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French has always had the reputation of being the language of “love". This might explain people from all over the world would like to be able to use French whenever dealing with something considered romantic.
Teaching students to express their love in French is a rather simple task in itself. This article will provide some pointers to help you, the reader, to teach this to your students.
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A. First of all, it might be a good idea to write down the topic of the lesson on the board before the class begins. Students tend to appreciate knowing about the content of the class they’re about to attend. Separating your main teaching theme in several sub-activities/topics should give a general outline to the students.
In this case, it could be as simple as writing: “Saying I love you in French". I personally like drawing some related pictures to get the students interested right off the bat. In this case, I would draw a couple with hearts floating around. Do what you think feels right, but going a little bit above and beyond is always appreciated and a great way to get the students’ attention.
B. Now that you’ve written your topic and added a few “extras" to get the students’ attention, it’s time to prepare your grammatical point. I consider it better to write down all the grammatical elements on the board before class begins or to have handouts already printed. Writing everything down in class is not very interesting for the students and is also a waste of valuable time.
In this particular case, I would recommend using handouts as there would be quite a lot of writing to do for the students which can get tiresome with time. You will also lose some more time as students write everything down in their notebooks or a sheet of paper.
Fortunately, finding the “conjugaison" of the verb “aimer" (to love) on the internet is very simple. I personally use a website called “Le Conjugueur", available here.
I have already picked the right verb for you so all there is left to do is to print the sheet and make some photocopies for the students. In this particular case, I wouldn’t try to teach all of the tenses, but then again, this depends on what your class objectives are. I would personally stick to the “indicative présent, imparfait and futur".
If you’d like, you can leave in some blanks which the students will have to fill in on their own in class. The students will then have to listen carefully in order to be able to fill in all the blanks on their sheets.
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C. From my experience, it’s always a good idea to take care of the “less interesting" aspects of your class first. The students just arrived in class and they’re not the tired yet. Explaining in depth grammatical rules at the very end of the class is a recipe for disaster in my opinion as a lot of students will be too tired to really pay attention to what you’re saying.
As class begins, proceed to greeting your students, in French of course, and introduce the topic of your class. It’s already been written on the board but you can try to find a way to warm the students up by having them participate about the said topic. This can be done in various ways.
I enjoy having the students tell me various ways of saying “I love you" in different languages. Most of the time, you will have quite a few students who can say “I love you" in a certain language. Write down what they’re saying on the board (or better yet, have them write it for you on the board!) and have the whole class repeat some or all of them. You shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to do this; it’s just a warming up activity.
Once you’re done, it’s time to take control of the class and start pointing out what could be considered difficult for the students about the conjugation of the verb to love.
I like to point out the following things:
1. The first person singular, when used in combination with a verb which begins with a vowel, should use the J’. You can provide a few examples of this:
2. Aimer is a verb from the first verb group (“er"). Giving a few examples of this can really go a long way in making students understand that verbs in French are conjugated a certain way depending on the verb group they belong to. Writing down a sample of the verb étudier will allow students to compare verb endings and to have a better idea how conjugating verbs of the first group is done.
3. The “imparfait" form of the verb aimer is especially difficult. Take some extra time to explain the verb 1st and 2nd person plural of the “imparfait" form which requires an extra “i".
4. Finally, for the “futur" tense, point out the presence of that silent “e" in the written form which is often forgotten.
Feel free to add some more grammatical points as you see fit. Keep in mind that this isn’t very interesting for most students however so make sure to get this finished without taking too much time.
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Getting Some Practice Done
D. As you are probably aware of, it has been demonstrated that learning languages involves some output from the students. In other words, explaining the grammar to them isn’t going to be sufficient. You have to find some way to get them to practice what they’ve learned.
This should be the most interesting part of your class as it especially important and will also take most of the time. I would encourage using teamwork (groups of 2) for them to practice. I try to have the students in each team change frequently the keep the class dynamic and prevent students from ending up chatting with their best friends about something unrelated to the class.
I try to be careful not to try to have them to practice too many different things. Although classes should remain challenging, having the students practice too many different things might end up being counter-productive from my own experience.
E . As far as the activity itself, I like to use nouns already covered in previous lessons. It is important to keep integrating what is being taught to a whole as opposed to teaching every single thing separately.
This is why I can’t provide a list of vocabulary word for this particular exercise as it will change from one class to another. You should have a pretty good idea about the vocabulary you’ve already covered in class however so it should be easy enough for you to print a sheet of some of those words.
What I would usually do is write down a question form such as:
Est-ce que tu aimes…
As well as the two possible answers to that question:
Je n’aime pas…
And proceed to give a few examples such as :
Est-ce que tu aimes le chat?
Oui, j’aime le chat.
Non, je n’aime pas le chat.
I would ask several questions to different students by using words in the vocabulary list until they get the pattern right.
Then, I would simply have the students take turns in asking each other whether they like or not the various items listed on the vocabulary sheet.
I hope this helped giving you some ideas for your class!