining body parts and food called "you are what you
>eat" (Taken from 'pathways to proficiency'), i'm at a loss for ideas!!! What crazy/fun/
>educational ideas would you like to share? Off-list if possible

I have my students get in groups of 3-4. They are told to trace the body
of one of them and with markers label over and over each section
(example la piernam la pierna, la pierna)---The whole body is filled
with words indicating each part. They love to do this - have strange
positions and colorful results. I display them on the bulletin board &
then have teachers judge which one is most impressive.



97/02 From-> Didier Bergeret <>
Subject:   Re: BODY PARTS

One activity that works well is to divide your class into at least 2
teams. Beforehand, you have prepared a number of identical stacks of
post-it notes with names of body parts written on them. Each team is
given one stack. One member of each team is chosen as a "model" (a
dummy, if you prefer) and the rest of the team has to stick all the
notes on him/her, at the right places, as fast as possible. The first
team to complete the task wins (unless they put something in the wrong
place, in which case they are disqualified, or at least penalized in
some way.)

Didier Bergeret


97/02 From-> Liz Klem <>
Subject: Re: BODY PARTS

Similar to an aerobics tape but quick and sometimes funny, have groups
make up new words to "Head, shoulders knees and toes" and lead the
class. At times chaotic but a change of pace and even high school kids
enjoy using the song from their childhood.

Liz Klem


97/02 From-> Kathy Paxton <>
Subject: Re: Teaching Body Parts

>>I was just wondering if anyone has any ideas about teaching body parts<<

Have you tried using any of the Bingo games from the Sing, Dance, Laugh
& Eat Quiche company? They have "Body Parts" and "Advanced Body Parts".
I'm also a great one for singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes," which
I know in both English and Russian.

Other ideas: paper dolls (cut-outs), make a life-size cut-out with
construction paper (student labels self), Simon Says, etc. Something a
first grade teacher does.. she says "If you can hear me, touch your
head. If you can hear me, touch your nose." By now, the LEP students
know all those body parts.

--Kathy Paxton


97/02 From-> Mary Young <>
Subject: Re: BODY PARTS

>Besides having students draw aliens/monsters, etc. and describe, playing
>"Simon says", or having them make a poster combining body parts and food
>called "you are what you eat" (Taken from 'pathways to proficiency'), I'm at
>a loss for ideas!!! What crazy/fun/educational ideas would you like to share?

An archeological expedition discovering bones of an early person (maybe
like the "ice maiden" they found in the Andes last year, only
"disassembled") and they have to reconstruct him/her. You could xerox a
skeleton and "plant" bones around campus or the classroom for them to
find and identify. If you want to make a team activity out of it, you
could arrange to have a treasure hunt (they follow directions like a
treasure map--a la Indiana Jones--to the place where their bones are

An aerobics video in Spanish? Then have everyone in a circle, each one
leads one move (aerobic or not) for 8 - 16 beats then call on someone
else to lead a move (we did this at the Creative Problem-Solving
Institute--it was fun).

How about the Hokey-Pokey Gone Crazy: Not just the left foot, or hand.
Let them add verses (subject to censorship, of course).

They could make composite drawings by tearing out parts of pictures from
People magazine to create the ideal supermodel or superstar: He has the
eyes of Sean Connery, the hair of Antonio Banderas, the chest of Jimmy
Smits, etc. They could display them and let others guess, or they could
report within groups and have the groups vote on which one to present to
the class.

They could write or talk on the phone to describe a new
boyfriend/girlfriend. They could describe famous people for others to
guess (how would they describe Rodney Dangerfield) This could be by
drawing a photo from a basket, or drawing a name the same way.

I have had kids play hangman using dice. I display a labeled cardboard
skeleton and give a dice value to each section of the body: 1 = head/ 2
= body/ 3 = arms/ 4 = legs/ 5 = hands/ 6 = feet. Obviously, they have to
respect the order of what they are going to attach things to, so that if
they roll a 4 they can't use it until they have rolled their 1 then
their 2 so they can attach the legs to something. I made them roll 1 to
start, like in Parcheesi. A party supply store will have some kind of
jointed figure (the Mardi Gras section will have jesters right now for
about $3 or less).

In real life, they will probably only talk about body parts when they
are (a) admiring someone else's or (b) complaining about pain or weight
gain in their own. Let's go with the pain thing. How about a mock
disaster drill. Hand out tickets to each student assigning roles as
rescuer, Red Cross, a couple of medical professionals, or injured
(identify the type of injury). Pick a timely disaster (a twister? an
asteroid? volcanic eruption?)(it should be a little ridiculous, in case
anyone is truly phobic about your local natural disasters) They can have
fake blood stains (a rag with dried red ink on it tied to the
appropriate body part...they'll know how to do this). The rescuer can
say things like, "Can you move your leg?" and "When I lift this boulder,
you pull out your arm," etc. And the Red Cross worker can ask about
where it hurts, and are you able to wiggle your fingers (I hear that
isn't a reliable test anymore...) and ask some questions to test for
injury. The victim of course can complain, "My leg is stuck! Watch out
for my arm! My head hurts" etc. If you can keep it melodramatic and like
a B movie, it could be a lot of fun. Or like an episode of X-files. Let
them help you work it out, and maybe you can even put it on video.

This could also be in an ER, at a ski first aid station, at a sports
clinic, at a physical therapist's facility, at a football practice, etc.

Teach them a paso doble or other dance step involving many parts of the
body. In Spanish you have a wealth of such dances.

You could ask them to teach the class how to do something that requires
physical movement like that... how to bowl, how to ice skate, how to
rock climb, how to snowboard or roller blade. This will require teaching
some extra verbs (lean, grip, reach, etc.)

You have not forgotten Twister (series of colored 4" dots on a plastic
mat, the spinner tells the two - to - four players what color dot they
have to place their hand or foot on--it's an old Milton-Bradley game, I



97/02 From-> Shawna Thue <>
Subject: Re: BODY PARTS

I just finished with body parts in my classroom. I had butcher paper
tacked on the board, and handed them a card with a body part in Spanish.
Every person was responsible to draw and label their body parts to the
best of their abilities. We then conversed in Spanish about the usage of
each part of the body.

Next, taught them the song "Head, and Shoulder, knees and toes, etc but
I made a few changes. Cabeza, hombros, rodillas, pies, rodillas, pies.
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas, pies, rodillas, pies. Ojos, orejas, boca, y
nariz. Cabeza, hombros, rodillas, pies, rodillas, pies. We went faster
and faster and faster until we were all out of breath. I then did the
standard "Simon dice"

If you have the video series Destinos- they have body parts and health
terms on Episodios 28 and 29. I hope that helped you some!!

Shawna Thue

3. Colors, Numbers & Money.

96/01 From-> Linda Thalman <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

Jeff asked:
>Does anyone have a good communicative activity to use after having studied
>numbers and money. I have a bunch of play money and can't come up with
>anything great. Help!

Depending (perhaps) on the age of your students you might try:

1) playing Monopoly

2) cutting out products from magazines and have an auction (highest
bidder for the car/camescope/stereo/hamburger, etc.) wins.

3) have 10 items with prices on them. You decide the price and the total
value of all the items should/must exceed the dollar/yen/franc amount
each student has.

Then the students "have to" spend their money, without going into debt!

4) You do a speaking activity where any language in the "mother tongue"
has to be paid for in paper money (hope this won't start a flame war on
whether or not to "punish" mother/native language in the classroom -- I
am not against native language in the classroom at all!) Have a
"banker"/"finance person/money changer because the "fee" will be 1.23
cents or 2.67 yen or 4.85 francs (need to make change) per "native
language" utterance.

5) Role play buying things in a shop/ordering products/food/clothes,
etc. with buyers and sellers.

6) Role play AIRPORT: this is very good with adults and a travel theme:
travel agency sells tickets, hotels, boat cruise, etc. buyer needs to
pay for services.

What a great question. Looking forward to other ideas!



96/01 From-> Elaine Davis <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

I have used the following:

1.Get a map of Spain and the equivalent distance mileage (usually on the
back of the map). Have students give the mileage and calculate the
distance for a mini tour - i.e. Madrid - Sevilla - Torremolinos

2. Get an edition of your local newspaper in Spanish (here in the NY
area we have El Diario). It has the supermarket ads on Wednesday and the
students can see the prices for products and say them. This also works
for the travel agency ads and cost of trips.

3. Same idea works well with a newspaper from out of the country. Then
they practice the equivalent money units - pesos, etc.

Elaine Davis


96/01 From-> DCHRISTI <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

One thing you could do is set up a store where the students have the
opportunity to buy certain items (school supplies, candy, etc.) Have
them earn the money (personally, I'm not much of a believer in token
award systems, but in some cases...hey), then at the end of a week or
other set period of time, they have the chance to go to the "store."
This also gives them a chance to practice the target language because
the only way they can buy something is by asking for it in the
target language.

David Christian (aka Bjorn)


96/01 From-> Aleda Krause <>
Subject: Money Activity

>Does anyone have a good communicative activity to use after having studied
>numbers and money. I have a bunch of play money and can't come up with
>anything great. Help!

Here's one I use with EFL Japanese kids. Have each one draw five
pictures on separate cards (with price tags, of course), and write the
words for them on separate cards. Let them use any vocabulary they know,
or restrict to a set you want to review.) They keep the picture cards
(these are the items they will have for sale in their own "shop")
Collect all the word cards, then shuffle and redistribute. These make up
each customer's "shopping list." Half the class at a time sets up shop;
the others are given a set sum of money and must try to buy as many of
the items on their lists as possible. Time limits can also be set.
Depending on the level, Q's and A's may have to be pre-taught, but they
can be simple: I want a ____. Do you have one? How much is it? That's
too expensive. Again, depending on the class, they can also be
encouraged to try to get the price lowered.

Aleda Krause


96/01 From-> Lewis Johnson <>
Subject: Re: Good Activity for money

I like to play the Price is Right. I modify the procedure so that I can
play it with 35-40 students. Students form groups of four. Each group
receives a picture of a different item that I have cut from local
newspaper ads (clothing, boom boxes, watches, etc.). If we're practicing
numbers over a hundred, I select pictures of TV's, VCR's, bicycles, etc.
The secretary of the group writes the name of the item. The groups
discuss in the target language what they think the correct price is and
the secretary writes down the price they decide on. Then the pictures
are rotated to the next group.

When the pictures have rotated through all groups, we begin to play.

I write the name of one item on the board and each team tells me what
they think the item costs. I start with team #1. Of course, one of the
teams before may have already given the price your team has chosen. So
the team reporter must give another price. For the second item I start
with team #2 and end with team #1.

The winner is the team that comes closest without going over. If all
guess over, we erase answers and guess again.

While the students are discussing the cost of each item, I circulate
monitoring that only the target language is being used. If I hear
Spanish, I give the team a little ticket. If I hear English, I take a
ticket away. If I don't hear anything, I don't give or take. The team
with the most tickets at then end is the first team dismissed when the
bell rings... second is dismissed second, etc.

When we play games, I don't explain the game in English. I simply walk
them through it explaining in Spanish what they need to do. We play this
in 7th grade.

Lewis Johnson


96/01 From-> Gary Luke <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

>Does anyone have a good communicative activity to use after having studied
>numbers and money.

I took a couple of days after the "Free time chapter" (first year) and
had the kids "DO" what we had been talking about. We went to the movies.
I stole those ropes that make up Queue line from the librarians (Man!
Does anyone know what they are called?) and put them out in front of the
door. The kids made posters and the sign that states the different
prices. I rented a German movie and gave the kids money the day before.
The kids were invited to bring food (which they did) which was to be
sold at the "candy counter."

When the day came, a couple of my German 3 and 4 kids came in to help me
out. They sold the tickets and candy, escorted the kids to their
assigned seats etc (just like the German ushers) I even had some German
commercials to show (which happens in Germany and I think most of

I took most of the first day just to get the kids into their seats and
the candy sold, but the pay off was worth it. If the ushers heard
excessive talking (i.e. English), the offenders would have been escorted
out of the theater (class). They could wait in line and go through the
buying ritual again but they did not have enough money to buy two
tickets AND candy. So they stayed in the language the entire three days
but were having realistic exchanges. I only show one movie a year, so
why not make something out of it? Waiting outside of class and seeing
the ticket booth made the kids feel that they had set up something
special and were glad to be in the class (can you imagine?)
Whatever the topics you have been covering, I sure you could set up some
type of shop (clothes, the market etc.) Whatever you do, have the kids
set it up for you. they learn more and they have a vested interest in
seeing it work out.

Have fun and good luck!!!!

Gary Luke


96/01 From-> Lauralie Munson <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?


> Does anyone have a good communicative activity to use after having studied
>numbers and money. I have a bunch of play money and can't come up with anything
>great. Help!

This activity is so old that you probably know about it, but I get a
bunch of things at garage sales or elsewhere and hold a "sale" in class.

Students have to express their desire for an item and ask its price. The
"sales" person gives the price and the either pay it or decide not to
buy the item. Sometimes, the play money is issued to them as a result of
points earned, and they can actually "buy" desired items if they have
the price - making it a reward sort of thing. I have also held
"auctions" of things bought at garage sales or very cheaply.



96/01 From-> "Serafa-Manschot, Emily" <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

Another way to combine numbers and money is to play the Price Is Right's
Higher/Lower game. Choose one student to be the contestant, then show a
"fabulous prize" (usually a picture). Let the whole class see the price,
but the contestant should not. The contestant must give the price in the
target language. The rest of the class yells out the words for
"higher"/"lower" or "more"/"less" depending on the contestant's guess
until the contestant gets the correct price. For advanced students, you
can set a time limit like they do on TV. This is a good sponge activity
for the last 10 minutes of the hour and requires little preparation
ahead of time. (Gracias a Emily Spinelli, de U/M Dearborn por esta

Emily Serafa Manschot


96/01 From-> "Joseph J. Goebel Jr." <JJGOEBEL@VM.TEMPLE.EDU>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

In my Spanish classes we use a number of Scenarios which I have created
(along the lines of Robert DiPietro's work) Scenarios are essentially
open-ended role plays where there is an inherent conflict. However, the
conflict is not apparent to the students (at least at first.)

Part I
Students (in groups of 3,4 or 5) are given a slip of paper with a role
to play. In this case you might try:

Role I You are a tourist in Mexico and you want to spend as little money
as possible. You know that the sellers will raise the price some because
you are clearly a tourist. How are you going to bargain down the price
You will begin the dialogue with Buenas tardes......

Role II You own a small shop in Merida, Mexico and you have just seen a
rather well-off tourist walk in. Business has not bad very good lately -
see if you can satisfy this customer and make a good deal of money too!
He/she will begin the dialogue with Buenas tardes....

During part I students (in separate groups) prepare the grammar,
vocabulary strategies, excuses etc while the teacher serves as a walking
dictionary and resource person. According to DiPietro, this part can be
done in L1. However, I have found that when I insist on the use of L2
the students do just fine!!!

Part II
This is the actual role play. One student is chosen from each group to
take the role INITIALLY! The rest MUST REMAIN STANDING directly behind
the actor/actriz. This keeps them involved in the scenario. The
actors/actresses begin the dialogue while the helpers whisper
suggestions, answer questions etc for their classmate. The teacher STAYS
OUR OF THE DIALOGUE (no correcting, interrupting, taking control etc.)
If you decide that one or both groups require time to discuss new
strategies, vocabulary etc. say (in the target language) 30 seconds.
(When the scenarios "heat-up" it is sometimes necessary to physically
step between the groups like a boxing referee!) Frequently one student
will jump in and take the role play and the previous actor/actriz
becomes a helper. Part II ends when the conflict is resolved or when you
decide to end it for any of a variety of reasons (students have reached
a dead end, you run out of time, etc.)

Part III
THE WINDDOWN While students are interacting, you take notes on grammar,
culture, vocabulary etc. This part allows you to review these items. My
experience has been that students are much more interested in the
grammar, vocabulary and cultural differences which arise in these
scenarios than they are in the items which appear in the textbooks
(regardless of how much I like the textbook!) I think this is because
scenarios are true communication - not memorized drills or even dialogue
type role plays. They must communicate (and when communication breaks
down their own group or the other must rephrase or repeat or speak more
slowly or....). The teacher does not help until Part III. Therefore,
when I say, the vocabulary item you needed to tell him/her to be quiet
was....., the students needed that item LEARN IT!!! Two final items and
then I will end this already lengthy response. IMHO there should be no
use of L1 until the third part. (In part three we are talking about the
language and I do use L1 with lower level classes!) DiPietro would disagree
with me; I believe that only part II used the target language in his
video. Finally, scenarios can be created for all levels - not merely the
upper level classes. ALL LEVELS LOVE TO DO SCENARIOS!!! Bibliography:
Robert DiPietro: Strategic Interaction.... I think it is 1989? Methods
that Work (first edition) editors Oller and Richard-Amato.

Good luck!

96/01 From-> Michele Whaley <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

Dear Joe:

Thanks so much for posting this! I read the DiPietro book several
summers ago, used ideas, but then couldn't remember the title/correct

My students have enjoyed the conflict situations, but my mind doesn't
always have the most creative ideas. I was unsuccessful getting students
to help me create them. Still, I followed DiPietro's suggestion to
repeat the same scenario several times, and kids were always interested
to see how the action would go "the next time." You are right: the
students love scenarios.

I would love to see some of your other ideas for scenarios. Ours
generally centered around adolescent themes: telling your mother less
than the truth, boy meets girl, friend sets up friend for blind date,
excuses for attending dinner or formal ceremonies. (I say "centered"
because I've stopped these for about a year. Thanks for reminding me of
the technique.)



96/01 From-> Deby Doloff <>
Subject: Re: Good act. for money?

After teaching numbers, I xeroxed a bunch of pesetas and we held an
auction. Each kid brought in something they no longer wanted --- book,
toy, CD, etc. --- and wrapped it up or put it in a bag. At the beginning
of class they all put them on the front table. I passed out the same
amount of money to each student and then we held an auction. Each
student was only allowed to buy one object. Sometimes it's good to bring
in a couple extra just in case some students forget. It worked well even
though it was a noisy activity! They all practiced their numbers.

Deby Doloff


96/02aFrom-> James May <>
Subject: Easy number idea

Here is an easy number idea ;
all you need is an overhead projector and pocket change: With the
overhead projector on, put some coins on the projector so students can
see the outlines on the screen. They will be able to figure out what the
denomination of each coin is because of the varying sizes. The idea is
to add up the cents they see outlined and come up with the total in the
target language. An even better idea for Spanish teachers who have 100
peseta coins is to do the same activity, however, you will be practicing
how to count by 100s.

James C. May


96/02 From-> Anita Schroeder <>
Subject: Re: money activities

An activity that my students like and that also introduces them to
international exchange is a version of The Price is Right.

I. We first call the international division of a local bank to get the
exchange rates for 4-5 Spanish speaking countries. ( I pick ones that
have very different exchange rates) I also have the exchange rates from
the previous year and we talk about inflation, re-valuation or whatever
has happened during the year.

II. They then find a picture of something in an ad that they would like
to submit. They cut off the price and paste the item on a plain piece of
paper. On another paper they figure out how much it would cost in each

III. On the day of the game, they are to bring calculators. We post the
exchange rates from the countries and I announce what country we are in.
I then pass around the item from the ad. ( I use the ads from a
different class.) In groups of 4-5 they decide what the price would be
in that country's currency. A representative from each group (a
different person each time) writes their guess on the overhead and
announces it in Spanish.

IV. The next time around we are in a different country.

Anita Schroeder


96/04 From-> "Charles, Gary" <charles_gary@MSMAIL.DUBLIN.K12.OH.US>
Subject: Numbers w/ dominos

I like to practice numbers while letting students play dominos. The game
is called MATADOR. Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4. You will need
a set of 28 dominos for each group. It's played like this: 1. Deal out
all the tiles face down. Groups of 3 will have an extra tile.
Use this to begin. The person who has the double 6 goes first. In groups
of 4, the player with the double 6 goes first but may play any of his
tiles to begin.

2. Matador is a game in which adjacent ends on the layout do not
match, but rather total 7. An open six calls for a 1, 5 for 2, 4 for 3,
and so on.

3. A blank is closed to the play of anything but a MATADOR, which is
one of the 4 tiles: 0-0, 6-1, 5-2, 4-3.
A matador may be played at any time anywhere, without regard to the
numbers, and with either end against the layout. Doublets are placed
endwise, thus counting singly. For example, 1-1 is playable on a 6, not
on a 5.

4. If a player cannot play, he must pass his turn. I have them say, "No

5. Here is where the numbers come in: When a player connects one number
to other, they create a 2 digit number. If I play a 3 on a 4, the number
is 34, and so on. The player must double that number in his head and say
the number aloud. In this case, he would double 34 and say, "sesenta y
ocho" (68).

6. If the number was incorrect or pronounced incorrectly, the tile is
picked back up and his turn is over without being able to add a tile to
the layout.

7. This continues until a player runs out of tiles and wins or until
nobody can play a tile. In case of the latter, The winner is the one
with the least number of spots on all of his remaining tiles.

8. Good luck and have fun.

Gary Charles


96/04 From-> Susan George <>
Subject: ordinal numbers

today we started ordinal numbers in class. the kids lined up, i counted
them off, and then started putting them in order. es la primera persona,
es la segunda persona, etc. then we played grupos. the kids walk/mingle
in the center of the room until i call out a number; the students must
then get into a group of that size. (this is the basic game--its
supposed to go quickly, and eliminate kids). but instead of eliminating,
i tried to get as even groups as possible. then the groups had to assign
each person a number, and line up in order. we then sat on our knees (it
sounds nicer than squatted), and i called out, "segunda persona". the
second person would then stand. once each person in the group had their
chance to stand, we re-did groups. this gave the kids who hadn't picked
up on what word went with what number could just watch for their
counter-part in a different group, and follow along.

then we read the reading which comes with the book, about the apartment
building, and discovered the concept of the "planta baja." next, i had
them sit on the floor near the "library" (drawn on a shower curtain).
"you all work in the information desk. help the person find the right
floor for the book he / she needs.... yo necesito un libro sobre
Picasso. en que piso esta? el segundo piso. en que seccion? bellas

the homework was an assignment from the book, listing what order the
runners finished the race in. practices vocab and gender.

I really liked the way that the library activity worked. So, i'm working
on partner activities with the grocery store and the hospital. (i tried
to get maps from both places, but the grocer's copier is broken and the
hospital doesn't know where the maps are anymore.)

grocery: a client (student A) needs the following items--necesito leche.
(handout A) the clerk (student B) directs the client to the right
aisle--esta en el primer pasillo (will need handout B, map of the
store.) this will also give us a chance to use food vocab, as well as
"to the left, to the right".

hospital: direct visitors to the correct area of the hospital.
mi mama tiene un bebe nuevo. ob esta en el primer piso, al sur. ay! hubo
un accidente horrible! emergency esta en la planta baja, al norte.

i think that the possibilities here are enormous. any other ideas? any

Susan George


96/08 From-> Pamela Casler <CASLER001@WCSUB.CTSTATEU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Bingo

In response to the question about what to call the free space in Bingo:
In my French classes we call it "blanc." Since you mentioned Bingo, I
will tell you how I reinforce numbers throughout the year, especially
with level 1. On test days, if we have ten or fifteen minutes left after
everyone finishes, we play Bingo, only the students shout out
"victoire!" I call out the numbers, in the target language, of course,
and if they victoire, they have to verify their numbers. It provides a
good opportunity for them to practice saying numbers. I give one bonus
point for each victoire. Their desire for bonus points overshadows their
timidity in saying the numbers. By the way, I do not have them clear
their cards after every victoire, because we would only get one or two
games in. I tell them not to clear their cards until I tell them to. I
usually keep calling until I've called perhaps 2/3 of the numbers before
having them clear their cards and starting again. For me the objects is
to get the maximum amount of exposure to the numbers, especially since
they are so difficult in French. Do any of the rest of you use bingo in

Pamela Casler


96/08 From-> "Richard E. Daugherty" <>
Subject: Re: Bingo

Pamela Casler wrote:

>In response to the question about what to call the free space in Bingo: In my
>French classes we call it "blanc." Since you mentioned Bingo, .... Do any of the
>rest of you use bingo in class?

I use Bingo in my Spanish classes frequently to reinforce numbers. They
enjoy the various games--letter E, six pack, diamond, etc. I give them
the grid and they fill in their own numbers and mark them off with the
pencil. By using the variations we can get several games off one "card."
I usually reward with prizes somewhat along the line of Let's Make a
Deal, and I call it "Las Puertas Magicas." I make a list of the prizes
numbered from one to however many I need that particular day. For
example, (1) a new pencil (2) a bonus point coupon, (3) a whatever. When
the student selects his "door" he gets the prize "behind" it. The kids
like it. I do too.

Richard E. Daugherty


96/08 From-> Susan George <>
Subject: los colores


it takes so long to decorate my classroom with all of these wonderful
posters that nobody ever seems to notice... So, as my Spanish I kids
learn their colors, I've put post-its on certain posters, numbering them
(1-10). i divide the kids up into teams of 2 or 3 (two works better.)
each group needs a writer. they move from poster to poster, listing the
colors that they see in the poster. tomorrow, each group will describe
one poster to the entire class. each group has the colors listed from
each poster, so they can check the "presenting" group's observations.


Susan George


97/08 From-> Michael Liebe <>
Subject: counting game was: First day

Dana Thacker wrote:

>A quick game... !» OLA!.....
>Each student says a number...(uno, dos...) If the number is 3, has a three in
>it, (i.e. 13) or is divisible by 3..the student should say..._ !» OLA!..(1st
>student.. uno, 2nd student.. dos, 3rd student... !» OLA!..4th student cinco..)

Another fun, but more difficult version I learned from my students:

Sit in a circle, and when you get to a "3" number, you have to say "go",
"back", or "jump"

"go" - next person in line continues with the next number "back" - the
previous person continues with the next number "jump" - "jump over" the
next person and continue

Of course, you have to keep a rhythm going by 1) slapping your thighs
2) clapping your hands
3) snapping your fingers (right hand)
4) snapping your fingers (left hand)

you say your number when you snap your right hand fingers

My explanation makes it sound more complicated than it is!

If you make a mistake, you're out. (Actually, you're supposed to drink a shot
Of soju - Korean alcohol - but, of course, we leave that step out in class)

Michael Liebe
Yongwol College
Yongwol, South Korea

>minutes before the bell rings....I hope you still have your wits about you by
>that time, but if you do, you can send them out with some numbers on their

4. Family.

95/09 From -> Suzanne Cane <>
Subject: An Activity That Works

This is an activity for learning family words. I have used it
successfully in FLES classes, grades 4 & 5.

After going over the family words (mother, father, sister, brother, son,
daughter, husband, wife, and any others you want - I include king,
queen, prince, and princess), each student draws a slip of paper from my
magic box (any container will do). The slips of paper say: The Red King
or The Blue Princess or The Yellow Prince etc. Then students gather in
family groups, that is, the Red Family, the Yellow Family, etc. I have
3-4 people in a family. They make simple crowns from construction paper
the same color as their family and write on it who they are, that is,
the Red King makes a red construction paper crown and writes "King" on
it. When she puts on her crown, it's obvious that she is the Red King.
Now students have to move around the room with another member of their
family introducing themselves to each other. e.g.:

--Bonjour le roi rouge.
--Bonjour la reine jaune.
--Je vous presente ma fille, la princesse rouge. (Or just, c'est la
princesse rouge, depending on ability level)

Now the Reine jaune and the Princess rouge greet each other, including
kissing on both cheeks, and the pair move off to greet another pair.
They change pairs frequently so they can practice saying a lot of
different family words : C'est mon mari, c'est mon pere, c'est ma soeur,

Hope this works for you! Keep those "activities that work" flowing!

Suzanne Cane


95/09 From -> "Shannon L. Oldham" <>
Subject: Another Activity

Some other ideas to teach the family (we just started The Family in my
class today):

As an introduction to the vocabulary, create a human family tree. Have
two students stand on a table, 4 stand in front of them on the floor (2
children and their spouses) and 3 or 4 sit in front of the ones standing
(the grandchildren). If you've got someone you can joke with, you can
have one person sit on the floor (you'll introduce him/her as el perro
de la familia :). After introducing the individuals, you can ask the
students questions about the family according to the different people in
the tree. You can also ask who is married, single, old, young, etc. The
students enjoyed being part of the vocabulary.

Another way of using the vocab. is to have a little wedding reception,
assigning someone to be the bride, another to be the groom, and others
to be the members of their families. The wedding party forms a receiving
line, and the other class members go through the line, greeting and
congratulating the newlyweds and their families, introducing themselves
and those around them. This also a good opportunity to discuss the ways
last names work in the hispanic culture--

One last thing. I brought home a little poem that's fun to use to warm
up the students:

?Diganme por que a la llama
su mama la llama llama
y no la llama leon?

Pues, mama asi la llama
porque al llamarla llama
llama mucho la atencion.

-Erneso Galarza

Shannon Oldham


95/09 From -> "Catherine. Bass" <>
Subject: activity: "Gee, you must be my wife!"

Here is another activity which is kind of fun, Alice Omaggio shared it
with us .

In French, we call it "Mais vous etes ma femme!" you can adapt it to any

In this activity, each student is a member of a specific family, he/she
gets a card with information about who he/she is in this family, and
information about the other member of that family that he/she has to find
in the classroom, by going around and asking questions:

You will have to come up with the information that will appear on each
card. I will give you an example of cards you could have for a family of
4 (Mother, father, daughter and son)


MOI/me MA FILLE/ my daughter
Paris Paris
Professeur/professor pas de soeur/no sister
Americaine Americaine
maison/house bicyclette/bike
33 ans pere au chomage/father unemploye
2 enfants/2 kids one frere/ a brother
joue de la guitare/plays the guitar 10 ans/10 years old


MOI/me MA FEMME/my wife
Paris Paris
Francais/French Professeur/professor
maison/house Americaine/american
chomeur/unemployed maison
40 ans/40 years old 33 ans
2 enfants/2 kids 2 enfants/kids
ex-champion de tennis a une guitare/has a guitar


MOI/me Ma soeur/my sister
Francais/french 10 ans/10 years old
Paris blonde
mere professeur/mother is a prof. adore faire de la bicyclette
maison/house Francaise/french
adore le skateboard pere francais/father is french
pas de frere/no brother maison/house
pere a 40 ans mere nee a Chicago/mother born
in Chicago


MOI/me Ma mere/my mother
Francaise travaille dans une universite
10 ans a un fils/has a son
maison Paris
pere sportif americaine
j'ai une bicylette a 33 ans
j'ai un frere maison
Paris mariee

The number of families you will need will depend on the number of
students you have. Also, the number of people in these families will
vary according to the number of students

Basically for 20 students
you need either 5 families of 4
or: 2 families of 6 and 2 families of 4

for 21 students:
4 families of 4 and 1 family of 5

for 25 students:
2 families of 4 and 2 families of 6 and 1 family of 5

etc... etc...
If you need help on that one, I'll be glad to send you the list of
families needed per number of students

Also, you can put less information on each card, I put 7 elements for
each person but that's an arbitrary number

Make sure to tell your students NOT to go around the class asking the
others "are you my mother?" etc... but instead, they are supposed to ask
questions related to the 7 pieces of info of the card, namely for CARD #
4, the student would ask other students:

"Do you live in Paris?

"Are you American?"

"How old are you?"

etc... or any other question that could be asked (i.e. instead of "Are
you American?" they could ask "Are you French?/what's your nationality?

Finally, when they have found the person they were supposed to look for,
they can say "well, gee... you must be my....wife/son/husband" etc...

What I like to do after they have found all the members of their
respective families, is work together as families, decide on a name for
their family, and have each family introduce itself to the rest of the
class (either one person presents the family or everyone explains who
they are in the family, and what they can also give more information
about themselves: nationalities, sports they like etc... information
given on the cards)

Another follow-up activity:
draw your family-tree
write a short paragraph about your new family....using not only the
information given on the cards but making up whatever else you want.
This can result in very creative compositions, depending on the level of
the students. They can make up the whole family history, talk about
their present life and their problems, etc.. etc...

Also, you can turn the same idea and adapt the activity so that instead
of looking for family members, students have to look for the "famous
person" with who they will go to a fancy dinner (4 dinner partners)
etc... etc..

Come to think about it, you could probably also use this idea to have
students find what "fairy tale" they belong to, each of them being a
different character in a fairy tale..... I've never tried that one! let
me know if any of you ever tries that one, it could be a lot of fun!

Bonne chance!

Catherine Bass


96/04 From-> Lauren Rosen <>
Subject: Writing activities -Reply

Have you tried a continue the story activity. This can be done on paper
or in a computer writing lab. You give students the first sentence,
perhaps have 2 or 3 starters and different rows have different themes.
Give them a minute to write then pass the sheet. The second person has
to continue where the first one left off. Do this a few times. Then have
the 4th or 5th person, or how ever many times you want to go around
write a conclusion. The 6th person would then check it for grammar
mistakes, or put them into groups of 3 and have them check together all
three papers and make changes as they feel appropriate. Then the paper
can go to the original person for reviewing, rewriting, reading aloud or
whatever you want. Sometimes I have them draw a picture that relates to
the story and post them on a bulletin board.

Lots of possible variations here.



96/04 From-> "Robert D. Peckham" <bobp@UTM.Edu>
Subject: The No-Tech Classroom

Here are 4 blocks of statistics. You can do a lot with this stuff, an ya
don't need no computer!!! I am sure that if the four came from a
particular source, they are in about a fifth generation of modification
by now.


1) Have students write out one-sentence observations about the people,
using just one bit of information.
2) Ask them to string 2 informative statements together which they
consider related.
3) Have them make contrasts, comparisons and superlatives. Describe one
person fully according to the information given.
4) Have them expand on the information, adding on related information
(of their own creation).
5) Have them make hypotheses based on the information given (like the
possibility that all 4 are kids of the same family, that Louise and Jean
could be twins, and that, Paul's by-far youngest child status is partly
responsible for his choices in life).
6) Have students make up stories about the four, using a required amount
of given information, but inventing the rest (like personality traits).
7) Have students look up the cities mentioned, and place the characters
appropriately in the cities
8) Have one student in charge of monetary conversions, and one in charge
of metric conversions, and let that student give a report on the people
described making the conversions.
9) Have students make up guessing game questions (or Jeopardy) for the
four people
10) Have students make their own fiches signaletiques, substituting
irrelevant categories for those which are relevant.

nom: Marc Dufour
domicile: Lille
etat civile: divorce
age: 42 ans
lieu de naissance: Rennes
taille: 1,96m
poids: 87 kilos
metier: expert comptable
salaire mensuel: 22.0F

nom: Louise Dufour-Sorel
domicile: Paris
etat civile: mariee
age: 40 ans
lieu de naissance: Rennes
taille: 1,65m
poids: 52 kilos
metier: cadre superieur
salaire mensuel: 48.400F

nom: Jean Dufour
domicile: Perpignan
etat civile: marie
age: 40 ans
lieu de naissance: Rennes
taille: 1,88m
poids: 80 kilos
metier: professeur de lycee
salaire mensuel: 16.200F

nom: Paul Dufour
domicile: Paris
etat civile: celibataire
age: 27 ans
lieu de naissance: Brest
taille: 2m
poids: 76 kilos
metier: musicien
salaire mensuel: 8.700F

Robert D. Peckham


96/04 From-> Susan George <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

>I'm planning a unit covering the family (Ch. 6, Ven Conmigo) and I was
>wondering if anyone had any suggestions or activities (either homework or
>for in class) relating to this topic. Thank you.
>-Shannon Crim

i had my students research and design their own family tree. they were
allowed to substitute other people (the stepdad who raised you, for the
dad who you never met) and leave people off. they also had to find out
the maiden names of the women in the family. then they wrote a short
paragraph, describing some of the people in the family.

i gave each student an assignment sheet, outlining the minimum
requirements, if you're interested.

Susan George


96/04 From-> Bill Heller <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

Many teachers have the kids do their own family trees. In this age of
some very complicated familial relationships, I ask the kids to design
an "ideal" family tree. This keeps things pretty safe for all of the
kids and allows for creativity. The students do a poster of a a family
tree and give an oral report introducing their ideal family to the

My quinceaneras make Brad Pitt their older brother and some of the guys
make Madonna their aunt (Tia Madonna!)....things like that. Many of my
kids DID choose to make their own families their ideal family. I do this
earlier in the year as one of the first oral reports. The kids have a
lot of success with this one.

Bill Heller


96/04 From-> Bill Heller <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

Here's another one I just remembered...

I made a poster of the family tree of the Royal family of Spain and did
a listening comprehension activity with it. I introduced the family and
then had a the students fill in the names on an outline. Then I asked
questions about who is related to who. It reinforced the unit vocab and
provided some cultural comparison. A few back issues of Hola magazine
will yield a bumper crop of royal family pictures to use.

Bill Heller


96/04 From-> Laura <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

This is something that I once did with a group of beginners. After
teaching them the names for family members and how to ask questions, I
then set them in pairs (threes might work though it may be more
challenging) and give them 10 minutes or so to find three things that
they have in common with their partner. This works as a great review of
personal / biographical information. You might want to tell students
that the three things in common have to do with members of their family
and not themselves. Have them take notes. After the time limit, a few
pairs of students can report orally and everyone can write their
summaries out.

I've had students say stuff like, "My sister has a pet and my partner's
father's brother's wife's sister has a pet too." Or, "My father's hobby
is photography and so is my partner's grandmother's." etc. etc.

There must be a catchy name for this activity!



96/04 From-> Paula Jones <JONESP4@TEN-NASH.TEN.K12.TN.US>
Subject: Re: Family activities

One of my favorite activities when teaching family vocabulary is to take
all of the pictures out of my wallet and explain who the people are in
the target language, of course).

Then I give each picture to a student until all are given out. Then I ask
"Who has the picture of my sister?" "Who has the picture of my sister's
daughter?" (This hits on the possessive, too!)

The child who is holding the picture then holds it up and asks for
agreement from the class. This is a great listening comprehension
activity. The kids LOVE to learn about your family.

As they get better with the vocabulary, have them bring in family
pictures and play your role with the class. Or, hand them your pictures
and let them describe the relationships they see.

Sometimes I get sneaky. I'll show a picture of my niece and say that she
is my niece but is not the daughter of either my sister or my brother.
They will eventually figure out that her mom is my husband's sister.

It's fun! Hope it works for you.

Paula D. Jones


96/04 From-> "Cindy A. Kendall" <>
Subject: fun family activity

As one of the last family activities in Spanish I, the class is divided
into two groups, and the students will create their own imaginary
family. They must create a three generation family, assign names, ages,
professions, where people live, and description (and all members must
agree to the assigned information). The students do this in class,
filling out a grid provided by me to aid in organization. Out of this,
the students do a couple writing assignments (one about themselves and
their relationship to other family members, and another about other
family members). Then one day they bring in costumes and props to
reflect their character, and do a short oral presentation of their
family to the opposite family in class (who listens attentively and
fills out a chart based on the information they hear). In the oral
presentation the student introduces himself, name, age, professions,
description, etc., and also proceeds to talk about two other family
members as well. There is a time for questions and answers (in the
target language of course, which the students actually do quite well
with asking and answering). A recommendation of nametags for the
presenting family, since they are using names unfamiliar to the class,
and makes the questions go quicker. From this activity (actually
sequence of activities), we review quite a bit of vocabulary! The
students have always enjoyed this set of activities! Too many girls or
boys on a team? No problem, as there is no limit to number of children,
size of family, and we even include deceased people (we put their
tombstone in their chair) as imaginary extras in the family, optional,
of course!
Cindy Kendall


96/04 From-> Susan George <>
Subject: Re: Family activities / music

another idea: the latest by Mana (cuando los angeles lloran) has a song
called "el reloj cucu." its a very pretty song about a man, remembering
losing his father (is he dead or did he leave?) as a small boy, and
about the struggles that his mother and the children went through. my
students seem to identify with it, and it provides a nice alternative
for the ones who complain: don't hispanics listen to anything but love



96/04 From-> Sharon Austin 921-8363 <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

I have my students in Spanish I make a pretend family album. They are to
draw or cut out pictures of people for their family. I then give them a
s- et of required information to be covered for picture. Name, age,
physical and personality description, as well as things that that person
does or likes to do are required. They really seem to enjoy this
activity and I've really gotten some cute albums. I have them make up a
pretend family because many of my students don't have families that
they'd want to talk about. It also is easier to include the required
number of people. I give extra credit to extra artwork.

Sharon Austin


96/04 From-> Laura <>
Subject: family activities (Japanese)

This is another way that I introduced family terms to my students of
Japanese. In Japanese, there are two sets of vocabulary: in-group (when
referring to members of your family to others) and out-group (when
referring to members of other people's family). If you consider the
different honorifics used in questions, then it can get quite
burdensome. However, I've found that using such terms and question /
answer formats in its most natural context is quite effective.

After introducing students to the in-group or neutral terms for family
members, I then show them a video that a colleague and I produced. In
the video, we sit down and talk about our families while showing
photographs. We had the video edited so that close ups of the
photographs would appear on the screen as we talked about those
pictures. Anyway, she would introduce her mother using the neutral terms
"Kochira wa haha des.' (this is my mother) and I would offer the
appropriate 'aizuchi' or listening sign "Oh, your mother?" Aa, okaasan
desu ka, using the out-group or honorific term for mother.

The worksheet that accompanies this video has an exercise where students
must match the known words (in-group neutral terms) to the out-group
terms that they haven't learned yet. They also do multiple choice
questions in which they select the proper way to for example ask about
the other person's family member's occupation/ place of residence etc.

I don't think other languages have this added burden of vocabulary.

Laura Kimoto


96/05 From-> tracy sweredoski <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

>Many teachers have the kids do their own family trees. In this age of some
>very complicated familial relationships, I ask the kids to design an "ideal"
>family tree.

I required my exploratory students to list only the people (and pets)
living in their homes with them. This seemed to work. Those who created
more extensive trees got extra credit. Each student presented her/his
tree to the class in French. They really enjoyed it.

>I do this earlier in
>the year as one of the first oral reports. The kids have a lot of success with this

I wish I had done it closer to the beginning of the year. It would have
helped the "adjustment to a foreign language" process.



96/05 From-> "Joann M. Kissell" <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

Here is another idea for teaching family vocabulary. I give my students
(Sp I) an outline of my family tree (I use a simplified version so the
activity doesn't drag on too long) and have them fill in the names as I
discuss the family members. It's interesting to see the looks on their
faces as I say the various family names from Eastern Europe. They
thought I was "just like them" and now maybe I'm not, and it's a good
learning experience for them.

Joann Kissell


96/05 From-> Patrick Barrett <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

Joann Kissel's activity of following the old family tree can get a
little exciting. Even a simple nuclear family gets requests for how do
you say step this and step that, mom's boyfriend, etc. When working with
adults to get them to think about their own identity, the exercise of
just explaining their name gets into some touchy areas, what with
divorces, family skeletons, etc. My point is to be ready with words for
step-whatever, half-brother, etc.

Patrick Barrett


96/05 From-> "Helen V. Jones" <>
Subject: Re: Family activities

I, too, use the family tree idea. When my students prepare theirs I ask
them to list the family members using both surnames (appellido paterno y
materno) in the Spanish style. They have fun finding out the maiden
names of their relatives.

Helen Jones

5. For small kids. (Just for them?)

95/10 From -> "Barbara A. Sanchez" <>
Subject: FL Activites for 2nd graders

Two years ago, I had the wonderful experience of teaching French to 1st
and 2nd graders. We had "class" for an hour at a time, twice a week for
12 weeks.

Here are some of the activities I used, ordered approximately according
to how much the students enjoyed them:

1. Feu Vert/Feu Rouge (Red Light/Green Light)
This is a standard kid game, and the kids thought it was a real kick to
play it in a foreign language.

2. Le Canard/Le Canard/L'Oie (Duck, Duck Goose)
Another favorite. I ran into one of the students in the group at the
grocery store the other day, and he smiled and said: Le canard, le
canard, l'oie! Of course, when you "lose" you have to sit in the
"cornichon" jar in the middle of the circle.

3. Creating their own dictionary. I had lots of magazines so that
students could cut out pictures of whatever they wanted. Then, they
would ask me to write down the words they needed, and would copy them
into a book. (This is as much writing as I had the students do. It was
hard and a little confusing for them, as they were learning to read
English phonetically, and would do a beautiful job of sounding out the
French words using English phonetics!). We kept all their work in a
folder w/ clasps, and labeled it "Mon dictionnaire."

4. Simon dit / Simon says
This is a great way to teach body parts.

5. To learn the names of fruit and numbers, we had a big bag of
"Smarties" -- shaped like bananas, oranges, lemons, limes and cherries.
Students would roll the dice, and then they would receive that many
pieces of fruit. A variation is to make the students ask for what they
want: S'il vous plait, un citron et une banane.

6. I photocopied pages from coloring books about Aladdin. I would write
in vocabulary words for the objects on the page: la princesse, le singe,
l'oiseau, le tapis, etc. We'd say the words together and then work on
the pictures.

If you don't know the rules to any of the games, check with a 7 year old
or the P.E. teacher at your school, or send me some email.

Good luck -- I think you'll enjoy it!

Barbara Sanchez


95/10 From -> DCHRISTI <>
Subject: Another game that works

One of my favorite games to play when teaching colors and numbers
(though it works well with many topics) is a game called Spud. It's very
simple, and best played with groups between 6 and 15 in number (with
larger classes, I've split them in two), and it's a chance to get
outside on a nice fall day!

First, have the students stand in a ring and assign them a name that is
a member of the target category ("Okay, Billy, you're "Carrot," Sue,
you're "Broccoli,"..."). Have them repeat their name a few times so they
remember it, as well as have the group say each word a couple of times
(I usually have them repeat 3-5 times).

Now the fun starts. One person stands in the middle of the ring with a
ball. The ball gets tossed straight up, and the thrower calls out a word
("Carrot!") Everyone except Billy (the carrot) runs away from the center
while Billy tries to catch the ball. As soon as he has the ball, he
calls out "Stop!", and the runners stop where they are. Then, Billy gets
to take a set number of steps toward any person he wants, and then
throws the ball at the person.

If the ball hits the ground before the person, it's a dead ball. If the
person the ball is thrown at catches the ball, Billy is the next person
to stand in the middle and throw the ball. If the person the ball is
thrown at is hit by the ball but doesn't catch it, then that person is
the next person in the middle.

I've played this game with kids as young as 7 and students in college
(using modifications in each...the little kids got to take 5 steps,
whereas the college students had to throw with their "wrong hand" and
could only take 2 steps). It can be used to teach a wide variety of
material and everyone has a lot of fun.

David Christian


95/10 From -> Janet Glass <>
Subject: Re: FLES: activities for 2nd and 3rd grade needed

Activities for second graders that have substance could center around a
story, preferably in a Big Book with the words replaced in Japanese.
Pictures and manipulatives could be used to introduce the vocabulary,
games to reinforce it and then sequencing of very simple sentences from
the story. The kids could choose their favorite scene and write the
sentence and illustrate it. A related song is always nice for closure.
It might take about four weeks .

Good luck !
Janet Glass


95/11 From-> "Jo Anne S. Wilson\"" <>
Subject: Re: Request for Elem/French ideas

How about focusing on some of the things they're studying in their other
subjects? Math, science, phys ed. etc. You can develop some simple
lessons as well as teaching the "language" as such. What is the goal of
your course?

Do they continue or is this simply to explore? The Kearsley MI schools
have a nice curriculum guide in content related lessons.

Jo Anne Wilson


95/11 From-> Sandy <>
Subject: Elementary ideas

In response to ideas for the French Elemetary classroom -

When I teach the alphabet, usually very early, I use the game of
hangman. I choose the French name of one of the students, draw the
spaces on the board and they have to guess the letters in French.
I also use a game they like called "Qui est-ce? The person who is it
comes to the front of the room and is blindfolded. I choose someone in
the room who changes location and says "Bonjour _____." The person up
front then guesses "C'est ____," C'est _____?" The class responds with
Oui or Non. If "it" does not quess the person person. I ask "Classe, qui
est-ce?" and they answer "C'est Virginie" or "C'est Robert" or whomever.
Middle school also like this.

Bonne chance.
Sandy Suffoletta


95/12 From-> "Jennifer Dodson (die)" <>
Subject: Re: help! ideas for kindergarten-FLES

I don't know if this will help you but I teach French in a day care--we
use a lot of songs to promote learning and just for fun...I give you a
few that I have used.... Note: lots of gesture, concrete objects to show
them and facial expression are important.


DORMEZ-VOUS?DORMEZ-VOUS?(lie head on hands, as if napping) SONNEZ LES
MATINES, SONNEZ LES MATINES (act like you're ringing a bell) DIN, DIN,
DONG (cup your hand around your ear like your listening)




FOR FUN: "SUR LE PONT D'AVIGNON"--children (pairs) hold hands facing
each other and "dance" in a circle


On Sat, 2
Dec 1995, Lisa Huffman-Cyliax wrote:


>I've recently been asked to do 10 minutes of French per week in my daughter's
>kindergarten class. My former experience is with first year college students so
>this is pretty different for me. I am motivated though and would like to do a
>good job. The teacher has told me it's just an "invitation" like many things in
>kindergarten so I shouldn't get too stressed out about it. I have a few questions.
>What would a good "invitation" to a foreign language involve?
>Also, does anyone have any good idea/game book recommendations for this
>level? I have searched on the web for quite some time and have found some
>material but I'd like to have more.
>Specifically does anyone have any fun/easy number games. I'm thinking about
>an easy version of bingo (what is "bingo" in french?) but I'll have to make a lot
>of cards for that one. Also, I was thinking of using a ball and passing it in the
>circle as we say the numbers plus a little TPR (faites rebonir le ballon 5 fois,
>jetez-le...etc..), this may turn wild though. (then they'll love it!)
>This is what I have done and it seemed to work:
>-TPR for body parts and "simon says", also drawing TPR for body parts -taking
>a French speaking puppet to do all of the L2
>They did not like songs too much, so many words to learn... Are there any easy
>ways to teach songs to non-readers? They were really bored with "frere jacques".
>I have quite a few books and tapes of the FL material but I'm not sure I can
>interest the kids with a book.
>I've really learned so far that at this age you really have to keep them moving/
>doing something and keep the sitting still to a minimum.
>Thanks for all your help!


95/12 From-> Laura <>
Subject: Re: help! ideas for kindergarten-FLES


Some songs that I've come across for teaching numbers and greetings.
(Please excuse my spelling of French since it isn't my language!)

Violette on bicyclette

un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, sis, sept Violette on bicyclette.

(Come to think of it, I'd have to sing it to you !)


Bon Jour! Bon Jour!
Comment allez-vous.
Bon Jour Bon Jour
Comment tu t'appelles

Je m'appelle Laura
Et Je m'appelle Chantal
Je m'appelle Laura
Et Je m'appelle Chantal

Bon Jour, Bon Jour, Bon Jour!

Laura Kimoto

6. Geography and FL.

95/10 From -> Alicia Vinson <>
Subject: Re: FLES: Math & Geography activities

You can buy a shower curtain liner to make a floor map. Use an opaque
projector to trace the map onto the liner. Trace the map using a
permanent marker. Heavy- gauge vinyl, without texture, also works well.
This is an inexpensive way to have several maps on hand.
For individual maps, student-desk size are available from Rand McNally.
With these two-sided maps I also do TPR. I use small plastic cars (USA
side) and little plastic airplanes to travel from country to country.
When using the small maps everyone is involved at the same time. The
large maps are great for large group activities. Enjoy!

Alicia Vinson


97/02 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: Activities for teaching Spanish Speaking countries

I have some maps that I run off for the students. One has all the
countries and capitals on it, the other is blank. We listen to the
Sing, dance, Laugh, and Eat Tacos tape that has the countries song on

We first practice with the map with the words. The students point to the
countries as we sing (it will take them a few times to get the hang of
it). Then we practice on the sheets without the names. Later on, these
blank sheets are filled in as a homework assignment. Something I would
like to do, but haven't done yet is this:

Ahead of time, map large, interlocking map pieces of the countries. Give
each student a country. Since the song is to the tune of a conga line
music, have students form a conga line and dance around the room. As his
country is called, the student falls out of line to place his country on
the floor [the object is to have each country in place to make one large
puzzle] then he gets back in line and continues dancing until the song
is done. I haven't tried this yet, but I probably will next fall.

Idea #2--I also have a large map of Central and South America made on a
shower curtain liner. We play twister with the countries (you could name
the capital and they have to find the country). I did this just the
other day with my 8th graders, and they loved it. They sit in groups of
4, so each group sent 1 person at a time to play. You could also have
several maps so everyone could play at once. I used the shower curtain
liners because they are only $3. as opposed to $11 for a shower curtain.
If you need instructions, contact me off list.

A third activity is to have students make maps of Central America/Mexico
and South America. Cut the maps apart like puzzle pieces. Put the pieces
into envelopes (have enough maps/envelopes for students to work in
cooperative groups -- use manila envelopes if the maps are large). As
the bell rings, give the groups a map to assemble while you take roll or
whatever. Give the first group done a small prize (stickers, gum, candy,

I hope this helps!

Dee Friel


97/02 From->
Subject: Re: Activities for teaching Spanish Speaking countries

<<We are learning how to say and ask where someone is from, and
therefore are talking about the Spanish speaking countries. Does anyone
have any creative fun ideas on how to teach about them. I will expect
that they know all the countries and their capitals and be able to find
them on a map.>>

I have had success doing the following activity: I use a transparency
of, for instance, South America. There is no writing; only the outlines
of the countries. I then say the names of the country several times
while pointing to the country. I vary the order. Students are not to
raise their hands or repeat what I say since it is a listening activity.
Then I point to a country and say, "El Peru: Si or No"? All I want them
to say at this point is Si or No. I then have several students come up,
one at a time. I say the country; they point. I then give them a
matching activity; South America with only the outline of the countries
with letters in them. They match the letters with the names of the
countries. I then go back to the overhead transparency and this time I
give them a "forced choice": El Peru o La Argentina? They hopefully say
the correct country. Finally, I ask them to identify the country by
name. If you want, you can use another matching activity for a quiz at
the end of the period. I did this once with a student teacher present;
she said she never knew the names of the all the countries but was
impressed because she knew them all by the time class was over.

James C. May


97/02 From->
Subject: Re: Activities for teaching Spanish Speaking countries

I teach 7th grade Geography as well as Spanish. I have used Bingo to
help kids memorize countries and locations. We are a small school and I
have had some students in Geog., 8th Span, Span I and Span II. I give
them the Spanish Speaking countries quiz each year. By Span II it really
is no problem for them. They like it because it is one grade they can do
perfect on.

Here are two varieties of Country Bingo I have used.

1. I copy outline maps with the countries numbered. The students fill in
blank Bingo grids (4 x 5) with the numbers from the map. At first I
allow them to keep their books open to the map pages. I call out a
country and they must find the country on the outline map and which
number it is. They then cover that number. The students who already know
where the country is are of course much quicker in covering their Bingo
squares than the ones who must first look it up in the book. This may
also be played with the teacher calling capitals.

2. I use the same blank Bingo grids, but this time the students fill in
the capitals. I allow them to use the map in their books again. I call
the country. They cover the capital.

Another activity I use after the students are more familiar with the
countries utilizes a transparency of the map which I have colored in
various colors. I ask, De que color es la Argentina? etc... This can
also be done with the numbered outline maps except ask, Que numero es la
Argentina? Or Que pais es numero ocho? This activity with the outline
maps is perfect for my game Tarjetas Corridas which I posted to FLTEACH
a while ago.

Dawn Smith


97/02 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Shower Curtain Projects

Several people have asked me about the shower curtain project, so I
thought I would share it with the list.

I got some of the ideas from a teacher in Kansas who gave a presentation of
shower curtains at the CSC in Denver in 1995, but I have adapted many of the
ideas to fit my own needs. The instructions for the shower curtain activities are
fairly simple, although a little time consuming to make. I use a shower curtain
liner and tape it to the wall.

I use an overhead projector and a black line master of whatever I am doing (such
as a map of South America) and project the image as large as I can on the shower
curtain and trace it with a permanent marker. I then go over the outline as needed
with a wider marker. If you are real artistic, you can free hand your drawings,
but I can't. I take the shower curtain down and lay it on the floor and color it with
permanent markers. Wal-Mart also sells these things called Speedball Painters
Opaque Paint Markers. They work pretty well, too.

I have made several maps, a street map, and a few that have like sports, body
parts, etc. on them. I usually don't label the items so I can use the liners for quizzes
and other purposes.

We play twister (call out the capital, they find the country; call out the body part in
Spanish, they find the picture; call out the sport in English, they find it in Spanish;
etc.), most often with the maps. With my map of Spain, we play twister with the
cities, mountains, and rivers.

We have also used the map of South America to do other activities. For example,
I bring little toy cars, boats, planes, etc. and give each student something (you do have
to watch for kids playing with the toys, but I take away the toys if they play). Students
are given directions in Spanish such as:

Sail from Peru to Argentina.
Drive from Venezuela to Bolivia.
Fly from Colombia to Chile.
Sail from Uruguay to Bolivia -- Students realize they can't do this, so we then discuss
geography. -- They also realize that driving from Chile to Argentina isn't an easy task.

It is a good way to learn methods of transportation; geography; terms like river,
mountain, desert, etc.

On the street map, we work on things like directions, left, right, tree, park, stop sign,
etc. If the map isn't too detailed, you could draw a small town and include things like
church, school, grocery store, police station, fire station, cemetery, etc. I haven't been
able to find a small enough map, so I guess I am going to have to come up with my
own -- lots of straight lines -- I can handle that!

I hang the curtains in my room and use a pointer to target a specific item. What can
you do with this?

1. Students can call out vocab, make up sentences, describe an activity, etc.

2. Then call on another student to repeat or expand upon sentence/activity (listening

3. Use the pictures to review vocab (especially before a test/quiz).

4. Unlabeled curtains can be used for quizzes (point to a country, body part, method
  of transportation, etc. for question 1; point to another place/item for question 2, etc.).

5. Play twister. this is really fun if you have several curtains of the same thing (like a
  map of South America) and the whole class can play at once.

I am planning to make a house floor plan for next year. It will include basic furniture
pieces. Some of the activities I plan to develop include the following:

1. Review rooms and furniture vocab.
2. Discuss activities for each room (verb practice -- I study in my room. My dad
watches TV in the family room. My sister hangs up the clothes in her room. My
mother washes dishes in the kitchen. Grandma sweeps the porch every day. This,
of course, could lead to discussion about roles of family members in Hispanic
culture as compared to American culture.
3. Expand the activities to include reflexives -- I shave my legs in the bathroom. I
comb my hair in the bedroom. Then I want another student to tell what the first
student is doing (changing the subject from yo/I to el/ella--he/she or from we/nosotros
to they/ellos/ellas). 4. Again, we could work on directions, addresses, comparisons, etc.

I have had students make some of the projects for extra credit. I have learned that if
you are not real specific, you don't always get what you're looking for. However, I do
try to use the projects if at all possible. What is the old adage? If you want a job done
right, do it yourself. That might be appropriate here.

I hope this is helpful.

Dee Friel


97/07 From-> viviane levy phys fac/staff <>
Subject: Re: Map "Rug" for Giving Directions

Dear Irene and Stephanie,

Another idea would be to use tablecloth plastic LINERS.

These work great. The ones that measure  x 104 are the best.

You can draw a metropolis, a house, a room, a car, the Spanish speaking
countries (south, central America), parts of school building, etc.. etc..

Kids would take off their shoes, and you could pretend all kinds of
situations, TPR, Twister-game, kinesthetic movements; have students make
up directions for other to follow, have students make up a story to act
out on the table cloth that has been spread on the floor, of course.

I suppose you could also tape the table cloth on the board, have
students bring their favorite "stuffed animal" or other cute doll and
make up situations with those animals.

Bonne chance.
Viviane Levy


97/07 From-> John Moran <>
Subject: Re: Hello Classroom ideas


Have you made a vocab exercise with the hello and country word match?

What about a match in class with word and picture/collage of country?

What about showing the collage of the country and they supply the hello?

How about the country placed in the world map?

or... have a world map....cut out the countries...the students put the
country back in the world as a puzzle piece. In order to do this they
must say hello in that country's language (Is it possible? -maybe write
the word correctly on the board), name the country and then place it on
the map correctly.

If you do a school wide contest here...maybe a world map at the entrance
to the school with the specific country outlined in black or covered
over in black, i.e. the countries for which you have the HELLO on the

John Moran

7. Idiom fun.

95/09 From -> "Catherine Bass" <>
Subject: an activity that works: french

Your first day activity reminds me of one that I use in my French
classes after having gone over "body parts" etc..

The class is split in small groups (3 to 4 students per group), then i
give each group one little paper on which i wrote a French "colloquial
expression"--funny ones work best-- with its definition/meaning.

The students have to come up with 3 other definitions (wrong ones) and
rewrite the real definition, using their own words--which is essential
for first-year classes because obviously their French is .... still very

Once they have come up with the 4 definitions, and all groups are done
and by the way, if one group works faster than others, just give them a
second "expression" to work with, so, once everybody is done, each group
gets to read the expression and each student in the group gets to read
at least one definition for that expression, the other students have to
decide which is the correct one.

Given the expressions i pick, the students get quite intrigued and they
all do pay attention to what each of them reads. They often ask a
student to repeat to make sure they understood. Each student has to
vote, i count how many votes each definition got and put it on the
board, then the group tells which def was the correct one.

Here are some of the expressions that I use, if anybody needs more, let
me know, I've got many more:

1. avoir le cafard (to have the cockroach)
to feel depressed

2. faire quelque chose les deux doigts dans le nez
     to do/suceed in doing something very easily (ex: j'ai eu mon examen
les 2 doigts dans le nez)
     ... basically you didn't have to move a finger to do it, it was
that easy!

3. avoir les boules (to have the balls)
to feel very sad/depressed/very nostalgic

4. perdre la boule
la boule, here refers to the head: to lose your mind

5. etre une vraie peau de vache
talking about someone who is really mean and tough on you

6. avoir le bras long
to have connections (to know people in high positions)

7. couper les cheveux en quatre
to split hairs/to quibble

8. tu me cours sur le haricot
you're getting on my nerves

9. prendre ses jambes a son cou
to run away/flee

10. avoir la boule a zero
to be bald (la boule = the head, here with zero hair left)

11. tirer les vers du nez a quelqu'un
when you really have tofight to get some information out of someone

12. avoir la moutarde qui vous monte au nez
to be about to lose your cool/temper:
la moutarde lui monte au nez i.e. he is just about to "burst out"

13. avoir les oreilles qui sifflent
when someone talks about you.

14. ca saute aux yeux!
it's obvious

15. avoir un poil dans la main
to be very lazy

16. avoir les yeux plus gros que le ventre
to be greedy (as in you want more than you can eat)

17. tenir la jambe a quelqu'un
to annoy someone with lengthy boring blabla, and the person can't escape
from you

18. s'en mordre les doigts
to regret having done something:
ex: qu'il s'en mordra les doigts bientot

19. ca me fait une belle jambe!
it's of absolutely no interest to me!

20. avoir le coeur gros
to be real sad

21. avoir la langue bien pendue
a person who won't shut up: Pierre a la langue bien pendue, ca fait
2 heures qu'il parle au telephone

22. etre une mauvaise langue
a person who says a lot of bad things about others

23. faire la tete
to sulk

24. "C'est le pied!"
it's great/neat/cool!

25. ca lui fera des pieds!
that will teach him/her! serves her/him right! it will do him/her good!

26. avoir un oeil au beurre noir
to have a black eye

and one more:

27. c'est un vrai casse-pieds! (he/she is a real pain!)
quel travail casse-pieds! used as an adjevtive: this job is a real pain
il me casse les pieds! (he's getting on my nerves!)


28. Avoir quelqu'un dans le nez (to really dislike someone) ex: David
je l'ai vraiment dans le nez celui-la!

29. faire quelque chose au nez de quelqu'un (to do something right in
of the person, without even trying to be discreet/hiding it)

I just realized that #8 shouldn't be in this list. I also use colloquial
expressions related to food for the same kind of activity, and "tu me
cours sur le haricot" really belongs to this "food related list"

I like to also give the literal English translation because it makes the
activity all the more fun, and it shows them that translating literally
sometimes just doesn't make any sense, it doesn't tell you much about
the real meaning of the expression.


Catherine Bass


95/09 From -> "Catherine. Bass" <>
Subject: FR colloquial expressions: foods

In relation to the activity I mailed using body part expressions, here
are a few expressions with foods

(By the way, if you need more expressions, there are quite a few in Le
petit Larousse 1995, just pick a food or body part and many definitions
include colloquial expressions)my favourite being from Alsace-Lorraine:
Pedaler dans la choucroute
(to pedal in the sauerkraut, i.e. to do something
in a very inefficient way, basically you don't know
what you're doing)

I checked in the Larousse and would you believe it, you can substitute
the sauerkraut with 'yoghourt' or 'semoule', well personally I like
"choucroute" much better and in fact, I'm proud to report that during my
30-something years on this planet, I have heard the expression used only
with sauerkraut. Well, maybe it's my lorrainish bias.....

other fun expressions:

courir sur le haricot (to run on someone's bean, i.e. to get on s.o's nerves)

c'est la fin des haricots (that's the end of beans, i.e. that's the end
of the  world)

defendre son bifteck (to defend your interests/rights)

faire tout un fromage de quelquechose (to make a whole cheese of something:
to make a big deal out of sthg)

tomber dans les pommes (to fall in the apples: i.e. to faint)

il a mange de la vache enragee (he ate a cow affected with rabies, i.e he is

il faut qu'il mette son grain de sel dans tout (he has to put his grain of
salt in everything: person who won't mind/his/her own business)

same idea:
occupe-toi de tes onions (mind your own business)

c'est pas de la tarte (it's not easy)

chouchouter quelqu'un (to "cabbage someone": to spoil, pamper/coddle

faire chou blanc (to do/make a white cabbage, i.e to fail in sthg)

avoir du pain sur la planche (to have a lot of work to do)

ils lui ont ote le pain de la bouche (they took his jobs/means of surviving
away from him)

je ne mange pas de ce pain la (I'm not the kind of person who would use these
means to get sthg...)

avoir des pepins (ex: OJ Simpson a des pepins, i.e. he's got problems/is in

poireauter (ex: j'ai poireaute pendant 2 heures, i.e. i had to wait for 2 hrs)

etre une bonne poire (cette peronne est une bonne poire, i.e a pigeon, person
easily taken advantage of)

ne pas avoir un radis (to be completely broke)

faire quelquechose pour des prunes (to do something all in vain/for

avoir la peche/la frite (to have the peach/the fry) to feel real good/full of

raconter des salades (to tell a lot of nonsense/lies/untrue stories)

tout baigne dans l'huile (all is going perfectly well)

jeter de l'huile sur le feu (to stir up an argument/make it even worse)

et voila!

Catherine Bass

Mini-Topics, Parts 8 - 16.

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