Skip to main content

French for Free review

This is a quick guided tour of the site French for Free which is party of the FrenchSpanishOnline website by Pascal d'Hervé.

The contents feature vocabulary by theme, "French method", conversation, verbs, GCSE, grammar, expressions, easy vocabulary, difficulties, news in French and English, exercises and "hear what you type". There is a good degree of interactivity on the site, as well as a mine of reference material.

The Vocabulary section is very extensive and each of the 26 topics  includes lists and a whole host of interactive tasks including matching, drag and drop, gap fill and multiple choice. There is some use of colourful pictures and "audio quizzes" where students listen to a short clip and then do exercises. There is also the opportunity for students to record their own voice. All vocabulary, both individual words and phrases, can be listened to.

The section entitled French Method has a set of mini dialogues and vocabulary lists. Once again, students can listen to everything and follow scripts. Arrow keys can be used to move from slide to slide. I found that the top of each page did not display in Firefox, even though the section states that Chrome, Firefox and Safari all work well. Check it with your own browser.

The verbs section is simply a lengthy list of verb conjugations with audio.

The GCSE section contains a set of themed presentations, based on a few questions. These are in the form of quite short sentences without linking words. Students would certainly find them an excellent reference source for their own controlled assessments (i.e. they could cheat by copying them, or better use them as a guide for their own work). Once again, all is recorded. Teachers could use the recording without scripts visible for listening comprehension work.

The Grammar section is pitched largely at the intermediate to advanced level, including, for example, subsjunctives and more advanced compound tenses. Explanations are in Youtube video format along with written explanations  and are very clear. These would be good for reference or revision for keen students. Some grammar points have a multi-choice interactive task at the bottom with a good number of examples.

Let me also mention the embedded text-to-speech page ("Say what you type") which allows students to paste in or type text which is then read aloud in very good French.

There is a good deal more on the site which I won't go through now. Suffice it to say that this site is clear, very useful and could be used selectively by teachers in the classroom, but better by students working alone. GCSE and advanced level pupils would get the most out of it. It appears to be iPad-friendly.

For interactive grammar a site such as languagesonline.org.uk is more attractive and better graded to students' abilities. With French for Free you would also have to integrate which bits you used in class very carefully. For this reason I feel it is, on the whole, better as a student revision/reference source. That said, you have to admire the enormous amount of work that has gone into this site. I also like the large amount of audio material available. You should really have a look at it!

How come it's free? Well. if you do not have an ad blocker you will get plenty of advertisements, but they are not obtrusive enough to make the site unpleasant to use. Maybe at some point the site will be monetised.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


English 

_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

Preparing for GCSE speaking: building a repertoire

As your Y11 classes start their final year of GCSE, one potential danger of moving from Controlled Assessment to terminal assessment of speaking is to believe that in this new regime there will be little place for the rote learning or memorisation of language. While it is true that the amount of learning by heart is likely to go down and that greater use of unrehearsed (spontaneous) should be encouraged, there are undoubtedly some good techniques to help your pupils perform well on the day.

I clearly recall, when I marked speaking tests for AQA 15-20 years ago, that schools whose candidates performed the best were often those who had prepared their students with ready-made short paragraphs of language. Candidates who didn't sound particularly like "natural linguists" (e.g. displaying poor accents) nevertheless got high marks. As far as an examiner is concerned is doesn't matter if every single candidate says that last weekend they went to the cinema, saw a James Bond…

Worried about the new GCSEs?

Twitter and MFL Facebook groups are replete with posts expressing concerns about the new GCSEs and, in particular, the difficulty of the exam, grades and tiers. I can only comment from a distance since I am no longer in the classroom, but I have been through a number of sea changes in assessment over the years so may have something useful to say.

Firstly, as far as general difficulty of papers is concerned, I think it’s fair to say that the new assessment is harder (not necessarily in terms of grades though). This is particularly evident in the writing tasks and speaking test. Although it will still be possible to work in some memorised material in these parts of the exam, there is no doubt that weaker candidates will have more problems coping with the greater requirement for unrehearsed language. Past experience working with average to very able students tells me some, even those with reasonable attainment, will flounder on the written questions in the heat of the moment. Others will…

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…