In this series, I will be showing you how I teach my students to read in French. So far, I’ve covered letter sounds and syllables. This post is all about French sight words!
Sight word knowledge is instrumental in helping your students progress in their reading skills. Sight words are defined as words of high frequency that do not fit standard phonemic patterns and must be memorized. This means they are words that are not easily read but come up frequently enough that students must learn them. An example of a French sight word is “beau”. If a student does not know that “eau” makes the sound /o/, the word makes no sense. Beginner learners often do not know their compound sounds, but they need to be able to read words that possess these sounds in order to progress. For the purpose of this blog post, I am also going to include words that do follow the standard phonemic pattern but are very important to know.
Because sight words need to be memorized, they require a lot of repetition. The main resource I use to teach them is my French Sight Words Bundle. It includes 16 different activities and games that work on 108 different words. It includes simple words, such as “le” and more complex words like “beaucoup”.
I start teaching sight words by introducing a small group of words at a time, 4-6 at a time. Depending on the level of my class, I might do this as a whole-class activity or during guided reading for more small-group practice. We practice reading the words and then use them in a sentence. This helps to build context for when we may come across the word. We also discuss strategies to help us memorize the word. We start with easier words and work our way up to harder, longer words. I use my resources to create weekly activity booklets that focus on the words we cover that week. The resources I use for the booklet are:
- Le mot du jour
- Lis la phrase, illustre la phrase
- Tourne et écris
- Tourne et colorie
Once we’ve covered all the words on an activity page that covers multiple words, I will add those also. These are activities such as:
- Trace, tamponne, écris
- Colorie par mot de haute fréquence
- Mots cachés
- Mots mystères
I also send home a weekly word list home for families to practice reading. Since sight words need to be memorized, the more practice your students can get, the better. It’s also important to continue to review the words you’ve taught during previous to ensure they continue to remember them. I do this by encouraging parents to continue to review all words learned. I also purchased a copy of For French Immersion’s Sight Word Boom Cards which I use for home practice as well. This bundle is amazing because it contains many different types of activities to practice sight words.
Once we have built a bit of a repertoire, we can start playing games such as:
- J’ai… qui a…
- Petite souris, où es-tu?
The key to learning French sight words is lots of repetition. My goal when I created my bundle was for students to practice sight word recognition through a variety of activities in order to keep them engaged.
If you’ve made it this far, I’ve got a freebie to share with you! I created some Free Sight Word Lists to help you organize the order you introduce sights words in. Simply sign up below and you’ll receive the 16 lists (96 words) right to your inbox.