Does your French classroom lack energy?
Are you using the same materials over and over again?
Are your students neglecting their books and being distracted by their phones?
If so, it’s safe to say that your classroom needs a change.
Students reach saturation point very quickly.
So what can you do to grab their attention and keep them on their toes?
Mix it up!
Here are some of the reasons why a variety of fun materials works, and our favorite materials that you can use in your own classroom.
Reasons to Incorporate Diverse, Fun Materials into Your Classes
- Engagement. Nothing kills a student’s interest faster than routine. Adding variety to your repertoire of material will increase your students’ participation in class and will help heighten their participation by creating a surprise factor. The point of keeping materials diverse is to constantly challenge your students. If they feel like they’ve been there, done that just a few lessons ago, they’re not likely to see the point of doing it all over again.
- Cross-curricular learning. Changing up your materials allows students to learn new things. It also provides an opportunity to go beyond theoretical studies since the material itself becomes a tool or a medium for learning. That’s because each theoretical element has its own use in context. By keeping your materials diverse, you’re maximizing the opportunities for your students to discover new topics and engage in new activities.
- Cultural awareness. Turning your classroom into an all-French zone helps promote awareness and cultural sensitivity, but like every culture, French culture is multi-faceted. It’s an all-encompassing stream of discussions and shared references that natives understand and can relate to. Culture is more than just books. It includes art in diverse forms, daily activities and games that have risen to iconic status, food and more. As such, you’d be limiting yourself terribly if you left out these other media.
7 Types of Fun French Teaching Materials You’ve Gotta Try
French Movies and TV Shows
Having your students watch French movies and TV shows is a solid teaching strategy for developing positive attitudes towards the French language. With movies, not only are you exposing students to the French language and developing their listening skills, you’re also building familiarity with the French culture.
There’s a wealth of online resources where you can find a range of French films and dramas. Viki is a freemium streaming site that offers a vast library of French content of diverse genres, including new releases and classics. Don’t miss out on “Priceless,” “H” and “Heartbreaker”: All are fairly recent, funny movies or TV shows that your students will love.
If you’re subscribed to Netflix, you’ll be happy to know that they, too, offer a solid curation of French movies and dramas with English, and sometimes French, subtitles. Netflix lets you find French content through their search bar, so simply type in “French movies” or “French TV shows” to see if there’s anything you like.
To incorporate French movies and TV shows into your lessons, try to pick one with a theme that you’re studying in class. The movie or show should serve as a support material for your discussions: The idea is to give your students additional elements to understand a subject related to what you’re studying.
Watch the movie or TV show together and ask students the following questions:
- What does the movie or show reveal about the topic you’re studying?
- What perspective does the movie or show share about the topic?
- How does it compare with what you already know and what does it say about the French culture?
Let them discuss or debate using precise examples from the material and their personal experiences.
Another element to discuss is the feature or show itself and how it was received by the public. “Marseille” may be just the show for this. A semi-recent addition to the Netflix library, “Marseille” has been criticized for being full of clichés, and France hasn’t responded to it the way many critics expected. It might be interesting to mention this, as this could be a way to capture students’ attention. High school students especially might find the idea of the show being so widely criticized funny, and you could open up the idea of writing or reading opinion articles about the show.
FluentU French Videos
FluentU is a language learning platform that turns real content made by and for French-speaking natives into fun, highly engaging study material. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
With a Teacher account, you have the ability to go a step further by assigning your students homework in the form of videos, which they can familiarize themselves with through ready-made quizzes and interactive learning exercises.
Students will love FluentU’s selection of videos by Cyprien, a popular French YouTube comedian, including “Apple Watch,” where Cyprien impersonates a very serious Tim Cook, or “An Apartment in Paris,” which discusses the realities of the real estate market in Paris.
FluentU also includes videos from “Un gars, une fille,” an epic TV show starring Jean Dujardin. Popular videos include “Cutting in Line” and “Does This Scale Make Me Look Fat?”, both so hilarious they’ll have your students rolling on the floor bursting with laughter!
There are hundreds more videos for French students of every age and level, which you can search by topic and format to easily fit into your lesson plans. Start using FluentU on the website, or check out the app for iOS or Android!
French songs are a fantastic way for your students to practice pronunciation and perfect their French accents while having fun. In addition, music does wonders in bringing your students together and brightening up the classroom. It’s also a full component of the French culture, so by adding songs to your repertoire of materials, you’re bringing your students closer to the Hexagon and the Francophonie.
Numerous platforms and sites will enable you to bring French music to the French classroom for free, including YouTube and Spotify. To find French music, you can either type in the name of your favorite artist or type in “French music” and browse through playlists.
Pandora is another option if you’re already subscribed, but know that Pandora doesn’t presently specialize in French music. Use it to build playlists and focus on popular French artists like Carla Bruni or Françoise Hardy, and let Pandora suggest related content.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most of these platforms incorporate ads depending on the video (if using YouTube) or your subscription model (if using Spotify or Pandora), so it’s up to you to decide what works best for you.
The best way to teach songs is to play them multiple times until your students get familiar with the melody. Ask them what it evokes for them, and what they think the song is about. Only then should you introduce them to the lyrics. Let them sing through multiple times until they’ve fully mastered pronunciation. Then, ask them again what they think the story driving the song is.
If necessary, clarify difficult words and expressions, but don’t translate them. Rather, try synonyms and provide explanations to help your students understand the overall meaning of the song. If you’re looking for a few additional pointers on how to use and select French music for your lessons, this article features a list of France’s most iconic songs.
Les “BDs” (comics) are the gateway to French literature. How so? Comics and cartoons fuse storytelling, French language and visuals to make reading more engaging. Highly entertaining, French comic books are a full-blown genre with their own jargon and cultural references. By using them during classes, you’ll be doing your students a huge favor: Not only will you be gradually steering them towards French books and written content, you’ll also be sharing a vibrant facet of French culture.
Many French newspapers are known for their cartoons: “Le Monde” and “Charlie Hebdo” feature satirical strips and drawings every day. This site gathers popular political cartoons found online and in French magazines.
If longer comics work better for your purposes, “Delitoon” and the “Titeuf” website offer approachable content for your French students. If you have another comic in mind, Amazon France lets you purchase hard copies and sometimes digital versions of a large selection of BDs. Otherwise, look for excerpts on Google Images.
The best way to teach using comics is to host un atelier de BD (a comics workshop). First, let students read as many cartoons and strips as possible using the referenced sites. Then, ask students to make their own comics. This site features an impressive database of empty comic strips and bubbles, so students can create and finish a story. No drawing skills required, only inspiration! Ask students to observe how comics are formatted in French, including sentence lengths, onomatopoeias and level of speech, in order to create the most perfect comic.
French Board Games
Board games support collaborative learning and are magical when it comes to helping your shyest students leave their shells. That’s because board games are universally fun. When playing them, students don’t feel the pressure of the classroom. They can be free and are more likely to communicate.
If your school doesn’t already have French board games, your best bet for authentic French material is Amazon France or the French eBay. These sites list various popular games for purchase, including Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly and Qui est-ce ?
Prefer to keep it digital? Not a problem. The French version of Trivial Pursuit is available for download on iPhone. Also, Happy Meeple and Boiteajeux.net include select jeux de sociétés (board games) in French for free. You can choose from a variety of games that students can play collectively. Each game incorporates a page that recaps the rules before they play in French, so students can get plenty of reading practice before they start the game.
To use board games, the best strategy is to follow the rules and let your students enjoy themselves! The only additional rule is to keep it entirely in French; any student who breaks this rule can receive a penalty.
Posters bring color, warmth and personality to the French classroom. They also help support your students’ learning skills through ongoing, passive memorization using visuals. What better way to remember something than by simply looking at it on a regular basis?
Numerous sites offer ready-made French posters, including Teacher’s Discovery and Poster Pals. If you have access to a color printer that can print large-scale sheets, Pinterest also offers a large selection of French infographics, learning boards and study materials that can make fantastic posters. To get started on Pinterest, simply sign up for a free account and browse users’ French language boards for inspiration.
Should you prefer a unique feel, Zazzle lets you print and turn your posters into a variety of formats, including the traditional banners or postcards, but also mugs and even T-shirts!
Alternatively, ask students to help you make your own posters. Head over to Michaels or Target and gather sheets, color pens, glitter and stickers. During a workshop, ask students to pick a theme for their posters and to include at least five new vocabulary words per poster. Let students arrange their posters using their own imaginations: The key is for them to incorporate the elements!
French Social Media
Social media is the learning platform of choice in the modern French classroom! Students live and breathe social media, so by enabling them to connect with French social media, you’ll be showing them that they’re perfectly capable of communicating with French natives and of understanding real French content.
To get started, ask your students to pick a social network and spend at least five minutes every day reading French content. Students like different online spaces, but Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and Facebook are widely used in France, and some of these networks let you change your language preferences to read their interface in French. Encourage your students to do so for a challenge!
Then, encourage students to follow some of these French celebrities or politicians online and read their updates and comments. It may not seem like a lot of content, but the key is to be regular. The more your students are in contact with these sites, the better they’ll understand French. They’ll also learn new words and casual, informal dialogue. And hopefully, they’ll choose to participate in discussions and make friends overseas!
And that’s it! Who knew using and finding a variety of French materials was this easy?
Now that you’re ready to take your French classes to the next level, what are you waiting for?
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