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Teaching school subjects to near beginners

Here is an easy and familiar lesson plan for teaching school subjects, along with practising je préfère and some simple question variations (inversion and word order variations). There is a cross-curricular aspect in that the students may make easy use of Excel. You may have taught and practised school subjects in a similar way.

1.  Teach the school subjects using a simple powerpoint with pictures, flashcards or just an English-TL list on the board. Use group repetition. If you have a list on the board in two columns, at some point hide the TL words and test memory from the English words. Perhaps use the "I'm thinking of a subject - which one?" guessing game. (10 minutes)

2.  Write up these three variations of a simple question. In French:

     Quelles matières préfères -tu?
     Tu préfères quelles matières?
     Quelles matières tu préfères?

If you are working in another language these variations may not apply and you could just skip this.
Do group repetition and explain how the inversion question is a bit more "correct" or formal, but that they are all used. You could even do a little pronunciation work at this point, stressing the different sounds produced by "e acute" and "e grave". Exaggerate the sounds of préfères to make the point. Leave the questions on the board for reference. (5 minutes)

3.  Explain that the class is going to do an opinion poll (sondage or enquête) on what subjects their friends prefer. For the sake of speed and clarity with most classes I would do this bit in English.) They are to stand up, walk around and ask as many people as possible in ten minutes what THREE subjects they like most. (Using three normally ensures no subjcet is left out completely - you need to watch this as the class may have a teacher or subject they uniformly dislike.) The pupils can draw their own little table in their rough book, or you may have prepared a simple sheet to fill in. They could use codes for subjects or tick columns if you have prepared a sheet for them.

Pupils simple note the name of the person and the three subjects they say they prefer. (15 minutes, including explanation and handing out of sheets or preparing of rough sheet).

When this active section of the lesson is underway stop it immediately if students are using English. Insist on TL use and police behaviour carefully. A few minutes in, do a quick recap on pronunciation of questions and subjects so no bad habits become embedded.

4. When pupils are sat down again, ask them to tally up their results. Calculez les réponses. then get some whole class feedback with question: Quelles sont les trois matières les plus populaires? Note them against a list on the board, reinforcing and correcting pronunciation where needed. (10 minutes)

5. This could be a homework, done in the ICT room or on a tablet/laptop. Students enter their results in an Excel spreadsheet, then turn them into a bar chart or pie chart (in French camembert). They can then print them off for wall display or to stick in their exercises book. They could write in the sentences: les matières les plus populaires sont... and les matières les moins populaires sont.... (20 minutes)

You will need to ascertain before the lesson from the ICT staff whether your class can already do spreadsheets and graphs. If they cannot, you can take them into an ICT room and teach them. If you cannot do this, then they could draw a graph by hand in their exercise books, or you could even arrange for an ICT person to come and show them how to do it in your class.

The oral part of this lesson can be squeezed into a 40 minute session with a fast class, during which time nearly all the communication will have been in the target language. The writing up section will get students focusing on accurate spelling. By the way, don't worry if your subject does not come out near the top! I often found that technology and PE were popular with younger pupils.

In a primary school setting, you will slightly adapt this lesson plan to take account of the different curriculum.



Comments

  1. Here's a nice cluedo exercise for a follow-up lesson - whole class, students take it in turns to guess your sentence and are told how many elements they have right but not which parts. They have to listen to each other to work out which sentence is correct. If someone thinks they have guessed before all the others and you still want the activity to carry on you can use them to tell the others how many are right.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/niles/14518691412/

    You can then play in smaller groups and go on to get them to write sentences of their own.

    Students are very motivated by being allowed to talk about their teachers like this, so you do have to stress that we're doing an exercise in French and not writing truthful accounts of real people in school.

    There's a bit more about cluedo and some lovely sentences people have used at the bottom of this blog post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That seems like an excellent idea. Never tried it. I looked at your blog with the example sentences. Dom has some good ideas, doesn't he? Thanks for leaving a comment. Not sure I have your blog on my frenchteacher blogroll. I'll check.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ah! Just realised you are not really called Niles, Alex!! Got it now! I had read your blog before.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Steve, sorry for the confusion - my blog is ten years old next month and it has done many things in its time, hence the pseudonym hangover.

    ReplyDelete

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