Skip to main content

A relative pronoun game

Qui and que cause a lot of problems for English-speaking learners of French because of interference problems from English. English uses the relative pronoun which or that (or nothing at all), irrespective of whether the pronoun is the subject or object. In English we have the added complication that who is used as a relative pronoun when the pronoun refers to a person. French uses qui when the referent is the subject of the verb in its clause and que when it's the object. You can explain all this and give examples. You can also say that in most cases qui is followed directly by a verb (intervening object pronouns are the main exception).

My guess is that, in the long run, students get competent with these by practice and having a good feel for them. In other words, by hearing, reading and using them a lot, they will pick them up naturally. Some students will also find the grammatical explanation hard to understand.

Here is a useful game, or "game-like activity" which makes it more fun to practise relative pronouns and relative clauses. EFL writer Penny Ur describes this type of activity as a twist on a boring, less meaningful task to make it more stimulating. This would work with good intermediate students, but can easily be adapted to make the game easier or harder. It is based on a game I saw on http://www.tesolzone.com/.

So for French it practises qui and que, but you could make it harder by including dont. Display or handout sets of three definitions, the answers to which all begin with the same letter. Make sure you include qui or que in each definition. Keep the vocabulary relatively simple or only introduce new words where the context makes their meaning clear.

On their own or in pairs the students have to solve the definitions and find the common letters to a time limit. You could show each set of three on a PowerPoint slide for a minute before moving on. Points could be given for correct answers. You could design your definitions so that the letters can be combined to form another word.

Examples

  • C'est un grand animal dangereux qu'on trouve en Inde. (tigre)
  • C'est un objet qui se trouve souvent sur votre table en cours. (trousse)
  • C'est le sport qu'on joue à Roland Garros ou Wimbledon. (tennis)


  • C'est une habitation qui a des portes et des fenêtres. (maison)
  • C'est un fruit qui ressemble à une petite orange. (mandarine)
  • C'est un vêtement que je porte quand il fait froid. (manteau)


  • C'est un objet qui est utile quand il pleut. (parapluie)
  • C'est un grand ours noir et blanc qui habite en Chine. (panda)
  • C'est quelque chose qu'on mange souvent le matin. (pain)


  • C'est l'objet que le prof utilise pour écrire au tableau. (stylo)
  • C'est un légume vert qu'on mange avec de la vinaigrette. (salade)
  • C'est du boeuf qu'on mange avec des frites. (steak)


After playing for about 10 minutes, students can then make up their own examples with the aid of a dictionary. Alternatively you can give them words to define in class or for homework. Perhaps it would be a good idea to see, after the activity, if students can work out the rule for themselves.

As a more technical follow-up tasks you could give partial definitions with the relative pronouns missing as a cloze exercise. Students would also have to figure out the answer to make sure there is a decent focus on meaning.

By the way, giving definitions such as these as a starter or plenary activity is a really good way to recycle language and provide useful listening input. You can make them up on the spot.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

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…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

Three AQA A-level courses compared

I've put together my three reviews of worthy A-level courses which you might be considering for next September. They are all very useful courses, but with significant differences. The traditional Hodder and OUP book-based courses differ in that the former comes in one chunky two year book, whilst OUP's comes in two parts, the first for AS or the first year of an A-level course. The Attitudes16 course by Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri is based on an online platform from which you would download worksheets and share a logon with studenst who would do the interactive parts (Textivate and video work). The two text books are supported by interactive material (Kerboodle) or an e-text book.

Attitudes16





An excellent resource which should be competing for your attention at the moment is the Attitudes16 course which writers Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri have been working on for some time. You can find it here at dolanguages.com, along with his excellent resources for film and li…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…