Telling your holidays in French

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Drrriiiiiiing !!!

It is the start of the new school year, students and learners of French are back to lessons! 

How to restart the brain gently? Telling your holidays in French is an excellent back to school exercise to keep your mind on vacation a little longer.

Vacances Actives gives you the right tips to make the start of the new school year a pleasant one that refreshes your French as a Foreign Language (FFL) skills and stimulates exchanges!

Recounting  one’s holidays: a complete linguistic exercise

Holidays, a good subject to create an exchange and integrate

château fort Blandy-les-Tours

At the start of the school year, the first lessons of the year can impress students and it is important to facilitate dialogue between them. Whether a learner is shy or not, speaking is never an easy exercise in a new group whose members you don’t know. And the task falls to the teacher to stimulate the pupils and to encourage them to speak. Recounting your holidays in French is an excellent “ice breaker” : in turn, or as part of a two-person dialogue, the pupils share their experience and describe their holiday destination. Travel, sport, leisure, geography: so many subjects that allow students and teachers to find common points and perfect topics of conversation to facilitate their integration.

A story that mobilizes a lot of knowledge in French

“En juillet, je partis à Nice et j’ai allé à la mer”. ( = with mistakes :“In July, I left for Nice and I went to the sea”. )

Coming back from vacation can be hard for the learner’s brain. We will not hold it against him, these mistakes are very common!

First of all, recounting one’s vacation requires using the concordance of times from the past. Here is an opportunity to work on the conjugation and use of the past tense, simple and imperfect past. This exercise is not suitable for all language levels, but it can be adapted with a simplified version, using only the past tense. Here is a good introduction to discover this grammatical tense, if it is on the program for the year.  

Also, recounting one’s holidays is an opportunity to express one’s preferences, feelings and emotions. ‘I liked, I preferred, I loved, I regretted, I hated…” : so many personal formulas to testify to a moment or a pleasant or not pleasant activity. This exercise opens up many possibilities for discussion. And for those who have not had the chance to go on a trip, the exchange can be oriented towards the wish, the future desire to discover a destination, or to do a particular activity. 


Describing one’s holidays: a wide range of vocabulary

The description exercise is an effective way to mobilize a lot of French vocabulary words. Many lexical fields can be used, depending on the activities and the destination in question. It is a good idea to provide students with vocabulary sheets to help them describe their vacation. The sea, the mountains, the countryside, sport, leisure, transport, accommodation, weather, geography, etc. are among the main themes that can be used for this exercise. 

In particular, very dense vocabulary supports can be found on the site:

Exercise materials to tell about one’s holidays in French

Orally: a set of questions relating to the holidays

In pairs or in the form of a group forum, the exercise which consists of recounting one’s holidays can be easily set up with a set of questions. It is true that at the resumption of lessons, learners generally have difficulty finding their words and developing a speech in front of others. It is up to the teacher to guide them through a framework of dialogue:

  • Did you go on vacation this summer? 
  • Where did you go? 
  • At what period? How long ? 
  • With whom did you go)? 
  • How did you spend your time? What activities? What visits have you made? 
  • Have you had any meetings? (a question open to several interpretations!)
  • Did you speak French during the holidays? 
  • What do you plan to do for the next vacation?

If the speaking is still too timid and the students are not very verbose on the subject, then an ultimate exercise can help them. The idea is to ask them to identify which student in the group has had a vacation most like theirs ! As a result, the pupils question the others in the form of a game and discover a maximum of common points. A good way to untie tongues.

In writing: essay or travel diary

For higher French as a foreign Language (FFL) levels, it is interesting to work on written expression on this question. In writing, an essay for example, the story of the holidays can be developed further but the exercise will lose its interactive and playful side. 

On the other hand, to tell their vacation, students can rely on their travel diary. This can be used as “summer homework”. The travel journal is a very effective activity for working on students’ written expression and creativity. We have devoted a generous article to it with tips and suggestions: Create your linguistic travel diary. Some teachers go so far as to organize contests within the class!

The postcard exercise

Writing a postcard is a tradition that is being lost… It is an opportunity to revive it and to suggest that the pupils tell their holidays in French in a reduced format. It only takes a few minutes for learners to address the postcard to the person of their choice.  This approach is well suited to the first levels of FLE: it allows students to give a synthetic account of their adventures. Borrowing in the telegraphic style or with a more literary tone, they use a few well-chosen words to quickly describe the destination and give their impressions. 

The teacher can play the game to the end by printing a nice photo in the appropriate format to illustrate the vacation destinations of his students, or provide a set of ready-to-use postcards!

Tell your holiday stories on Instagram !

Why not do this exercise on social media? Teachers, you can create an Instagram account dedicated to your class, and start the exercise. Students should choose and post a photo and then write a clear description. Destination, anecdotes, exciting visits… The end result: an aesthetic and complete picture illustrating the holidays for the whole FFL class, to show and share!

Summer peregrinations are an excellent topic of conversation and story to mobilize knowledge and develop French vocabulary. 

The exercise can very well be applied when returning from a language study trip, where each of the learners will share an anecdote or an opinion on the trip made. 

So many good ideas to encourage travel and learning French!

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