Technology is making so many things in our lives easier.
Why shouldn’t it do the same for teaching a French class?
It can be hard to keep the attention of a whole classroom, especially when teaching a language.
On the other hand, all these new apps and websites can be a bit intimidating, even if you’d like to be a connected teacher in the 21st century.
Do not worry! PowerPoint, along with other modern presentation tools, is easy to use and full of possibilities.
Read on to see the concrete ways in which it can captivate your classroom and make French class enjoyable for all.
Why Use PowerPoints in French Class?
Teaching and learning are no longer consigned to textbooks and notebooks. It is easier than ever to use an assortment of tools and methods to make new material more interesting, engaging and easier to remember.
Different students learn in different ways, and varying your ways of presenting new information can help all of them learn and keep class interesting.
Visual learning has many benefits in language learning, and using images can significantly help your students learn faster and better. Two particular examples in which using visuals definitely aides a PowerPoint presentation are teaching vocabulary and teaching culture.
Images demystify a new vocabulary word better than any translation. In addition, students will associate the new word directly with the concept, without the use of a translation. It is an effective way to help you ban English from your classroom—and a French-only classroom has many benefits!
One of the most exciting parts of learning a language is learning about the language’s associated histories and cultures.
You can show images of popular festivities, regional costumes, monuments or cities in French-speaking areas, just to name a few examples. Famous paintings, such as “La Liberté Guidant le Peuple” by Delacroix, can illustrate important historical moments and show the rich cultural heritage of France.
Visual tools will be much more effective at making your students dream about going to French-speaking lands than any exercise or story! But the best part about using PowerPoint is that you can take advantage of its many features to make your class more interactive, creative and exciting for your students.
That being said, you can always go beyond PowerPoint and explore other presentation tools as well.
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Specific Tools for Effectively Using PowerPoint in French Class
There is a huge variety of language-learning apps out there to take advantage of. Here are a few tools that work particularly well when making a presentation:
- Prezi is a great non-PowerPoint tool to make dynamic presentations. Instead of going from one slide to another, you move along a canvas—it is like taking your students on a journey! You can show the big picture, and then zoom in to different areas to get into detail. Plus, they have many great templates, as well as helpful resources for how to give an effective presentation. Not to mention, you can import presentations directly from PowerPoint and improve upon them here.
- Kahoot allows you to create your own learning games, to which your students connect through smartphones. It has a colorful design and will surely bring a lot of fun to your classroom. You can use it to test your students and make them compete to score the highest number of points. It is also a tool for encouraging cooperation and group work, as your students can work in groups to score the highest number of points. All of this while learning French!
- Speaking of quizzes, haven’t you ever dreamed of hosting your own Jeopardy game? Now you can create your own! In the same vein, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” is a great model for learning grammar.
- Videos are always winners, and FluentU is a great tool to use them.
This way your students are in contact with the same material as native French students, and will be learning while enjoying themselves. You can flash some FluentU content in the midst of a presentation, use the active learning tools for interactive fun afterwards, or you can easily embed FluentU’s YouTube-based videos into any PowerPoint.
Now that you know more what you can use to bring your PowerPoint presentations to the next level, here are six ways you can use them in the classroom.
6 Ways to Captivate Your French Class with PowerPoint Presentations
1. Animate your Presentation
Animations within PowerPoint slides allow you to hide and reveal elements, creating anticipation and curiosity. This is especially useful when teaching vocabulary and conjugation.
For example, you can begin by showing a new French word, let your class guess what it is, and then reveal an image illustrating the word. Keep your students at the edge of their seats! There are many different kinds of animations in PowerPoint to spark your creativity when deciding how to best present content.
2. Use Templates to Tell Stories
Telling stories and anecdotes is another great way to engage your students and make the material easier to remember. You can use presentation templates to create a narrative for your class.
Prezi has many useful ones. For example, you can move around a world map to showcase Francophone cultures around the world, or use a road to symbolize progress towards understanding a new concept in French grammar.
3. Embed Media
As you know by now, including images in your PowerPoint presentation can be useful for a variety of purposes. But you can also go further and embed other forms of media, such as videos or audio. This will allow you to take advantage of FluentU videos, or play the newest French pop song.
Media is particularly useful for practicing comprehension, to make sure that your students understand not only you, but also how native French speakers talk to each other.
4. Test your Students
If your students are getting distracted, there is no better way to get their attention than through a quiz. Project the questions on your PowerPoint slide, and you can either let your students answer orally to boost their participation or have them hand in a written quiz.
You can interweave small quizzes between your presentation’s slides to make sure your students pay attention, or as an assessment to know which parts of the lesson they understood easily and which parts they will need to review.
5. Play a Trivia Game
The question-and-answer format facilitated by PowerPoint can be taken a step further, by creating your own games to play during class. Your students are probably familiar with “Jeopardy” or “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and will undoubtedly be excited to participate themselves and show off their knowledge.
To further immerse them in the cultures for French-speaking lands, introduce them to the French-language versions of these trivia games. They will surely recognize the theme and style of “Qui veut gagner des millions?” and can learn the signature “c’est votre dernier mot?” (the equivalent of “Is that your final answer?”).
Or they might appreciate the three levels in “Question pour un Champion,” which call for different kinds of knowledge. To blend knowledge and strategy, you can create your own version of “Le Maillon Faible.”
6. Let Your Students Present
The best way to use PowerPoint in class is to put it in the hands of your students. Have them make a PowerPoint presentation in French to present a topic of their choice. Not only will they practice speaking, but they will also develop their presentation skills.
In addition, they can use all the tools previously mentioned. You will be encouraging them to think creatively about what they know, how they learn and how they can pass on information to their fellow students. Plus, if they are delving into a topic they are passionate about, they will be learning more French than they realize!
You have many tools at your fingertips to take advantage of digital resources for language teaching, and now you are familiar with a few useful (and fun!) ones.
So, get creative with PowerPoint and other presentation tools, harness all the possibilities they offer for a class and start creating presentations that both you and your students will enjoy!
Rebecca Smith was born and raised in Paris, France, and has lived in the USA, Hungary and Spain. For the past two years, she has been a private French tutor, passing her passion for her native language to students of all ages and levels.