Why should we include phonics games in languages?

  • to improve listening skills which affects all areas of the curriculum
  • to aid pronunciation, which is not the same as accent
  • to help reinforce the learner’s knowledge of English phonemes/graphemes through comparing & contrasting
  • to link the sounds with the spellings which helps children learn to read in the target language
  • to give the students ownership of their language learning & reading

To hear the alphabet online in French click below.

You can also download the soundfile from About.French.com & save to your laptop or IWB to help jog memory!

Th alphabet nicely as a marching song (you know the my mate, marmite, marine tune) and breaks down as:
V W X Y Z (or use this ppt with embedded sound)

Try using a song or poem to focus on just one sound:

Listen to ‘savez vous plantez les choux’ and pass the object when you hear the 'ou' sound. ( a video with the lyrics in French )

Finally, listen again and this time read the words on the board – ask the children 'is this what you expected? How do you know how to pronounce the sounds?'

More support for teachers:

  • Pas a pas and Le Manuel Phonique are French versions of Jolly Phonics, they come as a PowerPoint within the Catherine Cheater scheme of work from yr 4 onwards or can be purchased separately.

  • Online help with pronunciation for teachers is freely available at http://phonetique.free.fr where you can also test your own ability to distinguish the sounds at any level.

The stepping game – children can do this in PE or outside. Every child takes a step across the room each time phoneme is heard as the teacher reads a poem or plays a cd. Extension - can different children listen for different noises? Go in different directions for different sounds?

Which sounds? In French ‘on’ ‘ou’ ‘in’ ‘eu’ ‘oi’ and ‘au/eau/o’ are the most common to begin with. Give the children somewhere to collect and list the words they come across which have these graphemes so that they create their own Sound dictionaries (also in Catherine Cheater yr 5).

By Year 6 and certainly in KS3 children will appreciate crib sheets with more key sounds & rules to help decode new words - you can download one from the new site http://phonologique.wikispaces.com/ and find an online list including the above graphemes with soundfiles on About.French.Com

Here is a list of French sounds and letter strings as a word document.

Mystery cards - Give each group a card and ask them to work out what the pictures have in common. Each card represents a certain sound in French. They’ll need to use dictionaries and after a while they’ll need a clue that they shouldn’t be thinking about what the pictures are, but what the French words for them are. You could try this with a collection of objects in circle time. This resource came from the TES resources website originally.

Once children are familiar with these sounds there are some more rules to learn - but unlike English, French pronounciation is refreshingly regular:

  • C is always hard (as in crayon) unless it is followed by an e or an i (as in France, and cinq 5)

  • G is always hard (as in gorille - a gorilla) unless it is followed by an e or an i (as in plage - beach and Gigi)

  • é is pronounced 'ay' as in café, bébé and décembre (without an accent it is e as in bleu - see alphabet soundfile above)

  • è and ê are pronounced fairly similarly to rhyme with the English e in bed (as in mère, père, tête) - greater distinctions can be made between these sounds as students move up to KS3 and 4.

  • the last letter of words is more often than not, not pronounced at all, unless the following word begins with a vowel sound. This is called liaison and is explored more thoroughly in the pas à pas and manuel phonique schemes.

Distinguish between the phonemes Stick up to 4 pieces of paper with a different grapheme on in the corners of the room. When the teacher says a word in the target language, the children have to point to the right corner to show which sound they’ve heard. Extend this to reading out a poem.

Sound islands & Venn diagrams When children are ready to progress, they can move on to distinguishing between a number of sounds. One child from each team takes turns to choose a picture, then you say the word in French & they come up and move the picture to the island they think it goes on. You could also do this with objects or textcards.

Sounds posters Ask the children to choose a specific grapheme & make a poster to help people remember how it sounds – they can write down words which use that grapheme & highlight it, put pictures on, etc.

Sounds of the Rainforest Use some simple cognates such as animals and slice the text into syllables and distribute around the class. The children discuss in groups how to say their collection of letters and then read them to the class. Finally, they walk around the room until they find partners to make the complete word.

Useful website for using in class La Petite Souris - http://lps13.free.fr/ with teachers & pupils sections divided into specific sounds with loads of listening activities & links to poems etc with those sounds.

For more links for Spanish and German pronunciation try