Wow future linguists with the FUN ideas and activities below which are extremely low-prep and most of which are very low-cost for MFL Open Evenings
I rarely enjoyed taking part in Y4/5/6 open evenings at secondary schools, as I always thought they were a waste of time. This was until one student who came to our school in year 7 said they loved the activities that we had for them when he came to visit the MFL department with his family on a school open day. He also mentioned that he had never tasted the French, German and Spanish foods that we put out for them to try and they loved them! Since then, I have enjoyed the opportunity to show how wonderful languages and their cultures are at all the open evenings I have been part of.
Although there is no replacement for talking to the future linguists and their families with enthusiasm about your language lessons, the course and other important information, it’s also enjoyable for the youngsters to take part in some fun MFL activities.
From discussions and the ever limiting MFL budgets and open evening events, I wanted to put together some useful, effective low-prep and no-prep fun open evening activities for MFL teachers that they could implement with very little planning and money. Generally, these MFL activities are most suited to Year 5 and 6 MFL open evenings, but could definitely be used or adapted for Year 9 open evenings, as well as for sixth form, too.
Below you will find a huge range of fun open evening ideas for MFL, ESL and FLE. Although my schools focused on French, German and Spanish, they could actually be adapted for any language based open evening event.
Play Music in French, German or Spanish (Low Prep)
I am a sucker for foreign music and I volunteered myself to create a playlist to have in the background of all the MFL classrooms involved in the open evenings. I used a number of song suggestions from my French, German and Spanish colleagues, as well as foreign language songs that were in the current European charts, as well as a selection of songs which had been in the UK charts with foreign language lyrics, or were famous in their own right, such as Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ and CNCO & Little Mix’s ‘Reggaetón Lento’. Simply because youngsters may be familiar with them. I also added a few of the songs from my list of French Songs for the French Classroom and my list of 45 German Songs for the German Language Classroom. You could also get your language students to give you suggestions for their favourite songs in the TL to add to your playlist as a fun open evening activity for MFL. As you are talking to the students, you could ask them to listen to part of a song and tell you which language it’s in.
*obviously. Oktoberfest is alcohol related, so depending on the age group of your students, perhaps choose a different German/Austrian slant for your German photo booth!
Make Animals Out of Play-dough (Low Prep ££)
Say the name of an animal in the TL or have a list ready for students with space for them to add their Play Dough animals as they go along. Visitors have to make an animal using the Play Dough to represent that word. It’s great for getting younger brothers and sisters involved and is very interactive. Why not get Language Ambassadors to help with this and help the visitors pronounce the words?
4. 1-10 Cups (Very Low Prep £)
This was an awesome and fun MFL open evening idea that I must have come across when I first started teaching ESO in 2009. I suggested it as a fun activity in my first MFL Open Evening, during my QTS year, where they hadn’t really thought of any ideas! You just need 10 polystyrene cups and to mark them each with a number from one to ten in the TL written in full. Then mix them up and get students to put them in the right order. It’s actually very effective and the students enjoy the interactivity. The best thing is that it’s practically no-prep! Get a language ambassador to man the stand.
5. Quelle Heure Est-Il (Very Low Prep £)
Really fun open evening activity, where you just need a clock, such as the one pictured and you need some laminated strips of card with the different times on and some blue tack on the back. Get students to label the clock with the correct time and help them out with the pronunciation. It’s fun, can go quite quickly, parents and younger siblings could also get involved too!
6. Food Matching Quizzes (Low-Prep ££)
Create a quiz to match samples of foods to their respective countries of origin. For example, pretzels, croissants, Brie, Camembert, Emmental, Stollen, chorizo e.t.c. You just need to write the words with a big box next to each and allow students to get small samples of the food with a toothpick to put in the correct boxes. Award a sticker to students who get them all right. If they want to eat, that could be an option as well!
So far, I have avoided including so much technology in these low-prep MFL Open Evening activities, as not every school has this readily available. However, you could always do short bursts of Kahoot, Quizlet Live and Linguascope in one of your MFL rooms with the assistance of a staff member and/or some language ambassadors / helpers. This can be undertaken with one screen, or indeed with iPads and laptops too.
8. Language Café (Medium-Prep ££)
This language café might be a controversial idea (due to costs), but it’s a fun activity for MFL Open Evenings, nonetheless, therefore fitting in to the theme! Go and do a shop in Aldi or Lidl and find world foods that can be cut into small bits and put on paper plates and tables as part of a buffet. Remember to invest in some cocktail sticks to reduce the spread of germs. Have little folded cards in front of the foods with the names of the items and give a couple of phrases to get the young linguists to-be to ask for the food:
You could also purchase a bit more food and sell whole items for a small price or donation and invest the money into a future open evening, or into your department.
9. Interactive Activities (Low-Prep)
Why not also have a variety of interactive activities on the tables for visitors to ‘play’ with, manned with some lovely keen linguists from your groups? These interactive activities could be matching tasks, moving tasks and sorting tasks, which will get the linguists to-be engaged with language learning. You can use cognates, colours and numbers to make it accessible for that age group.
10. Language Stones (Low-Prep ££)
For these language stones, you’ll need topurchase stones from craft stores or DIY shops. It is apparently illegal to get them from beaches! Alternatively, you can perhaps ask all students in the school to get involved and bring one in in the lead up to the open evening. I found this idea about a year ago and have been advised that the image and idea for the fantastic activity belong to Eleanor Abrahams-Burrows – thank you, Eleanor!
Once you’ve got the stones, print a copy of the countries’ flags, as well as some ‘nice’ phrases in French, German or Spanish. Get some aprons, brushes, tubs with water and paint to fit the flags and allow students 15-20 minutes to create their own. If you feel they won’t dry quickly enough, give students a ticket with a number to come and collect after they have visited the other departments. As another option, paint the basic flag on the stones beforehand and then allow the visitors to write a message in the target language.
As mentioned above, there is no replacement for talking about the course and getting the visitors to see how languages will help their children. However, adding some of the low-prep and fun open evening ideas for MFL to your repertoire won’t do you any harm! Please do comment below to let me know what you think of these ideas and if you have any further suggestions, add them for us all below!