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Teaching French to Preschoolers - Start with the Basics

written by: Sonal Panse • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/2/2012

Looking for ideas to teach preschoolers the French language? Well, Bonjour, you've come to the right place. In this lesson plan, we will take a look at what to teach preschoolers who just start to learn French.

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    What to teach preschoolers who just start to learn French? Well, what would you teach them if you were teaching them English? You can proceed along the same lines, except you do everything in French. This is important. The more the children use the language, the more comfortable and familiar they will become with it. The immersion method - using the language directly with picture cues rather than other language translation - will lay a strong foundation for further French language study.

    To begin with, you can teach the preschoolers things that they are already familiar with in the English language and things they can easily relate to. Use some of these suggestions to get started.

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    Teach Everyday Greetings and Phrases

    You should make a point of greeting the children in French as they arrive and when they depart. In the class, pair up the children and create imaginary situations in which they will exchange the list of French phrases given below.

    • Bonjour - Hello/Good Morning/Good Day/Good Afternoon
    • Bonne nuit - Good Night
    • Enchanté/Agréable pour vous rencontrer - Nice to meet you
    • Au revoir - Good Bye
    • S'il vous plaît - Please
    • Merci - Thank you
    • Qu'aimez-vous? - What do you like?
    • J'aime XYZ - I like XYZ
    • Que voulez-vous? - What do you want?
    • Voulez-vous XYZ? - Do you want XYZ?
    • Je veux XYZ - I want XYZ
    • Donnez-moi XYZ - Give me XYZ
    • Où voulez-vous aller? - Where do you want to go?
    • Voulez-vous aller à la salle de bains? - Do you want to go to the bathroom?
    • Êtes-vous bien/bon? - Are you okay?
    • Donnez-moi un sourire - Give me a smile
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    Teach Words for Family Members and Friends

    Talk to the preschoolers about their parents, relatives and friends. You can have an illustrated chart showing a family and point out who is who in French. Have the children repeat after you and then point to a certain figure and ask them who it is.

    • Mère - Mother
    • Père - Father
    • Soeur - Sister
    • Frère - Brother
    • Oncle - Uncle
    • Tante - Aunt
    • Cousin - Cousin
    • Ami - Friend
    • Professeur - Teacher
    • Etudiant - Student
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    Teach the Days of the Week

    You can teach the days of the week, one day at a time. On Monday, for example, you can tell them that today is Lundi, and on Tueday, you can say today it is Mardi and so tell what was yesterday? Keep repeating and they will get it.

    • Lundi - Monday
    • Mardi - Tuesday
    • Mercredi - Wednesday
    • Jeudi - Thursday
    • Vendredi - Friday
    • Samedi - Saturday
    • Dimanche - Sunday
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    Teach Numbers

    Teaching number, like all the rest, will be easier if the preschoolers are already acquainted with numbers in English or in their native language. You can sing out the numbers while holding out your fingers. You can also mark out chalk squares with the French numbers written in them and have the preschoolers hop to the number announced.

    • Un - One
    • Deux - Two
    • Trois - Three
    • Quatre - Four
    • Cinq - Five
    • Six - Six
    • Sept - Seven
    • Huit - Eight
    • Neuf - Nine
    • Dix - Ten
    • Onze - Eleven
    • Douze - Twelve
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    Teach the Names of Colors

    Most preschoolers are fascinated with colors, so this ought to be a breeze. Get blocks, toys, cards, flowers, paints and so on in different colors and say the color out loud in French while pointing to each object. Once the preschoolers get the drift, you can mix up objects and have them sort them out by color.

    • Les couleurs - Colors
    • Bleu - Blue
    • Rouge - Red
    • Jaune - Yellow
    • Vert - Green
    • Violette - Purple
    • Noire - Black
    • Blanche - White
    • Rose - Pink
    • Orange - Orange
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    Teach the Names of Fruit

    For this, you can either get wax fruit or real ones, or simply use a chart showing the different fruit. You point to a fruit, say its French name and have the children repeat after you. If you get real or wax fruit, you can out them on a table and tell the preschooler to fetch you the one you asked for in French.

    • La Pomme - Apple
    • La Poire - Pear
    • L'Orange - Orange
    • La Banane - Banana
    • L'Ananas - Pineapple
    • Les Raisins - Grapes
    • La Cerise - Cherry
    • Le Pamplemousse - Grapefruit
    • Le Papaya - Papaya
    • La Pastèque - Water-melon
    • La Pêche - Peach
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    Teach the Names of Food

    Talk to the preschoolers about what they eat and drink, and then tell them the French names for these foods. Have a real or pretend meal and use the French words during it.

    • Le Lait - Milk
    • L'Eau - Water
    • Le Sucre - Sugar
    • Le Sandwich - Sandwich
    • Le Gâteau - Cake
    • Le Riz - Rice
    • Le Pudding - Pudding
    • Les Légumes - Vegetables
    • La Salade - Salad
    • Les Nouilles - Noodles
    • Les petits gâteaux - Cookies
    • La Sauce - Sauce
    • Le Jus - Juice
    • La Soupe - Soup
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    Teach the Names of Animals

    Get a well-illustrated chart showing different animals and discuss them with the preschoolers, all the while referring to the animals by their French names.

    • Le Chien - Dog
    • Le Chat - Cat
    • Le Rat - Rat
    • Le Cheval - Horse
    • La Vache - Cow
    • L'Eléphant - Elephant
    • Le Renard - Fox
    • La Grenouille - Frog
    • La Chèvre - Goat
    • Le Poisson - Fish
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    Teach Names of Familiar Household Objects

    Discuss the everyday household objects that preschoolers are familiar with. Get a chart showing these and tell the preschoolers what these objects are called in French.

    • La Maison - House
    • Le Divan - Sofa
    • La Porte - Door
    • La Fenêtre - Window
    • Le Lit - Bed
    • La Moquette - Carpet
    • La Lampe - Lamp
    • La Plaque - Plate
    • Le Verre - Glass
    • La Cuillère - Spoon
    • La Fourchette - Fork
    • Le Couteau - Knife
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    Teach Names of Familiar Classroom Objects

    Point out the different objects in the classroom and say their French names out loud. Play a game with the preschoolers, asking them, "Do we have this or that in our class?"

    • La Table - Table
    • La Chaise - Chair
    • Le Tableau noir - Blackboard
    • La Craie - Chalk
    • Le Crayon - Pencil
    • Le Livre - Book
    • Le Sac - Bag
    • L'Ordinateur - Computer
    • L'Ecole - School
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    Some Quick Tips

    I hope this was helpful in deciding what to teach preschoolers who just start to learn French. Keep lesson sessions short and light. These are preschoolers after all and there is a limit on how much they can imbibe at one go. Increase the vocabulary gradually, after the first words have been mastered. Remember, use the language regularly and in a very natural way. Praise the preschoolers when they get it right and increase their motivation to learn by -

    • Reading well-illustrated picture books in French
    • Singing songs in French
    • Playing games in French
    • Watching cartoons in French