Skip to main content

My 50 Lesson Plans for French Teachers is published

I'd originally planned to write this book early next year, but when lockdown happened I decided to get on with the job and worked solidly on it through March, April and May.  Then my wife (and editor) Elspeth Jones worked on the editing and formatting of the book for independent publication on Amazon. I am also grateful to Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri of for checking through the French, as well as the general content.

How did it come about?

Well, when I wrote Becoming an Oustanding Languages Teacher (Routledge, 2017) I included a few chapters bearing the title "Dissecting a lesson". I thought teacher trainees would find it useful to see how a lesson plan can be broken down into steps, with careful analysis of questioning techniques and other procedures, such as how you might use a sentence builder or run an information gap lesson. So this new book is an extension of that principle: careful descriptions of 50 lessons, broken down into steps, to help teachers think about how to build a lesson.

What's in it?

From the outset I was keen for the book to show a range of methodologies and procedures. With that in mind, the lessons feature aspects of communicative language teaching, lexicogrammar (sentence building, narrow listening/reading and chunking à la Conti, oral-situational teaching (question-answer and drilling of various types), knowledge organisers, task-based language teaching and even a little traditional grammar teaching, with grammar-translation. In the introduction to the book I do make the point, however, that all the lessons feature a lot of target language use, comprehensible input and interaction. Most lessons integrate the different skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

20 lessons are written for near beginners (roughly KS3 or the first two or three years of learning), 20 are for intermediate level (KS4 or GCSE) and 10 are written for advanced level (6-7 years of learning). Each lesson includes a rationale for its use, so there are light references to research points such as input, rehearsal, recycling of chunks, retrieval practice, cognitive load and spaced learning, for example.

Nearly all of the lessons come with accompanying resources. These are either photocopiable sheets (the book is A4 size) or PowerPoint slides which are freely available on my site (search Free Stuff, 50 Lesson Plans). many of the resources are adapted from ones on, though a few have been freshly written.

I don't claim any great originality for the lesson plans. They are not flashy or gimmicky, but they do offer ready-made lesson examples, or models to adapt. All the lessons or lesson types have been used by teachers, including me.  For example, Lesson 1 is a traditional opinion survey lesson on school subjects, but could easily be adapted to other topics such a favourite pastimes or foods). I have also included lots of space for note taking, so just like a cooking recipe, you can tweak lessons as you wish.

I don't recall seeing a book quite like this before and I do think it will be extremely useful, especially for teachers learning their craft.


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.