French + Math = 5 Ridiculously Fun Number Games

It’s time to mix and mingle.

We’re letting French out on the loose to connect with other subjects.

How will these connections benefit your students?

It’s easy as 1, 2, 3.

To make French more relevant to your students, all you need are numbers.

And to make these numbers fun, you’ve gotta use games.

Why Teach French Numbers with Games?

There are a number of very important reasons to teach numbers with games in French. French number games are useful because they:

Reinforce the importance and place of French in the mainstream curriculum.

Too often we teach French in isolation from other school subjects—we teach math, history, art, geography etc., …and French. All the other subjects have the common connecting thread of English running through them. English provides a sense of ease and comfort for the students, so the difficulty of understanding the teacher’s words or the texts is largely absent.

On the other hand, students sometimes perceive understanding even the basic instructions in the French classroom as an enormous challenge. This absence of a connection with their other subjects can send the signal that French is not as important as their other subjects. Math can provide that missing connection.

Including math, which the students are already familiar with, gives your students a sense of familiarity—a knowledge base on which they can build. Your students will feel a sense of connection between the digits they recognize in English and the new French words that are associated with those digits. That link allows students to see that French is relevant to them.

Provide a link to prior knowledge.

Math is something familiar to your students, but doing math in French adds some extra spice and fun. Students may not understand the French instruction you have just given them, but they can read the digits on the board. The numbers serve as a prior knowledge base, and the difficulty of reading, listening to and speaking in French adds enough challenge without being too scary for the students.

Be sure to beef up this prior knowledge with some authentic French contexts, however. A song or a video with a link to the math you’re teaching can go a long way. For that, I recommend FluentU.

Make all students equal.

The unfamiliarity of French serves as an equalizer in the classroom. Those students who find math difficult and feel very self-conscious about it may find that their superior skills in French allow them to compete with the better mathematicians in the class. This can be a great confidence booster, and the benefits of this increased confidence will extend beyond the French classroom into their other classes.

Require minimal preparation.

The games below require little to no preparation, and aren’t complex. That means they’re perfect for those times when your class has finished their work, and you’ve only got five to ten minutes left of class.

They’re enormous fun.

Your students are going to love playing these games. What more can be said? Let’s get to the games:

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5 Brilliantly Fun Number Games for French Classroom Delight

Here are five great games that work, encourage French language, require minimal preparation and create a real buzz.

1. Countdown

This fun and challenging game allows students to practice numbers as well as simple arithmetical operations such as plus (plus), moins (minus), multiplié par (multiplied by), divisé par (divided by) and égale (equals) in French.

Divide the class into teams of two students. Students get to practice speaking, listening and thinking in French.

  • A student chooses six numbers: four single-digit numbers and two numbers that must be chosen from 25, 50, 75 or 100. Then the student writes those six numbers on the board.
  • Put a 3-figure number on the board and give the class two minutes to arrive at that figure, using some or all of their chosen numbers. They must not use a number more than once.
  • When a team thinks they have solved the calculation, one student must explain it in French while their partner writes it up on the board, including the French terms such as moins, égale, etc.
  • The other students may interject, “Non, c’est faux” (No, that’s wrong).
  • Points are awarded for correct math and for correct explanation in French, but points may also be deducted for incorrect French. Opposing teams may be awarded points for a correct interjection, but are penalized if they are wrong.

2. Standing Bingo

This simple but effective game is a great time-filler that requires no preparation on your part, other than making or purchasing a set of bingo numbers for the caller to use. The caller is practicing speaking French while the other students hone their listening skills.

Here’s how to play:

  • Students choose 11 numbers between 1 and 90, inclusive.
  • Instead of playing normal bingo, everyone stands up.
  • A student volunteer calls out the numbers, in French. Choose a different student “volunteer” every time so that all the students get to practice speaking the numbers in French.
  • The rest of the class must listen carefully as the numbers are called. If any of their numbers are called, the students with those numbers on their card must sit down.
  • The last student standing is the winner.

3. Onze

This is another simple but fun game that requires absolutely no preparation on your part. All students must speak some French numbers and all students must listen carefully. To play tactically, the students must also think in French; they must think of multiple numbers and be ready to say them.

  • Students stand in a circle and each student in turn calls out numbers in sequence, i.e. un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix, onze.
  • Students may choose to call out one number, two numbers or three numbers on their turn, but they have to continue the sequence.
  • Whoever calls out onze has to sit down. Students will have fun trying to be clever, with the boys often attempting to get all the girls out, and vice versa.

4. Casser le Code

This great code-breaking game tests student recall of numbers, the French alphabet and French words as well. This game requires the most preparation of the five, but it’s well worth it. Once you have made up codes for all your teaching units, you can reuse them year after year.

  • Write the alphabet on the board and then assign a number in French to each letter, for example from 34 to 59 (this allows for practice of harder numbers) where A=34 and Z=59.
  • You must have prepared your coded words beforehand.
  • Then read aloud sequences of numbers from which students have to work out the word. You can choose words to fit a particular theme. It’s even better to let a student read out the number sequences, as it’s great French speaking practice.
  • Allow students to guess the word before the sequence has been read out in full, but they do need to say the word in French.
  • You can make this game easier for younger students by using numbers 1 to 26.
  • You can make this game harder by using higher numbers or leaving blank letters in the word so that the students have to figure out the missing letters from context.

For example, your number/letter code might look like this:

ABCDEFGHIJKL M
343536373839404142434445 46
NOPQRSTUVWXYZ
47484950515253545556575859

If your class were doing a unit on “Chez moi,” your list of prepared words might include the following:

“Maison” 46-34-42-52-48-47

“Ma chambre” 46-34       36-41-34-46-35-51-38

“Une télévision” 54-47-38       53-38-45-38-55-42-52-42-48-47

“La cuisine” 45-34       36-54-42-52-47-38

5. Running Chinese Whispers

This is a sometimes-riotous game for the last 10 minutes of class. You can sit back and just enjoy watching the students having some fun while they practice reading and speaking in French.

To play the game:

  • Write a good selection of numbers on the board
  • Divide the class into teams of at least six members who stand in a line facing the board
  • Stand at the back of the classroom and call over one student from each line. Whisper a number from the board to the students, who then run back to their team and whisper it to the next person in their line who passes it on in turn.
  • When it reaches the person at the front, he or she has to run to the board, find the number, slam it with their hand and shout the number in French.

French + Math = Fun

There are many benefits of adding math and number games to your French classroom. Teaching math in French reinforces the idea that French is a normal part of the curriculum and not just an optional add-on.

Math in the French classroom gives students some familiar ground to work with, and allows them to gain confidence in this new and unfamiliar language. These French math games encourage reading, speaking, listening and even thinking in French.

Making the most of these French number games will really add up to some effective learning for your students.


Bevan C has been a teacher of French, a traveler and explorer. He is now a writer and editor. You can find out more at: https://www.elance.com/s/writeintention/


And One More Thing...

If you love the idea of teaching with bite-sized snippets of authentic French content, you'll love FluentU.

How can video clips aid French teachers in class? Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps students ease into the French language and culture over time. They'll learn French as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:

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FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. Students can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help learners understand how the word is used.

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For example, if a student taps on the word "crois," they'll see this:

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With FluentU, students will be able to practice and reinforce all the vocabulary they've learned in a given video with FluentU's adaptive quizzes. All they need to do is swipe left or right to see more examples for the word they’re learning and play the mini-games found in the dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."

practice-french-with-adaptive-quizzes

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that students are learning, and helps them study at spaced intervals. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.

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