The sounds of a "positioning rhyme" in French

A positioning rhyme in French

Why is this necessary?
Last week Emilie and I delivered CPD where the teachers had to listen to words that describe the position of an object in French.
  • The two words sous- under and sur - on caused challenges , as said quickly they sounded quite similar to the untrained ear.
  • En haut (above )was also interesting because of the aspirated sound for "h" and the close connection of "en" and "au" remembering too that the "t" is a silent last letter.
  • Another teacher pointed put that you can't anticipate whether the action required is in front or behind until you hear the second syllable of the words devant (in front) and derrière (behind)
So below are activities that I have been using for many years to practise these key words and the sounds contained within them. 

The positional words and the rhyme
Teach the children the positional language below. Some of the words are similar sounds in the target language and the children will need to listen very carefully .

En haut,devant,derrière
Devant et sous et sur.

Devant, derrière.

En haut , en haut , en haut!

Pass the parcel sous and sur

  • Sit the children in a circle and  play music whilst the children pass an object around the circle. 
  • Pause the music and the child holding the object must listen to you carefully as you ask them to put the object “sous” or “sur” an upturned box that is in the centre of the circle.
  • Each time encourage the rest of the class to show thumbs up or thumbs down as the child places the object on or under the box.
  • Play the game a second time and this time allow the child to the left or right of the child holding the object when the music stops to determine if the object goes “sous” or “sur” the box.

A question of concentration
  • Practise all the key position words
  • Ask the children to stand up and add actions – slowly and carefully as if they were Tai Chi actions.
  • Now put together the rhyme and the actions as a Tai Chi performance.
  • Ask the children to close their eyes and just listen (they can’t then rely on anyone else) and ask them to perform the rhyme.
  • Now muddle up the order of the words- can the children listen and concentrate and perform the correct actions in the correct order.

What’s the sound ?
  • Break the words down into key sounds:

Sous (ou)
Sur  (u)
Devant (ant)
Derrière (ère)
en haut  (en/au)

  • Call a sound .Can the children think of the word and perform the correct action.
  • Place the key sounds as written sounds on the floor as a path of stepping stones- you need six paths so all children can work at the same time.
  • Ask the children to divide themselves into groups of six and to form a line. 
  • Ask the children to move across the stepping stones to read the written sound on each stepping stone and as they step on the stepping stone they must perform the action they associate with the sound e.g ou = sous

The secret treasure hiding journey
You will need space for this activity- the hall or the playground would be best.
  • Ask the children to think of something very precious to put in to a special casket that they can imagine holding.

  • Ask the children to place their precious object in their casket and lock the casket.
  • The teacher should explain that they are going to hear the rhyme several times and they need to go on a secret treasure hiding journey in their imaginations to hide their caskets.
  • Ask the children to move around the room- reaching high, looking under or going under something or climbing on top or placing the casket on top of something imaginary as they make their secret treasure hiding journey in unison with the rhyme.