Do your French learners need a little help to improve their French pronunciation?
Maybe they’re on the right track, but you’re looking for unique activities because your students are getting tired of repetitive, old school speaking drills.
Perhaps you really want your students to avoid those common mistakes French learners make. Or maybe you feel that working on their pronunciation would benefit your most self-conscious students and help them come out of their shells.
Or maybe your students are feeling antsy and just really want to get up and move around.
Whatever your situation, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve assembled a collection of no-frills, all-fun active French pronunciation activities to not just boost your students’ confidence but also equip them with the tools to sound just like a native French speaker.
Why French Pronunciation Activities Matter
- They help clear up pronunciation misunderstandings. Let’s face it, French pronunciation rules aren’t the easiest for students to remember. Between liaisons, muted letters and different spellings that lead to the same sounds when they’re pronounced, it’s no wonder that your students need a little help to memorize all of that. Use these activities as an opportunity to put pronunciation rules to practice and give them plenty of exposure to how words actually sound in real conversations.
- They’re fun for all students. Students of all ages will happily engage in pronunciation activities that feature rhyming sounds and punchy rhythms and have an end goal: to win! Students like to mimic the sounds that they hear, especially if they’re interesting to them. In doing so, they’ll be perfecting their French accents without even trying!
- They build speaking confidence. Some students are reluctant to engage with others in classroom activities because of the added pressure. These activities take the gamification approach to allow your students to let go and focus on having fun. This allows these students to progressively improve their communication skills and gain the confidence they need to take the floor more regularly.
- Practice makes perfect. The more your students practice and apply pronunciation rules, the more easily those rules will sink in, and the more likely they are to speak again in another session. That’s because they’ll have gained the confidence and assurance they need to speak comfortably.
7 Exciting French Pronunciation Activities to Enliven Your Classroom
1. 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!
2. Imitate that accent!
This is a fun game based on listening and mimicking. It uses accent because unusual accent sounds 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.
3. 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!
4. 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. 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, yes, 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.
5. 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! Tongue twisters are great to use for this activity if you’re looking for sentence ideas. Write them down 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!
6. 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.
Ahead of time, 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.
7. 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.
How fun are these French pronunciation activities?
We’re convinced that your students will enjoy them and that they’ll progress quickly in their studies!
Bon courage ! (Good luck!)
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