Bienvenue à la Classe de Français: A Novice Low Unit


In planning for the upcoming year, I really struggled with how to approach my introduction to French 1.  I have so many goals for these students, including:

  • I want to encourage the natural excitement that new learners have.
  • I want them to realize that language learning is fun.
  • I want them to understand that they are responsible for their own learning.
  • I want them to realize that they already have skills that they need to understand French resources.
  • I want to move them to start learning some aspects of the target culture AND (most importantly)
  • I want to help them achieve a Novice Low level of proficiency.

With these goals in mind, I designed the first unit as a sequence of lessons in which I would present a few basic words and phrases and then the students would complete a series of learning stations designed to help them acquire the vocabulary. By using learning stations as the primary vehicle for delivering this instruction, I hope to create a sense of self-efficacy in my students as well as provide multiple pathways to developing their emerging language skills. In addition, this lesson design will allow any students who miss the first few days (a common occurrence due to schedule changes, summer vacations, etc.) to work independently to make up missed lessons.  Lastly, using learning stations allows me to incorporate games and manipulatives that engage my students.

On the first day of class, the students will get an activity packet (French1unit1packet) and I’ll share this tentative agenda (french1unit1agenda) via Google docs.  I’ve designed each learning station to take about 15 minutes, so in each 48-minute period, I will begin by spending a few minutes introducing or reviewing the vocabulary with the whole class, have the students complete two stations, and then conclude with either a short whole class activity, such as a video, or a formative assessment (if it’s the second day of the lesson). Because I haven’t used these particular stations yet, I’m not sure about the timing.  If I find that the stations are not taking 15 minutes, I will modify the schedule accordingly.  Some of the reading activities may take longer than 15 minutes, so I will encourage the students to finish them when they have time at other stations.  Many of the computer stations are long, too, so I will encourage the students to work on uncompleted activities at home.

Here’s a quick explanation of the stations I’ve designed for each lesson, as well as links to some of the materials I’ve created. .

Lesson 1: Les Salutations

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice greetings.

Speaking: Students will practice two conversations, one formal and one informal.

Game: Students will play Memory to match French and English greeting words. Here’s a template (Greetings memory cards)

Writing: Students will write the conversations from the Speaking station.

Lesson 2: L’Alphabet

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice recognizing the letters of the alphabet.

Speaking: Students will dictate names to a partner, who will write them on a whiteboard.

Reading: Students will be given several authentic articles about forest animals and will fill in a table with cognates and other words that they can figure out based on context clues.

Game: Students will play an authentic board game that I purchased several years ago in France.

Lesson 3: Comptez à 10

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice the numbers 1-10.

Speaking: Students will 1) Dictate numbers to each other, 2) Play a loto game ( ABC_123 Loto )and/or 3) Play Memory using regular playing cards.

Reading: Students will complete an authentic color by number.

Game: Students will play Go Fish with regular playing cards.

Lesson 4: Comptez à 30

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice the numbers 1-30.

Speaking: Students will 1) Practice dictating numbers using a whiteboard, 2) Quiz each other using purchased flashcards, and 3) Play a guessing game.

Writing: Students will practice writing out the numbers by filling in a crossword puzzle (Crossword 1-30)

Game: Students will play Loto, Memory (Game Cards 1-30), and Go Fish.  (The same cards are used for both Memory and Go Fish.)

Lesson 5: Présentations et Géographie

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice asking and giving names and ages.

Speaking: Students will practice a conversation which incorporates several of the skills attained in the introductory unit.

Writing: The students will write out the same dialogue that they practiced orally.

Reading: Students will read an authentic article about France (France) and complete a comprehension guide. (This article can also be accessed through this link:

Lesson 6: Le Calendrier

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice calendar vocabulary.

Speaking: The students will complete a pair information gap activity (Famous French Birthdays )in which they ask each other for the birthdate of several famous French people.

Reading: Students will read an article about French holidays and complete a comprehension guide.

Game: Students will complete a pair activity in which they give each other clues to enable each other to fill in missing words on a crossword puzzle (xw Axw B) .

Integrated Performance Assessment #1

As the agenda shows, I’m going to give the students their first performance assessment at this point.  Although there are still a few lessons to go in this unit, I wanted my students to have performance grades on their interim progress reports, so I’ve included the short assessment described in the agenda. I plan on sharing this assessment in a future post.

Lesson 7 : Dans mon sac à dos

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice school supply vocabulary.

Speaking: Students will 1) Ask each other whether they have pictured items and either circle or cross out each picture and 2) Play Memory or Go Fish (I’ll use the pictures from the packet to make pairs of cards).

Writing: Students will list items in their backpack and complete a crossword puzzle (sac a dos xwcrosswordpuzzle) .

Game: Students will play Pictionary and Hangman with new and previously-learned words.

Lesson 8: C’est comment? (Students will complete all 4 stations in one day—they’re short.)

Note: Due to the nature of the teacher-created activities, which require the use of color, I’m not able to share them here.

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice colors.

Game: Students will play teacher created Loto game.

Speaking: Students will play Pictionary with colored markers.

Writing: Students will fill out a crossword puzzle.

Lesson 9: Dans ma salle de classe

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice classroom object vocabulary.

Game: Students play Pictionary and Hangman.

Speaking: Students complete pair matching activity (classroom matching )

Writing: Students write sentences describing classroom.

As the agenda shows, I’ve planned one review day and then it will be time to implement the 2nd IPA of the year.  I’ll share this assessment in a later post.

Note to Readers: All of these materials are newly-created and haven’t been used with students.  In fact, I haven’t even printed them for my own use yet.  As always, please proofread carefully!

(Photo Credit:

Bonne Rentrée à Tous!

67 thoughts on “Bienvenue à la Classe de Français: A Novice Low Unit

  1. Shauna Amiot

    I am in awe with what you produce- doing level 1 has been causing me so much stress- where to begin? I am so appreciative of your work and I rarely see such generosity in teachers sharing resources. We should all pay it forward and do the same! You are an inspiration- do you have a website? I love your work and it is helping me kickstart some enthusiasm for going back to school. Do you have a textbook? We are required to use “D’accord” and I am not “D’accord” with it 😉

  2. Dianne Tiner

    Wow Lisa! That unit is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing! One quick question, do you plan on teaching this unit and then not using the unit you have on school supplies since there are quite a few in this unit? Or do you still plan on doing that unit as well? I’m curious… Thanks again!!! You are awesome!!! Dianne

  3. Michele

    Thank you SO much for sharing your ideas. I am teaching French 1 for the first time in years. Your lessons and units are very helpful especially since I want to incorporate more proficiency based lessons this year. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to share your ideas.

    Quick question about the logistics of the stations…Do you have the two stations set up around the room or do all the students do station 1 and then station 2? Merci d’avance. 🙂

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Michele. I actually have four stations set up at a time. There are four separate groups that will rotate every 15 minutes so that there is a group at each station at all times. In this plan, each group will do two rotations per day. I hope that makes sense. Thank you so much for your note and please let me know if you have any more questions! Lisa

      1. Kerri

        Hi Lisa!
        I have a question relating to Michelle’s question. I understand that you set up 4 stations, but do you set up 2 sets of stations number 1 and 2 on day one. Then, 2 sets of stations number 3 and 4 on day two? I was thinking of setting up stations 1-4 and leaving them amongst the 2 days. Have you found out that they can handle working at stations 3 & 4 on day one?
        Thanks a bunch. I hope that I didn’t confuse you here:-)

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Hi, Kerri If I understand you correctly, I did the same as you describe. There are 4 stations and 4 groups of kids. The stations are designed to be done in any order. Since I planned on the students spending 15 minutes each day on stations, and I wanted to have part of my 48 minute class for other activities, each group did 2 rotations on each of the 2 days. Does this make sense? Did I answer your question?😃

          1. Kerri

            C’est super! Merci pour votre travail publié et votre réponse est parfaite! Je commencerai l’année scolaire en utilisant IPA. Je lis ton blog depuis un an et j’essayais IPA un peu. Merci mille fois!

  4. Isabelle

    Merci, merci, merci! This unit is fabulous, thank you for sharing. You have been my inspiration for starting using IPAs at my school. I can’t imagine the time you devote to creating these wonderful resources but am forever grateful that you are sharing. I hope I can create and share such wonderful IPAs one day.

      1. Isabelle

        Petite question alors que je regarde les leçons de plus près. Vous mentionez la Carte d’Identité de la France où vous avez créé des questions. Je ne trouve malheureusement pas le lien du texte. Est-ce un oubli ou bien avez vous un texte papier que vous utilisez?

        J’aimerais aussi vous faire une petite recommendation. Y a t-il un endroit où l’on peut envoyer un message privé?

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Salut, Isabelle. Le lien à l’article se trouve dans l’explication de l’IPA. Je serais tres contente de recevoir vos recommendations. Tous les commentaires sur ce blog restent privés avant que je les publie, alors je ne publierai aucun commentaire qui m’est destiné. Je serais contente aussi de t’envoyer un e-mail avec mon adresse e-mail. Merci! Lisa

        2. Emily

          The article linked in the blog post for leçon 5 is one about the countries around France, not for the article about France itself. The article that you need for leçon 5 is linked in the blog post about the IPAs, correct?

  5. Edit

    Your blog and your work are both amazing. I read it avidly and I have a few questions. Do you ever sleep? (that one is not a real question of course)
    My questions have to do with organization. My level 1 classes are very large (the smallest is 35 students) How many students do you have in your classes, and also how many computers? Or, do you have access to a computer lab?
    I have 3 student computers and it is plainly not enough.
    Are your desks organized in groups? in rows?
    I am really curious about the logistics of your work.
    Do you administer an IPA in one class session? It doesn’t look possible to me.
    Merci beaucoup de tout ce travail que vous partagez avec tout le monde. Vous etes tres genereuse. (accents won’t print)

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi! I don’t sleep a lot, but I’m passionate about my work, so I just try to think of it as a hobby 🙂 My classes are usually about 30. I have 8 classroom computers, so if I want my students to work individually at a computer (for stations, or the Listening on an IPA), I can get 1/4 of them on the computers at a time. In my school the computer lab is in pretty high demand, so I don’t count on being able to use it. An additional problem is that YouTube is blocked on my students’ logins, so I have to log onto all of the computers with my account, for listening activities (which are mostly from Youtube.) My desks are organized in little pods–four desks pushed together so that there is a pair facing another pair. It takes 2-3 days to administer an IPA in my class. On Day 1 everyone starts reading, and I start rotating groups on and off the computers. On Day 2, they do the writing while I call up pairs for the interpeprsonal speaking. Any students that didn’t finish reading or listening can finish it on Day 2, too. If I have lots of unfinished students, or if I didn’t get to everyone for the speaking, I continue finishing everything up on Day 3. I always have some type of enrichment activity available for the students who finish everything. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind comments! Lisa

  6. Shauna Amiot

    What are the themes you mentioned that you teach level 1 with? I see a few here on the blog but I am not sure if you wrote about them. Level 1 strangely is very challenging- I think you mentioned that, too!
    Not only is your work superb, but your reflections are so helpful. I am looking forward to making my classroom more “authentic” withyour inspiration! Just wondered how you outline your themes.
    Thanks so much,

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Shauna! Sorry I can’t be more helpful–I’m away from my computer for a few days. Earlier this summer I wrote a post about the themes I chose for this year. I think if you do a search on “themes” you should be able to find it. You could also try the “planning” link. I agree that planning for level 1 is hard. There’s so much for them to learn, yet they aren’t proficient enough to get a lot of details from authentic texts. It sure is exciting to see how much they can do by the end of the year, though!

  7. Anne Jure

    Merci Beaucoup. Votre publication m’aidera à mieux planifier mon cours. C’est interessant d’apprendre des anciens du metier dans d’enseignant de Francais comme langues étrangères. quelle générosité de votre part!
    Merci, encore une fois.
    Miss AJ

  8. Anne Jure

    Merci Beaucoup.
    Votre publication aidera à mieux planifier. C’est interessant d’apprendre des anciens du metier d’enseignant de Francais comme langues étrangères. Cela peut aider à rendre la classe plus relevante, plus vivante pour les élèves. J’admets que c’est un véritable challenge la planification. Quelle générosité de votre part!
    Merci, encore une fois.
    Miss AJ

  9. Denise

    Hi Lisa,

    Great work, and of course, thanks for sharing! I cannot even imagine how much time it took you to put this together.

    A few questions for you:
    –Does each lesson you outline take 1 class? Do you anticipate the entire unit taking about 3 weeks, including IPAs?
    –When students do the listening part of the IPA, are they using individual computers/devices, or are you projecting the video for the whole class? How many times can students view the video as they are working on this part of the assessment?
    –Did you by any chance use the Bien Dit series before going for all proficiency? It seems like lots of the themes you have chosen are very much in line with this series.


    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi. Denise. I included an agenda with the post but yes, I think it was about 3 weeks. I allowed 2 days for most of the lessons. Students are at individual computers for the listening part of the IPA’s, so they can pause and replay as needed.I did use Bien Dot for a year and kept some of the same themes, although I have planned a few changes for this year. Thanks so much for reading! Lisa

  10. Clarice

    Merci beaucoup! This unit is great! Although my second unit (in the text I use), is kind of a jumble of different things, some things in your unit have really helped to bring what I’m doing in class together and make things a bit more cohesive. Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Cris

    Merci mille fois!! Your units/activities are amazing!! Thank so much for sharing them! I was wondering if you happened to download the video for the 2nd IPA of the girl talking about her school supplies? My students started the listening last week and when they went online today to finish, the video has been removed. 🙁 If not, no problem, but thought I’d check. Merci encore, Cris

          1. madameshepard Post author

            Unfortunately, the girl who created this video took it off line and I don’t have a copy of it. However, if you do a youtube search on HAUL Fournitures scolaires 2016 you’ll find lots of similar videos! Lisa

  12. Shauna Amiot

    I would love a copy of the school supplies video if possible, thank you so much.
    Shauna (

  13. Andrea Zapor


    Thank you for all your hard work! You have inspired me to change the Frecnh program at my school. I was wondering though how you started class in French 1. What do you do the first few days to prepare students for the workload and the idea of the IPA? Do you discuss proficiency and the modes of communication? I love this beginning unit, but I want to also touch on what is proficiency and that students should expect to make mistakes in this class. How do you start your French 1 students? Merci!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Andrea. I think it’s a great idea to discuss proficiency and the modes of communication at the beginning of the year. Here are a couple of great resources: that you may already be familiar with. In all honesty, I didn’t use these ideas, because I wanted to get my students using the language from Day 1. However, I do think it’s very important that the students understand proficiency levels and I would definitely do more at the beginning of the year if I had a chance to do things differently. I really didn’t start discussing IPA’s until the students took their first one. Since I’m starting at a new school this year (and won’t be teaching French 1) I’m not sure what understandings my students will have about proficiency and whether or not they’ll be familiar with IPA’s. Thank you so much for your kind comments and please keep in touch about how your changes work out!

  14. Tatiana Vlasova


    Comme toujours, merci pour le partage et pour votre travail en général!

    J’ai une question à vous: est-ce que vous donnez des notes pour les évaluations formatives? Si oui, comment ça marche dans votre cahier de notes? c’est-à-dire, vous donnez des notes aux certains étudiants une classe et puis aux autres la classe prochaine et tout ça va dans la même catégorie/colonne?

    Je demande pardon si c’est trop à expliquer!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Tatiana, Je trouve que vous posez de très bonnes questions auxquelles je n’ai pas de bonnes réponses. A vrai dire, je change ma façon de noter les évaluations formatives chaque année. Ce que je préférerais faire serait de ne pas mettre de notes pour ces évaluations dans mon cahier. Malheureusement, je ne pense pas que les parents acceptent de ne pas voir des notes chaque semaine. Alors, quelquefois j’ai fait ce que vous suggérez. J’ai choisi un titre pour la note comme « Eval. Form #1 » et puis après une semaine tous les élèves avaient une note dans cette colonne même si ce n’était pas pour la même activité. Dans ce cas je mettais toutes les évaluations formatives dans une catégorie appelée « Divers » ou « Eval. Form. » Pourtant, dans mon nouveau lycée, ce système ne va pas marcher. Les élèves reçoivent un carnet de notes toutes les six semaines (j’ai l’habitude de toutes les dix semaines.). Par conséquent, je ferais une seule unité par carnet. Donc, je devrai mettre des notes formatives dans les catégories de compétence (Interprétation Orale, Interprétation Ecrite, Production Orale et Production Ecrite) que j’avais réservé pour les IPA dans mon ancien lycée. (Sinon, les élèves auraient une seule note dans chaque catégorie à la fin qui pourrait changer la note d’une façon dramatique.) Pour privilégier les IPA, j’utiliserai une note maximale de 10 pour les évaluations formatives et une note maximale de 50 pour les IPA. J’espère que je me suis exprimée d’une façon assez compréhensible et je serais contente de continuer cette discussion importante. De plus, j’espère que d’autres lecteurs vont ajouter leurs opinions ! Lisa

  15. Andrew Russell

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing this awesome resource. I have been looking for new and interactive activities for my exploratory French classes, and what you have shared is exactly what I’ve been searching for. I am so grateful for your generosity!

  16. Kathy Zetts

    Hi Lisa,
    In Lesson 7, for the crossword puzzle, is 13 Across supposed to be “un classeur”? I don’t see a clue; “un classeur” seems to fit, and I can probably draw one (albeit badly) for a clue (before I photocopy the page).


    Kathy Z.

  17. Kathryn Zetts

    I doubt I’ll ever be able to create such awesome resources, but maybe I can share something that some of my students did to make things a little easier on themselves (and indirectly, on me). For the speaking and writing stations where they speak a dialogue and then write it (page 16, I think, but I have Open Office on my home computer and sometimes that changes things), I had several students number the tasks in the dialogue, and also the lines for writing it down. A small thing, perhaps, but it helped me when I was checking the written work to make sure they included everything. Next time I use it I will number them in the packet.

    I also try to remember to change the type font, at least for the web links, to one that makes a distinction between upper case I and lower case l (the letter following k). My students end up typing the web links in and this helps reduce confusion. I have also tried emailing them the links, which sometimes works too. I am hoping that as I transition to google classroom, things will get easier. (prayers and positive thoughts are welcome, I am a tech neophyte…)

    My hope is that these small tips will help others using the unit…

    This is a great unit–a number of my French I students last year said that it was their favorite!

        1. Lana

          That link would not open at school for me either, but I can do the activities on my home Mac without any problems or warnings. At school a warning appears that my computer will be harmed if I proceed, but even after I click the option allowing it to harm it 🙂 it still wouldn’t open the program. So it’s either a filter issue or a Windows 10 issue or something entirely else, but the link works for some and not the others.

  18. Nathalie Gorey

    Bonjour Madame~
    Je cherche la leçon sur les nombres 30 à 100….elle a disparu?!! Aidez-moi s’il vous plaît!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Nathalie. I wish I could be more helpful, but I don’t see any mention of 30-100 in this post so I’m not sure what has disappeared. Could you give me more information? Thanks, Lisa

  19. Paula M. McLaughlin

    Bonjour Lisa,
    I am so enjoying your lessons as I prepare or next year. I was curious to know if you could share the name of the French game you said you picked up, having to do with the stations for the alphabet lesson. I love using authentic games and I like to use Les Petits Chevaux for the beginning numbers. Just curious what you found for the alphabet Thank you!


    1. Kathy Zetts

      I also would like to know the name of the game for Lesson 2-l’alphabet. I’d be willing to buy it if I could find it. Merci!

      Kathy Zetts

      1. madameshepard Post author

        I’m sorry but I left all of my games at my school when I retired. I think you could substitute any French alphabet game.

  20. Jeff

    Bonjour Madame! Thank you for sharing these resources. I cannot locate the links to the two IPAs mentioned in the lesson plan. Have you posted them? Did I just miss them somewhere? Thanks!

  21. Kathy Zetts


    In Lesson 4, the Memory Cards are labeled as being #1-30, but in fact are 11-30 (unless I missed something? entirely possible…). Not hard to work around, so just be aware of the need for a little extra time to generate those.

    Bonne rentree a tous!

    Kathy Zetts

  22. Pingback: Bonne Rentrée: 2019 - Madame's Musings

  23. Cheryl Shank

    in the crossword puzzle with the school supplies, what is the difference between picture 7 across and 11 across? I’m not aware of the specific words for different calculators.

  24. Cheryl Shank

    That makes sense.
    I have told my students to use
    ‘’un mobile” for cell phone and
    “un portable “ for laptop. So portable (which fits in crossword) can also be cell phone?


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