Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Conjugation Crunch

The time has finally come for Emma the Brave to master the next to impossible, yet equally unavoidable: French verb conjugation. She brought home her first assignment this week-- regular verbs ending in -er -- accompanied by vague instructions to parents to encourage their kids memorize it. Having come into my second language relatively later in life, the painful mundanity of this task still lingers in my memory--more so, I'm afraid, than the skill itself.  Can learning French verb conjugation be fun? Perhaps. Try this:

To create game pieces, make a 3x9 grid like the one below, filling the squares with all necessary pronouns, verbs and terminations. Make sure to use an easy-to-read font and font size. (Alternatively, use small index cards and write text by hand) 
  • Cut along the grid lines and place all game pieces in an opaque bag
  • You'll also need a tall cereal box or two to act as a barrier between the players so that they can't see each other's cards when laid out flat in front of them.  

Rules of Play: 
  • The game operates much like Go Fish. Without looking, each player takes three game pieces from the bag and lays them face-up on the table behind their box and out of view of their opponent(s). 
  • The youngest player begins by asking any other player for the piece they require to complete their conjugation. For instance, in the picture above, Player 1 has the pronoun 'je', the termination '-ons', and the verb 'jouer'.  He or she can ask their oppenent if they have either the corresponding termination for 'je' (-e) or the corresponding pronoun for -ons (nous), but not both.  
  • Players can only ask for pronouns that correspond to the terminations they have in their hand. That is, Player 1 cannot ask an opponent for 'tu' because they don't have the termination '-es' in their hand. The reverse also holds true: Player 1 cannot demand the termination 'ez' as they don't have 'vous' in their hand. A player can demand a verb only if it is the sole piece they are missing to complete a conjugation. 
  • If the opponent has the correct piece, they have to hand it over, thereby allowing Player 1 to complete their conjugation and earn one point. 
  • If the opponent does not have the correct piece, Player 1 must 'Go Fish' and take a new piece from the bag. 
  • Play continues in a clockwise fashion until one player has no pieces left. The player with the most conjugated verbs at the end of play wins!
For the first few rounds I allowed Emma the use of a cheat sheet to help her remember the rules of conjugation, but after just two rounds it was no longer needed. I suspect we'll get only one more round in before the game is considered 'too easy.'  No worries, though. I have a sneaking suspicion that the verbs ending in -ir are only a week away!  That should spice things up a bit!


  1. Again, I am so not worthy, now if only I could figure out how to work a Webkins...

  2. I'm still fighting with French verbs...can I play? Will you make it for the compound tenses too? I'll bring tea and cookies!!!!

  3. i hate to say it but your post makes me glad i passed on french immersion for my boys because i would have no clue how to help. those charts could be in chinese as far as I'm concerned can tell my french is pathetic. Looks like your very well positioned to help.