When you are learning a new language, even basic French it’s important to find ways outside of the classroom to supplement your learning.

And actually there are so many fun ways to do this – from watching French movies to playing games in French!

Activities and Games to Improve Basic French

If French books and newspapers are too complicated for you while you are still embarking on French lessons for beginners, you could ask your tutor to help you check out some of these activities.

Memory Game for Beginners

There’s a fabulously playful way of using flashcards to help your translation to French exercises. Make a memory game by using blank cards where you will write an English word on one card and the French translation for it on another card. Keep doing this until you have 36 pairs in total.

If you really want to improve your translation to French, then this is how you play:

  • Find a partner or two to play along with.
  • Mix up all the cards thoroughly.
  • Placing them facing down in a six by six grid.
  • The first player starts by uncovering a card.
  • That player can uncover a second card to get things going. If their cards match, they can try again.
  • But if they don’t, both cards are turned down again.
  • This continues from player until player until there is a player with the most matching cards.

Don’t forget to have a dictionary around to verify your French translation for English.

Feel free to make more than 36 cards to make it more interesting. When you are finished pack them up using paper clips (all 18 pairs) and save them with your other games in French.

French phrase Dessine-moi un mouton painted on cans mounted on wall
Look up some basic French words and phrases and start a game of hangman. (Source: Unsplash)

Hangman

Ever been bored in your French class and played Hangman with your friend? Well why not try it with basic French instead? Just some advice though, when you are playing games that require French translation for English, just make sure that the words you choose are basic French and not too difficult!

This is how to play Hangman, a game that will take your French translation from English to another level.

  • Choose a basic French word and to make it a bit easier for beginners, give it a category (for example: food; household goods; body parts, etc).
  • Then put down spaces for all the letters that are in the word.
  • The other person should guess the word, but they can ask if a certain letter is in the word.
  • If it was guessed correctly, you must write down that letter of the alphabet in its proper place.

If your opponent gets the letter wrong, a line is drawn to start the picture of a hangman. Each time your challenger guesses unsuccessfully, you can draw another piece of the picture until eventually there is a whole hangman. But if he guesses the French word before he is hanged, he wins

In case you are still not sure here is an example. If the word is “croissant” then give it the category of food or baked goods. Then actually draw how many letters it is:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now, if your opponent guesses an A - write it in _ _ _ _ _ _ A_ _

But if he guesses an F, you can start drawing! Carry on until like this until he guesses the word.

Pictionary and Charades for Advanced Students

If you have moved on from basic French and are feeling confident about being able to mentally do a translation to French in your mind, then Pictionary and Charades are games in French that you will not only love, but will also help improve your language!

Ideally, you need four people to play, then divide yourselves into two teams. Team One gives the opposing team words or phrases in French. Then, the second team will have to decide who will guess and who will explain the word.

The first team provides the opposing team’s explainer with the French translation of an English word and sets the timer. The person who is explaining has to draw or act out the word to their partner without any speaking.

If the partner correctly guesses the French translation for the word, they receive a point. If not, the point goes to the team who came up with the word. The team to reach 10 points first, is the winner.

Improving your French translations are one thing, but if could also give bonus points for pronunciation.

Games in French to Improve Grammar

Being able to provide a French translation from English requires more than simply learning vocabulary and this is where learning a second language can get more difficult.

Grammar with sentence structure and tenses can make it difficult to even learn basic French. But here are some games in French that will help you immensely.

three women sitting wooden bench laughing in a tulip flower field
'Spin a Tale' is a game guaranteed to have you all laughing. (Source: Unsplash)

Hot Potato Verbs

This is a game where you will need a few friends and a ball – a basketball would be perfect. The game starts when someone chooses a verb, yells a tense and then throws the ball at someone.

For example if the verb is “boire”- the first person will choose “passé compose” and then throws the ball to the next who should yell “j’ai bu” who throws the ball again to the next who says “tu as bu” etc.

  • If anyone drops the ball, they are out.
  • If anyone holds onto the ball longer than three counts, they are out.
  • If anyone messes up a conjugation, they are out.
  • The winner is the last man standing and chooses the next verb.

This is a fantastic game for teachers to play with large classes.

Spin a tale

Tales is really a fun way to practise your French. Start by getting someone to begin a story in French, then the next person has to continue it. The important part of this game is that the continuation has to make grammatical and storytelling sense.

The classic written version is also fun.

Start the story on a piece of paper then fold it over and pass it on. Once the whole group has written something the paper is unfolded and the story – which will be most hilarious by now, is read aloud.

Online Games in French

If you have chosen to learn French online using a platform like Superprof, don’t worry if you don’t have French-speaking friends to help you practise your French capabilities. Here are some online sites you could try.

  • Digital Dialects
  • French Games (works with Adobe Flash Player).
  • Ciel Bretagne

All of these, will improve your French vocabulary as well as your ability to do French translation from English.  These games will help you practise specific aspects of the language and make learning French fun.

Mindsnacks is a fun app you could download to your phone to practise your French translations while you are on the go.

Commercial French Games

Have you heard of KLOO? They have created various language learning games including French options.

There are card games that will help you to build vocabulary and help you with French translations for English words. And there are board games with similar benefits and also great entertainment value.

In addition, don’t forget the French verb conjugation bible, the Bescherelle which has both online and hard copy board games. Not only will these games in French improve your language knowledge, but they will also challenge your translation to French skills as all the instructions are in French.

Video Games in French

red and blue Nintendo Switch controllers
Many video games offer you French language options. (Source: Unsplash)

Did you know that most video games today come with so many different language options – this includes French.

Either get your games from France or simply click on the French subtitle option before you start your game.

Whether you are playing dialogue-based roleplaying games, strategy games or quiz games, these French subtitles will help you to work on your French while you are having fun.

If you are looking for a total language immersion where you will actually interact with French speaking players, you could log onto a French server via MMMORPG or other browser games, this could be a steeper learning curve, but perfect for more proficient French language students.

Alternatively, if your French classes for beginners are not in-depth enough for you, or if you are struggling to keep up in class and need more than games in French to help you along, consider a private tutor from an online platform like Superprof.

You could find someone from anywhere in the world if you want to have your French lessons online. All you will need is a webcam and internet connection.

Whichever methods you choose to supplement your French lessons for beginners, there are many options to make them fun, part of your life and easy to remember.

Keep practising in fun ways, in serious ways and all ways.

Soon your translation to French ability will become second nature.

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.