written by: Audrey Alleyne
• edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• updated: 10/25/2013
Beginners of French at any age will enjoy learning this new language with any of the children’s beginning French activities mentioned here. Simply adapt them to suit your classroom needs.
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How to Begin
Begin with the alphabet and an imitated pronunciation. This is a necessary step which should not be neglected in teaching a language. Follow with numbers starting with 1 to 10 and then working gradually in tens until 100. Next, teach basic colors. Each lesson should last about 20 minutes.
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ABC Fun Activities
Test your students’ knowledge of the alphabet while introducing them to greetings and asking someone’s name. Spelling names will be the first activity: students can spell their own names in French as well as some French names which you may distribute to them individually. An ABC game you can play is one called ABC Bingo. Give each student a card with 16 squares. Each square should contain a different letter. The teacher pulls out letters from an envelope, basket or can and calls them in French. The first student to cross all the letters on his/her card wins the game. The teacher should provide a small prize.
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A Fun Number Game
Here is real fun game which will help students to learn to count quickly. Students stand in a circle or in a line and count the numbers from one to 10 in French. When playing in a circle, there is added fun as anyone can reverse the order of counting by saying "zéro." For example, students count up to "cinq" and the one who just said "cinq" or another student or the teacher can shout "zéro": this means that students continue counting counterclockwise. If a student hesitates too long to say the next number, he/she sits out.
When students have learned to count to 10, the game can be modified by them counting up to 20, then 30, then 50. The game can further be modified by students counting the numbers in reverse from 50 to one. Advanced beginners can play this game starting from one and counting to 100 and reverse. The teacher should award points or prizes for this game.
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The Joy of Learning Colors
The study of numbers can continue by being incorporated into the learning of colors. Start with numbers 1 through 10 and gradually work in tens to the number 100. Give students worksheets with the numbers 1 through 10. Give them instructions in French to color the numbers in different colors. They can also draw clothes in their scrapbooks and color them, as well as collate cutouts of clothes from magazines and label the colors. Oral practice can come in the form of students asking each other the color of their clothes, hair, eyes, etc. The ABC Bingo game can also be adapted to practice colors.
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Great Nursery Rhymes and Songs
These are a must in teaching kids French. "Frère Jacques" and "Alouette" are two of the most common songs which almost every English-speaking child learns in primary school. Refresh students’ minds with them, as well as other rhymes and folk songs found in the references, and have them sing along. Learning the French language can be promoted by the use of music for any age. Use visual aids by way of DVDs for songs and kids’ movies. This can be a welcome break in French classes.
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You'll Love This Vocabulary Game
Finally, put it altogether with vocabulary activities. When teaching the alphabet, give students at least three words for each of the 26 letters. Include at least one French name of a male or female person for each word. Just like how they learned the English alphabet with "A for apple, B for bat, C for cat ... V for van, etc." For example:
A a — ami (e), André (é), alligator
B b — bateau, Bernard, bébé
C c — chat, Chantal, chocolat
Now, vocabulary can be tested with game called “How Many Words Do I Know?" The teacher gives students one minute to write two words for each letter called using the French alphabet. Students may write any of the words they learned in class, or any new words they learned on their own.
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Beginner students of any age will have fun learning and understanding French with these activities. In addition, the vocabulary will be much more memorable.