When I started teaching, I would always put together the syllabus and talk for an hour about EVERYTHING the kids could possibly know about EVERYTHING. It was overwhelming for them and for me; I don’t want to talk that much non-stop!
So, I switched things up and started looking for ways to teach them how my classroom works, without talking at them and while using as much French as possible.
Some things (I personally feel) you just have to talk about in English to make sure you are extra clear: classroom expectations, grading policy…
But showing them where supplies are located in the room is one (of many) that you can do in French at ANY level.
My 6th graders (who, at our school, do an exploratory languages rotation, trying 5 different languages for 6 weeks each) and my 7th graders (French 1A) do this activity in “Franglais.” The key words I want them to start learning are bolded and in French, the answers are to be written in French, but location information, verbs, and descriptors are in English. It’s not EASY but they are always able to complete it, normally within 15 minutes (max – they are middle schoolers and tend to stop and chat every 2 seconds).
My 8th graders (French 1B – high school credit class) do it in French. Everything is in French, they might not remember it all, but it helps their brains start pulling the old dusty French files out from behind Fortnite or how Bobby broke up with Suzy “like, literally yesterday. So cringy!”
Some things that make this work:
- I preface it with pointing out that there are words everywhere in the room, even doing the first one with them.
- There are words everywhere in the room. Almost every single word they need is a label in French by that item. Below is a picture of labels like pencil sharpener, tape… and those things are located underneath their labels.
- Things that aren’t labeled can be figured out by using context clues, cognates, or other questions on the paper.
- I encourage making educated guesses, working together, asking me for hints, and accepting that if they get one wrong, so what? We always go over it at the end (I don’t tell them that until after they finish, though).
At the bottom of the scavenger hunt is a matching section; they match the French and English word, just to help them focus in on all the French words they saw. These words are words we will work with all year. I do not focus on all of them at the very beginning though. After this activity, we take the most important and useful words for functioning in class in French as much as possible; we will work on others as we need them.
In general, I find that after we go over the answers, they make corrections if needed, and then they pass them in knowing that their first grade in French class is a 100, the students feel just a little less anxious about this whole “speaking French thing.”
The documents I use are attached on the Freebies page and on my TpT store for free! You have access to a pdf and a docx format for all of them. Edit it to work for your classroom and the words that your kids will use most often, even change it to another language, whatever you like! There are 3 different documents: The advanced scavenger hunt (all in French for my 8th graders), the “Franglais” scavenger hunt, and an answer key.
What do you do with your kids on the first day? Share in the comments below, on Instagram, or my TpT store!
** Side note: I use the word “le Scotch” for tape because its just way easier to remember and say for the students, and it works just like Kleenex for us. I do however have the label for it also say the real word for tape: le ruban adhésif. A few students want the challenge of a longer word and will learn it as that instead. That is fine with me!