Having exciting, yet effective teaching activities is of paramount importance when you want your students to learn and be interested in what you’re teaching. My favorite activities put an emphasis on having fun while also learning. Of course, my students do more conventional activities most of the time, activities that have been effective throughout the years, although I might give them a twist or two. Having myself been in a good dozen of language classes, I know which kind of activities appeal to a learner and which he or she will find the most useful. As a teacher, I also know which activities might feel tiresome, but actually yield great results which is why I try to find a good blend of the two.
Here are a few of the activities I did with my French 203 (intermediate level) class at Duke University in 2015/16.
These might be the ones students dislike most, yet actually need to do the most. Which is why I always try to make these kinds of exercices interesting or at the very least feel relevant for the students.
A competitive game full of pop-culture references that is fun and teaches the imperative form.
This activity is a rather classic one about negations. However, it is made more interesting by linking the sentences of the exercice to a movie the students had all previously seen.
Reading is an essential part of learning a foreign language which is why in the textbook my course used, an important number of texts of different genres could be read. The reading activity I present here, however, is one that is not from said textbook, but one that I used as an additional document to improve the students’ reading skills.
Another exercice linked to a movie the students had previously seen. This is an interview with one of the actors and a few questions to challenge their reading skills.
Seeing as how students in FL-teaching today are asked to speak as much as possible during class, I didn’t want to put any of the speaking activities from my class here. Rather, I wanted to show a home assignment of how you could also make your students speak outside of the classroom and make them use French in a different environment and in a realistic way.
Preparing a trip in France, comparing prices, searching on different sites – and then talking about it and recording what you say. A great task that can teach students a lot about how to travel abroad. The recordings were then posted on a Voicethread that every student (and myself) could access and where they could also listen to their peers’ findings.
I show my students a lot of videos throughout the semester and I like making them listen to some French music from time to time. However, showing videos just for the video’s sake would not be useful, which is why the videos and songs I use are always directly linked to the lesson’s subject matter.
As we were doing a chapter on immigration, I felt it was necessary to show my students an actual news broadcast on the EU refugee crisis. It was also an occasion to test their listening comprehension skills.
The interview the students watched (the link for the interview)
Le Petit Journal – Syrian refugees (the activity they had to do)