French Verb Lesson Plans

Valorie Delp
Give your students lots of opportunities to talk.

When teaching French, verb lesson plans can be the trickiest and most difficult to pull off successfully. French verbs, in and of themselves, offer numerous complications for English speaking students. In addition, you can't really teach French verbs without teaching grammar which can be complicated particularly if the student doesn't understand grammar in his own native tongue. Learn to recognize some of the more difficult concepts and then learn to teach French verbs with finesse and success!

A Methodology to Teaching French Verb Lesson Plans

Most French textbooks move through concepts in themes. The theme for example might be "getting ready in the morning" and the verbs that you study will be reflexive. Or you might cover "feelings" and learn all about the verbs avoir and être. In general, you'll divide the study of French verbs into the following categories:

Regular Verbs

When you teach regular verbs, meaning those that are conjugated consistently the same way based on their endings, consider presenting to your student a large amount of vocabulary. Once your student can conjugate parler for example, they can conjugate any regular -er verb. This is a great opportunity for a French language explosion!

Avoir and Être

In general, teach these together. There are a few reasons why you want to do this. The first is that there are numerous expressions in French for which your students may be tempted to use the verb être where they should use the verb avoir. Whereas in English you would say that you 'are' hungry, in French you technically say that you have hunger. Teaching these together helps eliminate confusion by having students simply work on learning the verbs in context.

Common Irregular Verbs

There are numerous irregular verbs that are very common that your students will need to know in order to communicate effectively. Most irregular verbs have a somewhat similar pattern and this is a great time to give them a larger list to memorize. Some of these would include verbs that are in every day expressions such as faire.

Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs is another foreign idea to English speakers. Essentially, when you use a reflexive verb you are saying that you "shave yourself, bathe yourself, wake yourself up, etc." In English, speakers assume that if you're shaving, you're shaving yourself. While presenting reflexive verbs isn't necessarily complicated, the teacher needs to be deliberate because it gets more complicated when you start making more complex sentences.

Tenses, Participles and Infinitives--Oh my!

French would be easy to teach if you could separate out each concept, teach it separately and on its own, and then expect the students to learn and understand the language. However, what the successful French teacher must do is present concepts simultaneously so that the students learn to speak and think in the language. Therefore, with each unit of study, it's imperative the teacher work on one grammar concept. This includes sentence construction, agreement of past participles, as well as tenses and when they are used.

Ideas for Making Learning Verbs Easier

The only way to learn verbs more easily is to memorize and practice. However, that doesn't mean that you have to have boring French verb lesson plans. The following ideas and resources will help inspire your students towards fluency (or at least get them to learn the lesson at hand.)

Verb Charades with a Twist

Have a day of charades, where one student acts out a verb and the others try to guess which verb it is. However, when a student guesses, they need to use the verb in a sentence that shows they know the meaning of the word. For example, they cannot simply say, Je parle, but must instead say some like, Je parle de ce weekend avec ma mère.

Make a Verb Dictionary

Rather than giving students a list of verbs to work on memorizing, have them make a scrapbook or a dictionary to work through by brining in pictures. This can be a year long project so that they have a keepsake to study from.

Translation Challenge

While it's counter productive to have students translating a lot, it is great practice in writing to have your students translate a simple passage from a children's book. Choose something very simple like "Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom," or "Green Eggs and Ham."

Tips for French Verbs Lesson Plans

Remember that you want to speak as much French as is possible, but also make sure that your students are understanding you. In addition, make learning verbs as active and as hands-on as possible because they are, after all action words!

French Verb Lesson Plans