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French Number Practice

How to practice French numbers in the classroom

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Do you find teaching numbers boring, figuring that once you've taught your students to count in French, there's not much else you can do? If so, I have good news for you (and your students). Teachers on the Profs de français forum recently shared all kinds of great ideas for practicing numbers, including several games.


Simple Practice Ideas

Use flash cards with the digit written on one side and the French spelling of the number on the other.

Ask students to count by two's, five's, ten's, etc.

Count different objects in the classroom: number of desks, chairs, windows, doors, students, etc.

Practice numbers with math operations: adding, subtracting, etc.

Print out some paper money or use pennies and practice numbers by counting money.

Talk about the time and date.

Depending on the age of your students and your concerns about privacy, you could ask students about various personal details in French:
  • birthday
  • age
  • number and ages of brothers, sisters, cousin(e)s
  • phone number
  • address
You or your students can bring in pictures of food, clothing, dishes, office supplies, etc. and then discuss how much each item might cost - Ça coûte 152,25 euros, for example. Good for combining number practice with other vocabulary.

One teacher found that students forgot to use the word ans when describing someone's age, so now at the beginning of class, she writes the names of one or two celebrities or notable French people on the chalkboard and students guess his/her age. You can find birthdays in Today in Francophone history.


Number Games and Activities

British bulldog / Dog and Bone
A game for outdoors or a gymnasium: Divide the class in half, and have each side stand in a long line facing the other half, with a large gap for running between the two teams. Give each member a number: each team should have the same set of numbers but in a different order so that the students with the same number are not facing each other. An article, such as a scarf, skittle, or baton, is placed in the space between the two teams. Then the teacher calls a number and the student from each team with that number races to retrieve the article. Whoever gets it earns a point for his/her team.

Number toss
Have the students stand in a circle and throw a nerf ball to another student (not adjacent). Upon catching the ball the student must say the next number. If s/he doesn't know what number you're on, says the wrong number, or pronounces it incorrectly, s/he is out of the game.

Phone numbers
Have students write their actual phone numbers on a small piece of paper with no names. You can play too, by writing a phone number that you know well (such as the school's if you don't want to use your own). Collect the slips of paper and pass them back out randomly, making sure that no one has his/her own number. Everyone stands up. Start the game by reading the number on the paper you have. The person whose number it is sits down and reads the number s/he has, and so on until everyone is seated. Works well for listening, but they have to be able to say the numbers accurately enough for their classmates to understand them. I do this once they've learned 0 to 9.

Le Prix est juste / The Price is Right
Teacher thinks of a number and gives students a range to guess from. Students respond and if incorrect, teacher responds with plus or moins. When a student finally guesses the correct answer, s/he can be rewarded with a sticker, piece of candy, or a point for the team. Then teacher thinks of a new number and gives a range and students begin guessing again.

TPR with numbers
   Write numbers on large cards, then call out instructions to the students: Mettez trente sur la table, Mettez sept sous la chaise (if they know prepositions and classroom vocabulary for example). You can mix it up with other vocabulary to catch them off guard and keep their attention: Donnez vingt à Paul, Mettez la prof sur huit, Tournez vingt, Marchez vite avec onze.
  Or you can put the cards on the chalk tray and practice with avant, après, and à côté de: Mettez trente avant seize, Mettez zéro après dix, etc.
   You might want to start with just five or so numbers at first; when they get good at those, add a couple more and so on.

Zut
Go around the room and count. Each time there is a 7 - a number with 7 in it (like 17, 27) or a multiple of 7 (14, 21) - the student must say zut instead of the number. They are knocked out of the game if they mispronounce the number, say the wrong number, or say the number when they should say zut. So the game should sound like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, zut, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, zut, 15, 16, zut, 18, 19, 20.... You can change the zut number periodically to keep them on their toes.


Many of these French number practice ideas were shared on the Profs de français forum, where French teachers from all over the world discuss everything from making lessons interesting to dealing with problem students. Visit the forum to trade ideas and tips with your virtual colleagues.
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