Fun Ways to Teach French and Promote la Communication Orale

If you’re a French teacher, I bet you’ve have had the same struggle with la communication orale as almost every other French teacher I’ve spoken to. It is important to have a bunch of fun ways to teach French to your students!

Getting your students to speak in French!

Getting our primary students to speak in the target language can be a huge challenge. Our students are young! It’s hard to sell them on the idea that learning a new language is a great thing. Why would the want to?! They can already communicate effectively in their first language!

There are many tips and tricks and ways to teach French out there for encouraging our students to speak in French. I’ll give you a couple more in this blog post ;)

When you’re looking for ways to teach French and to help your students speak French, I think there is one big thing to keep in mind.

Our students like doing things that they feel that they are good at!

So, if a student doesn’t feel confident or comfortable speaking in the target language, it’s going to be a lot harder to get them to do it.

That’s why I try to make speaking French as fun as possible for my students. I try to set them up for success in a way that is engaging and fun. I also structure it in a way where ALL students can try French in a supportive environment. The key think for me? I want ALL of my students to feel and be successful when speaking in the target language.

Today’s blog post is all about how I use whole-group games to help my students learn new vocabulary, new sentence structures, and how to have fun speaking in French.

Struggling with getting your French primary students to speak in the target language? Check out this blog post for some fun ideas and ways to teach French and promote la communication orale in your classroom!

Getting excited about la communication orale

Many moons ago, I was lucky enough to have the chance to shadow another teacher for the day to see the different ways to teach French to young students.

It was my first year teaching, and she was a seasoned veteran who had a ton of great ideas.

At my school, in a community where most students do not speak French at home (despite going to a francophone school), getting students to speak in French is a HUGE challenge.

The teacher that I went to shadow used the AIM program to encourage her students to speak in French. Our literacy mentor thought it would be good for some of our teachers to see it in action.

So, the grade one teacher (at the time) and I went together to see how it was done.

I learned a lot from that teacher. But, the big thing that stuck out was seeing how getting students to speak together, chorally, made French seem a lot more fun for them. Her students were brave, confident, and willing to take risks in the target language.

In grade one, I do not do the AIM program. There are just so many things to fit into our day and so many outcomes to cover! It’s not as effective a use of our time in grade one. But, I do believe in the program. So, I have tried to take some aspects of it and transfer them into other experiences. I try hard to encourage my students to be more comfortable speaking French.

For example, getting students to all speak together as a group!

Fun Ways to Teach French and Promote la Communication Orale

The advantage of getting all students to speak together

When you can get all of your students to sing, chant, read, or speak together as a group, you get so much more bang for your buck!

Think about it. If you ask your students a question and only have 1-2 students answer, each student might say 3-5 words. And that is IF everyone gets a turn to answer.

Usually, our students’ stamina is not long enough to be able to listen to 20 kids answer a single question!

But, if you ask a question and every single student answers together, as a group, then every single student gets to speak. If you ask a bunch of questions and everyone gets to answer all together, then everyone gets to speak a lot.

See? Much more bang for your buck!

During my communication orale block, I try to do a ton of activities where as many students are speaking as possible. This helps me ensure everyone gets ample practice with new words, new expressions, and new sentence structures. And, they’re all in the target language!

The other benefit to this is that students who might be too shy or nervous to answer a question on their own get to camouflage their speaking within the group. They will feel confident answering chorally with their peers, because you can’t really hear them individually. They have the support of their group to help them feel comfortable.

What kind of communication orale games do I play?

Whole group, there are two main games that I play with my students. But, I am always switching up the vocabulary words and sentence structures that we are practicing.

The first game that I play every year is called Le prof a perdu. I have talked about this game a LOT, included it as part of my Free Summer Challenge two years in a row, and I have another (detailed) blog post all about it.

You can click HERE to read the blog post. You can also sign up at the link below to get all of the materials and cards that you need to make your own version.

Le prof a perdu is the game that I get the most positive feedback on. A LOT of teachers say it has been a game-changer for them.

So, if you are new to that game, I definitely suggest checking that out first.

Here is the link where you can sign up with your name and email to download the materials.

Ways to teach French – Using chants to encourage la communication orale

Another one of my favorite ways to teach French is with group chants. I’ve created a few chants that help students learn some little rhymes and new vocabulary words in French.

Struggling with getting your French primary students to speak in the target language? Check out this blog post for some fun ideas for promoting la communication orale in your classroom!

The three chants that I currently have available are Ours, ours (for beginning of the year vocabulary), Oiseau, oiseau (for alphabet anchor words), and Cadeau, cadeau (for Christmas words).

All three of them have a simple chant for students to learn. There are also a variety of vocabulary words for them to practice. By switching them up throughout the year and alternating them with Le prof a perdu, my students stay engaged and are always learning new things!

How to do these communication orale chants

As I said above, when doing these chants, the goal is to have all of your students chanting and answering together.

This can be kind of strange for us teachers, because when students answer, they are basically pretending to answer individually, while actually answering as a group.

Remember, we want our students to answer together. This way, all of them speak as many words in French as possible. If you ask just one student to answer after each chant, then each student will only get to say 2 to 3 words… or maybe none at all.

This would not be an efficient use of your oral communication block!

To begin, display the chant where all students can see it. Even if your students aren’t reading yet, following the poster will help them remember the words.

Everyone should say the chant together. I like to have the vocabulary cards face down in a pile in front of me. After the chant, I draw one card and show the class. Everybody answers in a complete sentence, naming the object on the card.

Struggling with getting your French primary students to speak in the target language? Check out this blog post for some fun ideas for promoting la communication orale in your classroom!

For example:
Everyone (including the teacher): Ours, ours, brun et gros! Choisi un ours et dis le mot!
The teacher draws and shows a card.
Teacher: Qu’est-ce que c’est?
All students: C’est un…. crayon à mine!

After everyone has answered together, the teacher will choose one student who was speaking with the group. This student will take the card and put it in a pocket chart pocket, or stick it to the board.

I personally like to have students stick them in a pocket chart, but that is totally up to you.

If the group did not answer very well together chorally, I just have them repeat it after me. So, I will say the answer in a complete sentence and then everyone says it back together. It can take a bit of practice for students to speak well together as a group.

Putting the card in a pocket chart might not seem like a big “reward”, but my students are always VERY excited to be chosen for that!

Continue playing for as long as your students’ stamina allows, or until all the cards are used.

That’s it! Simple. But, everyone ends up speaking a TON of French!

Where to find these communication orale games

To find the games I have on TPT, just click any of the links below:

And, don’t forget that you can also learn more about Le prof a perdu by reading this blog post. Then, sign up here to download the game cards and materials you’ll need.

Remember, getting students to speak in the target language can be a huge challenge for all French teachers. If you’re struggling with this, you are not alone! But, activities like chants, songs, poems, and games can make a big difference with the confidence level of your students.

Children are more likely to do things they feel that they can be successful at. This means that it’s really important that we give them ample time to learn and practice their communication orale – and to do it in a way in which they are comfortable. 

Good luck and have fun!

Looking for more blog posts with ways to teach French and la communication orale? Click below!

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