Online games that promote proficiency

When you want to play games with your students yet you want the games to promote proficiency, try out a few of these ideas.

  • Play Quizlet with fill in the blank instead of translation. Request that students play Match and Gravity. Here is an example on the topic of Mes Activités.
  • One of my favorites is Jeopardy on Factile. Here is a beginner’s version that I call Les Premiers Mois.
  • A Kahoot game is a way to circumlocute and ask students to guess from four options or it can be a regular trivia game. Here is a game for La Famille and another for Ma Journée and then a trivia game for Les Super Héros.
  • And finally, have students read in French about some super heros such as Superman, Spiderman, Wolverine, Hulk, La femme invisible and Wonderwoman. Then play the reverse guessing game Akinator and see if the Akinator can guess the super hero.

September 2020

When we are headed back to school in September, the learning our students will need most will be in the realm of social emotional learning. How do we address this while still practicing French? I have put together some resources to help start off your school year.

Here is a set of slides dedicated to running Advisory Circle in French. I have labeled them for the corresponding proficiency level. There are opportunities to greet other students, share with classmates and play games. I am planning to use these ideas in the beginning days with my continuing students.

I hope they inspire you and add to your plans for La rentrée 2020, a precarious time for us all.

Fighting the Winter Doldrums with Games

There are many large group games that prioritize communication and are perfect for the proficiency-based classroom. In addition, these games work to strengthen relationships between students and increase the intent to speak because they are fun.

You will find game ideas under the games category to the right. To escape the winter doldrums, I have added three new ones into my 8th grade French I class that I want to share with you as well.

Alibi A detective is chosen and he or she leaves room, next the person who committed the crime is chosen. The detective returns and starts asking “Qu’est-ce que tu as fait (tel jour) à (telle heure)?” The students answer one by one making sure to add in detail. The more detail the better because the second time around, the person who committed the crime changes one little detail, so the detective has to listen carefully. The others have to listen carefully as well because sometimes someone will say they did something with someone else and the story needs to line up. Ex “Je suis allé au parc avec Alexandra parce qu’elle adore jouer au basket.”

Celebrity This is a guessing game between two teams. To make your numbers work, maybe run two games going at the same time in the class. There are three rounds with the same names: 1. Describing the celebrity 2. Acting like the celebrity and 3. Using one word clues. Players start by writing the name of a celebrity on a slip of paper without showing anyone else. One team starts and picks a leader. The teams try to guess the names of the celebrities their leader picks from the pot, one by one for a minute, describing each. Switch teams and continue play until all the slips are used up. Then run the other two rounds with new leaders. At the end, count up all the points to determine a winner.

The Newlywed Game Students get in partners of two people who know each other well. The teacher helps the students who don’t have an obvious person to work with. Each player should have a piece of paper and a writing utensil. The teacher asks random questions that the students were not aware of beforehand. One student writes down her answers to the question and the other writes down what she thinks her partner will say. As a group go over answers of the pairs, and then repeat the process with the pairs changing roles. The goal is for the pairs to match answers. The pair with the most matching answers wins. From: Using Games In A Foreign Language Classroom by Amy Talak-Kiryk

Jeopardy: Large-group Games using Technology

As I have come to understand proficiency-based instruction, my games have become so much more interesting for students. In my current Jeopardy games, students are doing a guessing game from a clue. My clues use circumlocution to talk around the terms and lead students to the answer.

There are a few choices for large-group games on the Internet and Jeopardy is the one I like best. When students tell me they love Quizlet Live and Kahoot they aren’t expressing interest in the content of the game, they just like pushing the buttons. Quizlet Live is most often played as an identification game. The students give the term to name what they see. I know it can be played with a clue and an answer, but the site is set up in a way that promotes an identification game. Kahoot, while sometimes used in the same way, is conceived to be a game where students pick the right answer to a question. As an example, here is my best attempt on the theme of Daily Routine. An ok game, but still like a language exercise.

So where am I going with this? The game Jeopardy offers a format which is more of a guessing game, and, there is a great online technology tool to make these games.

coconut tree
Photo by Steshka Willems on

With the platform Fractile, I am able to make a true guessing game. See my game on Tourism in Martinique linked at the bottom of this page.

Factile has options that make Jeopardy better than the versions I have created in the past. You can have multiple teams playing, not just two, which keeps students more engaged. Also, there is a flashcard mode that I like to use to review material with my students before we play which seems to get them to pay close attention.

As you can tell, I have enjoyed playing Jeopardy with my students. I find that it can be a true guessing game that engages students, as opposed to a stilted language-learning game. And, with the technology tool Fractile, I can have students play in small teams and we can review before the game using the flash card feature. Another feature that you may enjoy from Fractile is that you can play my games as they are for free or you can make a copy if you join the site and edit my games to make them work for your class.

Tourisme en Martinique

Ma Ville


Les premiers mois du cours

What makes a good game?

I used to play Jeopardy at the end of every unit. I liked it because years ago Jeopardy was novel for the student and the element of competition would get them motivated. Then I noticed that there was a lot of Jeopardy playing in other classes and the idea got a little old.

In addition, what I didn’t like about Jeopardy, at least the way I played, was that the students who weren’t currently taking a turn didn’t always engage. There was a lot of sitting around not actively listening. I researched some new game ideas and found that my favorite games are those where either small groups play concurrently; the class has to listen and keep track of what others say; or partners play.

I have compiled some new game ideas for you to mix it up in your class as well.

Exhausting your options  Have all the students sit on the tables. Begin by asking the first student a question, such as, Where did you go yesterday? After the student answers, repeat the question for the next student, and so on, continuing until a student cannot respond with a new answer and sits back down. Then change the question and continue to play until only one student remains and is declared the winner. From Sheri L. Petelle, ¡Vamos a Jugar!, MaFLA Conference, 1999  Document: Exhaust your options

Loto Humain  Students ask their classmates if they do the following activities. If able to answer yes to a question, the student signs their first name in that box. Each student may only sign a paper once and can’t sign their own. Students finish by having every box signed and yelling out Loto and the game will stop and we will go over who does what.  Document: Loto Humain

Outburst  Make a half sheet for each of a variety of topics. Write the topic at the top (for example, FAMILY) and then vocabulary words underneath (la mère, le cousin). Divide the class into teams of 5. All teams play at the same time. One player from the team is handed a half sheet on a clipboard and tells the topic to the team members. Each team will have a minute to name as many items as possible. One point is awarded for each correct answer. Points are deducted for English. Play several rounds. The team with the most points wins. Idea from Diane Farrug and Catherine Fortin  Document: Outburst


For more game ideas and examples of games click here