Helping French students understand spoken French is so important! We want them to be able to go to a French-speaking country and understand what people are saying, but this means providing them with appropriate listening comprehension activities. Far too many times, students will learn verb conjugation and spelling, but when it comes to actual conversation, they struggle, because they can’t understand the speaker. It doesn’t have to be this way!
How to help students improve French listening comprehension
Help them understand basic French words
First, students need to be able to identify the words when they are spoken. Even with the most basic vocabulary, students can begin practicing their listening skills. My Boom Cards™️ for beginning vocabulary are a great place to start.
Students play them on their devices to hear the audio tracks. From there, they choose the corresponding image for the word or sentence they hear. They get immediate feedback, so they know right away if they need more practice. Even better? They can do them over and over, so they can continue to practice the words they might not be able to understand the first time around.
So, what are Boom Cards?
They are paperless task cards students play on internet-connected devices. You can use them as a whole-class activity on your interactive whiteboard, but you can assign them to students to do at home, too, if they have access to a device. This can be a cell phone, tablet, or computer.
You can have students log in, and with certain Boom memberships, you’ll get access to data so you can see how each student is doing.
BUT you do not need to do that if you don’t want to (or cannot) create student accounts. Just use the Fast Pin option and you’ll assign a code that will let students play with a generated link.
Help them understand other French speakers
Next, they need to be able to understand a variety of speakers. My students didn’t struggle to understand me, and because they were used to listening to my voice, females with similar voices were easy for them to understand. If they listened to a male speaker or someone with a different accent, they struggled to understand everything.
Because we want our students to feel comfortable listening to different speakers, we need to provide them with opportunities to do this.
I created this set of differentiated French listening comprehension activities and worked with native male and female speakers from France and Canada to create this set. (More will come in the future!)
In a similar style to my French reading comprehension sets, I’ve created differentiated activities so that it’s super-easy to offer just the right challenge to beginning French students.
There are three answer sheets. One has English questions, another has French questions, and the third has multiple choice questions in French. There are also vocabulary reference sheets, writing activities, culture reading passages related to the audio tracks, and writing rubrics to make grading paragraphs super-easy!
I’ve now got a second set of differentiated activities with speakers from France, Canada, and Senegal.
And what is the most-effective thing you can do everyday in your class to help students understand spoken French? Speak it early and often! They need to hear it as much as they can!