Want an easy way to get students speaking French in class? We work hard to improve French oral communication skills. We know that our French immersion and FSL students should be speaking French, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy when they are talking with each other!
What can you do to get your students speaking French in class? One of the easiest ways to improve oral communication in your French class is to make sure they are putting in a good effort to speak French as much as possible. It’s easy when you give them some motivation!
Here are 4 easy incentives to get students speaking French in your classroom.
Pass these out when you hear a student making a good effort to speak French. When I did this, I just walked around with a bunch of them in my pocket so I was ready to go! I kept a box of suckers and another box with little toys and stickers, etc. Even my high schoolers loved to get stuff from the prize box!
A few tips to make it work:
Initial the backs with your favorite pen before you give them out. This helps cut down on any chances they’ll turn in tickets they didn’t earn.
Recognize that each student will have a different level that would be good effort for them. Some students struggle to speak more, so I reward a good effort, even if some students can speak more than others.
Allow for some “franglais” if you have students who have less proficiency. You want to encourage effort, and they’ll get frustrated if they don’t have very big vocabularies just yet.
Sit where you want Friday
I love this one, because it’s one of the easiest incentives for speaking! Got a class who is making an extra-good effort to speak French? Let them choose their seats on Friday. I typically don’t let kids choose their own seats, because we do so much group work, and I really like to mix up my ability levels.
Have a reward day to encourage speaking French.
This is something you’ll need to clear with your administration first! In the past, our team had reward days for good behavior. Students had to complete their work, not have any major behavior marks, and they needed to be speaking French in all their classes. If you teach FSL, this would obviously only be for your class!
We set the expectations and gave students a time period for the reward day. Typically, it was 3 weeks or a month. At the end of that time, we went on a fun field trip. Sometimes we went ice skating, other times we went to buy food and had a picnic. The kids were so motivated by it that almost every time, the entire grade level got to go on the outing.
As with the reward tickets, there should be some flexibility here. If you have students with educational plans, make sure to consider those as you determine if students are meeting your expectations. Again, the goal is effort, so a few words in English here and there aren’t a huge deal if overall you notice students consistently trying.
Throw a class party.
I love to eat, so having a food day in French class is something I do as often as I can! It’s a fun way to encourage students to be speaking French as much as possible if they know they’ll get to bring food (and maybe watch a movie or have a music day).
You can do an official reward system by tracking progress. One easy way is to put a marble in a jar each time you notice students making a good effort to be speaking French. This gets hard when you have a lot of classes – or just when you teach a lot of preps and your brain gets tired like mine does!
In this case, what I propose is using the same jar for all classes and then every class gets a party when it’s full. Depending on how fast that happens, you might want a bigger jar (or smaller marbles!) You don’t need to put in a marble for every French sentence, because there should be a lot of French happening every day! I make a point of showing students when I see good effort during both independent and group work time.
Students playing a game and only speaking French? This gets them a marble.
A student asking to go to the bathroom in French? No, because this is a basic expectation in my class.
During a French speaking activity, do you hear French only? This gets a marble.
A word of advice:
Don’t make it hard on yourself. You have enough to do! For me, this was something that I couldn’t dedicate a lot of energy to, but that didn’t mean I let go of the expectation. I just made it manageable for myself. I hope one of these incentives for speaking is an easy way to help you get your students speaking French!