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Five zero preparation writing activities

This is another brief extract from a draft chapter on writing from our handbook. The latter is gradually taking shape. Gianfranco and I have so many ideas to share! If you have any, do let us know via Twitter or email via frenchteacher.net.

With intermediate groups you can lead a question-answer sequence on a topic, e.g. ‘Describe where you live’ or ‘My school’. As students give answers you can write up partial answers on the board. Students can copy these, filling any gaps as appropriate. If they do not have time they complete the sentences at home. They end up with a reasonably or wholly accurate piece of writing which they can use later for oral practice or exam revision. This makes for a multi-skill lesson with all students actively engaged.

With all levels, when you have worked orally on a text you can improvise questions to which students have to give written answers. You can offer a little support by starting answers for them when needed.

With intermediate students and above you can make up L1 sentences which the class has to translate. These could be delivered orally or written on the board. You could give partial answers if needed.

For intermediate students give students a title to write about, without a dictionary. Give a time limit and reward students who write the most in the time limit (say, 20 minutes). Titles might include ‘Last weekend’, ‘My summer holiday’ or ‘My favourite foods’. If you choose a topic students have recently worked on, they should have material to write.

Do classic dictation based on your current topic. Make sure that it is not too difficult and that it comes towards the end of a sequence of lessons. You can assess the dictation by counting mistakes or by taking the number of errors of a total, for example 50. Dictation is much easier in German or Spanish than French. In France dictation is frequently practised by young native speakers.

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1. My weekend

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