Secondary Language Learning


Ideas for teaching and connecting in this toughest of years!

Maureen Gerber, OFLA Secondary Language Learning Committee Chair
French Teacher, World Language Department Head, Perrysburg High School

The good news is, that as I write this we are almost in February.  Of course the bad news is that February is coming, a month that in the best of years is characterized by sickness, angst and day after day of grey skies and mucky weather.  

But, we’ve made it this far!   Here are some strategies and tips that are working for me.  If you aren’t already doing a few of these, here’s an addition to your teacher toolbox.  

  1. Fingers!

In-class,whether in person or remote,  a quick formative assessment is having them hold up fingers to show understanding.


a. Relative Pronouns.  I provide 2 sentences.  They hold up 1 for QUI,  2 for QUE, 3 for DONT

Voici une maison.  La maison est en solde.
Voici une maison.  J’aime cette maison.
Voici une maison.  J’ai envie de cette maison.

 b. After a story:  I describe a character.  They hold up 1 for character x,  2 for character y, etc.

Examples from the film, Belle et Sébastien.
Qui a sauvé Guillaume?
Qui a fabriqué un chien en bois?
Qui nous a surpris à la fin en aidant Angelina?

c. With sports, activities, weather, clothes.   1 for winter / 2 for summer  (a great, quick, no prep review to start class at the novice level).    With colors: 1 for blue, 2 for red, 3 for jaune (de quelle couleur est le ciel, le soleil, le coeur, etc.). More advanced students can be responsible for leading this for the class.

d. After any interpretive activity, this could be adapted.  One for true / two for false.  

  1. Quizlet “tests”

I take a quizlet, and make a test, using only the translation, matching and multiple choice options.  I post the link on our platform (we use Schoology).  Students complete the test, grade, screenshot results and turn them in.  They love this, and it saves a lot of time.

Quizlets can be used for mini-whiteboards in class.  I sometimes have full sentences for them to write out. 

Example recently:  When we had done the dishes, we watched TV.

 Making this one time can be used in class as a formative assessment (mini-whiteboards), at home for practice (test/WS using only the translation option), and later for them to practice on their own if they have the link.  Win, win.

  1. Lyrics Training 

I learned from my student teacher this fall that Lyrics Training now has a multiple choice option.  Wow! This was a game changer for me.  The students love getting Lyrics Training as an activity on our remote learning days.

  1. Ed-Puzzle with a twist. 

I still love Ed-Puzzle, but going into their site to grade was too time consuming.  I find or adapt (or make) quizzes with only multiple choice questions.  The students complete them, screenshot their results and load those onto Schoology for homework.  So much time saved.

  1. Whole class Pictionary. This is an absolute winner when we are in person.  Steps are important to be safe.  We:a. All get our own dry erase marker
    b. All get our own paper towel

 Then I divide the class into 2 teams.  One student from each team goes to the board and is certain to stand 6 feet from the other person.  (I have x’s on the floor).  I give them a word, showing only them.  They draw.  Students must raise their hand and guess.   Students at the board erase with their towel and take their marker back with them. 

After class, markers are in a plastic basket and I sanitize.

  1. DICE conversations.  Dice can be sanitized after use.  I have partners do a variety of interpersonal tasks with a 6 x 6 grid.  Students roll 2 times and speak about the prompt indicated.  For prompts you can:

a. Review using can-do’s from the current and previous units
b. Target specific structures.  Example:  If I were in France, I would…… , etc.
c. Have conversations specific to your unit.  Example:  How do you celebrate?   How has technology changed in schools?  What social networks do you use?   What sports interest you and why?  What is your favorite movie and why?  How can you compare grocery shopping in France and in Ohio? 

  1. T-Chart Venn diagram for interpretive skillsa. Give two infographics and have students compare, in English, to show understanding
    b. Give two films on a topic and have students take notes in TL
    c. Give two articles or one article with two points of view and have students explain
    d. Use for a story, film or print, with a point of view and have students compare two characters.  Example: Little Red Riding Hood.   Point of view of the grandmother vs. the wolf.   

8.  “Placemat” Venn diagram for interpretive skills

Give students a rectangle with five sections to be used as follows after reading, viewing or listening:

1. Five new words learned and definitions
2. The main idea
3. An inference that they explain
4. Supporting details that support the main idea (in the TL)
5. Cultural comparison (in the TL)

  1. Pop-up game. This is a quick and silly game.  First, pick a topic for which you can rattle off a lot of sentences. Let’s say you’re wanting to hone être verbs in the passé composé.  So, you say several sentences in the present tense and if a verb goes with être, they need to stand up, or “pop-up.”


Le Petit Chaperon Rouge met le gâteau dans son panier.
Elle part de la maison *
Elle commence à marcher.
Elle voit un Loup.
Elle parle avec le Loup.
Elle continue à marcher.
Le Loup va à la maison de la Grand-mère.*
Il arrive avant PCR. *
Il entre dans la maison.*
Il attaque la grand-mère.
Il mange la grand-mère!
Il met la robe de la grand-mère.
Il tombe dans le lit de la grand-mère.*
Le PCR entre dans la maison. *

Example (with sports):  If you use your HANDS to do the sport, POP UP.

Je joue au tennis. *
Je joue au foot.
Je nage. *
Je fait du jogging.

  1. Résumez for interpretive activities.  Students watch a film and take notes. Then, they summarize IN DETAIL the information presented in the film as a speaking assignment.  They put this audio on the grading platform.
  2. Quizzes a new way.

Since my Schoology quizzes are often assignments for remote days, I’ve started asking the questions orally and then either having them fill in the blanks (and I have a complete word bank that goes with these) or answer via multiple choice.

That way, they cannot just translate the questions.  Plus they get more language in their ears.

Remember teachers, you are essential and you are heroes.  

Courage!  We can do this!



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