Tell me and I forget ; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn.
– Benjamin Franklin
How to make teaching a language fun? Through the game! Learning French while playing is an excellent teaching method to energize the class and us, another way of expressing yourself and memorizing. By drawing, mime, word games, role playing, learning is much easier!
Here are our 8 ideas for learning French while playing, in class or online!
Good reasons to learn French while playing
Game : an icebreaker propitious to learning a foreign language
Playing in French as a foreign language allows you to combine the positive aspects of the game with didactics. Play is a motivating activity, and above all an icebreaker. Far from homework and corrected exercises, the game creates social interaction, and allows students to get involved spontaneously, to take part in discussions or writing in a relaxed manner. Whether in class or in “video”, the French teacher manages, thanks to the game, to create a playful environment. The student forgets that he is in class and becomes an actor in his learning.
Play : biologically develops learning through endorphins
Play provides pleasure, which generates the production of endorphins. The decrease in anxiety, the establishment of a kind of predisposition of the student to listen allows a better understanding.
By playing, the teacher can get rid of the usual exercises based on somewhat tedious repetition, or sometimes forced speaking. Entertainment allows a form of casualness, lightness. “No headache” some would say! The pupil falls in with the game and dares more to pronounce, write, and formulate sentences, with spontaneity and less stress.
The game banishes failure
This does not mean that the spelling, the syntax, the conjugation are assimilated with a wave of a magic wand! But mistakes are better accepted by the learner who feels less anxiety about making some in front of their classmates. The game gives as many chances as there are possibilities to participate. It allows you to focus on the mistake and start over to do better: a way to gain confidence.
Capturing pupils’ attention, regaining concentration
Play physically promotes learning. It acts on the attention of the pupils. The students’ lack of concentration is a real scourge for teachers! We need challenges, objectives to be reached in order to refocus the students on the French course.
After a long phase of listening exercises, rehearsals, and complex dialogues, the students’ concentration decreases. They dissipate or are no longer attentive to the subject, and the work becomes tedious. How to bring them back to the centre of the French course? Thanks to a game, where everyone participates, and focuses on group spirit, wins, laughter, answers … A way to get away a little, to change the pace, to awaken the spirits and to put in application the vocabulary words that the students have learned.
Ideas for learning French while playing in class
The twenty questions game
The teacher prepares a series of cards with a personality name written on them. Each student draws a card that they must place on their forehead without ever looking at it. All together, facing each other, the learners note the names of the celebrities of each of the participants. Each student has 20 questions to find out who is hiding… on their own front!
A good exercise to use a diversified vocabulary, because the questions can be open or closed.
The pictionary or “Dessinez, c’est gagné”
The pictionary, or “Dessinez, c’est gagné” (Name of a French TV game) in the French version, is a cult game loved by children and parents. Just write words on different pieces of paper that will be drawn by each participant in turn.
The goal? Each player must make guess the word he drew by drawing in a limited time. Ideally, he draws on a board facing others. The clock is ticking, the hourglass empties, and the other learners must mobilize as quickly as possible their insight and their vocabulary to find the answer!
This game is a real positive one, where the most eccentric words fuse from all sides! The student who guesses the secret word wins a point. This game can be played in a team: it is even more effective in terms of interaction and inclusion. Two teams, two drawers for one word. The fastest team to guess wins the round!
The teacher can ask as a bonus to spell or write (for visual memory) the word he thinks he has guessed … To work more on French spelling!
Time’s up :
Even more dynamic than pictionary, Time’s up combines both riddles and mime to introduce a character, a celebrity, a film,… Officially, Time’s up is played with solo or team players (students can learn by all playing together like this), in three rounds. It is a question of making guess the secret name:
- with words (free description)
- with only one word (this game is diabolical!)
- With mime and sound effects. Nothing else!
Here is a quick tutorial to explain the rules of Time’s up game.
To learn French while playing this particularly spicy entertainment, it is better to have an intermediate or high level of FLE (at least B2), to make exchanges possible. It is possible to do away with round 2, which is particularly complex and considerably lengthens the game. Let us not forget, to be efficient and keep the learners’ concentration, the game session should not draw out.
Ideas for learning French while playing online
Games on the Lumni platform
The LUMNI platform (formerly FranceTV Éducation) provides a variety of games, videos, support for organizing quizzes, team role-playing games, and developing students’ oral comprehension and expression. We can play with topical subjects such as the Tour de France or Quid or Book of Records type questions!
With LUMNI, teachers can lead a course with interactive quizzes, to learn French vocabulary, history or even French geography with ease!
Blind test and song translation
This is a simple and fun idea to learn while playing in the classroom or online. The teacher selects French songs, rather popular, well-known tunes (like the essential Vie en Rose!). The pupils must first try to guess the title of the song. Secondly, the exercise consists of translating the chorus, or a few passages, or translating the vocabulary specific to a theme that the teacher will have worked on previously, in a limited time (10 to 15 minutes).
Without dictionary or Smartphone! Learners must mobilize their knowledge of French.
At the end, everyone can correct themselves, or be corrected by their neighbour. The teacher gives the solution and explains the context, the meaning of the song. This game is perfect for entertaining and memorizing vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, grammatical forms… and develops the French musical culture of FLE learners!
“Dessiner c’est gagné” or Pictionnary online
The famous drawing and guessing game exists online: students can connect to a common session using a link that the teacher will have created beforehand. The concept is simple: the designated player gets a word for the other participants to guess. To do this, he can draw with his mouse on a virtual whiteboard. The other players try to guess by writing their answer in a shared chat. The faster a player guesses the secret word, the more points they earn! Here are 2 sites where you can play pictionary online:
The 7 mistakes game
A classic ! The differences game or the 7 errors game is a game of attention and speed. Several models exist online as well as on the Ouest France site, with a stopwatch and interactivity. The goal is to detect the 7 differences between two images which nevertheless seem identical. Once found, it is a matter of explaining to others where the 7 well-hidden anomalies are located! An ideal game to exercise your observation skills, encourage concentration and find calm while speaking French!
The educational effectiveness of games in the classroom is well established. Learning French while playing becomes easy with all the support and ideas that we have offered you in this article. The game is above all a means of facilitating the integration, the participation of all the pupils coming from different cultures and countries, and speaking a different mother tongue. This is the challenge: to allow the expression and the feeling of sharing within a multicultural French as a Foreign Language (FFL) class, for one and the same goal: to learn the language of Molière with joviality!
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