Spring is almost sprung! With warmer weather just around the corner, I always feel inspired to turn to more outdoor-related topics in my classes. Around this time of year, I usually like to do a sports-themed unit. I find that this theme is just the breath of fresh air that my students and I need after a long winter. It gets us up and moving and gives the students who play sports a chance to share their experiences with the class.
Today I’d like to share a story from my sports unit called Karim et le match de foot. In it, a boy named Karim gives a play-by-play of a big soccer game. The story includes vocabulary and verbs related to soccer—things like passing the ball, dribbling toward the goal, and scoring. Karim et le match de foot is intended to be easily comprehensible for novice-level students, with lots of cognates and repetitions of target words.
If you are interested in checking out the story, you can find it here. The download includes the story, teacher instructions, comprehension questions, a dictée, a listen-and-draw, and a writing prompt.
I often use comprehensible input-based stories like this one as my anchor for a week of lessons. Here’s how I typically like to set things up:
Day 1: To introduce soccer as the main topic of the week, I like to “hook” students with a clip from the French Ligue 1 website (like this one, for example).
Then, I introduce the vocabulary and/or grammar structures that the students will need to know in order to understand the text. For this story in particular, the main vocabulary would be:
- jouer au foot—to play soccer
- un joueur/une joueuse—a soccer player
- le gardien de but—the goalie
- une équipe—a team
- un match—a game
- donner un coup de pied dans le ballon—to kick the ball
- passer le ballon—to pass the ball
- bloquer le ballon—to block the ball
- marquer un but—to score a goal
After establishing meaning for these words, we create gestures as a class. Gestures for sports units are always fun, because the kids really get into them! After creating the gestures, we act them out several times, so the students have a chance to get familiar with the vocabulary.
I finish up the lesson with a little PQA, using the target vocabulary to ask them questions about what happens during a soccer game. (You can see this post for an explanation of PQA.)
Day 2: I start class with another Ligue 1 clip, using some of the target vocabulary to narrate the game for the class. Next, we review the vocabulary, practice our gestures, and do a little more PQA.
Now, I introduce Karim et le match de foot. I read it twice to the class. The first time through the story, I read it aloud without showing the text on a worksheet or screen. I read slowly and pause frequently, repeating sentences that seem challenging. Whenever a vocabulary term come up, I act out the gesture in an exaggerated way and encourage the students to do so as well.
The second time through the story, I give the students a worksheet that includes the text or project it on a screen. I read it again while students follow along.
Day 3: I show another Ligue 1 clip and narrate aloud. We review the vocabulary, practice our gestures, and do some more PQA.
Next, I read Karim et le match de foot again while the students follow along. After I finish reading, I ask the students to complete some comprehension questions individually, so I can gauge their understanding.
Then, we finish up with a dictée using sentences that are pulled from the story. (For a detailed explanation of the dictée process, you can check out this post.)
Day 4: I show another Ligue 1 clip and narrate it. We review the vocabulary, practice gestures, and do some PQA.
This time, to review the story, I ask one of the more enthusiastic students to read it aloud, and a couple of other students to act it out. I encourage the whole class to act out a gesture whenever it comes up in the story.
Next, I pull some sentences from the story for a Listen-and-draw. (This is similar to a dictée, but instead of writing what they hear, the students illustrate what they hear.) After they complete their drawings, I ask the students to walk around the classroom and share their work with a few partners, describing their illustrations in French.
Day 5: I show and narrate a Ligue 1 clip. We review the vocabulary, practice gestures, and do PQA.
Next, I ask another group of students to read and act out the story a final time, and encourage everyone to do the gestures.
Then, I give the students a writing prompt. I ask them to write their own story about a soccer game. This can be very similar to Karim et le match de foot, or they can take it in a totally new direction. I give them a few minutes to plan their story, and then about 10 minutes to write. At the end of 10 minutes, I ask students to count their words (which we keep track of whenever we do writing prompts). If any students would like to share their stories with the whole class, I invite them to do so.
And there you have it—a story and a week of activities! These plans are meant to be flexible, so you can tweak them in any way that makes sense in your classroom. I hope you will find some of these ideas to be useful. Feel free to take what works for you and make it your own!