This post is all about French word walls: what they are, how they support and benefit students, activities to do with the word cards, suggestions for display, and resources to use.
What is a French word wall?
A word wall is basically a space on your classroom board/wall where you display focus words for students to see. The selection of words will depend on grade level, goal, and even season of the year.
In second-language learning environments, the most common purpose is to display new vocabulary, particularly high-frequency words.
In intermediate to advanced language level classrooms, the focus might shift to the expansion of vocabulary, i.e. offering students choice of words to avoid the overuse of common expressions.
Teachers can also create seasonal or theme word walls to display and have students work with words related to, for example, autumn, Christmas, winter activities, summer sports, etc.
How does a French word wall benefit students and support their learning?
As you probably know well, students relate to visual aids differently. Nevertheless, all students, with the exception of the visually impaired, will benefit from seeing words in French all the time, every day:
– they will be encouraged to use the words
– students can refer to the wall when they need to say or write a word
– they can get a sense of accomplishment from seeing the word wall “grow” or increase in difficulty as the year progresses
– they are encouraged to think about the nature of words, the letter-sound relationship, and the importance of learning how to use words correctly
– students who have little or no knowledge of French (and also those who are introverts) will find comfort and reassurance from knowing that the words are “there” to help them communicate
How does a French word wall make your teaching life easier?
Implementing a word wall in your classroom will:
– keep you from having to write the same word over and over again on the board
– help you structure a classroom routine if you keep constanly adding to the wall and referring to it
– allow you to do many different activities using the same cards (see suggestions below)
Easy no-prep activities to do with a French word wall
These are quick, no-prep activities that can be used to generate extra practice and also as meaningful time-fillers.
– ABC order: select 5-10 words from the word wall and have students order them alphabetically, either orally or in writing
– Guess my word: have one student silently choose a word from the word wall without telling anyone what the word is. Then, the student has to either mime or draw the word for others to guess what it is. For more advanced students, you can have them explain what the word is without saying it
– Bingo: have students create a 3×3 grid on their notebooks. Tell them to write one word from the word wall in each square. While they’re doing it, you should write down about 15-20 words from the wall in random order. Those are the words you’ll be calling out so they can play bingo
– Word Sighting: select some words from the word wall (or all the words if the number is manageable). Divide the class into groups of 3-5 students. Hand out old magazines – one for each group. Tell them that they have 5-10 minutes (you decide how long) to find as many instances of the words in the magazine. You might have them circle the words they find. The group that finds the most words wins
– Art Show: select one of the words. Tell students that they have to write that word on a sheet of paper in the fanciest, most artistic, colorful way they can think of. When they’re done doing that, there should be an “art show” with all the art works they’ve created
– Rhyme Time: either have students find two words on the word wall that rhyme or have them think up of rhymes for any of the words on the wall. Time permitting, you can extend this activity into having them write a poem using the rhyming words
Ways to display a French word wall
Deciding HOW to set up a word wall depends mainly on the space available and the purpose of that wall.
Below are a few ways in which word walls are most commonly used.
Setting up a French word wall might take some printing, cutting, and laminating, but it’s definitely worth it.
If you’re looking for ways to save up on time, check out the French word wall sets with ready-made and editable cards available at the For French Immersion TpT store. Click on any of the pictures above to be check them out!
Thank you for reading!
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