22 French Activities for Students of All Levels to Liven Up Your Lessons
Teaching French can be challenging—there’s no doubt about it.
Coming up with new activities, keeping students involved and finding new and interesting ways of integrating French into student activities can all be a challenge.
But have no fear—we’ve got your back. Check out this handy list to liven up your French language classroom, with activities that are creative, innovative and effective.
Read on to learn about 22 of my favorite classroom activities that your students will love.
- 1. Dictionary Quest
- 2. Donut
- 3. Sentence Create
- 4. Jigsaw
- 5. Web Quest: Spend 500 Euros
- 6. French Trivial Pursuit
- 7. Acting the Context
- 8. French Website
- 9. Competitive Tongue Twisters
- 10. Film Study
- 11. Actor for a Day
- 12. Le Jeu de la Barrière (Barrier Game)
- 13. Match Sounds with Spelling
- 14. Imitate That Accent!
- 15. 3, 2, 1, Action!
- 16. We Wrote a Song
- 17. Say it Faster!
- 18. Read My Lips
- 19. Record Yourself
- 20. Written Dictation
- 21. “À quoi je pense?”: 20 French Questions
- 22. Fly Swat
1. Dictionary Quest
This simple but fun activity requires students to find out information for themselves and to pass it on to other students. It works by students teaching their peers, which is one of the most effective ways of reinforcing learning.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Student pairs use a dictionary to find the meaning of a series of words chosen by the teacher. The choice of words can be entirely random or deliberately weird, so you can have some real fun letting your imagination run wild. (Here’s another post to explore for some zany French words.) Put the list of words on the board and turn it into a race.
- Challenge the students to find three other words of their own choice and share and explain the meaning to another pair of students. Giving students the opportunity to explore language looking for words they like is a wonderful way to engage them—it becomes a veritable treasure hunt. The super big bonus is that students reinforce their new vocabulary when they share their words with friends.
This is a great speaking activity. Students love it because it gives them the opportunity to talk about others and themselves. You need to ensure that students ask extended questions and give extended responses.
Here’s how it works:
- Divide the class into three or more groups. Each group is assigned a station where they will find a card with a series of questions.
- Each group is given five minutes to think of their answers (full French sentences) to those questions and practice them.
- All the groups move around to the next station and repeat the process.
- The groups mingle and take turns asking and answering the questions.
The result is a lot of French conversation.
Here are some example questions. This is just one possible topic—the model is infinitely adaptable.
Tu t’entends bien avec ton père? (Do you get along well with your father?)
Tu t’entends bien avec ta mère? (Do you get along well with your mother?)
Tu t’entends bien avec ton frère? (Do you get along well with your brother?)
Tu t’entends bien avec ta soeur? (Do you get along well with your sister?)
Décris ton père. (Describe your father.)
Décris ta mère. (Describe your mother.)
Décris ton frère. (Describe your brother.)
Décris ta soeur. (Describe your sister.)
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire avec ton père? (What do you like doing with your father?)
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire avec ta mère? (What do you like doing with your mother?)
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire avec ton frère? (What do you like doing with your brother?)
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire avec ta sœur? (What do you like doing with your sister?)
It is best to use this activity or these examples after you have taught the language needed to respond with more than a simple yes/no. The students need to give reasons and details for it to work.
For example, the response to “Tu t’entends bien avec ton frère?” might be “Non, parce qu’il est gâté et égoïste.” (No, because he is spoiled and selfish.)
3. Sentence Create
This activity can turn into a great competition and it really reinforces students’ knowledge of French syntax. It has the added advantage of being really simple to set up.
- Divide the class into pairs, and give each pair a group of ten or more French words that can be formed into multiple sentences. Obviously, you need to choose the words carefully and do the activity yourself so that you know that complete sentences are possible. Here’s an example: “Dans ma chambre il y a une télévision et un ordinateur et j’ai un chat gris avec les yeux grands.” (In my bedroom there’s a television and a computer and I have a gray cat with big eyes.)
- Each pair must create as many sentences from that selection as possible.
- Points are awarded for each correct sentence and points are deducted for grammar errors.
One great feature of this learning activity is that students must discuss spelling, word order and other aspects of grammar. Once more, students are teaching each other—one of the most important qualities for learning activities.
This is a great way to get students to collaborate with each other in the learning process. You can use this highly adaptable learning activity to help students teach themselves about a huge range of topics from intricate grammar points to understanding complex texts, and you can vary the amounts of French used according to the level of your class.
In this example, the students will be learning about how to create French accents on a computer.
- Choose a text that explains how to change your keyboard language. (This site has a very clear explanation.) Print it on a solid card.
- Cut up your chosen text just like the pieces of a puzzle so that all the sentences are jumbled.
- Repeat the above two steps for the text that explains how to recreate the actual accents. (Here is a great explanation.) Print on a solid card and cut it up.
- Divide your class into groups, and assign a topic to each group. It’s a good idea to have two or more groups doing each topic.
- Each group has a set time to put the pieces of their puzzle together. It’s a good idea to make this phase of the activity competitive—it adds some fun. The very process of reassembling the text requires the students to engage with and understand the text.
- Each group then discusses their particular topic (within their group only—to make sure they understand it) and makes notes or copies the text into their notebooks.
- Each member of each group then teams up with a member of a different group and they teach the other what they have learned, e.g., a student who knows how to change the keyboard language teaches a student who knows how to do the accents.
Students need to talk to each other to fill in the gaps in their knowledge.
Once again, student-teaching-student is a really effective model. Most students (especially teenagers) will listen to each other more readily than to the teacher and the student passing on knowledge reinforces his/her own knowledge in the process.
5. Web Quest: Spend 500 Euros
For this activity, students are given a list of websites (in French) and an imaginary 500 euros to spend on a weekend in Paris.
Tell students that they need to research and get prices for:
- Transport to and from the airport and their hotel
- Their accommodations for the weekend
- Their activities
Students will need to budget carefully as Paris is expensive and 500 euros will not go a long way. Here are some useful pages from the RATP site to organize transport to and from the airport: Accéder aux aeroports and Visiter Paris.
Students can research their accommodation and sightseeing activities using parisinfo.com and tourisme.fr.
Here’s how the activity works:
- Students research the given sites and decide how they are going to spend their money.
- Students tell the class (in French) about how they spent their money, what they did and what they thought of it.
6. French Trivial Pursuit
That’s right! Making your own version of Trivial Pursuit is a great way to boost participation in class while helping your students learn new things and test what they know—all in French!
First, start by creating (or buying) a French culture equivalent of the famous board game: Build your own board using cardboard and color crayons or paint. Don’t forget to buy game pieces, wedges and a die. You can find it all at your favorite arts and crafts store, or just use pieces from another game. You an also get the class involved, making the game together while speaking in French.
Then make the question cards. All cards should be in French and include questions from each of the six Trivial Pursuit categories, with answers on the back. All in French, of course—no translations allowed!
Remember how everything is color-coded:
- Bleu : Géographie (Blue: Geography)
- Rose : Divertissements (Pink: Entertainment)
- Jaune : Histoire (Yellow: History)
- Violet : Arts et Littérature (Purple: Arts and Literature)
- Vert : Sciences et Nature (Green: Science and Nature)
- Orange : Sports et Loisirs (Orange: Sports and Leisure)
Keep it as authentic as possible, or customize your own categories based on what your students have studied in class.
Some fun ideas for categories include:
- Chansons françaises (French songs)
- Gastronomie (gastronomy)
- XXème siècle (20th century)
- Présidents français (French presidents)
- Star Wars
Make sure you have enough material to create a full category, and get creative when you create questions!
Next step: Find a French-culture-related prize to award to the winner or winning group. These could include a trip to a French bakery, picking the French movie of their choice for the class’ next movie session, etc.
If you lack the time to create a full game, or if you just want to up class participation, you can let your students contribute their own question cards. Or you can just take the easy road and buy French editions.
Oh, but let’s not forget that you can also access the online version—just download it and start playing, using the classroom projector.
7. Acting the Context
This is a great activity for students as it allows them to express their creativity and find different ways to communicate their thoughts in French.
Here’s how it works:
- First, prepare the activity. Write a few topics on pieces of paper. Great topics can include French movie names, or famous French figures, such as Balzac, Victor Hugo or Emmanuel Macron. Fold them, and place them in an urn.
- Invite one or more students, if they’re playing as a group, to the center of the classroom. Then, present them with the urn and ask them to pick one piece of paper. They should read it and optionally discuss it together for a few seconds, but not share it with their classmates: Then, they should act it out!
- Students have one minute to make others guess the word by improvising a mini-play about the word in question. If they fail to make their classmates guess the word, they incur a penalty. Whoever guesses the greatest number of words wins!
8. French Website
Put students in groups of three or four. The assignment is fairly simple but still challenging: Students will have to imagine the company of their dreams, then create a website describing the company’s mission statement, team, product or service description and contact info… all in French! No English allowed.
The company can be anything: a consulting company, a restaurant, a media firm—you name it. Whatever inspires them!
They should focus on both the writing and the website creation portion. Google offers templates, and the process is fairly easy.
This activity is great not only for helping your students perfect their French writing skills, but also allowing them to build a portfolio in French!
9. Competitive Tongue Twisters
This is one of our favorite ways to practice French pronunciation while having fun! Tongue twisters are entertaining, utilize words that most French learners don’t always think of using in a playful manner, and can be the fun challenge your students have been looking for.
The activity is fairly simple: How fast and easily can your students say…
Ton thé t’a-t-il ôté ta toux ? (Did your tea remove your cough?)
Le ver vert va vers le verre vert. (The green worm goes toward the green glass.)
Make it fun by gamifying the exercise: Students earn 50 points if they manage to say the sentences correctly and quickly, and incur a penalty if they fail (have to say the tongue twister on one foot, while dancing, while acting, etc.).
Keep track of their scores on the board. Students have the option to buy immunity badges (200 points) and penalties that they can activate on other students (asking them to say three tongue twisters of their choice in a row, to repeat the same tongue twister five times, etc). Each penalty is worth 150 points.
Whoever gets the most points wins!
10. Film Study
French movie lovers, unite! This activity is always a hit with students for all the right reasons: movies are as entertaining as they are educational and cultural.
Film study is a great way to bring the classroom together and show your students how they can maximize their French skills by changing the way they watch movies in French.
Start by picking popular films or TV series according to students’ interests and age range. There are numerous movies that are just perfect for your French students:
- “La Marche de l’Empereur” and “L’arnacoeur” are great for beginners to intermediate learners.
- “Les Visiteurs” and “La Grande Vadrouille,” which include cultural elements and plays on words, may be better for your more advanced students.
Depending on the type of streaming or viewing service you are using, if any, you may have the option to play movies with or without French subtitles. You can either add them right away, or play a scene without them, and then replay the scene and add them.
Adding subtitles immediately will enable your students to follow the progression of the movie and hopefully only read them if they need. Adding them only for a replay will test them more and require their full attention, but may break the flow.
What you should definitely do, however, is build a discussion around the movie you’ve watched in class by doing at least one of the following:
- Study symbolism in the movie.
- Discuss the storyline and the acting.
- Comment on the costume and settings.
- Imagine what could have happened before the story or what happens next.
This activity can lead to student assignments: Create groups and let students come up with a unique presentation about the movie. Some great topics can be “Love in X,” “Y’s movies,” “Movement in French cinema,” “Why Z is such an iconic movie,” etc.
Presentations are a great way to test your students’ oral skills but also to understand what they really got out of the film. They should be organized and prove a point, but the idea is to let the presenters express themselves!
Such mini exposés should last approximately 10 minutes, with a 5-minute Q&A session with the rest of the class to follow.
11. Actor for a Day
Acting is the perfect exercise if you’re trying to help your students come out of their shells. It helps build confidence and the ability to speak in public. It also helps them explore different ranges of emotions—all in a different language!
For this activity, let students make their own French movie.
This is a great long-term assignment that can both fill class time and be done as ongoing homework. Students can create their own videos and edit them. A 15-minute movie is ideal: It’s long enough to enable them to develop a story, but short enough that it doesn’t require too much time commitment on their part.
- Students should work in groups of four or five and the entire exercise should take between three to five weeks. They will create their own storyline, write a script, learn it and act it! They should also create a poster for their film.
- Everyone should have a part, even if it’s minor. If a student just has small parts to say, that’s fine as long as they’ve still contributed significantly to the writing. Contributions to the project should be equal if possible.
- You have the option to turn these “movies” into plays if your school or your students don’t have a camera.
Some great topics could include “French chef at work,” “A mad scientist’s first date,” “Meet the parents” or “Running for president.”
To make sure that all students have a solid understanding of how to write a script, devote a full lesson to script writing.
In this session, you should go over with your class the basic elements that make for a good script (taking 20 to 30 minutes): It all starts with standard storytelling elements. The groups should spend some time thinking about the following:
- Finding a title.
- Setting a date/location for the story.
- Envisioning and developing the characters (names, looks, personality traits, goals, fears, challenges, etc.).
- Clarifying the premise. (What is the story about? What’s at stake?)
Then, they should proceed to draft a story outline. Generally, multiple drafts are necessary and will require some back-and-forth between the team members before they actually proceed to write the script.
Students should treat this activity as a group homework assignment: It’s up to them to organize regular meetings to meet and make sure that the script progresses.
12. Le Jeu de la Barrière (Barrier Game)
This is a great game to develop listening and speaking skills. It tests your students’ comprehension and communication ability.
Put students in pairs. One student will give instructions in French, and their partner will receive directions. Place their desks next to or in front of one another, and separate them by some kind of barrier, such as a large book, a piece of cardboard or a box lid. They need to be able to hear (but not see) each other.
Then, give the students who will give instructions a hat that contains various drawings, simple maps or pictures, or even small objects.
Make sure the pictures are not too complex and easy to reproduce. Great examples include a house with a chimney on the right-hand side, two windows, etc., five stars circling a square, a simple, hand-drawn map of city hall, a school, a restaurant, etc.
As your students give their description to their partners, they will listen to the instructions and try to reproduce the picture exactly from spoken directions alone. Then, they will exchange pictures and see how close they are to the original. Your students should take turns: Whoever gave instructions now should receive them and vice-versa.
This activity sounds easy, but can be very trying for those who have never played the game. Students generally get better and better with practice, which is why they also tend to really love it.
13. Match Sounds with Spelling
This is a fun activity that teaches your students proper French pronunciation rules.
The game is simple. Ahead of time, create two stacks of cards, one featuring sounds and another with actual words fully written out.
For the sound pile, write down sounds the way that you teach them in regular settings. Some teachers use phonetics (writing down the symbol “ɔ̃” to refer to the French sound “on” on the sound cards), but others might prefer to stick to the sounds in French (writing “on” instead of the symbol “ɔ̃”).
Matching word cards for “on” could be confiture (jam), bonbon (candy) or jambon (ham). Use a magnet board and place the sound cards all over it.
Then, divide students into two teams, forming lines, place the word cards in a box between them. One student from each group will randomly pick a word card and rush to the board to match it with its sound.
If the match is correct, they can rush back to their team and let the next student continue. The game is over when no more word cards are left. The team who has identified the most matches correctly wins!
14. Imitate That Accent!
This is a fun game based on listening and mimicking. It uses accent because unusual French accents captivate students easily.
To get started, find French accent recordings online. The AccentsdeFrance website features an extensive collection of taped accents from various French regions available for free download. As a bonus, the site also conveniently lists idiomatic expressions and words that are used in a given region to give your lessons more substance and color.
Play the recording once so everyone can hear the accent, then ask a random student to repeat it. Let the rest of the class judge if the sounds are similar, and give your final verdict on which sounds are correct and the ones that were most difficult. Then, let everyone repeat it and proceed to another accent until every student has participated.
15. 3, 2, 1, Action!
This is a cool memorization game that uses dramatization to engage your students’ pronunciation skills.
To play the game, start by selecting French movie clips, preferably with dubbing for younger or beginner students and without for your most advanced learners. Ask students to focus on enunciation and not to rush through their dialogue.
The goal here is for them to really sound just like the character they’ll be playing, accent included! Make it no more than two minutes per recording so students can alternate playing specific parts. Check out this collection of exciting French movies to find the perfect movie clips for this activity.
Then, let students take the stage!
- Pair students into two or more groups (depending on the clips you’ve chosen), and let them hear the recording twice.
- Then, mute the sound and let them act the part in front of the class! If you have a class with more timid students (or you’re short on time), let them perform in front of small groups.
- Then ask students to pick their favorite performance and reward the winners with a small gift, such as delicious French cookies or a French magazine!
16. We Wrote a Song
This is a thrilling collaborative lyric writing game where a group of students sings together and teaches each other how to perfect the song’s pronunciation—including rhythm, cadence and accent.
The game is a lot of fun. Here’s how it works:
- Students work in teams of three or four and pick a song they all enjoy.
- Then, let the rest of the class work together to re-write the lyrics in French and to practice it. That means singing!
- Ask one student per group to be the “Pronunciation Maestro.” They’ll be responsible for listening to the sounds of each student and making sure that they’re using the correct French pronunciation and enunciation.
In another session, each group will sing their song out loud and teach it to the class. Students then vote for their favorite.
17. Say it Faster!
This is an exciting game to practice difficult pronunciation and, most importantly, enunciation!
The point of the game is simple: to say difficult sentences faster and faster, without error. That means nothing if students don’t properly enunciate and agglutinate sounds together! Write down various sentences (or have students write down sentences) on small pieces of paper and place them in a box.
To start, gather your students in a large circle and ask for a volunteer. That student will randomly pick one piece of paper from the box and read his sentence out loud as fast as he can.
The student next to him clockwise will now have to say the sentence, and so on, until every student has said it or until one student stumbles. This student will receive a penalty, chosen by other students, and will be the first one to pick the next piece of paper to start the next round!
18. Read My Lips
This activity uses absolutely no speaking to focus on enunciation and the discovery of sounds. This forces students to be more focused on the sounds and movements of the whole mouth during conversations.
- Write down short questions and sentences on pieces of paper.
- Pair students together. One student will take a question and mimic it with his mouth, but not actually say it out loud.
- The other student needs to repeat it out loud as well as answer the question.
- If the student guesses right the first time, his team gets 10 points.
The rest of the points are awarded as follow: 5 points if he gets it right the 2nd time, 2 points on the 3rd attempt and 1 point on the 4th attempt. However, the pair must not proceed to another question until the other student has guessed correctly. The team with the most points in 15 minutes wins.
19. Record Yourself
This challenging mirroring exercise helps your students gain awareness of their own pronunciation mistakes while allowing them to express themselves.
The idea is to record them during their oral presentations and let one of their peers give a “diagnosis” of what the student needs to do to improve their pronunciation skills.
- Ask students to first choose a trusted friend as their partner for this exercise—this will allow shy students to be more comfortable with the feedback they receive.
- This friend will then watch the video (at home or in your school’s multimedia room) and write down specific and general observations along with concrete recommendations, tips and exercises to help the other student with their pronunciation.
20. Written Dictation
“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.
21. “À quoi je pense?”: 20 French Questions
One 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:
- Est-ce que c’est un animal ? (Is it an animal?)
- Est-ce que c’est une personne ? (Is it an person?)
- Est-ce que c’est un homme ? (Is it a man?)
- Est-ce que c’est une femme ? (Is it a woman?)
- Est-ce que c’est dans la classe ? (Is it in the class?)
- Est-ce que c’est un(e) athlète ? (Is it a sports person?)
- Est-ce que c’est une personne du passé ? (Is it a person from the past?)
- Est-ce que c’est une personne vivante ? (Is it a living person?)
22. Fly Swat
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—a win-win for teacher and students.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these fun, creative and effective French classroom activities and games.
They’re guaranteed to get students into the mode of active learning, which help keep them on the right track in their language learning.
Good luck and good teaching!