11 Exciting French Games for Bored High School Students
What if there were a fun way to teach high school students French?
What if they even *gasp* enjoyed it?
The secret is: games! Playing French games can increase your high school learners’ participation while also considerably improving their French language skills.
We’ve rounded up 11 terrific French games just for high school students below.
- Why French Games Work with High School Students
- Le téléphone (Telephone)
- Couples célèbres (Famous couples)
- Récit multiplié (Multiplied storytelling)
- Débat d’idées (French debate)
- Match de boxe argumentatif (Word-based boxing match)
- Le cadavre exquis (Exquisite corpse)
- Le jeu du bac (Dictionary game)
- Twitter en français (Twitter in French)
- Le journal télévisé (Newsworthy meeting)
- La création de BD (Creating comics)
- Les articles illustrés (Graphic organizer)
Why French Games Work with High School Students
- They facilitate learning. Games make it easy for high school students to remember a specific grammar point or vocabulary, and even enjoy it.
- They keep lessons fun and engaging. Your high school learners’ attention tends to be elsewhere. Playing games is a great way to give them what they want while also making sure they learn French.
- They create bonds. Playing games helps bring the class together and encourages classmates to interact. Even more than their French language skills, it’s a terrific way to develop their emotional intelligence.
- They have a purpose. Every game has a clear end goal: winning. There’s a tangible reward in the end, and using French language skills for the game will help students validate their progress.
- They tap into students’ competitive spirit. Your high school learners are competitive, and games can help them channel that energy to achieve positive outcomes in French.
Le téléphone (Telephone)
In a Nutshell: Students try to relay a message to each other accurately, without changing a word.
This is one of the most famous French games there is. The game targets listening and speaking skills and forces players to really pay attention to details in conversation. It sounds simple, but the game often leads to surprising changes that might get your students laughing.
What You Need:
- Several pieces of paper with French sentences that use grammar and vocabulary your students already know
- A box or container
1. Place the pieces of paper with the French sentences in a box.
2. Gather your students in a circle and choose one student to start. Hand them the box, then let them take one piece of paper and read it for themselves.
3. The starting student will then whisper the exact sentence in the ear of the student next to them, and so forth until the last student hears it.
4. The last student should repeat the message out loud.
5. Ask the first student to read the message and spot any inaccuracies.
6. Discuss the results together. This game has no winner: The entertainment comes from comparing the original and final messages.
7. Proceed to another message, choosing another student at random.
Couples célèbres (Famous couples)
In a Nutshell: Students discuss and then act out famous French couples.
This is a fun, cultural French game that will tap into your students’ creativity and sense of imagination while giving them a chance to express themselves. The game involves some research and roleplaying and involves plenty of French expressions and vocabulary.
What You Need:
- Pieces of paper with names of famous French couples
- A box or container
- A small prize for the winner of the game
1. Write down names of famous couples in history, literature and movies on pieces of paper and place them in a box. Opt for colorful characters that your students will enjoy learning about, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir or Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. This site features some interesting combinations.
2. Create groups of two students. One will play each half, and ask one half of each group to take one piece of paper from the box.
3. After every duo has been assigned a famous couple, ask them to discuss the pair, including who they are, what they’ve done, what made their relationship so unique and how it ended.
4. Ask them to prepare a 5-minute play for the next class session as homework using this information. Leave it up to them to create costumes, decor or even a song about their characters, and to include all the vocabulary they need.
5. Each group will then work together to research and write down dialogues featuring the couple, and present before their classmates.
6. End the presentations by asking students questions about the couple. Then, let them vote for their favorite couple.
7. Reward the best duo with a prize, like a box of French croissants!
Récit multiplié (Multiplied storytelling)
In a Nutshell: Students retell a story from other characters’ perspectives.
This is a terrific game for developing French storytelling skills. Have your students ever wondered what their favorite story would be like if another character told it? Well, this is just the game to answer that question! Conjugation and language skills aside, it’s a fantastic opportunity to help your students gain empathy and adopt a different perspective.
What You Need:
- A French story with at least a few different characters
- Command cards instructing students which character to play in the story
1. Prepare command cards ahead of time. For example:
- Vous racontez la même histoire à la première personne. (You tell the story using the first person.)
- Vous êtes le frère ou la soeur du méchant. (You’re the villain’s brother or sister.)
- Vous aimez le protagoniste. (You love the hero.)
Great commands should require that students transform the story using a different perspective and/or project certain feelings depending on the character’s perspective.
2. Form groups of five student-storytellers: Together, they’ll tell the new story.
3. Pick a story. It can be anything from a famous fairy tale to a French novel you’ve just read together, a video you’ve watched in class or even a gripping news article. Le Parisien’s faits divers section often includes quirky, real stories that could spark imagination.
4. Before the game, pre-teach difficult vocabulary and key expressions by writing them on the board, mimicking them or even translating them.
5. Tell the original story.
6. Ask a group of five students to volunteer: They’ll take a card, read the command before the class and take over. Each of them has to participate, preferably equally, by continuing the story based on the instructions from the card.
7. When the tale is over, ask the class to discuss.
8. Have the next group pick another card. Continue until everyone has participated.
Débat d’idées (French debate)
In a Nutshell: Students hold debates in teams, with judges to decide on the winning arguments.
Debate is part of French culture, just as much as eating baguettes and drinking wine. In France, people don’t watch talk shows—they watch debates! Let’s make it a full component of the French classroom through this activity.
What You Need:
- A list of debate topics
- A projector for student presentations
1. Organize your students into teams of three: a first speaker, a second speaker and a rebuttal speaker. Two teams will debate on one subject (one proposition, one opposition). One group of students will serve as the judge on all debates.
2. Pick a debate-worthy subject. Current events, philosophical subjects and general trends tend to generate more passionate discussions and can cover a wide range of topics. For example:
- L’Europe doit-elle accepter plus de réfugiés? (Should the E.U. accept more refugees?)
- Y-a-t-il quelque chose que l’argent ne peut acheter? (Is there anything money cannot buy?)
- Le français peut-il devenir la langue de l’avenir? (Can French become the language of the future?)
- Faut-il bombarder Mars? (Should we nuke Mars?)
3. Announce topics and name teams two weeks in advance to give your students time to prepare. Allow each student to bring just a one-pager with their key thesis, stats and facts to reference during the debate.
4. Stick to debate rules, and respect speaking order and time limits. Each team’s first speaker will have five minutes to make their case, then each second speaker will discuss their side for five minutes, and finally the rebuttal speakers will have three minutes apiece.
The first four speeches are constructive—teams build their arguments, and new arguments may be introduced in any of these speeches. The last two are rebuttal speeches, in which debaters make the case for their side and try to downplay the other team’s major points (without introducing new arguments).
5. At the end of the debate, judges will deliberate and share results. They should recap the best arguments on both sides, bring constructive feedback and explain the outcome.
Match de boxe argumentatif (Word-based boxing match)
In a Nutshell: Students face off against each other (with coaching) and defend their opinions in French.
Looking for a way to involve your high school students in vibrant discussions that are more laidback than a full-blown debate? Then this thrilling game is perfect for you! This “boxing game” puts students in real-life situations where they’ll have to make their case in French.
What You Need:
- Discussion questions on pieces of paper
- Box or container to put the questions in
1. Write down questions on pieces of paper and place them in a box. To create the questions, ask yourself what questions tend to divide couples. Good questions include:
- Où partir en vacances cet été : à la plage ou à la montagne? (Where to go on vacation this summer: beachside or mountainside?)
- Où déménager : à Paris ou à New York? (Where to move: Paris or NYC?)
- Quelle école choisir pour les enfants : bilingue ou traditionnelle? (What school to choose for the kids: bilingual or traditional?)
2. Create groups of four students: two “athletes” and two “coaches” per group. Athletes will be presenting the arguments and face the other party. Coaches will develop a strategy and whisper arguments during the battles.
3. Play the game! Pick two groups for a face-off, and ask one of the coaches of each group to come before the class and answer a trivia question, such as:
- Quelle est la capitale du Royaume-Uni? (What is the capital of the U.K.?)
- Qui est le Président de la République française? (Who is the President of the French Republic?)
4. Whoever answers correctly, faster, wins a chance to pick a piece of paper and choose which side of the “couple” they want to advocate for.
5. It’s then time to start the fight: Let discussions happen naturally. This is not a structured debate, so encourage students to participate orally rather than follow formal debate rules. The other difference between this and the previous debate activity is that coaches can help presenters with argument ideas.
6. Give students seven minutes to make their cases, and ask their peers to judge which member of the couple won.
7. The game ends after each team has played.
Le cadavre exquis (Exquisite corpse)
In a Nutshell: Students contribute a word to a sentence without knowing what words the other players used.
This famous collective game was invented by the Surrealists around 1925. They were known for developing their sense of imagination through graphic, yet absurd, evocations. The game earned its name because of the quirky sentence created by its first players: Le cadavre — exquis — boira — le vin — nouveau (the exquisite corpse will drink the new wine).
What You Need
- Sheets of paper
1. Form small teams of five students and give each team a sheet of paper and a pen.
2. One student will write a word at the top the page, fold it so the word is covered but other students can write their own words, and so on, until the page is fully folded.
3. Students should follow the rough pattern of Subject-Verb-Object, or more precisely: Le/la/les adjectif – nom – adverbe – verb – adjectif – nom (The adjective – noun – adverb – verb – adjective – noun).
4. Let the students uncover the folded words, read the results and discuss. This will get them laughing!
Le jeu du bac (Dictionary game)
In a Nutshell: Students have to think of different types of French words based on a given letter.
This game generally brings fond memories to native French speakers, who have all played it in their childhood. But this is no simple game: It’s the ultimate, most entertaining French vocabulary test there is!
1. Before the game, divide the class into teams of five to six students. Students in each group will play individually: Everyone for themselves!
2. Prepare a box for each team and put in pieces of paper for each letter of the alphabet.
3. Ask each group to choose a student who’ll be in charge of the timer: They’ll be responsible for tracking time.
4. Write down a template grid on the blackboard so students can replicate it and play. Alternatively, create a grid, print it and hand it out to your students.
The grid should contain the letter in the first column and at least six categories, such as girls’ names, boys’ names, country names, fruit names, animals, job names, etc. This is a good example of a grid for this game.
5. A student from each group will pick a letter from the box and read it out loud to their neighbors. Time to start the stopwatch: They have exactly one minute to complete the grid.
6. When the time has passed, students will read their answers out loud, starting with the first category, and so on.
7. The goal here is to make sure that each student has found an answer, and that each answer is unique: Students with no answers get no points, and students who have found the same answers must cross off their answers and get no points.
8. The student with the most points wins.
Twitter en français (Twitter in French)
In a Nutshell: Students explore popular French Twitter accounts and then create their own Twitter account for roleplaying.
Twitter is familiar and easy, as each tweet is limited to 280 characters. By bringing Twitter into the classroom, you’ll excite your students about the endless possibilities of learning French, and prove that reading authentic discussions of current events in French isn’t as hard as they might have thought.
1. Create groups of two to three students and ask them to choose a French personality or trending theme.
Here are some popular newspapers and magazines to get you started:
Major French politicians tend to be active on Twitter:
- Emmanuel Macron @EmmanuelMacron
- François Hollande @fhollande
- Nicolas Sarkozy @NicolasSarkozy
- Marine Le Pen @MLP_Officiel
- Ségolène Royal @RoyalSegolene
Your students might also be interested in athlete and TV celebrity accounts:
- Paris Saint Germain @PSG_inside
- Paris for Olympic Games 2024 @Paris2024
- Teddy Riner @teddyriner
- Sandrine Quetier @sandquetier
- Cyril Hanouna @Cyrilhanouna
2. Ask your students to produce an interactive presentation documenting their journey investigating the matter. Tell them that the goal is to enable them to be immersed in French culture.
3. Groups should explore the Twitter account and document their findings. They should be able to address these questions:
- Who is the personality in question? / What is the issue?
- What are some key facts and recent news based on the tweets?
- How does the account engage in discussions with other French Twitter users, and what were the results?
4. After the presentations, each group will create their own Twitter account where they take on a similar fictional French personality. For example, depending on who they presented, they can be a politician, movie star, comedian or writer.
5. Each group should then post daily tweets for a week and follow and interact with each other (while staying in character and, of course, using French).
6. Discuss the results afterward in class!
Le journal télévisé (Newsworthy meeting)
In a Nutshell: Students act as news presenters and describe what recently happened in France.
Consider starting the day with 20-30 minutes of interactive time that encourages students to go beyond the simple greeting, weather and sharing activities—and instead focus on newsworthy events (politics, economy, entertainment, etc.). Include this in your routine either daily or weekly, as your schedule allows.
1. Students should prepare by reading the news and be able to provide fact-based opinions and develop technical vocabulary, if necessary.
2. One student should come to the blackboard and serve as “anchorman” or “anchorwoman,” recapping four or five headlines from the past couple of days in French. Ask your students to bring their own style to the exercise. (And no English allowed!)
3. Encourage the presenter to turn it into an authentic news broadcast. They could get creative by customizing their own desk plate, writing on the whiteboard or bringing their own signs! Here are a couple of other ideas:
- The student hosting the news could bring other classmates to contribute as “invited guests.” For example, if the issue is the E.U. refugee crisis, it could be interesting to ask a friend to contribute as Ursula von der Leyen so the newscaster can conduct an interview and touch on current issues differently.
- They could also turn the show into a mini-comedy. It doesn’t have to be formal, and sarcasm and humor are greatly encouraged, too.
4. Anchors should interact with other students, so asking for the audience’s opinion is highly encouraged at the end of a segment. There should be some discussion before moving on to another headline.
5. At the end of the meeting, the public should give constructive feedback to the anchor: Did they like the “show?” What could have been done better/differently?
6. Over the course of the semester, each student should be able to host their own meeting once, and ideally more often.
La création de BD (Creating comics)
In a Nutshell: Students fill in comics in French while being guided by a specific theme and vocabulary words.
Comics are another approachable type of written media. Yet comics are falsely easy; they have their own etiquette, including short sentences, spoken language, onomatopoeia and abbreviations. Asking your high school students to create and share comic strips is a great way for them to familiarize themselves with this world and to express their creativity.
What You Need:
- Comic strips with the word bubbles whited out
- A list of target vocabulary words with point values based on word difficulty
How This Works
1. Ask your students to pick comic strips from French newspapers and white out the words so they can add their own. (Another option is to have students create blank comic strips from free websites or use an existing comic strip with the text whited out.)
2. It can help to pick a theme. Here are a few ideas:
- Le Scientifique fou (Crazy scientist)
- Différences culturelles (Cultural differences)
- #Foodporn (#Foodporn)
- Les Aaddicts du shopping (Shopaholics)
- Comment fonctionne le Parlement français (How the French Parliament works)
3. Give your students a list of target vocabulary words, and give each word various point values. The more complex, the more points they get.
For example, burette (burette), cellule (cell), hypothèse (hypothesis) or immunologie (immunology) are great target words for the theme “Crazy scientist.”
4. Let your students place the words into the bubbles and watch the stories unfold!
5. Creativity and storytelling will be rewarded, and students can receive even more points if they use idioms. In the end, the student with the most points wins.
6. Consider turning your students’ French artwork into an exhibit so you’re not the only one who gets to read the works.
Les articles illustrés (Graphic organizer)
In a Nutshell: Students break down a French article using a graphic template.
This final game teaches students a more interactive way of reading articles/texts. They’ll rearrange an article by showcasing key information in a simplified, organized manner—which highlights how elements are linked to one another.
What You Need:
- Sheets of paper following the graphic organizer template
- A sample French article
- Another French article that your students will outline
1. Teach your students how to create a graphic organizer first. Start with a piece of paper (or the blackboard to show it to them) and draw a cross in the middle: one horizontal line intersecting a vertical. Your organizer should have four equal rectangles, which you can fill with anything: keywords, tables, charts, symbols, etc.
2. Show students how to use it by using a newsworthy article as an example. Start by extracting the main ideas and thesis on the blackboard.
The upper left box should expand on the first main theme, the upper right box on the second main theme and the bottom left box on a third theme. For example, if the subject is “France’s law on gay marriage,” one box could be about the background (key dates, events and stats), another could be the “pro arguments” and the third could be about “challenges.”
The bottom right square is devoted to new vocabulary and grammar. This is where students can include unfamiliar words, business vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms, idioms and interesting structures.
3. Once your students get the hang of it, divide them into groups of two or three.
4. Assign the same French article to everyone and then have them fill out their own graphic organizer in around 20 minutes.
5. Ask each group to present their graphic organizer.
6. Based on organization and creativity, whoever comes up with the best graphic organizer wins!
Now that you know of some clever, fun French games for your high school students, we have no doubt that you’ll be able to speed up their French studies.
Aside from these, you can also mix up your lessons by throwing in more interactive tools like videos, music and apps. For example, FluentU’s French program has hundreds of authentic French media clips turned into lessons that your students might enjoy learning from, from cartoons to popular music videos.
And once you get started, odds are you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t try these games and activities sooner.