Core French


Type and Purpose of Learning

This activity reinforces the grammar concept of “er” verbs in a game format to offer the students a non-threatening, interactive, creative and team-based learning way of practicing their previously learned concepts. As students explore the many ways that language is used through language play-based learning, the creative learning aspect allows them to use their imagination, express thoughts and feelings to write French.

I will not practice drill-and-kill teaching. I will not practice drill-and-kill! I will not practice drill-and-kill!

To make learning French as a second language interesting and engaging, teachers need to find ways to approach grammar concepts that will motivate students. My students LOVE to play games and I try to build these into many of my lessons – sometimes as an introductory activity and other times as a reinforcement tool.

After a lesson which extended the previous learning about regular “er” verbs, I wanted to have the students practise in writing but wanted to offer them an alternative to the traditional independent paper and pencil work. With that in mind, I devised in a game, which proved to motivate and raise each student’s interest in the activity and learning of the concept.

The students divided into two groups and each was given a tablet blackboard, chalk and brush. All students were asked to write a sentence using particular parameters like “Ecris un phrase avec je et manger.” (Write a sentence containing “I” and “to eat.”) Students worked at his/her own pace and showed their sentences to the teacher to earn points for their group.

The points were awarded at the teacher’s discretion, based on accuracy, added detail, originality, etc. The abilities of each individual student could also be taken into account and additional points awarded for those striving to work outside of their comfort level and putting in a greater effort than they had in the past. Students were also encouraged to help their classmates and received points for good sportsmanship.

By creating a game in which every student could work at their own pace and was actively involved, the kids had fun, practised our concept and worked as a team. I could give each student oral descriptive feedback as we played. As well, I was able to informally observe my students’ abilities as a formative assessment of their skills to determine how to proceed the following day

Lesson Plan

Assessment/Reflections for Future Lessons

In advance of the game, the students and teacher can create a quick learning goal and success criteria for the game to help establish the goals of the learning and what specifically the students are meant to demonstrate during the game.

While the game is in play, the teacher should be observing the students to identify and record the level of understanding, using a quick checklist as a formative assessment. Oral descriptive feedback can be provided on the spot and students can share examples of different ways to achieve the learning goal throughout the game. For example, (in French as much as possible), “I like how you used the verb correctly, can you expand your sentence using our unit vocabulary?” or “You are showing me you understand the meaning of the sentence, now double check the ending of the verb.” The teacher should use the information gathered during this activity to inform the following lessons/projects involving this grammar concept.

Curriculum Expectations

(Ref: Ontario Ministry of Education. The Ontario Curriculum: Grades 4-8: French as a Second Language: Core French, Grades 4–8, 2013)

French as a Second Language

  • Identify and use the vocabulary and the grammar and language conventions appropriate for this grade level.


  • Write simple phrases, short sentences and questions, using learned vocabulary and simple language structures;
  • Use and spell the vocabulary appropriate for this grade level;
  • Present tense of être, avoir, and some regular –er verbs with a plural pronoun or noun subject; and
  • Use of resources to confirm spelling.

Teacher-Directed Lesson

Prior to the activity, the teacher has given explicit instructions on the meanings of “er” verbs and the method of altering an “er” verb to use it with singular and plural pronouns. The students have practiced these two concepts aloud and in writing as a whole class, small group, in pairs and individually.

Introduction (MINDS ON)

The students and teacher review the concepts of “er” verbs together, referring to the previously created Anchor Chart and reference pages and co-creating a number of examples of simple sentences on the board for reference.

Student Tasks (WORKING ON IT)

The students are divided in two or more groups and each is given a tablet blackboard, chalk and brush. All are asked to write a pronoun and verb together like “Écris je et manger. ” (Write “I” and “to eat.”) Students work at his/her own pace and show their work to the teacher to earn points for their group. Next, the students write using a full sentence.

Students who require assistance are welcome to refer to their references and examples for guidance. Those with a strong grasp of the concept are encouraged to write multiple sentences, extend their work beyond the parameters of the request and write explanations to justify their choices and highlight the grammar rules they are practising. Students are also encouraged to help their classmates. The teacher can allot points as she/he feels fit – judging based on correct use of the verb, use of prior knowledge and good sportsmanship.

The teacher should also pause the game while it is played to allow students to share their work as a celebration of a unique idea and inspiration for others. Once the students have had an opportunity to use the words the teacher has given (some will have created multiple sentences), they are offered a new set of words to include in their sentences.

Share and Connect

At the end of the class, the teacher can allow students to facilitate the game by setting up the sentence requirements and allotting the points. When the game is complete, the teacher should take the opportunity to highlight and celebrate sentences which the students created and discuss how and where they might be used in the future.


This game offers many entry points and while the students are working as a group, the differences in how each might be creating their answers and therefore contributing to their group is not strongly highlighted.

General Accommodations

  • Students are welcome to refer to their references and examples for guidance.
  • Those who have a strong grasp of the concept and need enrichment are encouraged to write multiple sentences, extend their work beyond the parameters of the request and write explanations to justify their choices and highlight the grammar rules they were practising.
  • Cue cards individually listing pronouns, verbs and verb endings can be given to a student to manipulate into sentence form rather than write the sentences.
  • Computers can be used to type or to dictate rather than write by hand.

Please refer to any individual student’s IEP for formalized accommodations and/or modifications to the particular expectations.


Students are welcome to enhance their work using illustrations and if appropriate in the classroom, they could read their sentences aloud or create actions to demonstrate the meaning of their sentence creations. Further differentiation is based on accommodations and/or modifications to the curricular expectations as outlined in specific IEPs.

Impact Quotes (Impact Analysis)

“We did the tablets to let us know more about “er” verbs and to have a little fun … to get us glued to the unit.”

“It is fun and it is a good break from just doing work.”

“I like writing on the chalk boards because it helps me with my writing and its fun. Kind of like a working game.”

Research Quotes

“Play effectively fosters the advancement of problem solving, creativity, conceptual understanding and memory from concrete to functional stages of cognition for junior and intermediate students.” (Kelly Lit review, p .7)

“Well-designed games give children practical applications for their knowledge that help them solidify their learning and allow them a safe atmosphere in which to take risks and strengthen understanding. Their experience becomes a template they can use for later problem-solving.” (Gee, 2008).

Establishing a Safe Place to Learn

Norms are established about how to use the materials and how to address the teacher when sentences are complete. Students are placed into their groups by the teacher based on considerations of work habits and abilities. Desks are placed into groups to facilitate positive climate while working together.

Core French Les Verbes en ‘ER’

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