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Best games to teach children how to speak French

by Annette Gilleron, Learn French Lab

You don't need to be a teacher to teach your children how to speak French! The only requirement is to be able to pronounce the French words and sentences right.

Playing simple games with words and pictures foster French language learning with much greater ease and efficiency.

  • You need first to find games that give the opportunity to become familiar with the sounds. With these games, children have to "listen and do" in order to participate actively without being asked to reproduce the sounds yet.
  • Once the children are familiar with the sounds, you'll be able to choose games in which the children have to "listen and speak".
  • Finally, you'll introduce new games in which the children have to build sentences and ask questions.

And you can start teaching kids from the age of 2 with the following games!

I. Card games to "listen and do"

Flash card game

Allow the children to listen to each word by showing all the pictures one by one. Ask a child to display all the flash cards all over the room. Then call for each card in French. See if they can find the card you asked for. The player who collected the most cards is the winner.

Beat the teacher

The children win a point by jumping each time the teacher shows a flash card and says the word correctly. If the teacher didn't say the right word or said it incorrectly, the children must remain still. If they get it wrong, the teacher wins a point!

Bingo

Print off a Bingo template for each child. Each Bingo card should be different. The caller should pull out one image and describe it without showing the picture. Children will then be asked to put a token or something similar on the called image they can hear if it is on their card. Once a child could fill his card, he wins the game!

II. Matching games to "listen and speak"

What's missing

This game is great for testing your children's memory skills by placing a few flash cards in front of them. Allow them to study the cards by saying what the items are in French. Then, ask them to close their eyes while you remove one card. See if they can tell you which card is missing... in French, of course!

Dominoes

Shuffle the dominoes by turning them face-down on the table. Then determine who will have the first move. Once all the players have drawn their dominoes, the first player places the first tile on the table and says what it is. As the turn passes from player to player, if someone cannot make a move, he must "pass". A game ends when a player plays all his tiles.

Memory

The object of the game is to collect the most matching pairs. The cards can be matching pictures or matching words.

Shuffle the cards and lay them out face down on the table. The first player chooses a card, turns it over and says what it is ("un chien" - if it is a dog). Then he selects another card, turns it over and describe it out loud as well.

If the two cards are a matching pair (two dogs), then the player wins the two cards. But if the two cards are not a match, they are turned back over at the same place and it is now the next players turn.

Once all the cards have been won, the player with the most matching pairs is the winner.

III. Games to build sentences and ask questions

Bingo

Practice "être" (to be) with cards describing adjectives or professions.

Print off a relevant Bingo card for each child.

The caller should pull out one of the adjective or profession cards (eg: small/teacher) and asks the question "Qui est petit?" (who is small?), or "Qui est professeur? (who is a teacher?).

All the players who have the picture describing the word small or teacher should say "Je suis petit" or "je suis professeur" to win a token and place it on their card.

Once a child could fill his card, he wins the game!

You can also practice any verb with relevant pictures and bingo templates:

  • Qui chante? (Who sings?) ? Je chante (I sing)
  • Qui mange une banane? (Who eats a banana?) ? Je mange une banane (I eat a banana)
  • Qui dort? (Who sleeps?) ? Je dors (I sleep)
  • Qui lit un livre? (Who reads a book?) ? je lis un livre (I read a book)

Guess who

The object of the game is to ask the other person "yes" or "no" questions to try to guess his mystery person before he or she guesses your mystery person. For instance, your first question could be "C'est une fille?" (Is it a girl?). The other player answers by saying yes or no before he then asks you a question such as "Il a un chapeau" (Does he wear a hat?). During each turn, eliminate people with the answers received until your list is narrow enough to guess the mystery person.

About the author Annette Gilleron

Annette Gilleron was born and raised in France (Normandy), and has lived in London for 8 years and has been teaching French to children for more than 10 years while she was also lecturing at top universities in London and Mexico. Along the way, she developed a unique and creative teaching method for kids with a wide range of games and activities to support the needs of parents and teachers who want to help their children learning French. This method has been so successful that she decided to create Learn French Lab.

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