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Intermediate (GCSE) parallel reading on frenchteacher

Regular users of frenchteacher will know that a staple of the site is texts with exercises at all levels. I have always thought that teaching grammar and vocabulary in context, through meaningful and interesting texts is a fruitful way to improve students' skills. I usually add a range of tasks to texts including vocab lists to complete, true/false/not mentioned, questions in French, matching, correcting false sentences, gap-fill, translation. communicative oral tasks and more.

One conundrum with texts, of course, is trying to match the linguistic and maturity levels. Generally speaking, interesting texts are too hard. One way around this is to use the idea of parallel texts in the target language and English so that students can get quickly to the meaning which interests them. But then, my instinct remains to try to teach texts almost wholly through the target language. I have found in the past that parallel texts are a useful route into a text, before you begin further exploitation. Don't forget that further exercises in TL provide more input, and we know that input is a (the?) major factor in acquisition.

I have parallel texts on the site from beginner to intermediate level and you can easily make them into booklets to be worked on in class, set for homework or given as extension work.

Here is an example, the topic being phobias (an inherently interesting topic), written for intermediate (GCSE) level. You'll see the French text, then an English version, then exercises. I would personally begin with the teacher reading aloud while student follow the English text. Students could then reread quietly or practise reading aloud. You can then work through the exercises, maybe adding your own, e.g. practising intonation or, for example, aural gap-fill (where students hide the text and you read snippets which they have to complete out loud, putting up their hands to offer answers)

French text

Dans un sondage récent on a demandé à 2000 personnes de quoi ils avaient le plus peur. Il semble qu’il y ait des différences non seulement entre les réponses des hommes et celles des femmes, mais aussi entre les différentes générations. En tête de la liste, beaucoup de gens ont peur des hauteurs (58%). En deuxième place vient parler en public, suivi de près par la peur des serpents (52%). Ensuite viennent les araignées, les souris, les piqûres, l’avion, les grandes foules, les clowns, l’obscurité, le sang et les chiens (14%). A noter que le dentiste n’était pas sur la liste de phobies présentées aux sondés. Il est intéressant de constater aussi que les femmes craignent davantage les araignées et les souris que les hommes. En général, à l’exception des piqûres, les femmes ont un peu plus peur de tout que les hommes. Mais il y a aussi des différences entre les générations. Les jeunes ont plus peur de parler en public, tandis que les personnes de plus de 60 ans ont plus peur des hauteurs et des serpents. Il est difficile de comprendre pourquoi tant de personnes ont peur des clowns !

English text

In a recent opinion poll 2000 people were asked what they were most afraid of. It seems that there are differences, not only between the replies of men and women, but also between the different generations. At the top of the list many people are afraid of heights (58%). In second place comes public speaking, followed closely by the fear of snakes. (52%). Then come spiders, mice, injections, flying, large crowds, clowns, darkness, blood and dogs (14%). It’s worth mentioning that dentists were not offered as an option to the people polled. It is also interesting to note that women fear spiders and mice more than men. In general, with the exception of injections, women are a little more afraid of everything than men. But there are also differences between generations. Young people are more scared of public speaking, whilst people aged over 60 are more frightened of heights and snakes. It is hard to understand why so many people are frightened of clowns!


Vrai, faux ou pas mentionné ?

1. On a posé des questions au public sur leurs phobies.
2. Les femmes et les hommes donnent toujours les mêmes réponses.
3. Les gens ont peur du dentiste.
4. Les gens ont le plus peur de parler en public.
5. Les femmes ont plus peur des piqûres que les hommes.
6. Les femmes ont plus peur des souris que les hommes.
7. On a sondé un nombre égal de femmes et d’hommes.
8. Avoir peur d’un clown, c’est facile à comprendre.
9. Personne n’a peur de l’obscurité.
10. Les jeunes ont relativement moins peur des hauteurs.
11. Plus de 50% des gens ont peur des serpents.
12. Plus de 50% des personnes ont peur des araignées.
13. Les gens ont moins peur de l’avion que les grandes foules.

De quoi avez-vous peur ? 

1. Mettez les phobies dans le texte dans votre ordre personnel. a) ………………… b) ………………… c) ………………… d) ………………… e) ………………… f) ………………….

2. Ecrivez cinq phrases sur vos peurs personnelles. J’ai peur de/des ………………………………………. ………………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………................................................................  …………………………………………………………...............................................................  …………………………………………………………..

3. Sondage : posez la question à vos camarades de classe :

 Tu as peur de quoi ? Notez les résultats et expliquez-les au professeur. Par exemple : Paul a peur de(s)….. etc


  1. Steve, I'm very interested in your texts. I am with you. Reading is the key. I have all adult students and sometimes what is available for them to read is middle school/high school dramas about Peggy being mad at her best friend, etc. I am writing stories using grown-ups for the grown-ups to read. I understand your using the English text; I didn't in mine. I used a controlled vocabulary that fits in with most textbooks and is meant to be used after learning the grammar, so they can see it in action, but also so they can read for pleasure. I'd love to have you visit my site and to hear your comments. Thanks. Becky or

  2. Sad to hear about Peggy's relationship problems.... But yes, I only used parallel texts spatingly, preferring your traditional approach of controlling the vocab. My preference was to let students see the grammar in context first (often in texts(, then practise and explain later. That's how most UK language textbooks operate. Thanks for leaving a comment.


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