Teaching about the weather in French is always fun. You can incorporate games and revise grammar as well as introduce new vocabulary.
Quel temps fait-il aujourd’hui?/What is the weather today?
This is the perfect opportunity to introduce weather vocabulary and revise the verb faire in the present, past and future.
il fait beau = it’s nice weather
il fait mauvais = it’s ugly/bad weather
il fait chaud = it’s hot
il fait froid = it’s cold
il fait du vent = it’s windy
il y a du soleil/il fait du soleil = it’s sunny
il y a des orages = it’s stormy
il y a des nuages = it’s cloudy
The verb faire
The verb faire is used very often to describe weather in French, so it is important to learn it, especially as it is an irregular verb:
Present tense of faire (to make or do)
You can also revise/review the negative by explaining that il fait froid (it’s cold) can become il ne fait pas froid (it’s not cold). The students can then be asked to make sentences based on the example, such as il fait chaud (it’s hot)/il ne fait pas chaud (it’s not hot). Or you can ask for opposites: il fait beau (it’s nice weather)/il fait mauvais (it’s ugly weather).
An excellent way to review the weather is to divide the students into groups of two to role-play that they are weather presenters, giving the weather forecast (la météo). Give them a map of France with ten of the biggest French cities marked on it, and ask them to add two or three weather symbols per town, e.g. Nice . Ask them to add the temperature too. So, you should get something like : À Nice, il pleut et il neige (in Nice, it is raining and snowing). Il fait 7° (it is 7 °).
If you want something extra, teach the four points of the compass: le nord (north), le sud (south), l’est (east), l’ouest (west). This should lead to sentences such as : Dans le sud de la France, à Marseille, il fait du vent et il pleut (in the south of France, in Marseille, it is windy and raining).
Be sure to mention that there are many French prepositions to translate the English ‘in’, e.g. dans with points of the compass and à with cities.
Once they are ready, each person in the group presents the weather for five towns. The more creative, the better.
There are podcasts in easy French online that the more advanced students may listen to. These could be used as a listening or comprehension exercise or both.
Another game that can be played is matching up weather symbols to phrases, so a symbol of the sun should be matched with il y a du soleil/il fait du soleil (it’s sunny). You can either give each student a worksheet with symbols and phrases or you can hold up the weather symbol. The first student to answer correctly gets a sweet.
There are many exercises online that can give you ideas.
Who wants to be a Millionaire? Qui veut être millionaire?
You can get a template for ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ on the Internet and tailor to suit your purposes. You could have questions such as : what does il fait beau mean? and give four choices, or you could ask what the opposite of il fait beau is, etc.
Les Saisons/the Seasons
Of course, you could also take the opportunity to revise or review the seasons together with the weather. Ask the question: quel temps fait-il en hiver? (what is the weather in winter?). This is another example of a different preposition to translate the English ‘in’.
Les Mois/Months et les Jours de la Semaine/Days of the week
Learning about the weather is also a great way to revise the months and the days of the week. Thus, you can ask your students questions, such as en quels mois fait-il froid/chaud/beau/mauvais? (in which months is the weather cold/hot/nice/ugly?), etc. Or a-t-il fait très froid en décembre? (was it very cold in December?).
The days of the week (les jours de la semaine) may also be inserted into the weather by asking questions such as quel temps faisait-il lundi? (what was the weather like on Monday?) or quel temps fera-t-il samedi? (what will the weather be on Saturday?).
Idioms about the weather
It is fun to introduce the more advanced students to French idioms about the weather. Get them to compare with idioms about the weather they may know in English.
Il fait un froid de canard (it’s a cold for ducks) = it’s very cold.
avoir la chair de poule (to have hen skin) = goosebumps.
un temps de chien (a dog’s weather) = ugly weather
il pleut des cordes (it’s raining ropes) = it’s raining cats and dogs.
il gèle à pierre fendre(cold enough to split stones) = it’s freezing.
après la pluie vient le beau temps= after the rain comes the nice weather.
il pleut à verse = it’s pouring.
une chaleur à crever = hot enough to die
le calme avant la tempête = the calm before the storm
une tempête dans un verre d’eau = a storm in a teacup.
avoir la tête dans les nuages = to have one’s head in the clouds.
Thus, the weather can be a wealth of information and a source of fun too.