I’ve had several requests to compose a list of resources, games, ideas, etc. I use in order to create and incorporate effective and successful lessons while teaching in France. I am going to do this in multiple parts, and am thus presenting you with Part 2: A list of topics and ideas for primaire, collège, lycée and private lessons. For parts 3 and 4 I will compile a list of lesson plan topics/ideas I have used as an assistante at the lycée and BTS levels, and as a lectrice at the university level. If you haven’t already, please check out Part 1 here. **Please keep in mind that all of these topics are very general and can be geared/adapted to any level.
One of the most successful ways to teach a lesson is to gear it towards students’ interests. Do they like video games, horses, sports, reading, etc? Take the time to get to know your students, and plan lesson topics around those things. Here are some of my most successful lessons below:
- Beginning Levels- geared towards maternelle and primary levels
- Numbers- Count using your fingers, toes, etc; bring M&M’s (or something similar) and divide by colors (in English) and count); get students up and moving; have them count objects around the room; use YouTube videos!
- Animals– Sing songs; make animal noises to match the animal; play Animal Dominoes (matching the picture with the word); play I Spy or Memory, or Duck Duck Goose using animals they’ve learned (Cat Cat Dog, for example.)
- Weather- Use photos to talk about the weather and ask every class how the weather is; use a map with weather visuals and say, “It is sunny in New York” and have the student place a sun in NYC
- Basic Phrases and Questions- use songs, visuals, different voices, and repetition to learn, “Hello, How are you?, Good Bye!, I’m fine/sad/happy/so-so.” Reinforce every lesson!
- TPR (Total Physical Response)- This is more of a learning technique, but it’s the idea that especially small children love to be active and moving. Get them to stand up and give them commands, such as, “Stand up, sit down, Touch your head, run to the wall, walk to the door,” etc. Games such as Simon Says work great for these, especially if you have more than one person in your group!
- Months of the Year, Days of the Week- Again, sing songs, have them put the days of the week/months of the year in order, have them practice writing, ask them questions about themselves (ie: “When is your birthday?”) and depending on their level, have them point to the answer, respond in one word or a complete sentence, etc.
- Body parts- Use TPR to have students learn and point to their own body parts, or your body parts; have them find body parts in pictures, practice writing, etc.
- Clothes- Bring in clothes and have students do a “grab bag” game (“What is this? Oh, it’s a blouse!”)
- Food- Again, bring in plastic food, or cut out pictures of food and have them sort the food into fruit, vegetables, meat, etc. Have them play restaurant or shopping and incorporate other things they’ve learned (such as numbers, ie: “I need 2 apples!” and use your fingers to show “2” if the students needs.)
- Read books- Kids love to read. Find books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar or books that incorporate what they’ve been learning!
- Intermediate Levels
- First, use anything from above, but adapt the activities and challenges to their level!
- Describing People- Hair color, eye color, size, shape, personality- use flashcards, memory games, worksheets, or have students draw and describe their families/friends. A great game includes having them listen to you describe a “monster” and using the different colors to draw what they hear.
- Opposites- Big vs small, wide vs thin, up vs down, etc; use flashcards and memory games, apply to activities described above
- Verbs- “to be” and “to have” should be introduced at this point. Then build with the simple present and continuous present; LOTS of practice (written and oral) needs to be applied.
- Asking Questions- Have students start formulating questions in English; reinforce with games such as Go Fish
- Read simple books- With learning verbs and descriptors, there are a lot of resources to be used! Find things on YouTube, Google Books, your local library, etc.
- Countries/Nationalities- Get a map and start labeling! Use their recent knowledge of questions to ask where they’ve been, where they want to go, etc. Have them describe photos of celebrities using their nationalities, etc.
- Telling Time- Make a clock, label the numbers with the phrases (twenty-past, etc.) and just start practicing! Begin with o’clock and half-past, move on to quarter-past/quarter-to, and then increase difficulty. Use digital clocks, have them practice writing, and ask them about their daily activities (ie: “What time do you go to sleep?”)
- Getting to know someone- This can be integrated with Describing people or Opposites!
- Prepositions of Place (on, under, in, etc.)- start with photos of prepositions; have the students label, say, and learn them. Use four objects or so and direct the student, “Put the pencil on the chair,” or “Place the iPhone next to the television.” Then, have them tell you where to place the objects.
- Possessive Pronouns and This/that/these/those- very hard for French speakers! Get them practicing through reading, writing, and pronunciation!
- Rooms and items in the home- Have students go around the house and label items with post-it notes; have them create a map of their house or bedroom and label the objects, and present it to you
- Verbs- Start introducing the simple past (both regular and irregular verbs). Have students talk about their weekends, do worksheet exercises, read books, etc.
- Comparative & Superlative- have them compare characters from films, video games, countries, subjects, whatever they’re interested in!
- Advanced level
- First, use anything from above, but adapt the activities and challenges to their level
- Verbs- By now students will be ready for: future, conditional, past preterit, past continuous, etc. Use any activities above to get them talking and using these verbs in everyday life!
- Idioms- These are really very English-language based, and very fluent. Teach different expressions and use role plays or videos to reinforce them. I once played a game where I had a picture literally representing the idiom and the students had to guess what it meant.
- Scenarios- Doctor’s office, train station, airport, telephoning, etc. Teach vocabulary, create dialogues, analyze and label photos, participate in role plays
- Phrasal Verbs- This is possibly the most difficult part of the English language for non-native speakers to grasp. We use phrasal verbs all the time, and there is really no way to learn them other than rote memorization. Introduce phrasal verbs using videos, everyday expressions, activating background knowledge (ie: to get up, to get on, to get off). Again role plays, videos, dialogues, listening and speaking exercises!
- Homonyms / Homophones- Words such as sea and see, etc. Have students try to find as many as they can; there are a ton of worksheets and resources out there! Games such as memory or story-writing can be great for these kinds of lessons.
- Culture- By the time high school rolls around most students have a bit more global awareness. This is a great age to introduce culture-based lessons, such as comparing American/French high schools, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, presidential elections, etc. I will get into more specific lessons in Part 3, but these are great lessons for private tutoring or an entire class.
- Current Events- Study current events in English! Have students take charge and find articles in the paper, or find different stories about films, pop stars, music, politics, etc. This is also a great time to teach and organize debates.
Any other great ideas to add? Leave a comment! Stay Tuned for Part 3 about more specific lesson plans and ideas for high school, BTS, and university.