Category Archives: French 1 Units

Ce que j’aime – A unit and IPA for Novice Mid French Students


Having spent the first few weeks of the school year addressing the NCSSFL-ACTFL Novice Low Can-Do Statements, I know that my students are ready to take their first big step on the proficiency path toward Novice Mid.  I’ve chosen to focus on the theme of expressing personal preferences in this unit, as this topic is mentioned for each mode in the examples given for the Can-Do Statements. Based on my prior experience, I’m sure that these students will be excited to start sharing their own opinions of various activities, sports, music and school subjects.  Here’s packet of activities that my students will complete during this unit (French-1-Unit-2-Packet (1)). (12/11/19: A reader generously shared this vocabulary document.)

In the first lesson, they will read an infographic about French leisure time activities.  Click here for a Word document with the frames of the infographic.) This authentic text will introduce them to the important vocabulary that they will be using throughout this unit. After completing the comprehension guide, the students will interview several classmates by asking a series of yes/no questions incorporating vocabulary from the infographic. As a presentational writing task, they’ll write a letter to a prospective exchange student expressing their own preferences, as well as asking him/her some questions.

In the second lesson, the students will read a very simple online story about a girl playing basketball and complete a short comprehension guide.  They’ll also watch their first Trotro cartoon.  Although I’ve included the short answer questions I created in the packet, my students will instead take an online multiple choice quiz on Canvas, our learning management system.  At the time I originally wrote this comprehension guide, I hadn’t yet begun using Canvas, but I’ve since discovered that I really like using it for listening comprehension activities.  The multiple choice format provides valuable scaffolding and the program also provides immediate feedback to the students regarding the accuracy of their responses. For the interpersonal activity, the students will interview a partner about their preferences, and then complete a Venn diagram. They will then write 10 sentences comparing their preferences to their partner’s.

In the third lesson, the students will read another infographic and complete the corresponding comprehension guide as well as watch another Trotro cartoon. For the interpersonal task, they’ll play their first “Guess Who” game and then write sentences about one of the characters for their presentational writing task.

In the fourth lesson, the students will read an infographic about the Fete de la Musique. In addition to providing information about an important cultural event, this infographic will introduce the cognates used to describe different music genres. After another Trotro cartoon, they’ll ask a partner whether s/he likes a series of activities (represented by pictures). For this task, students will provide a more detailed response which includes a reason they like/dislike an activity.

In the fifth lesson, the students will read the first three pages of a document (originally found at:  that gives the results of a survey about French students’ preferences regarding school subjects. Although I haven’t prepared a comprehension guide, we’ll listen to and discuss this video as a class: .

In addition to the activities in this packet, I’ll project a few of the Tweets in this document at the beginning of each lesson to provide a hook.  Based on the discussion from last week’s #langchat, I am also toying with the idea of having the students respond to these Tweets (or others that I will curate at the time) in order to provide a more authentic context for their new language skills.


The context for the IPA in this unit is finding a keypal.  For the interpretive reading, the students will read posts to a keypal website. Although not closely integrated with the keypal theme, the students will watch an excerpt from the French film, Entre les Murs, for their interpretive listening task. The students will then write a post for the same website for their presentational writing task. (Students will be encouraged to actually post their response on the website.) The students will then interview a prospective keypal (classmate) about his/her preferences. Note: Due to logistics, I will be assessing the interpersonal task while the students are writing the presentational one.

Feel free to respond with any questions or comments you have about this unit!

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Bienvenue Partie 2: Designing IPA’s for Novice Low Learners

bienvenue2 In conversations about Integrated Performance Assessments, my fellow teachers often share their concerns about using authentic texts with beginners. There seems to be a widespread belief that true beginners cannot derive meaning from texts created by native speakers for native speakers. I hope that these assessments, which will be implemented during the unit I shared in yesterday’s post, will demonstrate that even Novice Low learners can read and listen to authentic texts when the tasks are designed to correspond to their proficiency level.

As I explained in yesterday’s post, I created two separate IPA’s for this unit.  As often happens in real-life school settings, instructional decision-making is influenced by many factors.  Because this unit will not yet be completed before the interim progress report grades are due, I prepared a short IPA to be administered after about three weeks of instruction.  This assessment will provide information to my students and their families regarding their ability to use their brand-new language skills in an authentic context.

IPA #1 (Revised 9/14/2015)

As you can see, I did not follow the exact order (Interpretive-Interpersonal-Presentational) that is recommended in designing IPA’s.  In this case I used an alternative format to better meet the context of the assessments, which was a visit to a Francophone school.  Therefore, in this IPA the students will first listen to an authentic video about holidays and then read an article about France from an authentic children’s magazine (Les Pays…08082015) Next, they will respond to a note from a student in the class.  Lastly, they will answer the school secretary’s questions.  Although all of my previous IPA’s have incorporated student- to-student interaction for the interpersonal task, I will play the role of the school secretary in this instance, as the Novice Low ACTFL Can-Do’s reflect the students’ ability to introduce themselves at this level, but not to interview others. This is the “secretary’s” script:


Comment ça va?

Tu t’appelles comment?

Comment ça s’écrit ?

Tu as quel âge ?

Quelle est la date de ton anniversaire?

Merci, Bonne journée.

Au revoir.

IPA #2 (Note: the video used for the listening assessment is no longer available, but a search on “Mes fournitures scolaires” on Youtube might provide a similar video. Edited 9/21/19: The text for my original IPA is no longer available.  However, Stacy Nordquist has generously shared a similar IPA that she created using a recent school supply list: IPA   List

In this summative assessment for the unit, I continued the context by explaining that the students were now preparing for their first day of school in their temporary home in Morocco.  Before the first day they will 1)Read the school’s list of required supplies (Interpretive Reading), 2) Listen to a video in which a student presents her school supplies (Interpretive Listening), 3) Discuss their school supplies with a neighbor (Interpersonal Communication) and 4) Make a list of school supplies they need to buy (Presentational Writing).

French 1 Unit 1 Formatives

As shown in the tentative agenda I included in yesterday’s post, I will administer a quick formative assessment after each lesson.  These quizzes are designed to assess the extent to which the students are able to identify new vocabulary words.  Any student who is not successful on any of these quizes will be given an opportunity to receive additional instruction and retake the assessment. As with the first IPA, the red text is teacher script and will not appear in the student copy.

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Bienvenue à la Classe de Français: A Novice Low Unit


(Update: 8/13/21: Unfortunately, after six years many of the links in this unit are no longer working, including the Languages Online Activities. An updated Bienvenue unit is available here:

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!

Paris: A Novice Unit and IPA

paris  Based on social media posts from my virtual colleagues, it seems that many of us are ending the year with a unit on Paris for our French 1 students.  In my case, I found that this unit was a great way to bring in some vocabulary for places in a city and transportation.  In addition, the students are gaining important knowledge about a city that many of them will have an opportunity to visit at one time in their lives.

Because I think it’s very important for the students to become familiar with various attractions in Paris, I began this unit with a series of learning stations designed to introduce the students to the tourist attractions they might visit on a trip to Paris.  Although these stations are based on authentic resources that I have accumulated over the years (and can’t realistically share here), I’ve included a quick explanation of each station.

Paris Monument Cards: The students read a series of cards, each of which had a photograph of the monument as well as historical information.  These cards were originally attached, forming a fan, but I separated them so that they could be read individually.  I bought the fan in Paris, but it may be available elsewhere.  If anyone else has this resource,  here are the questions I wrote: Paris Monument Fan (3/30/16: Here’s a link to purchase the fan from

Paris Listening Station: The students watched two authentic videos and responded to questions in English.  Here’s the document I created with the links and comprehension questions: Listening Station

Paris Children’s Books: I have two children’s books that students could read at this station.  They worked with a partner on the comprehension activity, so that four students in the group were able to read a book in its original form, without relying on photocopies.

Paris ID Station: At this station students completed a series of teacher-created activities designed to help them learn to identify each monument visually.  I included a Go Fish game that I made with photographs of the monuments, a matching activity in which they had to identify unlabeled photographs by comparing them to Paris monument postcards, a lotto game in which they had to fill a board by drawing pictures of monuments from a pile , an activity in which they had to identify monuments based on photographs I had taken at unusual angles, etc.

Paris Brochures: Here, the students read brochures that I have brought back from various monuments and answered comprehension questions. These brochures were a great way to reinforce vocabulary for days of the week, months of the year, and telling time!

After the students had completed all 5 stations, we spent a few days reviewing the monuments using a Google Presentation ( which I would project and ask questions about. To further reinforce this information, I had the students create Bingo boards on a sheet of paper.  For this very low-tech activity, they made a grid of 5 x 5 squares and wrote the name of an attraction on each one.  I would then give a clue (either a picture or a fact about the monument) and they placed a chip on the square with the appropriate monument.  Note: There are more than 25 attractions, so some students won’t have some of the monuments I describe, just as with regular Bingo.  Due to the simple nature of the language used, the students were able to understand my questions and clues for these activities with very little difficulty. As an additional resource, I created this Google Presentation with photographs only. ( .  Because I will eventually hold the students responsible for identifying the monuments visually, I wanted to provide an easy way to practice identification. (Note: There are currently a few extra attractions on this presentation. When time permits, I’ll update them so that they have the exact same attractions.) The students have access to both presentations, so that they can further review the facts and images from home.

After the students are able to identify the monuments and know some factual information about each one, they will begin preparing for their IPA.  This document contains a few structures and vocabulary items they’ll need to know and a couple of quick activities to practice the skills they will use on the IPA (Paris IPA Practice ) Namely, they will list activities they would like to do in Paris, practice discussing these activities with a partner, and then will create an itinerary for a trip.

After these practice activities, they should be ready for their IPA (French 1 Paris IPA ) which contains the following tasks.

Interpretive Listening: The students will watch a video about 10 Paris attractions and complete an interpretive task. Interpretive Reading: The students will read several pages paris 1paris 2paris 3paris 4paris 5paris 6paris 7paris )from a children’s book about Paris and complete comprehension activites. Interpersonal Communication: The students will discuss possible activities to do in Paris and co-create a simple itinerary. Presentational Writing: The students will write a letter to a family member in which they describe their itinerary and ask for a financial contribution for the trip.

This IPA, along with a simple assessment on Paris monuments, will be the final exam for these students.  I’m so proud of what these students have accomplished this year and looking forward to following their progress in the years to come!




A Novice High IPA on “Les Loisirs”


This week my students will be completing their IPA on Les Loisirs.  I’ve been really pleased with their work throughout this unit, and I’m looking forward to seeing their results on this IPA.  While I began my journey into proficiency-based/non-textbook/non-explicit grammar lesson teaching with a significant trepidation, I am thrilled with the results of my new methodologies.  These students are now writing comprehensible connected paragraphs about how they spend their free time and using a variety of present-time verbs with some accuracy.  They are able to discuss these activities with their peers and they can understand some details given by native speakers on these topics.  While their writing and speech are not grammar-free, I did not produce perfect speakers and writers when I taught using more traditional methods either.  What I know for sure is that this year was the most satisfying of my 26-year career.  My students, many of whom have diagnosed learning and behavioral disabilities, are experiencing academic success and feeling proud of their achievements.  I couldn’t be happier for them!

So, here it is, my penultimate French I IPA:  loisirs_ipa

For the interpretive reading task, they will read an infographic about French opinions of an ideal weekend and complete interpretive tasks based on the ACTFL template.  I have designed this assessment based on the ACTFL Can-Do “I can sometimes understand short, simple descriptions with the help of pictures or graphs.” My students have been reading increasingly complex infographics all year, and I know that they will be able to accomplish this task without much difficulty.

For the interpretive listening task, they will listen to two different news reports about leisure activities that are of interest to these students. The first is about technology-related leisure activities, and the second about sports and exercise. These resources will be significantly more difficult than previous videos, many of which have been cartoons, but I chose them because of their relevance to the topics we covered in class. The fact that many of the requested details are numbers, a notoriously difficult linguistic concept, will further challenge these students. Because this task is closer to what would be expected of an Intermediate Low-Mid learner, I will score it accordingly.

For the interpersonal task, the students  will discuss their leisure activities with a partner.  While I have not always written an interpretive task that is clearly dependent on the interpretive one, it is my goal to do so as I evolve in my understanding of evaluating students’ language performance and proficiency. Therefore, I have included a requirement that they discuss how their leisure activities compare to those that are listed in the infographic. Therefore, this this task will address the Novice High Can-Do “I can exchange information using texts, graphs, or pictures.”

For the presentational writing task, the students will write an e-mail to a hypothetical exchange student about their leisure activities, therefore addressing the Novice High Can-Do “I can write information about my daily life in a letter, blog, discussion board, or email message.”  After receiving feedback on similar messages that they wrote throughout the unit, I think the students will be prepared for this task.

While my district and state have established the expectation that students will reach the Novice Mid level of proficiency by the end of French 1, it is my opinion that this Novice-High assessment is appropriate for these learners.  Because each task is based on the theme we have been studying, I have higher expectations of this performance-based assessment, than I would for an unrehearsed assessment of overall proficiency.

Les Loisirs: A Novice Mid unit on leisure activities

browsing-15824_640As I began planning my French 1 units for fourth quarter, I took a fresh look at the ACTFL Can-Do Statements for the Novice Mid proficiency level. This is where I expect my French 1 students to be by the end of the year and I wanted to make sure that I addressed any areas in which they needed additional preparation. As I looked at the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do’s, I realized that I definitely had some work to do. The statement “I can ask some simple questions” jumped out at me. Many of my Level 1 students rely heavily on yes/no questions in their interpersonal communication. Although they have recently begun using qu’est-ce que and qui, I have not adequately prepared them to be able to ask and answer when and where questions as mentioned in the example Can Do statement. I also realized that they need a lot more vocabulary in order to adequately address the statement “I can communicate same basic information about my everyday life.” While they learned how to talk about what they like to do, I have not spent nearly enough time on activities that would teach them to talk about what they do/are doing. With these goals in mind, I began developing this unit on Les Loisirs .

Lesson 1: The students will begin by reading an infographic on French leisure activities and completing an interpretive task. They will then interview a partner about his/her leisure activities and the frequency with which s/he does each one. Next, the students will write a short paragraph about their own leisure activities.

Lesson 2: The input for this lesson comes from a video about French leisure activities. I will play the video as a whole-class activity, pausing when necessary to ask questions. While students at this proficiency level cannot be expected to independently interpret many details on a video like this, they can pick out key words. After the video, the students will complete an interpretive task in which they fill in a Venn diagram comparing their preferred leisure activities with those of a partner. They will then write a paragraph about whether they have much in common with their partner, based on what they learned when completing the Venn diagram. I have recently seen a new venn diagram maker for computers, so I may get them to try using this as it will help with learning how to transfer and represent data using different methods, e.g. written and digital.

Lesson 3: The input for this lesson will also be a video, in this case it is about video games. I think this will be a high interest topic for these students and will provide a good hook to the lesson. Following the video, the students will interview a partner about his/her leisure activities and complete a table with details that s/he finds out by asking information questions. The final task of the lesson will be a paragraph in which the students describe what they do during their ideal Saturday.

Lesson 4: As with the previous two lessons, this one will begin with a video. I should note that the reasons I have chosen to introduce these lessons with videos are a) My students always struggle with listening and b) Video interpretive tasks (as I use them during instruction) are less time consuming than reading tasks. Since I control how often I stop the video, rewind it, etc., I can spend as little or as much time as I need. On a reading task, I feel it’s important to give the students as much time as they need. Because of the diversity in reading proficiency in my class, reading activities often take an entire class period. Because I’m specifically addressing interpersonal communication in this unit, I want to make sure my students have enough time to adequately complete these tasks. In this lesson, the students will complete a “speed-friending” conversational activity. As a follow up presentational activity, they will write a note about which friend they had the most in common with.

In addition to these activities, I will spend lots of time asking personalized questions regarding my students’ leisure activities so that they are able to correctly answer information questions by the end of the unit. My IPA is still a work in progress, but I’ll make sure to include it in my next post!

For those of you that are assessing your students on the ACTFL Can Do statements, I’d love to know how they’re doing!

Spring Cleaning?: A Novice Mid unit on household chores

cleaningAlthough I had intended to include vocabulary and structures related to chores in my French 1 unit on the house, I ended up having to abbreviate the unit in order to administer the IPA before Spring Break.  I didn’t want to totally omit this part of the unit, however, so I’m incorporating this vocabulary and structures into a mini-unit that we will do when we come back to school.  I thought this unit was especially important because the house unit was very heavy on vocabulary and very light on sentence structures.  Although I was happy with my students’ performance on the IPA, they were able to complete those tasks by relying primarily on structures such as “Il y a” and “est.”  As we begin the fourth quarter, I want to make sure that my students are able to use a variety of verbs with different subjects.  While I won’t expect total accuracy at this point, I want to make sure that they’re beginning to develop an understanding of the idea of verb conjugation.

Click here (Chores unit) for the packet of activities that I will give to my students in this unit.

Lesson 1 (2 days) On the first day of this lesson students will begin by reading an infographic about how much time French people spend on household tasks and will complete an IPA-style interpretive task.  Next, they will play a Guess Who game (Guess Who ) to reinforce the vocabulary related to household chores.  Following this pair activity, they will write a paragraph about their personal responsibilities around the house. I will begin the second day of this lesson by playing the video and having the students complete the comprehension questions.  Following this interpretive activity, they will interview a partner about his/her chores and complete a Venn diagram comparing their responsibilities. Note: This activity is not included in the packet, I just have them do it on loose-leaf.  I like using Venn diagrams because they provide a context for practicing both first and third person verb forms in written form, while orally practicing the second person.

Lesson 2 (2 days) The students will also begin this lesson with an IPA-style interpretive task in which they read two different infographics about gender differences as they relate to household tasks.  Next, they will interview a partner about who does various tasks in his/her family, after which they will write sentences telling what chores various members of their family do.  Lastly we will listen to a video in which discusses chores and gender.

Lesson 3 (2 days) The students will begin this lesson by reading a comic about two brothers and how each one clears the table (PicPik) .  They will then watch a children’s video about a creative way that one girl clears the table.  This video will be very difficult for them, so I’ll provide lots of scaffolding as we listen as a class.  Next they’ll do an information gap activity (Chores Matching) to practice the vocabulary, followed by a writing activity in which they write a note to a sibling in which they explain how to do the dishes.

Click here for the IPA on this mini-unit. (chores_ipa-2015 )  Here’s a quick description of the tasks:

Interpretive Listening: Trotro range sa chambre cartoon video.

Interpretive Reading: Article about the types of chores that children can do at various ages.  All of the tasks can be completed by reading only the sections associated with the age groups.

Interpersonal Speaking: Students discuss their which members of their families do various chores.

Presentational Writing: Students write an e-mail complaining about the chores they have to do while staying with a host family.

I’ll be doing some traveling over break, so if it takes me a little longer than usual to reply to your comments, please know that I’ll look forward to hearing from you when I’m back home!


Maison Sweet Maison

Anonymous-my-houseIn between the standardized testing and weather days that have plagued my schedule over the past few weeks, my French 1 students have been learning the vocabulary and structures they need to both talk about their homes and understand authentic resources about French homes.  Although I would have preferred to introduce this vocabulary in a more contextualized way, I found myself relying on a more traditional format for this unit due to the limited time frame that I had and the amount of vocabulary I wanted to introduce.  Because these students had done so much reading throughout their previous unit on food, I wanted to focus on oral activities rather than written texts to reinforce this vocabulary.  As a result, I provided the students with a visual vocabulary list of rooms and furnishings (House packet) and then devoted one to two (shortened) class periods reviewing each room’s vocabulary using a variety of (mostly) communicative activities. For each room, I included some or all of the following activities:

  1. A short educational video to present the vocabulary for the furnishings in the room being studied. Because I prepared my list before choosing the videos, the words are not identical. If I teach this unit next year, I may modify my list to mirror the words in the videos, although I do feel the students can benefit from the exposure to additional vocabulary.
  2. A Google Presentation featuring two to three photographs of the “room of the day.” I would project the first room and ask students questions about what they saw in the picture: Il y a un lit? De quelle couleur est le couvre-lit? Qu’est-ce qu’il y a sur la table de chevet? Est-ce qu’il y a un tapis sous le lit ? I would then project the second picture and give the students five minutes to practice describing the room to a partner.  I then called on two to three randomly-selected students and asked them to describe the room to the class.  I assigned a formative assessment grade and written feedback to the students who were chosen for this informal presentation. Note: I will modify this presentation to include photographs of rooms in French homes, rather than randomly selecting Google Images if I teach this unit again.
  3. After these presentations, the students completed an information gap with a partner to further reinforce their vocabulary acquisition and oral fluency. I used the following three types of information gap activities in this unit:A) Matching: Student A and Student B each have a paper with the same pictures (labeled with either numbers or letters), but in a different order. Students will take turns describing their pictures and sharing the corresponding numbers/letters until they each have a list (on a separate paper) of all of the number/letter matches.B) Same/Different: Student A and Student B each have a paper with several numbered pictures. They discuss each one in order to determine whether it is the same or different on their papers. They then write either “M” for Même or “D” for Différent (on a separate paper) for each item.C) What’s missing: Student A and Student B each have a picture from which some items have been whited out. The students discuss their pictures in order to determine which items are missing from each one.
  4. After the information gap partner activity, I projected a short authentic video which featured the “room of the day.” Due to the difficulty of the videos, I paused them frequently to ask questions using the new vocabulary, but did not expect the majority of the students to understand more than the main idea of the video.
  5. Lastly, I projected an additional room photograph and required the students to write a paragraph describing the room. This paragraph provided an additional formative assessment/opportunity for feedback for these students.

Note: Although I had intended to include household chores in this unit (and this vocabulary is included in the packet), I will not be able to do so before our quarter ends next week.  Therefore, I will do a mini-unit on this topic after our Spring Break.

Here’s a link to Google Presentation with the photographs and videos I used in this unit:

Here’s a document with some of the information gap activities that I used in this unit: Pair Comm. Activities 

After these introductory vocabulary activities, the students completed the following learning stations (House Unit Learning Stations):

Computer Station: Students completed a series of interactive activities designed to reinforce the vocabulary for the unit.

Reading Station: Students completed an IPA-style interpretive task based on an authentic blog post comparing French and American houses.

Speaking Station: Students completed two different pair activities at this station.  In one, they discussed the respective house pictures in order to identify differences.  In the second, they took turns placing the magnets in the rooms on a commercial game and described their arrangement to a partner who placed his/her magnets in the same location. I listened to the students and provided feedback and a formative assessment grade at this station.

Writing Station: Students wrote a written description of their (real or imaginary) homes for a home exchange website. This assignment will serve as the rough draft/formative assessment for the presentational writing portion of their IPA.

After the students have rotated through these stations, they will take an IPA based on the topic of a home exchange: House-Unit-IPA , House IPA Reading

Interpretive Listening: The students will watch a short video—“La maison préférée des Français” and answer English comprehension questions.

Interpretive Reading: The students will read three different descriptions of homes currently listed on a home exchange website and complete an IPA-style interpretive task.

Interpersonal Speaking: Students will discuss the photographs of the homes whose descriptions they read and discuss whether or not they would like to stay in each one and why.

Presentational Writing: Students will write a description of their own home that could be posted on the home exchange website. Students are given the option of describing either their actual or an imaginary home for this task.

Although this unit does not rely exclusively on authentic materials to introduce and practice vocabulary, I think these activities will help the students memorize a significant number of high-frequency vocabulary items.  I will be curious to see how the more traditional vocabulary introduction will influence the students’ success on the IPA.


Bonne Fête de Saint-Valentin

valinte I took a few minutes in between parent-teacher conferences this evening to make a few short interpretive activities to go with some of the Valentine’s Day infographics that I found on Pinterest.  Here’s what I came up with:

French 1: V-Day French 1 Infographic

French 2: V-Day French 2 Infographic

French 3: V-Day French 3 Infographic

Note: I’ve placed a few text boxes over the content that I didn’t feel was appropriate for my students.  If you do any reformatting of the infographics, you might want to double check that the text boxes are still covering the adult content.

Bonne Fête!

Bon Appétit : A proficiency-based unit for Novice learners (Part 3)

bon-appetitAs promised, I’ve prepared additional lessons for my French 1 Mealtime unit around the themes of school cafeterias and restaurants.  If you’re new to my blog, you can find the materials for the first part of this unit here ( and the second part here (

Here’s a packet with the new activities Mealtime Part 2 and below I’ve written a short description of how I will implement each lesson.

La Cantine Scolaire (2 -3 days) I’ll begin this lesson my playing the authentic video using the projector and pausing it often so that the students can jot down answers.  Because understanding details from an authentic source such as this one is considerably above their proficiency level, I’ll invite the more proficient students to share their answers and I’ll add additional support by replaying and, if necessary, repeating the pertinent sections of the video so that all students can complete the task. I don’t generally take a grade on these activities, but I think they’re a good way to engage students at the beginning of a class, provide important (if only partially comprehensible) input, and are a rich source for cultural content. The students will then complete an interpersonal activity in which they interview a partner about his/her experiences and opinions of our school cafeteria.  I like to follow up these activities by using the same questions and asking the students to either give their own answer or report back on their partner’s answer.  My students continue to struggle in identifying the subject in a question that they hear, so these questions/answers provide additional practice in making this distinction. Although I have not included it in the packet, I would consider having the students write a short paragraph about their own answers to these same questions as a homework/writing assignment.  On the second day of this lesson the students will read a comic from Astrapi magazine (Pic et Pik p1 Pic et Pik p2) and complete an interpretive activity.  They will then write a list of cafeteria rules based on the language and structures they encountered in the comic.  I have designed this presentational activity to introduce the expression Il faut, as well as to use the vocabulary from the comic. Next, the students will interview a partner about his/her behavior in the cafeteria and then write a note explaining how their own behavior is better than their partner’s, so that they will be chosen as Student of the Month.  Lastly, I have included two other videos about French school cafeterias.  Depending on timing, I might show these videos in a different order than they are presented in the packet.

Le Restaurant (2 days) This lesson posed a real challenge for me.  I need my students to be able to use and understand phrases that are specific to ordering restaurant meals, as this was the goal for my unit and will be assessed in the IPA.   However, I was not able (during the time I had available) to find an authentic video that I could use to provide input or interpretive communication for these phrases. If you have any ideas, please share!!! Given my time constraints, I resorted to having my students watch a series of educational (not authentic) videos to familiarize them with the phrases they will need to know to order meals.  I assigned the first video as homework, so that the students would come to class with a list of the phrases that they would need.  I will start the class period with a silly restaurant song, and then have the students practice a guided restaurant dialogue.  I have several authentic menus that I will pass out to add authenticity to this activity.  The students will then read an infographic (included in packet) about dining out in Paris. On the second day of this lesson, the students will first interview a partner about his/her dining out habits. I will then project the photo (in packet) showing the terms for doneness of meat, before playing the (non-authentic) podcast of a restaurant dialogue.  Lastly, they will read an article about making healthy choices when dining out.

After this lesson, the students will be ready for their IPA, which will consist of the following tasks.

Interpersonal: The students will discuss various items on an authentic menu and then place their order with the waitress (Madame, bien sur!)

Interpretive Listening: The students will watch authentic cartoons depicting mealtimes.

Interpretive Reading: The students will complete an interpretive task on an authentic menu.

Presentational Writing: The students will write a message to their future exchange student about their own eating habits.

As always, I’d appreciate any and all feedback on these materials.