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A useful starter for beginners

The main reason French is one of the easier languages for our students to learn is, of course, the presence of so many cognates, those words with similar meanings which look and therefore sound the same across languages. This means that even beginners can pick up the meaning of new spoken or written utterances. Furthermore, students can work out meanings by other cues in a sentence, such as a name or place, or their general knowledge of the world.

Here is a useful, low preparation starter you could use with your beginners. It's a list of 25 statements you could show to help them realise how they can use cognates and other cues to infer meaning. You could display these as a list and get pupils, to a time limit (I would suggest no more than 5 minutes - create a sense of urgency) to write down what each one means in English. That could then be the cue for a brief discussion about what cues or strategies students can use to help them understand what they hear or read.

Then, at the end of the lesson, you could repeat the task as a listening activity. Simply read out each sentence twice for the class to write down the meaning in English. You could lessen the difficulty for weaker groups by providing a list of meanings in English for students to tick off.

Here's my list. You could make up others which might refer to your own class.

1. Je m'appelle Steve Smith.
2. J'habite Paris en France.
3. J'adore le football et le tennis.
4. Je déteste les mathématiques.
5. Je collectionne les Pokémon.
6. Mon téléphone portable est mon objet favori.
7. Iron Man est mon super-héros favori.
8. Mes parents s'appellent Laura et Dave.
9. Je regarde les Jeux Olympiques à la télévision.
10. La musique électro est fantastique.
11. J'adore le golf, la gymnastique et le bowling.
12. Mon cochon favori est Peppa.
13. L'âge idēal pour le mariage est 30 ans.
14. J'habite un petit appartement au centre de Manchester.
15. Je déteste les insectes, les reptiles et les serpents.
16. Je préfère voyager en train. C'est confortable et rapide.
17. La limonade est bonne, mais je préfère le coca-cola.
18. Mon restaurant favori est Nandos.
19. J'adore utiliser la tablette en classe.
20. J'adore les animaux: par exemple les lions, les tigres, les éléphants et les crocodiles.
21. Gareth Bale est un footballeur superbe.
22. Au cinéma je préfère les films d'action.
23. Je mange des carottes et du porc.
24. Mon papa adore la bière.
25. Ma maman préfère le vin.

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