French Sight Words

Food words make good sight words for students.

French sight words are the most common words in the French language. It is to the advantage of the student to memorize them and learn them "by sight" so that when the student sees them he is able to easily read and understand what he is reading.

French Sight Words

Sight words are usually the most common words in a language. Students learn these words 'by sight', which builds vocabulary very quickly. By mastering the top French sight words, students can then progress to reading simple text and build upon their mastered sight words. Many of these words are irregular verbs such as être, which must be memorized.

Common Sight Words

Many verbs are among the most common French sight words. Some examples include:

  • être (to be)
  • avoir (to have)
  • voir (to see)
  • savoir (to know)

Many French sight words are pronouns:

  • Je (and it's contraction used before a vowel, j')
  • Vous
  • Tu
  • Nous
  • Il and ils
  • Elle and elles

Other good sight words to learn include common words such as the days of the week, the months of the year, numbers, and simple phrases such as thank you, hello, and goodbye.

There's no hard and fast list of French sight words. The original list of Dolch sight words in English was compiled in the 1940s by reviewing children's books and making lists of the most common words; this can also be done with French children's literature or simple texts.

If you're a teacher, reviewing the student's textbook and making your own sight word "cheat" sheet can help you focus students on the vocabulary they need to build to instantly recognize the most common words they'll encounter during the semester.

Learn French with Sight Words

Staring at a list of sight words is sheer boredom. Instead of frustrating students with long lists of sight words, try the following techniques. They work with students of all ages and make learning French sight words fun.

  • Flashcards: Make games out of learning French sight words using flashcards. The traditional index card, with the French word on the front and the English translation on the reverse, can be enhanced as a craft project. Have students make their own flash cards by clipping pictures from magazines or catalogs and gluing them to the front.
  • Sight Verbs: Some of the irregular French verbs can be difficult for students to learn. They must recognize them by sight. One trick to memorizing verbs as sight words is to have students take an index card or a sheet of paper and write out the full conjugation of the verb, with the English next to it. Students should then hang their index card or paper in a spot they see frequently, such as the inside of their school locker, on the mirror in the bathroom, or the refrigerator. Every time they glance at the card or picture, they should quickly recite the verb. In this way they will be conjugating verbs in no time at all!
  • Name That Object: Another way to quickly learn sight words is to write them on index cards and tape or pin them to objects in the classroom. Tape a card with "la poubelle" on the garbage can. Add a card with "la fenêtre" on the window. Wear a name tag that says "le professeur". Students quickly learn words by sight when they're associated with real objects!

Additional Tips for Learning French Sight Words

Keep in mind that sight words can improve spelling and word recognition, but they add little to students' reading comprehension or pronunciation. When using fun ideas such as "Name that object", be sure to have students pronounce the words aloud, and repeat the names after you. You can test their ability to recognize the words by sight by giving them a worksheet or printable that lists the sight words, with pictures in the second column of the actual objects; mix them up and ask the students to draw lines from the sight word to the picture. Then, go around the classroom and ask students to state the word and point to it on the sheet. This technique not only ensures that students learn vocabulary but proper pronunciation too.

If you need help downloading the printable, check out these helpful tips.

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French Sight Words