Teaching beginners is always exciting.
You’re the first person who can really shape their relationship with French. As such, your lessons will make a deciding impact on the rest of their language learning journey.
And with great powers come great responsibility. It’s up to you to make sure that your learners will acquire the foundations to navigate the language and culture with ease and will be motivated to continue on until they reach fluency.
Perhaps you’re dreading having to introduce your beginner students to the complexities of the French grammar. Maybe you’re eager to find a simple way to teach them French vocabulary.
Whatever the case, it’s critical that your lesson plans keep your students engaged and confident. Nothing discourages beginner students more than the feeling that “they just don’t get it” when they’re getting started.
So, are you looking for inspiration to create killer French lessons for these just-getting-started students?
Without further ado, here’s everything you wished you knew about French lesson plans for beginners.
French Lesson Plans for Beginners: The Templates, Tips and Resources You Need
How to Design a Successful French Lesson Plan for Beginners
Create interactive classes
Beginners respond especially well to lively, engaging classes.
There’s nothing more overwhelming than a monotonous session studying grammar and memorizing long vocabulary lists, or just listening to the teacher talk and talk. Instead, try to recreate immersion to expose your students to the many facets of the French language.
Technology can help you create captivating, modern lesson plans and incorporate a wealth of authentic, multimedia content in your lesson plans. Use the Internet to curate approachable materials for beginners, including social media posts, YouTube videos, popular songs, topical news articles or even simple ads for cool products. This will keep your students excited and allow them to focus on the content, rather than the format.
Focus on manageable objectives for each lesson
It’s always easier to break down difficult concepts into chunks spread out over several sessions than attempt to tackle the beast in one, long shot. Beginners need some time to assimilate new knowledge. Time and repeated exposure will make lessons a lot more digestible for them.
French grammar is a mammoth. The present tense alone, with three different groups and plenty of irregular verbs, may take some time for beginners to become comfortable with. That’s why it’s absolutely fine to discuss one big point like this over the course of multiple classes. It’s also a good idea to start simple and build on the basics with more complex ideas in later classes.
For example, if you’re teaching students how to differentiate between the three different French verb groups, it’s perfectly fine to start with first group verbs one week and then gradually introduce second and third group verbs over the coming weeks. Take the time to explain the exceptions to the rules as you go, which in this case are irregular verbs. Students may be taken aback a bit by the presence of exceptions, and they may require some more time and practice to truly grasp them. Be patient!
Stimulate all four language skills
A great French beginner lesson plan targets speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, yet many beginners who study independently (without a classroom and teacher) use lesson plans that focus on reading and writing alone.
This is a real problem because they eventually struggle to communicate in real-life settings. Instead, make sure that your lesson plans are geared towards plenty of actual speaking and listening practice.
Be mindful that, especially if your students aren’t naturally immersed in an environment where they’re exposed to the French language, teaching pronunciation rules and practicing their accents is a must. These are vital elements that will help them learn to speak and understand French correctly from the beginning. Your beginner students may need some time before fully recognizing and perfectly mimicking the sounds of the French language.
Many students who have never studied with a French teacher may not know what the French accent is like. It’s common for these students to make pronunciation mistakes, to not know about the French-language concept of the liaison and to be tempted to pronounce every letter within every word.
Honestly, it’s a lot harder to help intermediate students who have taken on bad habits than it is to teach pronunciation to inexperienced learners. That’s why setting the foundations right from the start is critical. Rather than criticizing beginners when they make a mistake, simply go back and forth repeating the problem words until they get them right, then praise them on their progress.
Solidify the basics
Keep your lessons varied so that you rapidly cover the basics of the French language.
Your lesson plans should equip students very quickly with the essentials tools to start communicating simple ideas with confidence. The sooner they can start participating in French, the better!
A good strategy is to ask students to make general observations in an introductory session rather than teach the rule directly. This is the time to focus on the main, general rules so they understand how French works.
Then, devote the next sessions to exceptions and subpoints. Again, don’t just lay it out for them. Ask students to compare the exceptions with the general rules. Rather than wasting time trying to explain why it does or doesn’t make sense, help them find systems to memorize the exceptions, like mnemonics and word associations.
For example, rather than teaching them adjective placement rules, give them a text featuring plenty of adjectives and ask them to circle all the adjectives. What do they notice about their positions? What types of adjectives are placed before nouns? What happens if I place some these adjectives after nouns? How does this placement affect the meaning of the sentence?
Then introduce helpful tools to keep their observations in their memories. For adjectives in particular, the BAGS system can be a fantastic helper to memorize adjective placement rules. This article lists some interesting visual aids for conjugations that will make a difference with your beginner students.
The Simply Perfect French Lesson Plan Template
We’ll start you off with a hint here: Differentiating learners by age is a fair approach. That’s because age tends to affect their tastes, learning styles, study goals and overall motivation.
Here, we’ll provide you with the methods and resources you’ll need to create great lesson plans for any group of students. You’ll be able to take these methods and resources and apply them to this lesson plan template.
It may seem simple, but simple is what gets the job done!
- Warm-up: Discuss their routine, what they learned in the last lesson and what they’ll learn today
- Lecture: Pre-teach any new words, expressions, verbs or grammar points that you’ll be using today
- Activity: Let students discover the concepts through a game, a song, a video or by telling them a story
- Wrap-up: Verify that students have mastered the objectives by asking them to create sentences using the elements learned during the session
Now, continue reading and drop your new methods and resources into this tried and true lesson plan template!
5 Types of French Lesson Plans for Beginners
Preschool students will absorb French like sponges.
They respond incredibly well to oral and visual stimulation, so make sure to include plenty of opportunities for them to be in constant contact with the language while having fun.
The best lesson plans for beginners students of this age group are the ones that are based on regular speaking practice! This may seem a bit repetitive, and rightly so. These students need to use lots of vocal repetition so they can acquire a solid base of words and expressions they can readily employ. This will teach their brains how the language works without actually learning the theories behind it.
These lesson plans help them use language as a tool for communication, just the way it should be. They work to let them employ French naturally, without overthinking it. As a rule of thumb, you should always shy away from complex lesson plans that include lengthy grammar explanations and endless vocabulary lists. They’ll lose attention.
Numerous sites include great lesson plans for beginner French students at a preschool level. Shirley’s Preschool Activities features solid and exciting ideas to introduce little learners to the basics of the French language. We particularly like the approach of using the French culture as a vehicle to share essential language words and expressions.
The Baby Bilingual blog also offers a wealth of ready-to-use French lesson plans and activity ideas for tots. You’ll appreciate the diversity of formats and the incredible simplicity of these lessons. Simply focus on the few essential elements mentioned in these pages to help your little students acquire a solid base from the start.
Teaching elementary school students can easily become a lot of fun. They favor activities and games, so you may want to oblige by using lesson plans that address their needs.
Don’t underestimate their learning abilities. Children at this age start comprehending difficult concepts and are generally curious about a lot of things. For them, the right lesson plans are those that tap into this ability to grasp more complex topics and focus on enrichment activities. They enable young students to discover interesting parts of the French culture without giving all the answers. The idea is to give them a chance to reflect, dream and imagine. Such plans make an impact and create long-lasting memories.
Lesson plans for beginner French learners at the elementary school level abound on the Web. You’ll love Teachnology‘s curation; they include plenty of interesting lesson plans that go over the concepts of the French language very simply. Their Introduction to French is particularly clever. The course focuses on the similarities between our languages to generate confidence and enthusiasm among your students. This is an excellent strategy to convince them that learning French is within reach.
Share My Lesson, too, provides a wide array of authentic French lesson plans for K2 students created by French teachers. You’ll need to register for a free account to be able to access and download the documents, which can be retrieved as Word or PDF files. Among our top favorites is French Phonics, which focuses on listening and pronunciation skills, and Basic Classroom Instructions In French, a great lesson plan that will benefit them for the rest of their educational journey.
If you’re teaching French for any grade in a K-12 environment, Lesson Planet is an extra-convenient option to look into. A subscription gives you access to a wide variety of teacher-reviewed lesson plans as well as other online resources, along with online storage. There are plenty of materials available for subjects relevant to beginning French, from -er verbs to phone conversations to ordering food. You can try out Lesson Planet with a 10-day free trial to see how it works for you.
Middle School / High School
Middle school and high school students who are starting on with French often do so because they believe that learning this language will enhance their future prospects, both academic and professional. And they’re right!
However, most of them believe that French is a difficult, complex language.
If you’re able to convince them that this isn’t the case, you’re almost guaranteed raving success and motivated, engaged learners who have decided to stick with it and are in it for the long haul.
This is particularly critical because many adults who have studied French during these years often complain that lessons weren’t as productive as they wished, and remember little of the French that they learned. To address this, it’s important to opt for lesson plans that focus on real-life situations and promote immediate, natural usage of the words and expressions they learn in the classroom.
For example, add sports shows, cooking classes or French movies into your lesson plans to captivate your audience if this is what they like. Don’t be afraid to ask them to share their particular interests with you at the beginning of the school year. This will reinforce your desire to work with them and have consideration for who they are.
Several sites let you access lesson plans for beginners of this age group. Pinterest is a great way to start if you’re looking for personalized content. Rather than finding well-structured, formal lesson plans, you’ll find lots of materials and ideas to create your own, custom lesson plans for middle school and high school learners.
This board, for example, is a goldmine for great content, as it includes lots of highly visual, colorful, well-organized French materials that you can include in your French classroom.
Learn French Lab lets you use a variety of worksheets for your lesson plans covering the everyday topics essential to middle school and high school curricula. It also includes exercises to complement lessons and illustrate points. They all stay very relevant to the secondary school experience, focusing on things like talking about one’s daily routine or likes and dislikes.
A prevailing myth in the language education community is that adults are at a disadvantage when it comes to learning languages. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Adults may have less brain plasticity than younger students, but they tend to make up for it with massive personal motivation.
For them, the best lesson plans are those that are to-the-point and results-oriented. Ask them about their personal interests and motivations for learning French so you can find the best possible lesson plan and apply it in the classroom setting. It’ll help them validate their interest for the language and commitment to their studies.
There are many sites that offer beginner lesson plans for adults. We particularly recommend Talk French by the BBC, which covers the basics efficiently and expertly. Lessons are organized into topics, including Greetings, Food and Drink and talking about Where You Live And Work. You’ll appreciate that all lessons come with free, downloadable PDFs matching the topics in question.
Another noteworthy site is Pimsleur Approach: It includes a wealth of lesson plans organized by topics with a strong cultural component, perfect to captivate an adult audience! Lesson plans are accompanied by worksheets and quizzes and available as PDFs. Interesting plans include The Future, Culinary Culture, Jobs and Family.
Teaching beginner French to students with business-oriented language goals can seem challenging at first.
It’s often tempting to use a cookie-cutter approach and try to teach general, elementary vocabulary rather than introduce business concepts in a simple, approachable way. It’s also quite tempting to cut out the business element of things altogether and try to teach the basics in a more general way. However, you can find a happy balance between the two.
To achieve this, make sure that your lesson plans target the vital linguistic elements that your students will commonly employ in the workplace. Focus on their industries and adjust accordingly.
It’s a good idea to do some research on the technical jargon and buzzwords that they’ll need to know to communicate. This will ensure their ability to communicate about their business problems and ideas while also allowing them to have a conversation in French.
To find materials to fill out your lesson plans for beginner business French learners, head over to Bonjour de France. It offers an incredible variety of free quality resources for multiple professions and roles in the commercial, administrative and marketing fields that you can use with your students. Don’t miss the Vocabulary of the Sales Process to immediately cover the basics, and Jobs in Music, which provides an overview of the duties and positions in the music industry.
Also, keep in mind that it’s a good idea to do a quick search on their professions and see if you can find specific lesson plans for them as well.
Now that you have great tools and materials for beginners of all ages, you should be all set to start creating your own beginner lessons.
We hope you have a lot of fun teaching and passing on your incredible knowledge of the French language!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach French with real-world videos.