Category Archives: French 1 Units

Bon Appétit : A proficiency-based unit for Novice learners

bon appetitMy goal for today was to complete my French 1 unit on food and mealtimes (See   for the breakfast lessons.). Although I didn’t get everything done that I had hoped to, I wanted to share what I have so far.  Here’s the packet of activities and resources: French 1 Meals Unit

While the packet is fairly self-explanatory, here are a few notes about how this part of the unit is organized.

Les Fruits. (1-2 days) For this lesson I will play a short video with fruit vocabulary using the projector and the students will complete a matching activity in their packets. They will then complete a pair activity in which they describe pictures to a partner who finds the matching picture on his/her own paper. (fruit pair act) I will follow this up with a formative assessment in which I describe a few of the pictures and the students identify which picture I am describing.  The students will then read an article about bananas and complete an abbreviated interpretive task. As a closing activity they will listen to a song about fruits.  I have also included a website for vocabulary practice and worksheet (prendre ws) for this lesson.  Although I’ve managed to avoid grammar/vocabulary worksheets so far with these students, I felt that it was important to focus briefly on form, in order to increase their accuracy and move them along to a Novice High proficiency level.

Les Légumes (2 days) The students will also begin this lesson with a video and matching activity from the Le Monde des Petits series. They will then complete an interpersonal activity (veggiepair) in which they describe pictures to a partner in order to determine whether they have the same or a different picture for each number.  As a formative assessment, I will ask a series of true/false statements about some of the pictures.  I will, of course, only ask questions about the pictures that were the same on both papers.  After this interpersonal activity, the students will watch a video in which a nutritionist talks about eating five fruits/vegetables a day.  Because this video is not from Youtube (which is blocked on my students’ accounts) I intend to have the students complete this activity individually using the department IPads. After the video, the students will interview a partner about their vegetable preferences and then listen to a song about vegetables.  The order of this lesson might change slightly depending on how far we get each day.  I would use the song as either a closing activity or as an introduction at the beginning of a class.  I have again included an accuracy worksheet here (veggie ws), as well as assigned a website for homework that they can use to review vocabulary.

Ce que les Francais mangent (1-2 days) After building the students’ vocabulary with these lessons, I will continue the unit with lessons to develop their knowledge of French eating habits and increase their overall proficiency.  In this lesson, we will first look at a website that shows how much of several different foods/dishes are eaten by the French per second.  After responding in writing to a few questions about the information at this site, the students will interview each other about the frequency with which they eat the same items.  They will then read an article about what the average French person consumes in a year (ce_que-consomme-1-francais) and complete an interpretive task.  Following this activity, they will respond to a series of statements by writing French sentences based on the same article.  Lastly, they will play a Guess Who game (Guess Who) designed to review some of the vocabulary for lunch and dinner dishes.  Because my students are familiar with this game, I did not devote space for the directions.  However, if you’re new to this game, each partner selects the identity of one of the names on the paper.  They then take turns asking questions about what their partner is having to eat in order to determine their partner’s identity.  (Tu prends de la pizza?) This game is easier for students when the papers are placed in plastic page protectors.  This allows them to use dry erase markers to eliminate identities as they ask questions.  I am also able to use this activity on another day, if I need a short filler.

Le Fast Food (2 days) I will begin this lesson by projecting a couple of MacDonald’s commercials.  Although I have included a few comprehension questions in the packet, I would not expect these students to be able to answer them independently.  Instead, I will play the video in its entirety, and then pause it frequently, inviting the students to informally (I just have them shout it out) share anything they were able to understand.  After the video, the students will read an infographic on hamburgers and another on French fries (fries infog) and complete an abbreviated interpretive activity.  For the following activity, they will interview a partner about his/her fast food preferences.  I have provided possible answers, to provide the necessary vocabulary to the students.  As a culminating activity for this lesson, the students will write a paragraph describing their fast food habits.

So, that’s what I have so far.  The final lessons for the unit will be organized around the context of the school cafeteria, and eating out/restaurants.  I’ll post them when I’m finished—make sure to follow the blog for updates!

As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you have about these lessons and am grateful for any feedback that you have.


Le Petit Déj: An introductory unit on French mealtimes for Novice learners

petitdej Although food is the last thing I want to think about after several days of holiday feasting, my syllabus says that my French 1 students will begin studying French mealtimes when we go back to school on January 5th.  Therefore, in my downtime during the first few days of winter break, I’ve developed the following unit to teach my students how to discuss and describe what they eat for breakfast as well as to compare typical American and French/Belgian breakfasts. Here’s the packet I will give the students which contains all the materials and resources for the mini-unit.   Le-Petit-Dejeuner (1)

I think these activities will take about 4 days, and this is how I plan on conducting each lesson.

Day 1 The students will first watch a short instructional video showing the students what food items are included in a typical French breakfast.  They will check each item that they hear and we will then discuss the correct answers.  Afterward, the students will interview a partner about how often s/he has each of the items on the list.  I will then ask a series of questions (Ton partenaire prend souvent du café? Ta partenaire prend souvent du yaourt ? etc.) before assigning the writing activity in which the students compare their breakfast habits to a partner’s.  If there is time remaining in the class period, the students will begin the interpretive activity in which they read an article about breakfast in Belgium. (Edited 11/5/19: Click here for the infographic. )

Day 2 I will start the period with the video (III) activity since I will be conducting this as a whole class activity using the projector.  After discussing the correct responses, the students will do the accompanying interpersonal pair activity, with a partner other than the one they spoke to in the previous day’s lesson.  Lastly, the students will have time to finish the interpretive reading activity about breakfast in Belgium.  Because this is an individual activity, I like to assign it as the last activity in the period to allow for differences in reading pace among the students.

Day 3 I will begin this class with a video (IV) after which the students will complete the “Guess Who” interpersonal activity.  After a couple of rounds of this game, the students will write a paragraph about their own breakfast habits.

Day 4 I will begin this activity with a short interpretive activity about typical American breakfasts.  After all students have completed the reading (early finishers can start the presentational activity), the students will complete the pair interview based on this article.  Lastly they will fill in a graphic organizer comparing French and American breakfasts.

Day 5 The students will take a formative assessment on breakfast vocabulary.

Whew.  Week one is planned for French 1—only 3 more preps to go!

Have a peaceful holiday season and winter break!


Joyeux Noël : A unit for Novice Learners


One of the great things about being a French teacher is that a wide variety of themes can be used to advance the proficiency levels of the students.  For this reason, I’ve always felt very comfortable teaching a unit on Christmas.  I know that the students will be introduced to a variety of vocabulary and structures as they complete the interpretive tasks in this unit and that the fluency and accuracy they develop through the interpersonal and presentational tasks will increase their overall proficiency.  While I have always focused on Christmas as a target culture celebration (avoiding religious-themed texts), the diversity of my students this year makes this essential.  In my French 1 class alone, I have students from 17 different countries!  As a result, my activities will focus on vocabulary acquisition and Francophone culture, with few or no personalized responses.

I will begin this unit by passing out a packet with the communicative goals, vocabulary, and structures for this unit.  In my French 1 class, I am going to concentrate on question words as a structure.  I chose this structure because of its important role in increasing proficiency in the Interpersonal mode.  I’ve introduced the vocabulary by presenting each word in the context of a sentence, which is depicted in a picture.  I’m hoping that this will help the students increase their sentence-length communication as we work on the vocabulary.  Here’s the packet:2014 packet_noel

For the next week the students will begin memorizing the vocabulary through a variety of activities.  For the first couple of days we will play a Loto game that I purchased from Teacher’s Discovery.  This helps the students hear the correct pronunciation of the words over and over again.  While I sometimes call just the isolated word, at other times I say a sentence which includes the word.  The winners have to say the words in their winning row, which enables me to provide further feedback on pronunciation. After we play as a whole class, I also have them play in small groups, with the students taking turns calling the words they need to make a Bingo.  This enables me to circulate around the room, providing additional feedback on pronunciation.

In addition to the Loto game, the students complete a variety of interpersonal activities to practice the vocabulary as well as increase their fluency and ability to negotiate meaning.  In the following document I have included three separate partner matching activities— each focusing on either snowmen, Christmas trees, or Santa Claus.  For each of these activities the students will number a sheet of paper according to the number of pictures in the activity.  They will then take turns describing a picture to their partner, who will tell them the number or letter of the picture on their paper which is the same as the picture that their partner describes.  Each partner will fill in the letter next to the corresponding number on their sheet of paper.  While I don’t grade these papers, I will often do a quick formative assessment in which I describe five of the pictures and they write down the corresponding number or letter, depending on which they have on their paper.  In this way I don’t penalize a student whose partner has given him/her the wrong number or letter during the interpersonal activity.  Here’s a document with the activities:noel_matching

In addition to these matching activities, I’ve created several activities which require partners to describe their picture in order to figure out which items are missing.  These are easy to create by beginning with a coloring page (see Google Images), printing two copies, and whiting out several items from each copy and then photocopying the originals.  I also have used Christmas stickers to make activities in which a pair of students are each given the same ten stickers (stuck onto cut up index cards).  One student places the stickers in a row and then describes each sticker to his/her partner (a binder between the two prevents them from seeing each other’s stickers).  After all ten pictures are described, they remove the binder to check whether they completed the activity correctly.

Throughout this week, the students will also complete a variety of interpretive reading activities designed to teach them about holiday celebrations in Francophone and other cultures.  I have included some interpersonal activities with these readings, but have changed the context of these interview questions so that they are not Christmas specific.

In this activity, the students read about Christmas traditions throughout the world and complete an interpretive activity: Quelques traditions de Noel dans le monde

In this one, they complete an interpretive activity about Christmas shopping, and then interview a partner as a follow-up interpersonal activity: Shopping de Noel dans le monde

The presentational activities that the students do during this unit will mostly involve describing pictures orally and in writing.  This skill is appropriate to their proficiency level and will avoid requiring the students to use the vocabulary in a personalized context, which I don’t feel would be appropriate for these students.

Here’s the IPA that I prepared for this unit: noel_ipa

For the interpretive listening the students will watch a video about a donkey who goes sledding.  For the Interpersonal speaking, they will take turns describing holiday pictures in order to decide whether each one is the same or different.  For the Presentational writing they will write an e-mail about French holiday traditions and for the Interpretive reading they will read an article about European holiday traditions.

Joyeux Noël!

La Famille: An IPA for Novice Learners

familyI have just enough time for a quick post before heading off to work this morning, so I thought I’d share the IPA that my French 1 students will be taking today. In this unit the students learned family vocabulary and how to describe people. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really happy with the reading I had used for the IPA on this unit last year, so it was back to the drawing board on this one. I think this one will work a lot better.

As you can see by clicking on the link below, the students will read the post of a family who is advertising for an au pair. I loved that this resource gave me a chance to talk to my students about a way they might continue their language study—maybe one of them will be an au pair someday? It is something that could be a real possibility with all the benefits it holds! The text is also rich with other vocabularies they have learned this year, such as sports and activities. Although the post does not provide much visual support, there are a lot of cognates and other contextual support. I included the link to the website, as well as the snipped copy of the post that I chose. I didn’t have enough time to read many of the posts on the website, and there might be others that work even better.

While I would have liked to find a listening excerpt that supported this theme, the videos that I found by au pairs would have been too difficult for these novice learners. Instead, I had to go with a “not quite authentic” video in which a native speaker describes himself, his family and his activities. I’ll keep working on this for next year—if you have any ideas, please share!

For the presentational writing portion of this IPA, the students will write their own posts in search of an au pair for their own families. Although having them write physical descriptions for this prompt is a bit of a stretch, I like the way that it recycles previously learned vocabulary and structures. The presentational speaking repeated this prompt, but this time the students were given the context that they were making a video to send to the au pair agency. With my students, it worked better to just have them present in class rather than making an actual video.

Link to IPA:Family IPA (revised)

What authentic texts do you use to assess the students on family and descriptions? Have you used an authentic recorded text with this unit?