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A good French course is strengthened by an active extracurricular program. These ideas are proposed to help new French teachers organize the school year. Bonne Année!


Rethink and refine classroom rules and performance objectives; prepare for distribution.

Create a warm and welcoming classroom with posters, French signs, flags to capture the students' interest from day one.


On successive Mondays, present a variety of songs, from "Frère Jacques" to MC Solaar, which can be sung as warm-ups during the week.

First meeting of the French Club to elect officers.

Organize future French tutors from advanced students and/or members of the Société honoraire de français.

Send informational letter to parents highlighting the activities of the school year and congratulating them on their child's excellent choice of language which will prove to be a pleasure to speak and an asset to future careers. To simplify the process, have each student address the envelope, insert, and seal the letter. Collect and send the letters to parents.

Set the date for a French dinner in November at a local restaurant (Salad, main course, dessert, unlimited bread and punch). Announce price and date to students.

Consider organizing a French Immersion Day or after school program for second semester in collaboration with other schools.

Put all events of the year on the school calendar.


Have students sell suckers on campus with French flags or words written on them.

Offer pen pals, conventional or e-mail, to students. If possible, partner your class with a French class in a French-speaking country for exchange of pictures, music, and letters.


French dinner, usually the second week of the month at the end of fall sports season. Insist that students dress up for the affair, and review good table manners ahead of time. Take a camera and submit pictures to the yearbook as well as display in the classroom.

Announce summer programs like Nacel, Concordia Language Camp, or your own French trip. Offer a parent's informational meeting for interested parties. Students who have a goal to use French are great motivators for others to study a language because they reinforce how much fun it is to use the language.


Announce French Holiday Cards which are due the second week of December. Students must make two original cards with envelopes, featuring a simply holiday message in French that you supply. Send these cards to school board members, administrators, and, most importantly, custodians and lunch ladies. This activity creates good will and visibility for the French program.

Have a Petit Déjeuner de Noël in the cafeteria or in the classroom, juice and croissants. Take pictures and display in class.

Begin to sing French Christmas songs, if permitted. "Vive le vent" and "Rodolphe" are still politically correct!
Order exams for the National French Contest.

Set date with an elementary school for a week of French lessons to be given by advanced French students.


With profits from the candy sale, buy or have students make a cake for La Fête des Rois. Decorate a Burger King crown and honor the student who found the bean in the cake. (Beans don't break teeth like trinkets do). Take pictures and submit to PR agent of the school district and the yearbook.

Set date for the Mardi Gras party. Contact parents to help serve. Distribute recipes to be made by the school kitchen or teams of students. Suggested menu: Cajun chicken casserole, French and corn bread, salad, and Mardi Gras cake with a bean inside. This party can be during the lunch hour if time allows, after school, or in class. The menu can be adjusted accordingly. Friends are invited to attend as well as administrators and counselors. Find silly gifts or make certificates for homework pass, free pass to the school store, sit where you want in the classroom for the day, etc. Give students a numbered ticket which is placed into a hat for the drawing. Masks are encouraged, and Cajun music is played.

Send a newsletter to parents as well as administrators and counselors announcing the exciting activities planned for second semester.


Begin to review for the National French Contest by teaching geography and culture which your textbook might not cover. Give samples of multiple choice grammar and listening comprehension questions.

Valentine card project similar to Christmas cards. Offer romantic sayings. After submitting the cards for a grade, students can send them to friends.

If other students are not doing so, carnations can be sold for a dollar and delivered to students on Valentine's Day with a message of their choice. This is a high visibility activity, and students like playing Cupid.

Play French love songs this month, and reinforce how French is the language of love!

Organize with Foreign Language Department "Foreign Language Week" with posters, messages in the various languages broadcast on the PA system which encourage enrollment in a foreign language. Language students can be sent in teams to the middle schools to encourage election of a foreign language by presenting a short skit or music in each language. I emphasize collaboration with colleagues because it is not divisive.

Prepare curriculum for elementary school lessons. Advanced students take a week off from class to teach French to the little ones. They are responsible for contacting the elementary teacher to coordinate lessons, writing lesson plans, and creating visuals. These materials are submitted in advance for review by the French teacher. Students who do not want to participate are given a research theme of their choice to do during the week. This activity is very popular and offers a break in the routine. Students need only a week or two to prepare their work out of class. Teams of two or three work well for a given class.


National French Contest.

Organize French potluck for advanced students at a student's home. Invite French speakers to attend. Students must speak French. This works best if the ratio of guests to students is close to equal. Provide menu suggestions and recipes. French I students enjoy being the waiters for the event.

Invite community members who use French professionally to speak to students. Former students who have lived abroad are particularly effective.

This is the moment when students sign up for language...make sure your students and your program are highly visible!


Feature 15 minutes of a French film per day to combat the pre-vacation blues, or Identify new members of the Société Honoraire de Français, and invite new and current members and their parents to an initiation ceremony in May.
Ask students to prepare a picture album of their spring vacation to present in class. Kids love to share pictures, and it makes a happy return to school time.


Teach pétanque, and participate in a tournament during class one sunny day or after school. This provides a needed break and communicates how fun French can be. Plastic beach sets can be purchased at a modest price. Some students already own them.

A Coupe du Monde soccer tournament between languages could be organized with "Olympic medals" as prizes.
Organize a picnic, Les Folies du Printemps. Have a waiters' race balancing 2-liter plastic soda bottles on trays, pétanque tournaments, mousse au chocolat eating contest, count the bean in the jar (in French), and a French tricycle Tour de France contest.

Honor the new members of the French Honor Society plus high-achieving French I students at the French Honor Society Initiation Ceremony. This event is held in the evening. Each new member is presented a long-stem carnation as his or her name is called. There is a short oath recited by all, and a French song is played. I like "Hommages" by Yves Duteil. I have the French and English text side by side in the program and dedicate the song to the parents in appreciation of the support they have given during the year. Petits fours, strawberries dipped in chocolate, and punch are served on a lovely table with candlelight. The whole event takes only 30 minutes which the parents and students appreciate!

At the Honors Assembly, recognize the first, second, and third place winners in the National French Contest at each level. In addition, create a French Language Book Award to be given to the outstanding advanced French student.

If a student has lived in a French-speaking country for a month, demonstrated a high interest in French, and has given back to the community by tutoring or teaching in an elementary school, I have created a French Language Practicum Award which honors the students' practical application of the language. A certificate is given at the Honors Assembly.


To students who have maintained an A throughout the year, send a certificate to their home congratulating them.

Take a deep breath and relax after a job well done!

Promotional Tips

As a matter of course, constantly sell your program to administrators and counselors. Share with them each activity you do and the success students are enjoying. Your enthusiasm will remain in their minds and communicate the message that the French program is alive and well.

Cultivate the yearbook advisor and staff. Be aware of your students who work for the yearbook or school paper, and encourage as many articles as possible featuring activities during the school year.

Keep a camera in the classroom and take candid shots of those fun things that happen spontaneously. Display photos on the bulletin board near the door. You will find students bringing their friends in to admire the shots. Many future French students are attracted to the program in this way.

Travel often to the administration building to share with the PR person and the superintendent information about the French program.

This is no time for modesty; crow about your successes!

Decorate the area outside your classroom with posters and catchy slogans.

Feed the counselors cakes and delights your students make. Invite them to all activities. Constantly reinforce how French is a valuable language for business. Give examples from your community of businesses with offices and plants in France.

Don't forget that the parents who used to do science projects for their kids in elementary school are still on hand to be boosters for your program. At parent conferences, note any signs of willingness to participate in cooking, transportation, accounting, etc.

At parent conferences, have samples of student's work and sample lessons. During the conference promote your program and the enthusiasm you have for French!

Get an exercise video in French from Canada (same VCR system) and offer aerobics in class from time to time. The kids love it and start repeating instructions in French.

Jackie Donnelly (MI)

Reprinted from the AATF National Bulletin, Vol. 24 No. 1 (September 1998)


Created: April 25, 1999
Last update: July 31, 2015