Friday, 17 October 2014

Show and Tell ideas if needed!

Physical French Phonics

Physical French Phonics
I cannot recommend highly enough ‘Physical French Phonics’ by Sue Cave and Jean Haig. I bought while browsing the stalls at the ISMLA conference last February.

The book and DVD give you everything you need to present a method which appeals to all ages for learning the perfect pronunciation for all French sounds…. Visuals, audio and video files, reference sheets, games, and guidance. 

Although produced with a primary market in mind and  particularly helpful for teachers who may feel less qualified to teach French, as an experienced French teacher in the secondary sector, pretty confident about correct pronunciation, I have found it invaluable with my classes  at all levels… all ages and all abilities.  Some of the most able struggle with pronunciation, and some of the least able excel in pronunciation.  In my experience, none deny the importance of pronunciation, and all ‘have a go’.  In fact, it is an area where the least able can sometimes excel.  It is  such a pleasure to be able to say to someone totally genuinely.." wow…. that could have been a real French speaker saying that!!!"
The book gives a superb guide to using the resources and I have adapted the ideas according to the level and experience of my pupils. 
For a rather ‘cut down’ version which I use with some of my more advanced classes at secondary level who are already familiar with the words used, read on!

Here is a typical sequence in my class.
·         make sure you know the actions and symbols which go with each sound.

·         Download all of the resources onto your laptop;  this then means that associated audio and video files open more quickly when clicked.

·         Photocopy the charts for pupils to stick in their books and for wall display
Why make the effort to get a good pronunciation?... Well, you tell me ….!

1.       The way you pronounce a word is very important in French.  Even if you know the words really well, even if you have a good memory, if you do not pronounce the well, French people will struggle to understand you or you may get what you do not expect e.g. ‘poison' is quite a  different thing from 'poisson'.

2.       It is a lovely feeling to know you can pronounce French… it sounds lovely and people really appreciate your effort.

3.       It is difficult to get top marks at GCSE and A level if you have a poor pronunciation.

Here is a method which I can guarantee is going to transform your pronunciation by the end of the lesson and is going to help us a great deal in lessons to come.
In four lessons, we are going to know how to say all the sounds in French simply by knowing our colours, animals, months, days and numbers.

‘Let’s start with colours.’.
‘Here are all the sounds we are going to use….’

‘Each sound has an action and a picture which represents that action….’
Click picture, watch video of native doing the action and saying the sound. Repeat.
Repeat as often as you need to!
Optional.. reinforce with a variety of games supplied in the pack

Now let’s put them together to form the words….

Click.. watch native speaker put them together.
Class repeat / record themselves and compare

Reinforce, practise as much as you like, but I strongly recommend that you do it as a whole class to ensure accurate pronunciation and avoid confusion.
Thereafter, whenever a pupil mispronounces a word, do the associated action to see if they can self correct… or invite another pupil to do the action!  The one I use most is pointing at my throat to remind them that an 'r' resembles someone gargling! in front of the mirror.
Thanks for a great resource, Sue & Jean!!

Sunday, 5 October 2014


I have just returned from a stimulating weekend in Ireland where I gave a talk to about 200 committed French teachers who had gathered together for their annual conference.

I promised that I would upload my talk and references this evening.  Here is a link to a DRAFT of what will be eventually available on the FITA site when it has been checked and tidied up!

Many thanks to all for the warm welcome .. I really enjoyed the day!  I will write more when I am more fully awake!