A group of students talking in class

5 French Classroom Games Guaranteed to Keep Your Students Involved, Learning and Talking

French classroom games have the magical ability to really get your students buzzing in French, plus they’ll be enjoyed by all. Plus, the efficacy of language learning with games is backed up by academic research.

Because of this (and because, come on, sometimes we teachers need a break while students have fun, in this post, I’m going to show you five awesome games that are both fun and valuable for language learning.


Vocabulary to Teach Before Playing

The key is to give your students the French language they need to communicate about the game in French. To do this, you could line the walls of the classroom with posters displaying the language of games.

How you teach these phrases is up to you, but you must insist the students speak in French to play their games. The real learning takes place when the keen students start using these phrases and the rest of the class follows suit.

Here are some examples you might include, to give you the idea:

Provide English translations for the phrases, but the students must use only the French—do not allow English during the game. How you enforce this is up to your personal teaching style.

With such language at their disposal, simple games such as battleships, snakes and ladders or hangman can have your classroom buzzing in French.

However, there are also fantastic classroom games that demand students read, speak and write in French. Here are five good ones that have worked well in my French classroom:

Fun Games for the French Classroom That’ll Get Your Students Talking

1. Written Dictation (Team Game)

“Written dictation” does not sound like fun, but played this way, it’s a winner and your students will have a ball.

  • Place several copies of French text appropriate to the students’ level around the classroom. To be effective, the text needs to be at least 8-10 lines long so that students cannot memorize it all in one go.
  • Each team has one or two runners, a scribe and a checker (to check for errors).
  • At the bell, the runner(s) goes to one of the copies of text, memorizes as much as they can and returns to repeat it (verbally, in French) to the scribe.
  • The scribe then writes it down while the runner returns and memorizes the next section of text.
  • The checker is allowed to point out mistakes (in French, “Il y a une erreur là”) in the scribe’s writing. After some time, change places so that everyone has a turn at memorizing, speaking and writing French.

Deduct points for errors and the team with the most points wins.

Every student has practiced reading, memorizing, speaking and writing French—plus they’ve had fun doing it: That is an educational game.

Here’s another:

2. “À quoi je pense?”: 20 French Questions (Full Class)

The student in the hot seat thinks of an object or person, and the class then has to guess who or what it is by asking questions. The answers may only be “oui” or “non.” If the class cannot work out the object/person, then the same student has another turn.

Prepare the kinds of questions (in French) students will need to ask and display them on posters around the room. You now have a permanent resource, a rich source of language and fun that you can use with all age levels.

Examples will include phrases in French such as:

The students are practicing listening, thinking in French and speaking skills. This turns playtime into some really serious learning time.

3. Musical Chairs with a Twist (Full Class)

This game is good for encouraging speaking and listening to French. Younger teenage students never seem to tire of this game. Here’s how to play:

  • Students sit facing each other in a circle. There should be no spare chairs.
  • One student stands outside the circle. While all students have their eyes closed, the teacher taps three students on the shoulder.
  • Eyes open and the “outside” student now comes into the circle, and begins asking individual students a question in French. An example of the type of questions the student might ask could be: “As-tu les yeux bleus?” The reply must be full sentence, “Oui, j’ai les yeux bleus” or “Non, je n’ai pas les yeux bleus.
  • Each student is required to give a correct answer in French, except for the students that were tapped on the shoulder. When a question is addressed to one of the three students chosen by the teacher, they simply call out “Hatschi Patschi” or any French word you choose.
  • On this signal, all students in the circle (including the student who was asking questions) run to a different chair.
  • The student left without a chair is now “it” and the game begins again.

4. Fly Swat (Team Game)

This is a really fun—be warned—sometimes riotous game for those really difficult days such as the last period before the summer holidays. With some thought, this game can also have a great educational purpose.

  • Write or ask a student to write some French words or numbers on the board, at least 15.
  • A volunteer student reads out a clue or partial sentence in French, e.g.,  “2+6-5=…” or “il fait …” with the blank matching one of the words or numbers on the board.
  • One member from each team races to the board and attempts to slap the correct answer, e.g.,“3” or “beau” with their flyswatters.

Points are awarded for correct answers.

The student reading out the clues practices reading French and pronunciation, while the other students practice listening and reading: another win-win game for teacher and students.

5. Quizlet (Full Class, Team or Individual Game)

Quizlet has been a lifesaver for me as a teacher when trying to come up with French classroom games for my own students. It’s well designed and there are lots of French flashcard sets already on the platform if you don’t have time to make your own. 

But if you do have time to make your own, here’s how you do it:

  • Go to the Quizlet website and click on “Create,” then select “Set.” Give your set a title related to the language topic you want to teach.
  • Add flashcards by clicking on “Add a term” to add a word or phrase in the target language.
  • Then, click “Add a definition” to add the translation or explanation in the native language or another language the learners are familiar with.
  • Add images and audio (optional) to make the set more engaging. This is especially useful for visual and auditory learners.
  • Once your set is ready, click on “Study” to explore different study modes and games. For French language learning, some effective modes include:
    • Flashcards: This is a basic way to review vocabulary.
    • Learn: It’s a more structured mode that helps with memorization through repetition and recall.
    • Match: This game matches terms with their definitions, reinforcing vocabulary.
    • Test: It generates a quiz based on the flashcards in the set.
  • Share the link to the set with your students and assign specific activities (For example: “Complete Learn mode for this set before the next class”).
  • If you’d like, you can monitor your students’ progress by checking their Quizlet accounts to see which activities they’ve completed and their scores.
  • If you want to add a competitive element, you can use the “Match” mode as a class activity and keep score.

It’s important not to fall into the trap of feeling you have to play games all the time to keep the students amused, but these games do have their place.

Use them wisely and you will foster a lively learning environment full of rich French language. Your students will be so busy playing games they won’t even realize how much talking they are doing in French. And that is a victory.

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