This page was built in response to the new initiatives

on the island of Dominica promoting the efficient teaching and learning of French.

Former failings

Very often several years of French lessons, 3 or 4 times a week from the age of 11 onwards and with a highly academic French teacher just did not work! That is, the enormous effort put in by pupils and teacher did not pay off. How many adults express a similar story? True, the teacher may have spoken immaculate French, may have had high flying French qualifications and may have lived in a French speaking country, but unless the teaching and learning styles are compatible, the result is a pupil who stutters and stammers to produce a clumsily formed French sentence, with constant interruptions for an anxious search in a French/English, English/French dictionary. And, after all those lessons, when asked if he or she can speak French, all that pupil (now adult) can answer is “Un peu!” Sounds familiar? Oui ou non?

Learning a language should never be dreary and should never be the drudgery! I experienced for 7 years, 3 or 4 times a week, each lesson beginning with,

“And now for this lesson, turn, in your French text book, to the page after yesterday’s and begin”

and ending with,

“And for homework, learn the next 15 verbs and add 10 new words to your vocab’ list”.


My philosophy

In my view, all the philosophies and activities described in the website apply, not only to the teaching of Language Arts in English, but also to the teaching of Language Arts in French, Spanish, Russian or even outer Mongolian! See Teaching and Learning Principles

 So let’s repeat the philosophy.

Language learning should be fun, should be visual, active, colourful and creative. Languages are an art form and should be treated as such. This means that there needs to be a variety of learning activities offered, and so there are obviously implications for good classroom management.

 Similarly, good listening skills and auditory discrimination skills are crucial to the efficient learning of language and children are too seldom praised for progress in these key areas. See Listening Skills

 So next, think big and broad, think……..

Drama…cafe scenes, market stalls, monologues, dialogues, playlettes, group work  ( For more ideas go to Navigation bar for Story for Drama.)

Poetry (both learning it and writing it, (see Poetry Writing), postcard making and writing,

 Creative writing in a variety of genres, see Creative Writing

 Picture libraries, (but change the labels to French ones of course!.)



Puppets, (see How to make puppets)

Also, word games, crossword puzzles, word bingo and number bingo, flags, customs and festivals, maps

Self correcting workcards (cloze), question cards, see Writing Skills

Stories, listening tapes, videos,songs, see Music and Rhythm

Thumb indexed word books, see How to make a word book.

Topics the children are interested in, dinosaurs, fashion, pop groups, motorbikes, football,

illustrating story themes, designing posters, drawing comic strips,

book corners with French books, French comics, French magazines. See How to make a tuffet for a book corner

 French tourist information.

Think everything on this website but give it a French flavour. Even Bottle Village, the story can be translated with French labels and French speaking characters and all the other accompanying activities. And Bottle Village to promote literacy can likewise be used. Remember that working in a thematic way builds up vocabulary and sentence construction more naturally, in fact similar to how a native speaker learns his language in the first place!


So avoid the text book pages, one after the other and avoid too much chalk and talk.


Teach French as a living and lively subject, which is exactly what it is…d’accord?

The following story can be used as a thematically to do exactly this!


Madame Yvette et Le Tour de France

by Chris Lawrence

A story to act

This story is almost completely true. I know because I was there! But I was not the one who parked the car badly!

I used this story in front of a large audience at Roseau Primary School during their celebratory French Day, and the children (and adults) loved it. My friend Sandra, at no notice, kindly played the part of Madame Yvette, and for that we all thanked her.

The story allows actors to practice everyday French phrases for greetings and for shopping, as well as giving a picture of the part of France where I lived on the day “Le Tour De France” passed in the mountains above our village.



 Madame Yvette, a lady who had plenty of time

The shop keeper at the epicerie

The cyclists

The crowd of Tour de France watchers

A policeman

The tent riggers.



Picnic basket for Madame Yvette

Food from the shop:

For the bagette I wrapped a rolled up shopping basket in white paper and labeled it du pain

For the cheese I wrapped a box in white paper and labeled it du fromage.

For the fruit pie, I wrapped a lidded plate in white paper and labeled it la tarte aux pommes.


You can add hats for the various characters to denote who they are, and display all these props labeled, on a table as part of a wall story called “Madame Yvette et Le Tour de France”


Everything should be clearly labeled to help the children with vocabulary whilst they act. It’s a fun way to learn!


Madame Yvette woke one morning, stepped out of her bed onto the wooden floor of her French house, opened her windows and pushed out her shutters. The sun was shining and she took in the fresh mountain air.

“The weather is good today”

 “Il fait beau aujourd hui!”

she said, nodding her head. She could see the narrow road below her window was unusually busy with cars and bikes all going in the same direction through her little village.


“Ah Le Tour de France! C’est aujourd hui!”


she said

“But it’s early. I have time to go back to bed”

 Madame Yvette was never in a hurry and so snuggled down under her covers as the traffic continued under her window, with a constant stopping of cars outside the village epicerie.

 “There’s plenty of time”

Madame Yvette said, as she went back to sleep.

Meanwhile, at the epicerie, it was so busy. People from the cars were stopping to buy things for a picnic,

bread… du pain,

cheese… du fromage,

wine….du vin,

apple pie…. la tarte aux pommes.

And some bought snails… les escargots!


(Here the children can act out the shopping of the various travellers.)


The big clock on the old church in the village square rang and Madame Yvette wondered if she would get up

 “What time is it?”

 she asked herself as she counted the chimes.

 “One, two three.four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. It’s eleven o’clock”

she said. She was in no hurry. She slowly dressed and set off in her car stopping at the epicerie.


She asked for many things but the lady had sold so much already.


“I would like some cake please Madame.”

“Sorry Madame Yvette, we have no gateau!”


“Have you any snails Madame?”

“Sorry, Madame Yvette, we have no snails”


“Have you any bread Madame?”

“Yes we have bread Madame Yvette”

“I would like a bagette please Madame”

“Here is a bagette Madame Yvette!”

“Merci  Madame.”


” I would like some cheese. Have you any cheese Madame?”

“Yes Madame Yvette. We have cheese”

“I would like a half a kilo of cheese please, oh and a bottle of wine.Madame”

“Your half kilo of cheese and your wine Madame Yvette”

“Merci Madame”


(Here the story can continue depending on the level of French the children have attained.)

 With her shopping done, Madame Yvette put her basket in her car and set off up the mountain to find a place from where she could view the cycling race..Le Tour de France. But what a surprise! There were cars and bikes parked tightly on both sides of the narrow road and so many people. She could not park anywhere near the road the race would go on. But she was in no hurry, took her time and parked her car in the middle of the road.

Then, she took her basket of bread and cheese and wine and walked off to look for a quiet spot to watch the race from.  She saw a huge tent, with a tricoleur on the top,


but the walls of it were shut tight, so she could only see in by peering through a tiny crack.


There were smart chairs in the tent with a label on each one of them like Monsieur le Maire and Chef de Police and, at the front of the tent there was a huge television screen.. Outside the tent were the words


V.I.P. Tent. Ticket Holders Only.


This was all too busy for Madame Yvette, so she climbed up to a quiet rock and sat on it, ate all her picnic, drank all her wine and fell asleep. There was plenty of time.

The crowd was getting excited. They were pointing to the distance where they could see the cyclists coming through a gap in the mountains.Those cyclists looked so small as they were a long way way, but the people near them were shouting and jumping up and down,shouting “Allez, allez!”

Madame Yvette snored and slept.There was plenty of time.

The cyslists got nearer, their legs going like pistons in an engine, and the star cyclist surrounded by his team, the  peloton, the team that kept his way clear and kept the wind off him. Still Madame Yvettet snored and slept. There was plenty of time.

The cyclists were climbing up hill now, and their legs were no longer like pistons. The onlookers shouted

 “Allez! Allez!”  

 and some gave the cyclists a quick push to help them climb!

 Still Madame Yvette slept and snored. There was plenty of time.

 The cyclists started to disappear over the mountain until there was no cyclist left to watch.

 “What a pity we do not know what is happening in the race now! We must hurry home to see it on the television”

 said the crowd. 

They rushed back to their cars, but they could not get off the mountain because Madame Yvette had parked her car in the middle of the road, blocking the way.

 “Look at that car! We cannot go. We must find a policeman!”

 The crowd was angry and the policeman did not know what to do. Then he had an idea. He went to the big tent and whispered to the men there who nodded their heads. They took the walls off the tent and removed the chairs and everyone could stand in the tent and watch the rest of the race on the huge television screen.

 Madame Yvette woke up. Where was everybody? She picked up her basket, went back to her car and drove off.

“I must have come on the wrong day”

she said.

“Le Tour de France must be coming this way tomorrow. Ah well plenty of time”.


The crowd was happy at being able to watch the rest of the race on the big television screen and Madame Yvette was happy at the thought of seeing the cycle race the next day. In fact it turned out to be a happy day all round.  

“I might sell my car and buy a bike”, Madame Yvette thought as she set off back down to the village. “And a bike would certainly be easier to park!” she added,  “But there’s plenty of time!”


Vive Le Tour de France!


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