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French High Frequency Words: 3 Tips to Teach Them with Confidence

Reading is a complex and highly developmental process. It can be really hard to teach someone how to read, especially in a second language. French high frequency words instruction is necessary for students to progress.

As a native or proficient speaker, we don’t think about the letters and pieces of knowledge our brain is processing in order to comprehend and communicate in a language. Even right now as you read this, your brain is undergoing a complex process.

I will be using the phrases sight words and high frequency words in this post, but they are not to be used interchangeably. Sight words are words that a student can automatically recognize and read, with little to no thought. High frequency words are words that come up often in written texts.

Why You Should Teach French Sight Words and High Frequency Words

Sight words and high frequency words are key to building a solid foundation in French (or really, any language). Because these words are common and frequent within the language, knowing these words can help students read more fluently. 

Teaching these key foundations of language also aids comprehension. If students have a grasp of French high frequency words, they can begin to create context of a sentence, even with unknown words scattered within. Lastly, it helps students read hard to decode words that they’ll come across often in texts.

How to Teach French High Frequency Words and Sight Words

#1: Decodable or Patterned Texts

Decoable or patterned texts are a common way to introduce and reinforce common French words. By using decodable texts, students are exposed to target words over and over again throughout the text. This is perfect for emergent readers who need lots of practice reading, recognizing, and pronouncing the target word. Patterned texts also provide many examples of context for the target word. 

Want a full year of French decodable readers for your students? Check out this resource. It includes forty one mini-books for emergent French readers. (Want a free sample? Scroll to the bottom of the blog post.)

# 2: Orthographic Mapping

Orthographic mapping is a long used teaching strategy in many elementary classrooms. In orthographic mapping, students practice the sounds of words by breaking it apart. There are many ways to map, but the essential idea is to help students link the word sound with spelling. This strategy works great with sight words and high frequency words. You can also introduce students to compound words. Even if you think they aren’t ready, it’s important to expose students to compound sounds.

One way to use orthographic mapping is by placing each letter sound in a separate box. Make sure you don’t separate by syllables or by letters, but by sound. For example, if there is a silent “e” at the end of a word, it would be mapped with the final sound of the word. Below are some of the sheets found in my Phonemic Awareness Pack 6 (Phonemes). You c an see the orthographic mapping pages in the top right corner.

#3: Hands-On Spelling Practice

As we have talked about, repetition and practice is very important for learning French sight words and high frequency words. Have students practice spelling over and over – but add some fun! Present spelling practice to students with a hands-on activity. For example, you can have students draw with a q-tip in paint, shape letters with playdough, create words with Bananagrams, or write with chalk on the sidewalk.

Here is an example of how you can have your students do some hands on spelling practice in French. Skip the dictée and have students do french word work instead.

If you want an activity to help your emergent French readers with sight words and high frequency words, take a look at this resource. This bundle for emergent readers includes forty one texts perfect for mastering foundation language skills. Want a free sample of this bundle? Sign up at the bottom of this post to get it delivered to your inbox.

Want to check out the resources listed?

All the links above lead to TPT, but the resources are also available on our website. Here are the resources available here for purchase in CAD. Don’t forget you can also buy credits for an additional discount (up to $15 off).

Need more tips on teaching French high frequency words? I have several blogs that cover French literacy. If you don’t find the answer to your questions here, check out my other blog posts.

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