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Ideas and tips to help you start up a French club

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I've said it before and I'll say it again - you can't become fluent in French if you don't practice what you've learned, and French clubs are an ideal place to practice. If there's no Alliance française or other French club near you, maybe you need to take things into your own hands and create your own. This isn't as daunting as it sounds - all you need to do is find a meeting place and some members, decide on meeting frequency, and plan a few interesting activities. This article can help you find the way.

Before you set up your French club, there are two things you need to find: members and a meeting place. Neither of these is super difficult, but both require some effort and planning.


Finding Members
  • School newsletter
  • Bulletin boards at college, library, community center
  • Ad in local paper
  • French restaurants, cafés
  • High school, college, and adult ed French teachers
Meeting Places
  • School cafeteria
  • Unused classroom
  • Library or community center
  • Local café, restaurant, or bar (depending on ages)
  • Members' homes (take turns)
  • Local park
Types of Meetings

At your first meeting, agree on a day and time for future meetings and discuss the types of meetings you'll be having.
  • Lunchtime Table française - students and people from the community can just drop in when they have the time. Hopefully French teachers will offer extra credit to their students who attend. :-)
  • Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings
  • Outings to plays, opera, movies, museums
Tips
  • There needs to be at least one person in semi-charge who speaks fairly fluently. This person can help everyone feel comfortable no matter what their level, help others with their French, encourage conversation when it lags, and remind everyone to speak French. Asking questions is a good way to get everyone talking.
  • Have a set meeting time and date (every Thursday at noon, the first Sunday of the month) to help keep the routine.
  • Meet for at least an hour, preferably 2, to make sure it's worth people making the effort to show up.
  • Collect members' names and contact info so that you can remind them about meetings. An email mailing list is an excellent way to do this.
  • Stress the fact that all levels are welcome and that it's in everyone's best interest to talk.
  • Just for fun, you could decide on a club name and get T-shirts made.
  • Be strict about French only.
French Club Activities

OK, so you've figured out your meeting time, place, and venue and you've got a bunch of interested members. Now what? Just sitting around and talking in French is a good start, but there are lots of things you can do to spice up the meetings.
  • Eat

       * brunch, lunch, dinner at a restaurant
       * cheese tasting
       * crêpe making
       * dessert tasting
       * fondue
       * French-style barbecue
       * picnic
       * pot luck
       * wine tasting
       * le monde francophone: week 1: France, week 2: Belgium, week 3: Senegal, etc.

  • Music and Movies

       * listen and/or sing (get lyrics from internet)
       * Rent movies to watch at member's home
       * Make a trip to the theater

  • Literature

       * Plays - take turns reading
       * Novels - take turns reading, or copy extracts to discuss at next meeting
       * Poetry - read or write

  • Presentations

       * French culture
       * French-speaking countries
       * Regions of France
       * trip photos
       * powerpoint

  • Games

       * Boules
       * Culture and history quizzes
       * Twenty questions
       * Taboo: put a bunch of random French words in a hat, pick one, and try to describe it while others guess what the word is.

  • Parties

       * Bastille Day
       * Christmas
       * Halloween
       * Mardi Gras
       * Poisson d'avril
       * Get together with other language clubs

There are no hard and fast rules for French club activities, but hopefully this page will help you get started. You might find some other ideas on my pages about National French Week and French-themed celebrations.

Are you already part of a French club? Would you like to share what works and what doesn't for your group? If you have great and not so great ideas about French club activities, please share them on the forum.
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