Skip to main content

Beginner lesson plan - talking about oneself

Here is a simple novice text which can be exploited in a number of ways, some of which are suggested below.

Marie-Hélène raconte

Je m’appelle Marie-Hélène. J’ai 9 ans. J’habite à Toulouse dans le sud de la France. J’habite dans une maison avec mes deux parents et mon frère Alain.
Nous avons un chat qui s’appelle Raoul. Il est noir et il est très mignon. J’adore les chats, la neige et les dessins animés à la télé. J’aime aussi jouer sur l’ordinateur.

Dans ma chambre j’ai mon lit, ma bibliothèque, mes livres, mon bureau et mon ordinateur. J’adore ma chambre. Elle est bleue.

J’aime mon école et j’adore ma maîtresse. Elle s’appelle Madame Bernard.Je n’aime pas les souris, je préfère les hamsters. Je déteste les araignées. Elles sont horribles.

A. Vrai ou faux?

1. Marie-Hélène a neuf ans.
2. Elle habite dans le nord de la France.
3. Elle a une soeur.
4. Elle a un animal à la maison.
5. Son chat est très méchant.
6. Elle déteste la neige.
7. Elle joue sur l’ordinateur.
8. Il y a des livres dans sa chambre.
9. Sa maîtresse s’appelle Bernard.
10. Elle adore les araignées.

B. Imaginez que tu es Marie-Hélène

1.​ Comment t’appelles-tu?
2.​ Quel âge as-tu?
3.​ Où habites-tu?
4.​ Tu habites dans un appartement?
5.​ Comment s’appelle ton frère?
6.​Tu as un animal à la maison?
7.​ Qu’est-ce que tu aimes à la télé?
8.​ Qu’est-ce que tu as dans ta chambre?
9.​ De quelle couleur est ta chambre?
10.​Que penses-tu de l’école?
11.​ Quels animaux tu n’aimes pas?
12.​Tu préfères les souris ou les hamsters?

C. Now write a paragraph about yourself, basing it very closely on what Marie-Hélène said.

D. Copy your text into a Text to Speech programme online and listen to it read aloud. Then you read it aloud, sounding as French as you can.

Teacher notes

This resource could be printed or displayed. Displaying holds the attention of students better.

Suggested plan

1.​ Teacher reads aloud, class repeat sentences chorally.
2.​ Students read aloud e.g. in pairs.
3.​ Do QA work and repetition in 3rd person or, simpler, give false sentences
​to correct.
4.​ Get pairs to work through the printed questions orally.
5.​ Write up answers to above.
6.​ Pupils write their own paragraph, extending as far as they can
​(differentiation). But encourage them to stick closely to the original. Provide a template with gaps if needed.
7.​ Either read aloud paragraphs (pairs or in front of class) or do suggested
​online tasks. (Teacher could quickly type in an example into a Text to
​Speech tool.)

This type of plan enables students to hear lots of modelled high-frequency language, to read, speak and write. Each task reinforces the others. I would encourage accuracy at the stage to give students a sense of mastery and success (self-efficacy). It is somewhat communicative.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Popular posts from this blog

The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:

Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

Designing a plan to improve listening skills

Read many books and articles about listening and you’ll see it described as the forgotten skill. It certainly seems to be the one which causes anxiety for both teachers and students. The reasons are clear: you only get a very few chances to hear the material, exercises feel like tests and listening is, well, hard. Just think of the complex processes involved: segmenting the sound stream, knowing lots of words and phrases, using grammatical knowledge to make meaning, coping with a new sound system and more. Add to this the fact that in England they have recently decided to make listening tests harder (too hard) and many teachers are wondering what else they can do to help their classes.

For students to become good listeners takes lots of time and practice, so there are no quick fixes. However, I’m going to suggest, very concisely, what principles could be the basis of an overall plan of action. These could be the basis of a useful departmental discussion or day-to-day chats about meth…