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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

French: Family and Home

French I, grade 5: In this two-part lesson, Debra Terry's students integrate vocabulary about the family by creating an imaginary family tree. Then they develop more complex ideas by describing the location of family members in different rooms of the home. For homework, students write about activities that take place in each room.



Debra Terry






Rebecca M. Johnson Elementary School, Springfield, Massachusetts

Lesson Date

January 15

Class Size



45 minutes, three times per week

Video Summary

In this lesson, students learn and review vocabulary that refers to family members, rooms of the house, and activities in the home. They cut out pictures from French magazines and use them to create an imaginary family tree. Then they work in pairs to match pictures of families with written descriptions. The class also practices reading comprehension by putting together sentence strips.

Standards Addressed

Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretive, Presentational

Connections: Making Connections



backward planning
In backward planning, also called backward design, the teacher plans a unit or lesson by first identifying the desired end task or product, then working in reverse to identify the prerequisite learning tasks and benchmark assessments.

Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES)
This elementary school model organizes instruction around a scope and sequence taught by a qualified foreign language teacher. Its goals include developing language proficiency with an emphasis on oral skills, as well as providing a gradual introduction to literacy, building cultural knowledge, and tying language learning to the content of the early grades’ curriculum. FLES programs vary, especially in the number of meetings per week or minutes per session. See also Foreign Language Exploratory Program (FLEX).

Connecting to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • How do you stay in the target language in a beginning class where much of the teaching is new vocabulary?
  • How do you help students progress from oral language to written language?
  • If you teach without a textbook, how do you structure your lessons and obtain materials? What are the advantages and the challenges of teaching without a textbook?

Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you’ve just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

Holidays and Seasons (German) illustrates sentence-strip activities for third-graders, and Chicken Pox (French) introduces written language to kindergarteners.

Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.

  • When teaching vocabulary related to the family, provide students with the terms needed to describe today’s family structures. Traditionally, words like mother, father, sister, and brother were considered basic vocabulary, while words like stepmother and foster parent were considered more advanced. In a standards-based program, the goal is for all students to exchange information about their families and homes. Therefore, any vocabulary that a student needs for that purpose should be considered basic. Ms. Terry gave her students vocabulary for any family members that they chose to include in their imaginary family trees. You can also have students describe popular literary, television, or film families in order to include a wide range of family structures.
  • Use oral activities from elementary and middle school language arts classes to introduce literacy skills. For example, after Ms. Terry was confident that students knew the words for family members, rooms of the house, and household activities, she wrote sentence parts on strips of paper that could be rearranged to form new sentences. You could also have beginning readers match labels and visuals, or select dialogue for the speech balloons in comic strips. For more ideas like these, talk to the language arts teachers in your school. Note that teachers of character-based languages, such as Japanese and Chinese, cannot rely solely on sound/symbol correspondences and must also develop character recognition skills.


World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages
The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages create a roadmap to guide learners to develop competence to communicate effectively and interact with cultural understanding. This lesson correlates to the following Standards:

Communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes

Interpersonal Communication

Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.

Interpretive Communication

Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.

Presentational Communication

Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.

Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives in order to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations

Making Connections

Learners build, reinforce, and expand their knowledge of other disciplines while using the language to develop critical thinking and to solve problems creatively.


Curriculum References
Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Debra Terry’s Additional Resources

Web Resources:
Annonces Immobilieres
A real estate search engine that includes photos and descriptions of homes (Available in English, French, and Italian)

K-3 Themes at Enchanted Learning
Online dictionaries, activities, and other lesson materials organized by theme (available in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish). Note: This site requests support from users but does not currently charge for access to content.

Yahoo! France
The French-language version of the popular search engine

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2003. 2016.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2