Need ideas for teaching French verbs that students will actually like?
Teaching French verbs doesn’t have to be boring! Students don’t always like conjugating verbs, but they need written practice as much as they need to practice speaking.
Here are a few of my favorite things to do when I’m teaching French verbs.
1. Practice speaking from the start.
Beginners often don’t understand the concept of conjugation. They use verbs correctly in their native language without knowing that they are conjugating verbs, but it takes practice when learning them in another language. This j’ai…qui a… style activity is a good way to help them start using verbs correctly in the singular first and third person forms. If your students use je along with infinitive verbs, they might not understand why they need to conjugate. This can help.
The object of the game is to go full circle with all of the cards. The player with “J’ai la première carte” starts and the game ends with “Qui a la première carte?” Instead of the usual “J’ai…” and “Qui a…” students will use “Je..” and “Qui…?” with the present tense of regular -er verbs to ask and answer using complete sentences.
You can challenge students to use the correct verb by using the set of cards with only je and qui shown, or you can use the set shown here to help students read and pronounce the correct conjugations. The reinforcement, providing them with visual supports, reading, and also listening, is a great way to help them get the correct pronunciation down as they start learning verbs.
2. Use music to help them learn different tenses.
I love using music in all my classes because it’s a fun and natural way to help them retain structures. You can easily find lyrics online and remove a few words here and there creating a cloze activity. This makes it a listening activity first, but they get to see the words as they listen, and this helps multiple learning styles.
One of my favorites songs for teaching French verbs is On Savait by La Grande Sophie. Use this song to teach and reinforce l’imparfait.
3. Get students moving.
When teaching French verbs, I love playing games like Simon says or even guessing games where students have to act out the verbs. This is a fun way to practice the vocabulary that takes little to no prep for the teacher.
You can pass out index cards and have each student write a verb you are working with on the card. Pick up the cards and put them in a box or hat, then have one student at a time draw a card. Have that student act out the word while the other students try to guess the word. You can extend the learning by having the student who guesses correctly use the verb in a complete sentence.
4. Play 4 corners.
This is one of my favorite go-to activities for listening comprehension. You can quickly make four posters and put one in each corner of your room. For playing with vocabulary, I like to use j’adore, j’aime, je n’aime pas, and je déteste. You’ll call out different verbs in the infinitive form and have students move to the corner that indicates how they feel about the word you call out. For example, if you called out nager, they would go to the corner that reflects how they feel about swimming.
Once they are in their chosen corners, you can extend the learning by having them talk to a partner and explain why they feel that way. If that is too difficult for beginners, you can ask follow-up questions like “Où est-ce que tu aimes nager ?” to the students in the j’adore and j’aime corners or “Quel sport est-ce que tu préfères ?” for the students in the je n’aime pas and je déteste corners.
5. Practice with French verb drills.
Verb drills do have a time and place, because students need structured practice. That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun! This is one of my favorite ways to gamify simple conjugation practice when I’m teaching French verbs. You can use it with any tense you’re teaching, so it’s perfect for beginners and intermediate learners, too. This FREEBIE is only available here at my blog.