Bringing Drama to French Class

I had a hard developing a question and action plan in our last F2F, but I settled on the following: “How might I create more authentic situations in the French classroom?” When I read the suggestions during the feedback session, I realized, however, that my issue was more around my apathetic students in Core French. Fortunately, during the social after the F2F, I was led to a question I am really excited to pursue; “How might we use storytelling and drama to increase fluency in a Core French classroom?”

Thank you to  @apetrolito who told me about TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) because it has resulted in dramatic (pun intended!) changes to my last few Grade 10 Core French classes. I started experimenting with reading children’s stories to my students then having them create actions to represent the keywords from the story. With those keywords, we have been inventing our own stories and acting them out in class. Each class they build on the stories, and they can make them as silly as they like; it has led to hilarious classes where I really feel like my students are coming away learning so much more. For example, we have been working on the difference between le passé composé and l’imparfait, and using TPRS has been so much more fun to help them distinguish and apply the two tenses. This method has been great for my weak students, for my disengaged students, and for my advanced students!


For example, after reading a story I would display a slide like this: .

Students would then create a gesture for each word which we would also practise doing and saying together. I am familiar with many AIM gestures because I am using it for an Open French class, but I find it more fun getting the students to invent their own actions. Par exemple, both my sections chose this action boy standing near dock to represent “une fille”!


It has only been a couple of classes, but I am eager to explore this further. I would like to have them eventually publish their own children’s book and then invite a local elementary French class to visit so that we can read to them.


My action plan includes visiting @ddoucet‘s classroom to see how I can use the CECR more in my classes as well as collaborating with @jbairos and @mneale who have similar questions they want to explore this Cohort season!




  8 comments for “Bringing Drama to French Class

  1. November 24, 2018 at 1:13 am

    Pulling together @ddoucet @jbairos and and @mneale will be a great start.

    You should also check out @sandygibson



    Your action plan is now in ACTION!

  2. November 26, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    @sthompson This sounds like so much fun! I love the idea of starting with children’s stories – built in simplicity. And your class’s gesture for “une fille” sure beats the AIM gesture! 🙂

  3. November 27, 2018 at 2:52 am

    Bonjour Sarah!

    I, too, began Cohort21 with the desire of bringing ‘authenticity’ to the Core French classroom a few years back. I am still continuing with the ideas I had blogged about and am exploring a few others.

    What you wrote here is intriguing, though! The reverse gesture approach, perhaps? It sounds like you’ve got the students engaged for sure. I’m about to go into the difference between the passe compose and the imparfait with my students, so you now have me considering how I might integrate actions to differentiate between the two. (Or moreso, how I might get my students to create actions to better recall the difference!) I think that your idea of taking this a step further and preparing a book for an actual live audience is fantastic.

    On a sidenote, I know how disheartening it is to experience students’ apathy in Core French courses beyond Gr. 9 when they have made the decision to continue with the language. But that’s an action plan for another season of Cohort21…

    Bon courage pour la suite!

  4. November 28, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    @sthompson. I am so glad you are trying this. I am using TPRS in a different stage in the AP French classroom. We are avoiding learning about the language but focused on learning IN the language… It’s a real challenge for sure. It is wonderful to see that students engage when it is real and that they are learning to communicate! My question is based on how to evaluate in this environment. The removal of the grammar test reveals unique opportunities!

    • November 29, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      Hi @apetrolito, can I send the recent test I made for my students for storytelling. I would love your feedback on it!

      • November 29, 2018 at 4:30 pm

        Absolutely, I am learning the same as you! I would love to share with you!

  5. November 29, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    I love the action they made for une fille!!
    We should absolutely try to have lunch together or something at the next F2F. Or maybe we can even find release time together to chat about our action plans.
    This book may be of some interest to you as well. I’ll bring it in Jan and you can see if it would be a good fit for your classes:
    I love the start of your action plan!

  6. December 16, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    This is the Cohort effect in action for sure! Taking different ideas practiced in different disciplines and applying them in new ways (innovation!). There are some very talented french educators in our cohort alumni – which Justin has already pointed out. I highly recommend digging into their action plans first and then reaching out to them.

    You should also check out this TED talk based on body language and meaning:

    It’d be great to watch as a class and go from there!

    Good luck,

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