Skip to main content

Trotro fait de la peinture

Finding video listening material for beginner to intermediate pupils is a challenge. I look at many clips and reject nearly all of them since I believe that there's little point playing material with too much unknown language or clips which are too long. (The research suggests at least 90% of listening and reading material should already be known for and acquisition to take place, although adapting the task to the text helps mitigate the level of difficulty.)

Cartoons aimed at very young French children open up possibilities, though even these need careful sifting. They are authentic and fun. So, as you may know already, I have published a lot of comprehension worksheets linked to short cartoon clips, especially Peppa Pig. They are well liked by teachers and pupils.

This one is a Trotro video which you could use from Y8 to Y10 (low intermediate). I cannot stress too much how naughty Trotro is. In this video he is no PicASSo.

Use the link above if the video is not visible. Do copy and paste, but acknowledge the source please.  

Regardez la vidéo. Cochez les phrases que vous entendez. Seulement 10 phrases sont correctes.

 1. Aujourd’hui je ne peux pas aller dehors.
2. Aujourd’hui je vais rester à la maison.
3. Construire une maison ? Non, j’en ai déjà fait une hier
4. Je n’ai pas envie de lire pour l’instant.
5. Je ne peux pas regarder la télé.
6. Je ne veux pas faire de la peinture.
7. Voilà mes crayons couleur, mon pinceau, ma boîte de peinture.
8. Qu’est-ce que je vais dessiner ?
 9. Qu’est-ce que j’ai dessiné ?
10. N’oublions pas les yeux.
11. Oh là là ! Il est trop long, ce nez !
12. Je vais dessiner une bouche.
13. J’ai oublié de mettre mon tablier.
14. Mon tablier est dans la cuisine.
15. Je crois qu’elle ne veut pas partir.
16. Oh là là là ! Mon T-shirt est couvert de peinture !
17. Maman adore ce T-shirt !
18. J’ai une idée. Je vais la décorer
19. Tu as dessiné sur ton T-shirt, Trotro ?
20. J’ai peint une jolie girafe.  


1. Pourquoi est-ce que Trotro s’ennuie ? (Parce que...)
2. Qu’est-ce qu’il décide de faire ? (Il décide...)
3. Qu’est-ce qu’il a mis dans son pot ?
4. Qu’est-ce qu’il dessine ?
5. Le bonhomme ressemble à un dinosaure ?
6. Qu’est-ce qu’il a oublié de mettre ?
7. Est-ce que la tâche ressemble à la lune ?
8. Est-ce qu’il transforme la tâche en lion ?

 un tablier = an apron, un bonhomme = a man, figure  

Teacher’s answers

 Correct sentences are 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 19  

Questions 1. Parce qu’il doit rester à la maison/ Il ne peut pas sortir/aller dehors. 2. Il décide de faire de la peinture. 3. Il (y) a mis de l’eau. 4. Il dessine un bonhomme. 5. Non, il ressemble à un éléphant. 6. Il a oublié de mettre un tablier. 7. Non, elle ressemble au soleil. 8. Non, il transforme la tâche en tigre.


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…

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 _____ …

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…

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…