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

Delayed dictation

What is “delayed dictation”?

Instead of getting students to transcribe immediately what you say, or what a partner says, you can enforce a 10 second delay so that students have to keep running over in their heads what they have heard. Some teachers have even used the delay time to try to distract students with music.

It’s an added challenge for students but has significant value, I think. It reminds me of a phenomenon in music called audiation. I use it frequently as a singer and I bet you do too.

Audiation is thought to be the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. You can audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music. When we have a song going round in our mind we are audiating. When we are deliberately learning a song we are audiating.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

Sentence Stealers with a twist

Sentence Stealers is a reading aloud game invented by Gianfranco Conti. I'll describe the game to you, then suggest an extension of it which goes a bit further than reading aloud. By the way, I shouldn't need to justify the usefulness of reading aloud, but just in case, we are talking here about matching sounds to spellings, practising listening, pronunciation and intonation and repeating/recycling high frequency language patterns.

This is how it works:

Display around 15 sentences on the board, preferably ones which show language patterns you have been working on recently or some time ago.Hand out four cards or slips of paper to each student.On each card students must secretly write a sentence from the displayed list.Students then circulate around the class, approaching their classmates and reading a sentence from the displayed list. If the other person has that sentence on one of their cards, they must hand over the card. The other person then does the same, choosing a sentenc…

Using sentence builder frames for GCSE speaking and writing preparation

Some teachers have cottoned on to the fact that sentence builders (aka substitution tables) are a very useful tool for helping students prepare for their GCSE speaking and writing tests. My own hunch is that would help for students of all levels of proficiency, but may be particularly helpful for those likely to get lower grades, say between 3-6. Much depends, of course, on how complex you make the table.

To remind you, here is a typical sentence builder, as found on the frenchteacher site. The topic is talking about where you live. A word of warning - formatting blogs in Blogger is a nightmare when you start with Word documents, so apologies for any issues. It might have taken me another 30 minutes just to sort out the html code underlying the original document.

Setting work for home study

A major challenge for language teachers just now is selecting and sharing work with students to do at home. Here a few suggestions on the issue to add to your own. The sites I mention are the tip of the iceberg and focus mainly on French. I have stuck to free resources, not subscription sites.

By the way, I'm not getting into the use of tech here, as I have no great expertise on that. In any case, I imagine for younger learners especially it may be a question of setting other types of work.


For advanced learners the job is not so tough. There is a plethora of listening, reading and grammar material they can use, whether it be from their textbooks, other resources shared electronically or online resources. You may have your favourites, but for a selection for French you can check out my links here and here. You may want to stick with topics on the syllabus, or free up students to read and listen more generally to what interests them.

One idea I used was to ask students to c…

"Ask and move" task

This is a lesson plan using an idea from our book Breaking the Sound Barrier (Conti and Smith, 2019). It's a task-based lesson adapted from an idea from Paul Nation and Jonathan Newton. It is aimed at Y10-11 pupils aiming at Higher Tier GCSE, but is easily adaptable to other levels and languages, including A-level. This has been posted as a resource on

This type of lesson plan excites me more than many, because if it runs well, you get a classroom of busy communication when you can step back, monitor and occasionally intervene as students get on with listening, speaking and writing.