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French Syllables: Learn to Read Series

In this series, I will be showing you how I teach my students to read. This post is all about French Syllables. If you missed my last post, I talked about French Letter Sounds. Depending on what grade you teach, you may or may not be able to skip some of these sections. It all depends on your students’ prior knowledge. In September, I always do some assessments to see if my students know all their French letters and letter sounds. I have created an assessment that you can do with your students if you’re unsure what their abilities are. Click here for a link to the resource. Once you know that your students have their letter sounds, you can start working on syllables.

French syllable flip book. Helps students practice reading syllables in French

Practicing how to read French syllables is important. It helps students learn basic decoding skills (CV sounds) and gives them the tools they need in order to progress in their reading. There are a few ways that I do this, ranging from whole-group, small-group and individual activities. To make it easier for you, I’ll be splitting this post into those 3 sections.

Whole-Group Activities:

Songs: the first thing we do is we practice singing a CV syllable song. Here is a link to the song on YouTube. We practice this song with all sorts of different consonants. When my students get comfortable with this, we move on to reading syllables written on the board without the song.

Morning Message: I will include syllable reading during our morning message. I will start off by writing French syllables with the same consonant in alphabetical order (e.g., ma, me, mi, mo, mu, my). When they have that down, we will move onto using the same consonant but with the vowels not in alphabetical order (e.g., my, ma, mi, me, mu, mo) and then finally onto random CV combinations (e.g., le, ti, mo, na, jy, etc.). When my students are comfortable with that, we start doing two syllables together with the same CV combination (e.g., baba), then we do the same consonant, but different vowel (e.g., bobu) and finally we do random combinations (e.g., nila)

French morning message. Students must read the syllable "words".

Clapping: We practice clapping while we learn to read the syllables as described above. We also clap syllables that are in real words while we work on reading poems, sight words, etc. We do this as much as possible because it helps build onto the next skill, which is segmenting.

Segmenting: We do this activity on the white board. I will choose a word and my students will draw semi circles under it to show the breakdown of French syllables. We then read the segments and put the word together. I will also do the opposite of this; I will give them syllables and they have to put it together and tell me what the word is (e.g., po/me – pomme). Because we are working on syllables, I will spell the words phonetically instead of by the actual spelling. This also helps model sounding out words for writing!

French morning message. Students must count the number of French syllables in each word.

Sorting: Once my students are comfortable reading syllables and identifying how many syllables are in the word, we work sort them. I give them a list of words, and they need to sort them by the number of syllables. We do this activity whole-class, in small-groups as well as individually. We also play other games with syllables. I like to put students into teams and then ask them syllable based questions. I give all teams a white board and I ask a question. They work together to find an answer and then present their answers to the class. For example, I might ask them to write a word that has 3 syllables or say a word and ask how many syllables it has. I also have them unscramble syllables for them to find the mystery word. This is a very popular activity with my class!

Small-Group Activities:

Flip Book: I created a simple CV flipbook to use with during Guided Reading. All you need is a notebook with the pages cut in half (not all the way through to the end of the book). Write vowels on the right side and consonants on the left side. Then flip through it and have students read syllables at random. This is also a great activity for students to bring home for extra practice! You can also create more complex books with 3 or 4 letters. You can also include compound sounds if you’ve covered them!

French CV (consonant-vowel) flip book. Helps students learn to read French syllables.

Mes mots sans sens: This is a resource that I purchased from Mme Andrea years ago that I love using during this stage of learning to read. She has the cards broken down in a way that help students who are struggling to put syllables together. I find these so useful to use during Guided Reading and I’ve used them both in Kindergarten and in Grade One. It includes CV “words” as well as CVC “words” that can be practiced when your students have learned a bit more. Click here for the link.

Real word reading: When my students have mastered reading Mes mots sans sens, we move on to reading real words that are made up of simple sounds. Examples of words like this are: pomme, table, papa, bébé, dos, etc.

Speed Reading: For speed reading, I use Mme Andrea’s Mes mots sans sens resource again. Within it, there are some speed reading pages and we practice doing this one by one during Guided Reading. It’s a great way for them to continue to familiarize themselves with reading syllables, especially when doing it slowly has become easy for them!

Bingo: I have created a J’apprends à Lire resource. One of the sections is on syllables. It contains 5 different activities as well as an assessment that can be done at the end to see how much students have learned. I use the Bingo activity within my Guided Reading groups. The Bingo game uses real words and students need to identify how many syllables the word has. Click here for a link to the whole bundle.

Individual Activities:

Worksheets: While I created my J’apprends à Lire bundle to be used in small-groups, some of the activities can be done individually as well. The worksheets found in this resource are perfect for students to do on their own. Students have to look at words and count the syllables in them. The best part about these worksheets is I included both images and the word, so students who are not yet reading can still complete the activity. Giving students the resources they need to be successful is important, so I also made sure to use more common words. Click here for the link.

Boom Learning: My school has a class set of iPads that is shared by the primary team. Once a week, we sign them out. I’ve created a few Boom packs on syllables, like the animal one seen below. We utilize them to practice counting syllables. I love Boom Cards because they are self correcting, so no marking involved! They also populate the data for you so it’s easy to know how your students are doing. Click here for the link.

Combien de syllabes: French Syllables Boom Cards

I hope this helped give you some ideas on how to practice reading French syllables with your students! The next post in this series will be on Sight Words.

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