Teaching or Learning French the fun way: THE WEATHER/LE TEMPS

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)

je fais

tu fais

il/elle/on fait

nous faisons

vous faites

ils/ells font

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).

Games

Role-playing

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.

Matching-up

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.

 

 

FRENCH FOR BEGINNERS: AU RESTAURANT (PART 3)

In my last 2 blogs, I talked about the types of restaurants there are in France, the different kinds of dishes and the kinds of meals the French have.  Added to that was useful vocabulary relating to cutlery and crockery and food and drink.

Today, I will introduce role-play in the restaurant and other useful information as well as some grammar.

Réserver une table (Booking a table)

It is always a good idea if you make a reservation, otherwise you could arrive at the restaurant to find that you have to wait and be placed on une liste d’attente (a waiting list).  So, you could either book online (réserver en ligne) if you have access to the internet or you could phone:

  • Allô? allo
  • Bonjour, ici le Café Vert. (Good day, Café Vert) bonjour
  • Bonjour, je voudrais faire une réservation pour ce soir (Good day, I would like to make a reservation for this evening) reservation
  • Très bien, Monsieur/Madame, c’est pour combien?  (Very well, Sir/Madam, for how many?) c’est pour combien
  • C’est pour quatre personnes (it’s for four). pour 4 personnes
  •  A quelle heure pensez-vous venir? (For what time?)a quelle heure
  • A  20 heures (for 8 p.m.) a 20 heures
  • C’est à quel nom? (In whose name?) c’est a quel nom
  • Parmentier. parmentier
  • C’est noté – à ce soir, Monsieur/Madame. (It’s done. See you this evening) c’est note

Bonjour de France has another example with exercises.

Au Restaurant (At the Restaurant)

Most restaurants offer a menu du jour menu du jour  or la formule  formule (special fixed lunch menu) with limited choice. Un plat du jour plat du jour(daily special) is available if there is no fixed menu.  Otherwise, restaurants have an à la carte menu where you can choose anything off the menu (la carte or le menu).


Make sure you do not call the waiter ‘garçon’ as this rude. You should call him ‘Monsieur’. If it is a lady, call her ‘Madame’.  The word for a waiter is le serveur and a waitress la serveuse. Always be polite and use s’il vous plaît (please) and merci (thank you).

Useful vocabulary

Qu’est-ce que vous désirez comme…….?  qu’est-ce vous desirez what would you like as a…….?

Vous avez choisi? choisi= have you decided/chosen?

Qu’est-ce que vous nous recommandez/conseillez? recommandez what do you recommend?

Donnez-moi   donnez-moi = give me

Je voudrais  je voudrais = I would like

Je prendraije prendrai= I’ll have

Quel est le plat du jour?quel est le plat du jour= what is the daily special?

Qu’est-ce que vous avez comme boissons?   comme dessert? qu’est-ce que vous avez= what do you have as drinks?  as dessert?

l’entrée   entrée   = starter

le plat principal  plat principal= main course

le fromage  fromage = cheese

le dessert dessert= dessert

service compris  service compris= tip included

service non compris  service non compris= tip not included

Payer par carte   payer par carte= pay by card

Payer en espèces   payer en espèces= pay cash

en accompagnement   en accompagnement= as a side dish

la carte des vins  carte des vins = wine list

manger   manger(see the Grammar section) = to eat

boire    boire   (see the Grammar section) = to drink

commander   commander   = to order

laisser in pourboire laisser un pourboire= to leave a tip

For meat, you need to know:

saignant  saignant = very rare

bleu   bleu = rare

à pointà point= medium rare

bien cuit  bien cuit= well done

For mineral water:

de l’eau plate  de l’eau plate= still

de l’eau gazeuse  de l’eau gazeuse= sparkling

There is usually a bottle of mineral water on the tables in restaurants. This is not free.

If you don’t want to pay for water, ask for de l’eau de robinet   de l’eau de robinet  (tap water)

Ordering water:

une carafe carafe= jug

un verre     verre= a glass

une bouteille  bouteille = a bottle

Role-Play: at the restaurant

Another example on YouTube.   TV5 also has a short video in French with exercises and a transcription.

Grammar

manger (to eat) is a regular -er  verb:

je mange                                  nous mangeons

tu manges                                vous mangez

il/elle/on mange                      ils/elles mangent

boire (to drink) is an irregular verb:

je bois                                      nous buvons

tu bois                                      vous buvez

il/elle/on boit                           ils/elles boivent

commander (to order) is a regular -er verb:

je commande                           nous commandons

tu commandes                        vous commandez

il/elle/on commande              ils/elles commandent

 

The Partitive Article

Expressing quantity = some/any not all. Hence. I would like some cake, not all the cake; I would like some butter, not all of it.

Masculine singular :   du   = du vin

Masculine plural :       des =  des fromages

Feminine singular:      de la  = de la viande

Feminine Plural:          des =  des viandes

Nouns beginning with a vowel or ‘h’:  de l’   = de l’eau

However, after a negative, they all change to ‘de’:

je n’ai pas de vin  (I don’t have any wine)

tu n’as pas de fromage

elle n’a pas de viande

nou n’avons pas d’eau

 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. Let me know what kind of things interest you.

 

FRENCH FOR BEGINNERS: FOOD (La Nourriture) and DRINK (Les Boissons) Part 2

C’est l’heure du déjeuner. c’est l’heure A table! a table Bon appétit!  bon appétit(it’s lunch time. Let’s eat!) In my previous blog,  we learned the names of the 3 main meals in France and some of the food and drink items, so now it is time to go to the restaurant. Allons au restaurant!   allons au restaurant (Let’s go to the restaurant!)

Types of restaurants in France

There are many different types of eating places in France from the Cafés which serve basic food and are focused on coffee to the Michelin-star type restaurants.

There are bistrots (bistros) which are not clearly defined and can be a pub, a bar or a restaurant. There are brasseries (the name means ‘brewery’) which resemble cafés but serve full meals. There are also speciality shops such as Crêperies  (which serve pancakes or crêpes) and Salons de Thé which specialise in teas but also serve quiches, tarts, cakes, etc.

Salon de Thé

Cutlery and Crockery (Argenterie et Vaisselle) argenterie

The way the table is set is very important – it is almost an art in France.

le couvert = table setting couvert

la nappe = tablecloth nappe

la serviette = the napkin serviette

le couteau = the knife couteau

la fourchette = the fork fourchette

la cuillère = the spooncuillere

la cuillère à soupe = the soup spoon cuillere a soupe

la petite cuillère = the teaspoon petite cuillere

le verre = the glass verre

un verre à vin = a wine glassverre a vin

la tasse = the cuptasse

la soucoupe = the saucer soucoupe

la bouteille =  the bottle bouteille

une assiette = a plate assiette

le bol = bowl bol

le plateau = tray plateau

Idioms about eating and drinking

mettre les petits plats dans les grands = to put on a great spread

manger à la bonne franquette = to eat without fuss/simply or informally

manger à l’oeil = to eat without paying

manger comme un moineau = to eat like a sparrow, i.e. very little

manger la grenouille = to eat the frog, i.e. to spend one’s savings (in the XVIIIth century, piggy banks were shaped like frogs)

manger son chapeau = to eat one’s hat i.e. to admit to a mistake

boire comme un trou = to drink like a hole, i.e. they never stop

mettre son grain de sel = to put in one’s salt’s worth i.e. to give one’s unsolicited opinion

la moutarde me monte au nez = the mustard is getting up my nose, i.e. I am getting angry

la vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin = life is too short to drink bad wine

 

Famous French Dishes

Many French dishes have become famous throughout the world and may be found on different menus.

Of course, there are frogs’ legs (cuisses de grenouilles), snails (escargots) and steak tartare to be sampled.

Then there are dishes such as :

le canard  à l’orange   (duck à l’orange),

le boeuf bourguignon (beef stew),

 le coq au vin (chicken in wine),

la soupe à l’oignon (onion soup),

le cassoulet (beef and bean stew),

la salade niςoise (niςoise salad)

la ratatouille

French Desserts

la Tarte Tatin: legend has it that this luxury-type of apple pie came about because of an error with caramelisation. It is now made with pears, apples, quinces and prunes.

le Mille feuille  (also known as a Napoleon cake): delectable layers of pastry and custard cream. Its name means a thousand leaves which refers to the countless layers of pastry used to make it.

la Crème brûlée:

le Macaron: this meringue-based sweet has been around since the Middle Ages and was introduced to France by Catherine de Medici.

la crème caramel;

la mousse au chocolat:

 

The above desserts are just some  of the many French desserts.  There are also certain desserts that are made on special feast days, such as:

Christmas (Noël) : la bûche de Noël (Christmas log)

Mardi Gras: crêpes (pancakes)

Epiphany: la Galette des Rois (King’s cake)

 

My next blog will include phrases about going to the restaurant. So make sure to look out for it.