How Teachers Can Use Newsdle to Create Effective Conversational French Lesson Plans | Newsdle

How Teachers Can Use Newsdle to Create Effective Conversational French Lesson Plans


Why is conversation so important for French learners? 

Fluently speaking French is often the most highly prioritized target which French learners set for themselves. Every student of French dreams of travelling to Paris or Provence and effortlessly communicating as they purchase train tickets, order in cafés or restaurants, or even enter into lively conversations with French locals. Teachers who are aware of their students’ desire to achieve conversational fluency frequently design their French lesson plans with an aim to train this skill. 

Additionally, focusing on French conversation skills is a good teaching strategy on many levels since training this skill in particular sets key synergistic learning effects into motion, which will also enhance the other three language skills of reading, writing and listening. The reason for this phenomenon is that speaking French fluently first requires learners to be grounded in French reading skills, listening comprehension and written language production. Speaking French then involves very active mental processes, forcing learners to “think on their feet”, so to speak. These processes will introduce a dynamic into their learning process which, in turn, will accelerate their mastery of French pronunciation and improve their abilities in all other language skills as well. In other words, French learners who speak well, almost always also demonstrate high skills in reading, listening and writing.  

Therefore, French conversational fluency is something that must be carefully nurtured in the classroom. Students should be coached to develop confidence so that they can speak freely in French. Utilizing engaging reading and listening materials will prepare your students for conversation lessons and give them the self-assurance they need to participate in discussions with passion and interest. Teachers will find that Newsdle articles provide an excellent resource for facilitating discussions in their French classes. 

Which features of Newsdle make lesson planning for French classes easy? 

Busy teachers can make use of Newsdle’s many features to easily structure their classes and design outstanding conversational French lesson plans: 

  • Newsdle currently offers over a thousand French news articles using authentic language on a great variety of engaging subjects for all ability levels. 

Newsdle Offers a Huge Variety of French News Articles 

Newsdle Offers a Huge Variety of French News Articles

  • The huge number of articles allows teachers to create custom assignments for individual students or small groups 
  • Newsdle articles offer a useful pop-up dictionary explaining words when clicked on, which facilitates comprehension for students of all abilities. 
  • Each article provides lists of key vocabulary which can be especially effective when they are pre-taught before reading an article. 
  • Each Newsdle article also provides key grammar explanations. 
  • All Newsdle articles are supported by professional audio recordings.
  • Very detailed comprehension questions for each French news article reinforce mastery of the article’s content, grammar and vocabulary. 

Example of Content Questions for a Beginner's French Newsdle Article 

Example of Content Questions for a Beginner's French Newsdle Article 

How to select Newsdle articles to create conversational French lesson plans 

Choose the proper difficulty level of the Newsdle article which matches your class’s abilities  

Newsdle articles are conveniently categorized according to ability level from Beginner to Advanced Higher. Sometimes a good strategy for facilitating conversational fluency is for teachers to select an article one level lower than students’ actual abilities, thus giving students a chance to speak with more confidence. At other times teachers might want to challenge students by selecting a higher-level article. 

Selecting the topic category of the French news article 

French Newsdle articles are offered in over 20 topic categories ranging from culture to animals to crime. Teachers might want to align Newsdle articles with textbook curriculum, offering students new viewpoints and enhanced understanding of a general topic. Another approach might be to find articles which reflect current events or which match students’ spheres of interest. 

Grammar topics might also provide a focal point 

Newsdle articles also provide explanations of key grammar topics in the French articles. Teachers might want to select article based on grammar points their students are currently covering or have covered in the past. The articles will provide authentic usage examples of the points the teachers wish to target 

Free Sample French Lesson Plan using a Newsdle article 

The following is a free conversational lesson plan which is designed to teach one Newsdle article to your entire class with the target of facilitating classroom discussion. Later I will discuss how this free French lesson plan can be adapted for different teaching modalities such as group projects or individual work in your classes. 

Teaching your entire class the same Newsdle article as a basis for training conversational French skills will give your class the opportunity to intensely and very thoroughly prepare one topic together under your guidance. Ultimately this method will assist your students to develop their own essential study skills which they can then apply themselves when they are working in small groups or on their own.  

The article I have selected for this free French lesson plan is a lower-intermediate level news story from Newsdle called “Chartres veut être “ville amie des animaux” / “Chartres Wants to Develop a ‘Pet Friendly City’ Label” and the lesson duration is targeted at 60 minutes. 


Article "Chartres Wants to Develop a 'Pet Friendly City' Label" 

Free 60-Minute French Conversational Lesson Plan using the Lower-Intermediate Newsdle Article “Chartres veut être ‘ville amie des animaux’” 


Learning Objective 


5 minutes 

Introduction to topic 

Teacher asks the following warm-up questions in French: 

  • Do you have any pets? 
  • Is our city pet friendly? 

10 minutes 

Pre-teach vocabulary 

Students read the vocabulary, proper nouns and idioms from the respective lists on the article page. The teacher focuses on the correct pronunciation of each word. 

5 minutes  


Listen once to the audio recording of the article. The teacher asks if the students have recognized any of the words they have just learnt and if they have understood anything else from the recording. 

10 minutes  


Students read the article silently on paper copies, tablets or PCs. 

5 minutes 


Ask the students if they have any comprehension questions. 

15 minutes  

Small group discussion 

Divide the class into groups of 3-5 students. They should now discuss the following questions (written on the board in French): 

  • What is the city of Chartres famous for? 
  • Who is Sophie Beurel and what is her job? 
  • What are three projects for animals that the city of Chartres has initiated? 

10 minutes  

Class discussion 

Repeat the second question from the warm-up and follow up with other discussion questions:  

  • Is our city friendly to animals?  
  • Would any of the projects in Chartres be effective in our city? 
  • Are there any other ways our city can become more animal friendly? 
  • The teacher can ask other questions depending on how the discussion goes. 



The teacher assigns the article comprehension questions as homework. 

How to adapt this French conversational lesson plan to different teaching modalities 

Using Newsdle Articles for Small Group Work 

Another way to use Newsdle for teaching conversation is to assign different articles to small groups of 2-5 students. After a few sessions of learning one article for the entire class, the students will have become better accustomed to using the Newsdle app and to applying various methods for preparing an article so they will know how to approach an article more independently. A good strategy here is to assign various groups different articles on related topics. Another useful approach is to adapt the article difficulty levels to various proficiency levels of the different groups. Newsdle offers a wealth of articles on related topics so there will be plenty of choices for this kind of customization. For example, there are over 40 French Newsdle articles at the Foundation and Lower Intermediate levels on the topic of “animals”, for example “GetPet: le Tinder pour les chiens abandonnés” / “GetPet: A Tinder App for Abandoned Dogs”  or “Des chats sauvages sur le toit du monde” / “Wildcats Spotted on Top of the World”. Teachers might also want to select topics which align with vocabulary focal points from textbooks and from the general curriculum.  

Give the groups class time to prepare and read the article, learn vocabulary, complete the content questions, etc. Students can then present their article to the rest of the class. One student can present key vocabulary, another can offer a short summary using their own words while a third presents questions on the article and moderates a discussion. The other groups of the class might be required to come up with questions for each presentation. This method is especially effective when the groups prepare different articles on related subjects. The teacher can then moderate a class discussion on the topic in general, in this case “animals”. 

Individual French lesson plans  

Teachers might also assign each student individual Newsdle articles which they can present to the class. The advantage of this modality is that students of differing proficiencies can be assigned articles of various levels, giving weaker students a greater opportunity to improve their fluency with an easier article whilst more advanced students will receive a welcome challenge. Of course, students should also sometimes be able to select their own articles which more closely reflect their own interests.  

Beginning students should aim to recount a summary of an article 

Beginning French students will not have much ability to discuss a topic freely, yet they can also profit from Newsdle’s huge base of articles for beginners. One target of French conversational lesson plans involving beginners could be for the students to simply retell the content of an article using their own words. Individual or group work projects are particularly suited for this type of learning target. The teachers can give bonus points to any students who are able to think of any questions to ask their classmates. 

Advanced students can supplement Newsdle articles with contributions from the French media 

Upper-intermediate and advanced students can carry out intense preparation for an article in class, in groups or individually and then be assigned the task of finding other similar, related articles in the French media. It might even be possible for more proficient students to locate videos or podcasts which cover same topic. Then they can present these findings to the rest of the class whilst posing questions and moderating discussions. 

Refresh students’ learning by repeating audio recordings or comprehension questions 

After a break of a few days up to about two weeks, an ideal way to quickly refresh students’ knowledge of an article they have covered in class is to repeat the audio recordings once or twice in class.  


Incorporating Newsdle into French lesson plans as a primary resource not only facilitates conversational fluency but also cultivates comprehensive language skills. By leveraging its diverse features, teachers can cater to varying proficiency levels, create engaging discussions, and empower students to delve into authentic French content. Through tailored lesson plans and adaptable teaching modalities, Newsdle serves as a catalyst for a more interactive and dynamic learning experience. As educators embrace this innovative tool, students are poised to not only master conversational French but also flourish across all facets of language acquisition. Embrace Newsdle's rich resources and witness your classroom transform into a hub of linguistic exploration and proficiency. 


Heather Buchanan-Schrader 

Heather Buchanan-Schrader

An unashamed language nerd from Anchorage, Alaska, Heather’s life has led her to a degree in German and International Studies from Willamette University and a three-year stay in Taiwan with her German husband at the end of the eighties. In Taipei she took intensive Chinese courses at the Mandarin Training Center of Taiwan Normal University and also taught English at the Taipei Language Institute. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, she became intrigued by the life in a former East Bloc country and finally decided to relocate to Leipzig, Germany in 1991. There she and her husband established the FAE Fachinstitut für Angewandtes Englisch, a private English institute focusing on teaching adults, translations and language coaching. This has been a successful venture for over 30 years. 

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