Skip to main content

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 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.


Popular posts from this blog

Tell stories


How can we make listening more enjoyable and effective for pupils? How can we turn it from a potential chore to something more memorable (and therefore more likely to stick in their long term memories)? I am of the opinion that since humans are "wired" to engage in personal listening and speaking (the expression "social brain" has been used in this context), they may be more interested and attentive when the message comes from a real person rather than a disembodied audio source. (This may or may not be relevant, but research has been carried out which demonstrates that babies pick up phonological patterns better when they listen to a caregiver rather than listen to a tape or watch a video - see here for summaries of research into this area by Patricia Kuhl.)

One easy way to make listening stimulating for pupils is to tell them easy stories in the target language. I was reminded of this while reading Penny Ur's book 100 Teaching Tips (reviewed here

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’( The point i…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…