Have you ever tried this? How to make learning French fun


Sitting in the last row of the auditorium, I watched as a line of students started to build outside the door. I took out my notepad and wrote, ‘Le Grand Jeu: a quiz on France’ on top of the page.

That was the name of the event I was lucky enough to attend. The contestants were students who had come from all over the world, linked by one thread – their passion and love for France.

Learning French the fun way!

Briony Kemp-Griffin - 14.08.13

“What class are you in?” asked the organiser, Flore Benard. “Level C1,” responded a student with a strong Italian accent. “Perfect, you’ll be with the macarons then! You, on the other hand, have to be with the baguettes…”

Other students were told to be a fromage or a croissant as well. If I’d had to choose, I would have been a macaronmacarons à la framboise are my favourite, no doubt!

Let the French game begin!Briony Kemp-Griffin - 29.08.13

Quiet whispers filled the room with anticipation.

The light faded and a young man stepped onto the stage. “Salut, I’m Jérémy. Who wants to play a game?” he said enthusiastically.

Jérémy asked the fromages the first question. “Nommez trois gares situées à Paris” he said. “Vous avez 30 secondes.” Pens in hands and notebooks ready, the fromages huddled together, writing furiously. The clock buzzed, announcing time was up. “Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Gare d’Austerlitz!” yelled the fromages’ team leader. Jérémy gave a thumbs-up – they were right.

The game continued, and from time to time the French rooster sound cocorico would ring through the speakers, signalling the next set of questions. This time it was a ‘Qui chante?’.

Jérémy glanced over to his left; Flore hit the ‘play’ button. The first song started, and after only five seconds the baguettes stood up, yelling their team war-chantAmour! Amour!” (I wanted to blurt out the answer too – I loved this song!) All heads turned their way, waiting for their response. “La Vie en Rose d’Edith Piaf!” they cried.

And the race à la française continues

Next was the treasure hunt. Each team was given a questionnaire and only 20 minutes to complete it. Clues and answers were scattered throughout the school, creating a traffic jam of macarons, baguettes, fromages and croissants in the corridors.

Time went by quickly, and teams slowly began to reappear, handing in their questionnaires.

Briony Kemp-Griffin - 15.08.13

Once all the fun was over, Jérémy and Flore tallied the results. They were ready to announce the winner of the game. Students took their seats once more, crossing their fingers and closing their eyes. The room was silent.

Et les gagnant sontles baguettes!” Jérémy yelled. Everyone stood up and cheered enthusiastically. To celebrate, everyone was invited for a goûter in the front hall.

The classic French goûter!

 Briony Kemp-Griffin - 22.08.13

People made their way to the table filled with drinks and pastries (I ran, obviously). Students mingled, shared their stories and exchanged numbers. As I watched them take team photos, I thought it seemed as if they’d known one another for ages!

I asked one of the students why she chose to study French. She looked at me and smiled. “I’m an American from New York who’s married to a Frenchman! We’re here for some time, so I wanted to learn the language he speaks.”

I had to ask, “Why did you decide to come to Alliance française Paris Île-de-France?” “Well it’s in Paris, and I love Paris!” she said. “It’s great because I get to be part of the French culture as well as really learning the specifics of the language. Plus the school has great creative ideas, like today’s game, that help us meet people and improve our French. I love it!”

I left skipping out the door, marking this day as une journée inoubliable in my mind

But before I left I asked a few of these students to share some of their faux pas – Oh dear! – we can all relate to these I’m sure… here it is –  From faux pas to fluency: life as a French language student in Paris – Part One


Have you experienced French learning fun like this?

If so we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below…

Image credits: 
1, 2 & 4 courtesy Stéphanie Charbit
3 courtesy © Alliance française Paris Île-de-France (AFPIF)
5 by Briony Kemp-Griffin
Proud Partner of Alliance française Paris Île-de-France (AFPIF)

About the Contributor

Briony Kemp Griffin

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  1. Alex Mealey Jun 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM - Reply

    Hi Briony, this article reminds me of all the fun I had while learning a bit of French in Toulouse a few years back! Playing fun language games and meeting new people was my favourite part 🙂

    • Briony Kemp Griffin Jun 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM - Reply

      Hi Alex!
      Learning French can be fun 🙂 What kind of language games did you play in Toulouse?

      • Alex Mealey Jul 23, 2013 at 9:53 AM - Reply

        I remember one where we went around the town in groups with a sheet of questions (in French) and had to find the answers. The questions were about the history of the town, details about certain buildings like the town hall, and places like the plaza. It was a very fun challenge. We tallied up which team got the most correct answers at the end. 🙂

  2. Judy MacMahon Jun 26, 2013 at 11:52 AM - Reply

    Here at ‘le bureau’ de MaVieFrançaise® – MyFrenchLife.org we’d love to hear about the games you enjoyed most when learning French. We’re all ears… We’d love to hear from you.

  3. Jennifer Down Jun 26, 2013 at 12:02 PM - Reply

    I remember being about twelve years old, blindfolded and led around the school by a fellow student when we learned directions vocabulary and imperatives! We found ourselves so far from the classroom that we didn’t quite make it back to class 😉

    • Briony Kemp Griffin Jun 26, 2013 at 10:02 PM - Reply

      Playing games is one of the best ways to study a language and the culture! I always had a hard time with French conjugations so my elementary school teacher asked my class to create a song, which would help us remember. We were divided into three groups: one was in charge of the verbs ending in -er, another one for the -ir verbs, and another for the -re verbs. I created my own song for the irregular verbs 🙂
      I still have the songs stuck in my head!

      What are, for you, the most challenging parts of learning the French language? Spelling? Accents? Grammar?…

  4. Hannah Duke Jun 27, 2013 at 8:56 AM - Reply

    My favourite French classes at school were the ones in which we learnt by cooking French food! I recall making (cheat’s) pain au chocolat and chocolat chaud. I’m not sure we learnt much language, but it was delicious… 😉

  5. Floriane Baldinger Jul 23, 2013 at 11:36 AM - Reply

    Hi Briony, ton article me fait un peu penser à mon aventure de trois semaines aux Etats-Unis quand j’étais au lycée. J’avais des cours d’anglais tous les matins dans une sorte d’université spéciale pour les étrangers souhaitants apprendre l’anglais. C’était génial d’être avec des gens venant des quatre coins du monde, d’en apprendre un peu plus sur leurs cultures tout en parlant en anglais. Apprendre l’anglais ou une autre langue d’une manière ludique c’est toujours plus facile je pense. 🙂

    • Briony Kemp Griffin Jul 24, 2013 at 7:09 PM - Reply

      Hi Floriane, tu as tout a fait raison! Apprendre une langue d’une manière ludique est toujours plus intéressant et plus facile. La meilleure solution est d’aller dans le pays où les gens parlent la langue que tu veux apprendre. Je pense que c’est toujours mieux d’absorber la culture le plus possible -c’est plus facile pour apprendre une langue 🙂 As-tu trouvé que ton niveau en anglais a beaucoup progressé en allant au Etats-Unis?

      • Floriane Baldinger Jul 26, 2013 at 9:01 AM - Reply

        Oui c’est sur, être immergé dans le pays est la meilleure solution pour progresser !
        Oui il a un peu progressé, mais maintenant je suis en Australie pour 6 mois donc j’ai le temps pour le perfectionner 🙂

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