Interactive, Engaging FSL Activities That Get Students Talking!

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As a former FSL teacher, I know that one of the most difficult parts of teaching a second language is being able to provide students with engaging, authentic scenarios where they can practice their discussion skills.  What's even more difficult is getting students to WANT to speak in a class setting.
Each activity listed below is organized with CEFR descriptors as well as "I Can" statements.  If you are unfamiliar with the CEFR framework, check out https://deniscousineau.pbworks.com/f/A1+complete+package.pdf.  This site provides an overview of the descriptors as well as handy rubrics to help evaluate at which level your students are achieving.

All activities are created for A1 and A2 learners, however each activity also includes ideas on how to enhance it for more advanced learners.
**All activities do require the use of tablets and specific free apps, however they can easily be tweaked if this technology is not available in the classroom.**

Goal: I can use a series of simple phrases to describe myself and my family

Activity #1: Create an Avatar

App: Plotagon
Plotagon is an amazing FREE program that allows students to create animated stories with up to two characters.

Using Plotagon, FSL students can complete the following activities that will get them talking AND keep them engaged!

The only downside to the free version of Plotagon is that students can only share their videos through YouTube.  I recommend creating a private, student page so that the videos can be shared with a link.
Activity:
Using Plotagon, students create an avatar that looks like them. Using this avatar, they can create a scene and record their own voice to describe themselves.  Students can also animate their avatar by adding appropriate actions to go along with what they are describing (for example, if a student says "Je n'aime pas les souris" they must animate their avatar to look afraid).
Vocabulary: colors, parts of the body, clothing, physical traits, personality traits, age
Take It a Step Further:
-Students can create avatars for their entire family, as well as for fictional characters.  Each avatar will need to be described using the same vocabulary as above.
-Turn this activity into a listening exercise by choosing a few student creations to show the class.  After each listening activity, ask students specific questions about what they heard to test comprehension.

Activity #2: Describe Yourself and Family Through Pictures

App: Spark Video
Spark Video is a free app that allows users to create polished, professional-looking videos in minutes without any design experience required!  This app enables FSL students to record their voices in short increments for easy storytelling, projects and even student-created tutorials!
Activity:
Students import pictures of themselves, friends and family members into Spark Video.  Using the record feature, students talk about themselves and what they see in each picture.  They can also add icons to further elaborate on their thoughts and feelings.
Vocabulary: hobbies, activities, physical and personality traits, friends, family
Take It a Step Further:
-Use this activity as a formative assessment by not allowing students to write down what they want to say.  This activity should be done orally without any prior preparation to test the students' oral skills.
-Turn this activity into a listening exercise by having students listen to teacher-created examples.  Ask other french speaking colleagues to contribute their stories so students can hear different accents and voices!

Goal: I can handle very short social exchanges

Activity #1: Play out an authentic conversation in a specific location

App: Plotagon
Activity:
With a partner, students practice authentic conversation and vocabulary that could potentially be used at specific locations such as the restaurant, the bus stop, in the home, and at the office. Once a location is chosen, students create a scene and record their voices to practice a variety of real life exchanges.
Vocabulary: location related, greetings, sociolinguistic conventions
Take it a step further:
-Provide students with authentic scenarios or problems that they need to play out, such as:
         -Restaurant: the food is cold and they want to return it
         -Home: student missed curfew and parents want to know why
         -Office: student is late for work and the boss wants to know why
         -Bus Stop: student is lost and asks for directions

Activity #2: If objects could talk, what would they say?

App: YAKit Kids
YAKit is a free app much like ChatterPix where students can make any photo talk, however unlike ChatterPix, it allows several different characters to interact! Students can be extra creative by changing the pitch of their voice, adding animated mouths, eyes and props, and even bringing in funny talking characters. Also, make your recording longer by adding several different scenes!
Activity:
Students find and take a picture of 2 objects around the classroom.  Next, using YAKit Kids, students create a scene and come up with a script for what the two objects would say if they could speak to one another. Students record the conversation through the app and make the objects talk!
Vocabulary: objects in the classroom, greetings, polite exchanges
Take It a Step Further:
-Students plan a mock interview with their favourite celebrity or television character.  Students create questions to ask as well as answers for the celebrity.  Students can work individually or in pairs.
-Students can create an interactive oral discussion in just about any location around the world with anyone or anything they'd like! Challenge your students to be as creative as possible and use all learned vocabulary. Maximum 1 minute in length!

Activity #3: Interactive Bot

App: Duolingo
Duolingo is a free language-learning app that delivers short lessons to help students level-up and even compete with their friends. Students can follow interactive lessons or they can communicate directly with a virtual language bot that help prepare students for real-life conversations. 
Activity: Provide students with 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each class to have a quick discussion with the Duolingo bot.  Students can choose from several different scenarios such as ordering food, giving and asking directions, shopping and much more. Ensure students use the microphone feature so they work on their oral production skills.
Vocabulary: Discussions are only available once students achieve certain levels, therefore students will already be exposed to the vocabulary needed to be successful.
Take It a Step Further: 
-By using a simple messaging app or Google Docs,  students pair up and create their own Duolingo bot!  Students interact completely through messaging and by using the microphone feature. The teacher can provide topics of conversation.
-Organize a Google Hangout session with another FSL class and have students ask questions to learn more about the other class. Connect with another class through www.frenchplayground.com

I hope these activities help engage your students! Leave a comment below with how you are transforming your FSL classroom!






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Lindsay Leonard

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I am an Innovation Instructional Coach for District School Board North-East in Ontario, Canada.

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