Teachers in search of inspiration for teaching grade four French vocabulary can use the following games and activities to make learning vocabulary fun for their students. Students having fun creates a positive classroom atmosphere; in addition, students are also much more likely to remember the vocabulary they have learned.
Teaching Grade Four French Vocabulary
Effective vocabulary learning includes two steps: a learning process and a reinforcing process. French teachers should first extensively expose their students to the target vocabulary, and, following successful learning, a lot of reinforcement should take place. Reinforcement not only ensures that the vocabulary is remembered, it also offers opportunities to get the pronunciation and the spelling right.
Teaching with Pictures
One great way to teach French vocabulary is to show pictures to your students. Forming associations between a visual image and a foreign language word is one of the most effective ways to learn new vocabulary. The beach picture to the right is a good example, associating the image of a beach with the French word for beach: plage.
Try to always expose your students to the article of the word at the same time as you are teaching the word itself. Since articles in French are obligatory, saying plage instead of la plage is not only grammatically incorrect, but it also means that your students will have to, at a later date, learn that plage is feminine. Learning the article and the noun in one shot is much more efficient.
Teaching with Books
Another great way to teach elementary vocabulary is through using books. Since children's books are so richly illustrated, most children can figure out the gist of a story simply by looking at the pictures. If a dog is shown on every page, the children quickly pick up that the story is about a dog, offering an ideal opportunity to teach the basic French words present in the story.
Reinforcing Learned Vocabulary
Once vocabulary exposure and a decent amount of learning have taken place, it's time to extensively reinforce the vocabulary that has been learned. This can be done through games, songs, activities, or worksheets. It probably goes without saying that elementary school kids enjoy and learn best from games and songs!
Classroom Vocabulary Games
While the following games may not go over too well in a college French course, they are excellent resources for young children and are most appropriate for grade one to grade four French vocabulary:
- Simon dit: Playing the French version of 'Simon Says' can be lots of fun and provides great opportunities for not only reinforcing body parts (Simon dit: touchez vos oreilles) vocabulary and actions (Simon dit: sautez), but also for reinforcing the words for everything in the classroom (Simon dit: prenez vos livres).
- le Mot juste: The French version of 'Hangman' forces students to come up with the word themselves. For this reason, a logical progression is to start with Simon Says and progress to Hangman.
- Bingo: A great way to practice French numbers up to 100
- les Jours et les mois: A guessing game where the students have to take turns: ask each student a question along the lines of 'which day do we have gym class?' or 'which month comes after March?'
Online Vocabulary Games
Vocabulary games on the computer are a fun way to reinforce vocabulary either in the computer lab at school or as homework. The following BBC French game websites offer some good options for young children:
- BBC Vocabulary Level I: Basic French vocabulary
- BBC Vocabulary Level II: More advanced vocabulary for building upon Level I
Research has shown that, especially for children, music is a great tool for learning. The following song websites offer songs written specifically for the task of teaching basic French vocabulary to children:
- Songs for Teaching: An excellent resource for teaching-oriented songs
- BBC French Songs: Songs to reinforce basic vocabulary; these activities match well with playing the games on the same site since they use the same target vocabulary.
Making it Stick
The key to ensuring your students still remember their vocabulary a few years from now is to reinforce vocabulary often. Don't stick to the common teaching format of strictly separating each and every theme; either integrate the theme of colors and numbers, or, once you've finished a theme on colors, go back and reinforce the numbers. Frequently refreshing the vocabulary is what will make it stick.