We have a new unit up on our TeachersPayTeachers site to go with this post: French Winter Olympics Unit
New vocabulary goes hand in hand with a new unit in most French classrooms. I want my students to love learning new words in French! So how can you introduce it in a way that is engaging for your students?
These are some of the best ways that I’ve found over the years. (I am constantly on the lookout for new vocabulary ideas too – so please let us know in the comments if you have any ideas!)
1. Choose Your Own Vocab
This has been one of the best ways that I have had students engage in French units. I started doing this on my final practicum while teaching grade 7 FSL and have used it on and off ever since. I like have the class come up with their own vocabulary lists because they often think of words that I wouldn’t and it makes it more relevant to them (think suspenders, skinny jeans, and hoodies for a clothing unit!) I’ve gone about this a few different ways from having them look up a few words as an “Exit slip” type activity and then I compile a list afterwards, or generating a list of relevant vocab in English and having the students find the best translations themselves (we always double check as a group at the end). I have found that this works well to up the engagement in a class.
2. Mots Amis
Students love feeling smart – hey don’t we all? And I love the excitement (yes, excitement, in grade 8 French – it’s true!) they show when they already know or can take a good guess as to what the definition of a French word is. Those “Friendly words” or “Mots Amis” usually come up right away when students have a little time to look at a new vocabulary list and figure out what they already know on it.
3. Donne Un Mot, Prends Un Mot
This is a game I learned about at some point in my university degree (if anyone remembers where I’d love to give credit to the right person). I have used this almost every time I’ve done new vocabulary with a class. You take a 4×4 gird and have students fill out the first column with 4 words from their new vocabulary list (making sure they know the class on a whole needs to have a variety of words for it to work – so DON’T just choose the first four words). After everyone has filled out the first column students get up and walk to a partner where they exchange words by each taking turns reading one of their four words. If the partner gives them a word they don’t have they can write it down. One word from each partner and then they need to move on to a new partner. The trick is they can’t look at each other’s papers so they have to practice saying the words aloud.
4. Games, Games, Games
I believe that we learn best when we are having fun so… Board Scrabble, Pictionary, Charades, Password, Memory, Bingo – You name it, we play it! Not all the time obviously but I do try to incorporate a vocabulary game in once a week to help solidify the vocabulary in their memories. It’s much easier to learn words when you are using them on a regular basis.
So language teachers or language learners – What are the best ways to learn new vocabulary?