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BBC French resources

The BBC is a mine of free resources for French, drawing on its archive of television programmes over the years. Cutbacks have curtailed more recent programming, which is a pity, but they have made a good job of giving easy access to older material.

So, here we go - the quick guided tour.

Here is a good place to start. Absolute beginners could try this starter page, an introductory guide to the French language, including simple phrases to listen to and repeat.

For beginners and near beginners the Talk French course is good, featuring short video clips which can be used in class to support your existing scheme of work. There are accompanying transcripts, worksheets and fact files.

The French Experience is for intermediate learners and was really aimed at adult learners, but if you search around you will find useful material for youngsters. Topics include travel, hotels and campsites, health and fitness, shopping and working life. The source material is a bit dated, but still useful. Transcripts are available for all programmes.

Ma France is primarily for adults, but there is nevertheless good material for children and I made good use of this series with Key Stage 4 pupils (intermediate). I recall enjoying the Unit 10 videos about eating out, for example. The series comes with an A-Z vocabulary list which you can also listen to. Some of the video material is re-used in a set of mini lessons which could be used for intermediate listening, either presented to a class or for independent listening.

Next up, some interactive crosswords which may support advanced level. Some good reading input here, with clues in the form of French definitions. Topics include cinema,tennis, winter sports, the Tour de France and Christmas holidays. It's a bit of a hotchpotch, so probably only to be used in support of a topic you are doing already.

To support very young learners as a parent or teacher The Lingo Show from the CBeebies channel has some simple, colourful videos which children can join in with. Topics include colours, food, clothing and numbers. For slihghtly older primary children there is a set of dedicated topics, probably best used presentationally by the teacher.

Then, at intermediate level, we have the Bitesize revision resources, which are for GCSE and Scottish Standard Grade. The interactive listening and reading tasks (tiered for GCSE) are considered useful by students. Good for homework or a session in the ICT room.

Want to learn some slang? Well, you can use Cool French. You can listen to and read phrases which are classified as familiar, very familiar, vulgar or verlan. This material is taken from the course French Steps which is no longer available.

Finally, you can have students test their own French at three levels: beginner, post beginner and intermediate. At each level there are 16 tasks which could be done in a computer suite for general revision before exams. I never used these with classes myself, but they look very usable.

Another way of accessing the video resources mentioned above is to do a search using the Learning Zone clips pages. Just search your topic and you'll see what the BBC has. Among the clips you'll find snippets from Jeunes Francophones, a decent series no longer available.

My favourite BBC programme over the years was the series Le Café des Rêves ("Serge, c'est pas moi!") for which there are worksheets on frenchteacher.net. If you can cope with old-fashioned cars, it still stands up quite well, but alas, is not available online. Plenty of schools still keep it on video or transferred to DVD if you can get a copy.

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