Bring music into your French classroom!

Music in French class is so much fun! Want to find some fun, new songs to play for your French students? Read on!

List of French songs to help teach vocabulary and grammar

I've been teaching for 12 years now, and I have to admit that I am not always fun.  Or interesting.  Sometimes, even I am not interested in what I am doing. While I try my best, I struggle a lot with teaching certain standards in my class.  According to my curriculum, I need to teach poetry, but I HATED poetry in school.  How can I help the kids appreciate something, analyze something, care about something that I can't stand myself?  MUSIC!

The first major change I made was to bring music into my classroom every week, no matter how busy I was or how much I felt I needed to teach certain concepts.  Because I am not a lover of Mondays, I decided to start the week with a song.  I'll admit that it has been very time-consuming finding the perfect song each week, and even more challenging if you teach the same students for several years in a row.  That requires a LOT of songs!  See, you can't just bring in a song just because you don't like Mondays.  You have to have the right song for the concepts you are working on, and you have to know your audience.  In my case, do teenagers like what I like?  I am 20+ years older than they are, so maybe not.

Here are some fun ways I like to use songs and music:

1. Teach note-taking and culture by creating short Power Points about the singers.  These generally take 10-15 minutes to make by doing a quick Google search and some copying and pasting.  It is great to help students understand the diversity of the French-speaking world.  I find that it helps my kids relate more to the countries we are studying if they can become familiar with some of the country's people.

2.  Create a cloze activity by erasing some of the lyrics.  I like to do this when we are working on specific vocabulary or verb tenses.  There are lyrics available easily online with a quick Google search.  Just copy and paste into a document, then delete the words you want them to write in.  Super easy!

3.  Have students memorize the song to help them retain certain problematic structures.

4.  Show them the video and have them make inferences based on what they see.

5.  Create a writing prompt or discussion prompt based on the video.  This is great for upper level classes.

6.  Find a video with the lyrics and have a lip-syncing contest.  This is super fun if you have some less-shy classes, and it is a fun way to practice French if some classes are ahead of the others and you are looking for something fun to do while the others catch up.

Great songs that might not already be on your playlist:

For teaching vocabulary and verbs

1.  La Valise - Dorothée
This is a great song when teaching travel vocabulary, clothes, or just when you want to review a lot of nouns.  The video is silly, and my high-schoolers groan when they see it and then grudgingly admit that they like it!

2.  Jean petit qui danse
This is great for body parts.

3.  J'aime les fruits - Alain le Lait
This is great for...yep, fruits.
Alain le Lait has a ton of great videos available on Youtube for beginners!

4.  Si j'étais président - Gérard Lenorman
Great for praticing si clauses.

5.  On ira - Zaz
This is great for the futur simple.

Favorites at the beginning of the year to set the tone for a positive year and get them excited about the music. They are great for any level, but the content is more appropriate for older kids.  

Remember, the goal with beginners is not that they understand the entire song.  You want them to begin to understand the cultures and appreciate the diversity of the French-speaking world.

1.  Dima - Zaho
     My students have always loved this song!

2.  Ma philosophie - Amel Bent
    This song has a really positive message.

3.  L'amour à la française - Les Fatals Picards
     The video is too funny!

4.  Comme des enfants - Coeur de Pirate
     One of my all-time favorite singers!

5.  Parce qu'on vient de loin - Corneille
     Great for demonstrating the diversity of the French-speaking world.

6.  Au soleil - Jenifer
     We use this when studying southern France.

7.   Toi plus moi - Gregoire
      My kids love this song!  We use it to discuss how sometimes, when things are rough, we have to think positively and make an effort to look at the bright side of things.

8.   Tourne - Shy'm
      This song is good for beginners, because it appeals to teenagers.  For more advanced learners, it is a good speaking or writing prompt.  Does modern life have to be so fast-paced?  What do you to to relax?

9. On écrit sur les murs - Kids United
      This video and song is all about positivity.

10.  A nos actes manqués - M. Pokora
     What could we miss out on if we don't make the best of every moment?

Here are some singers and/or songs that I love for intermediate to advanced learners:

For writing/speaking prompts, these songs have great ideas to write about and/or discuss:

Carmen - Stromae

Papoutai - Stromae - My classes LOVE Stromae!

Une Américaine à Paris - Rupa and the April Fishes

Je suis moi - Shy'm

Je veux - Zaz

Dernière danse - Indila

And last of all, some fun holiday songs for all classes!

La chanson des squelettes - Babelzone

Le Rock de la sorcière - Stéphy Prod

Quand le Père Noël vient me visiter - Suzanne Pinel

Petit Papa Noël - original by Tino Rossi, but this song has been remade a lot of times!

Vive le vent - French version of Jingle Bells

Au royaume du bonhomme hiver - French version of Winter Wonderland

For Earth Day:
Respire -Mickey 3D - This video is great and it really gets a discussion going.  There is a grown up word here, so beware!  You can use this with older kids who won't make an issue, or simply don't mention it.  If they are not native French speakers, they won't understand, but if you are uncomfortable with this, I'd just avoid this song.

Aux arbres citoyens - Yannick Noah

Got any other favorite songs? Leave them below for all to enjoy!

Thanks to Glitter Meets Glue for the clip art.  You can visit her store here:

A Valentine's letter to my students

          This Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a different kind of love letter.  This is not the romantic kind, although those to whom I write this letter occupy an enormous part of my heart.  This is to those students who have been a huge part of my days with over the past many years. 

What I want to tell my students on Valentine's Day

Dear students and former students, 

In my years of teaching, I have taught roughly 1,500 students, and each one of you is in my heart.  Some of you were easy to love, as you brought smiles and excitement to learn into my classroom everyday.  Some of you dared me to even make you smile or talk, because you did not want to be at school.  At all.  Some of you wanted me to love you so badly, yet you were afraid to be hurt, so you were mean to me to protect yourself.  I don’t care; I can take it.  I still loved you, sometimes that much more. 

            It’s no surprise to me when I see you in town now, sometimes all grown up with a family and career of your own, that I remember you as the teenager or pre-teen that you were.  It might take me a second to get your name, because, well, that was always the hardest part of the school year for me.  125 names a year!  If I take a minute as I stumble to find your name, please know that I have never forgotten you. 

            I didn’t forget the homemade cards (or store-bought cards).  I actually have a storage box at my house with every single one of them.  I didn’t forget the day you came running to hug me, because you made the cheerleading squad, got your first job, or had the courage to talk to that girl, finally.  I didn’t forget the day you sat in my room and cried, because all of your friends were being mean, or your parents were divorcing, or your mom refused to accept that you were gay.  I didn’t forget the day you threw your stuff on the ground and left my room slamming the door.  I also didn’t forget when you came back in and put your arms around me and cried, because life at that time was so, so hard.  I didn't forget the day you wrote and sang a song to me in the school assembly, because I was changing schools and leaving your class.  I didn't forget how I locked myself in my room and cried that day, because, while the move was best for my family, I was leaving those that I loved dearly.  

            Some of you have grown up and become teachers.  I remember the days when you came to me to ask me what I thought of that.  You wanted to know, "What was it like to be a teacher?"  I gave you my honest account of the hardest, most demanding, most exhausting, most rewarding, most loving, and best profession around.  Some of you wrinkled your noses and said, “But you get to go home at 3:00 and you have summers off.  That can’t be so hard.”  Sigh.  

           Some of you knew that all of those projects didn’t get graded at school, that those games that you l loved so much could take hours to make, that the meetings with parents before school, after school, or at lunch did not fall in the normal working hours.  Some of you saw all that your teachers did, and you did whatever you could to make our lives easier, whether it was running to the office, passing out papers, or doing a dismissal form. 

            Some of you may never know all that your teacher did for you, and that’s okay.  I didn’t become a teacher to tell you how hard it was.  I didn’t become a teacher to show you how smart I was.  I didn’t become a teacher because I thought for one minute that it would be a relaxing job.  I especially did not do it for the money. I did it so that I could help you be the best you could be, so that I could love you when you needed love, so that I would wake up and feel like maybe, just maybe, you were better off, happier, or healthier, because I was in your life. 

            To all of my students, former students, and future students, I do love you all, no matter what.  If I give detailed directions, and then you ask what we are doing, I might be frustrated, but I still love you.  If I have to sit with you and reorganize your binder again, I might be wondering how you managed to undo all that I did last week, but I still love you.  If you earn a bad grade, I want you to do better, but I still love you. If you cheat, I am disappointed, but I still love you.  If you don’t like me, I can take that, and I’ll still love you.  If you yell at me because things are bad at home and you need to yell at someone, well... I don’t like to be yelled at, but I understand, and I still love you.

            I have my own family at home, and they understand that when I talk about my kids, it is not 1, 2, or even 3 kids.  This year, and most years, it is 100 or more.  The number of people I consider my kids increases each year, and I love that.  I love to hear from you, so if you are ever so inclined, send me an e-mail and tell me how you are.  Come visit me at school.  Invite me to coffee, to your graduation, to your wedding, or to meet your new baby.  Nothing makes my day more than knowing you are well. 

            Love always,
            Your teacher

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