Effective Sites with French News Articles for Students to Spark Conversation and Discussion | Newsdle
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Effective Sites with French News Articles for Students to Spark Conversation and Discussion

11/07/22

Getting students of the French language to speak freely in the target language is one of the highest goals of high school and university level French language teachers. While random chatting on everyday life topics also has its place in the classroom, presenting a focused discussion based on a news article is an excellent method to reinforce vocabulary and language structures.  

Why teachers should use French news article for discussions in high-school/university level French language teaching: 

  • French news articles based on current events or on students’ interests and passions will engage interest and therefore lead to synergistically enhanced learning effects
  • French article-based discussion task practices two of the four language skills – reading and speaking. In addition, with the integrated audio (podcasts) or video (on news sites or links to YouTube) found on many sites, listening can be actively practiced as well. Finally, try assigning homework to write a summary or opinion piece which will reinforce the fourth skill of writing.
  • Focused discussion and preparatory exercises can be a much more efficient trainer of active language skills than simple random chatting. The vocabulary will be repeated throughout the various activities such as reading, viewing videos or listening to podcasts and will finally activated be in the discussion process.
  • Sites with French news articles for students are available for all learners – from beginners to advanced students.
  • Upper intermediate and advanced students can present different articles from different sources (group work) on a single topic to offer a variety of perspectives. The ensuing discussions will be all the livelier.

Top Sites for Finding French News Articles  

French articles for all levels 

Newsdle

This site for learners and classrooms offers one-stop shopping site for authentic articles at all levels. Newsdle is a news site for French (and Spanish) learners which provides interesting articles curated for all levels from beginning to advanced and even higher advanced levels. This news site includes a wide range of topics (current events, international news, science, culture, sports). The articles are authentically written, i.e., not machine translations and each article includes a professional audio recording spoken at a pace suitable for each level of article, spoken by a real person and not a machine. Effective training features including vocabulary lists, built-in dictionary, and grammar spotlights. The testing feature to check comprehension of both audio and text passages is also very useful. All these features lead to a variety of ways to prepare for an effective classroom discussion on the topic at hand. 

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

It’s available for all levels and offers a wide range of articles even for beginners which makes it easy for teachers (or students) to select articles. The learning features (vocab lists, tests, grammar etc.) enhance reinforcement of vocabulary learning and speaking skills leading to a very comprehensive and long-lasting learning effect. 

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French News Article Sites Suitable for Beginners to Intermediate Learners 

1 jour, 1 actu 

This is an authentic news site written for French-speaking children but it also very interesting for adults and teens who are learning the language. The length of the articles is short. There is also a useful segment “Tes 3 infos de la semaine” (Your top 3 stories of the week) which summarizes the top news stories. There is a great variety of topics offered, ranging from current events to science to pop culture. This site also presents videos with engaging animation and podcasts. 

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

The site features engaging articles, graphics and videos, which even though designed for children, offer a synergistic reinforcement effect for increased reading and listening comprehension. Good site for students to browse and find their own material to discuss. Combining the videos with reading the articles can be used in a variety of effective ways to enhance learning effects. 

JDE - Le Journal des Enfants, l’actu pour les 8-12 ans 

Another authentic French news site designed for French children aged 8-12, but of course it can also be extremely effective for adult and teen learners. French articles written in simple language for children aged 8-12. This site focuses on a wide range of topics, e.g. France, Monde, Sport, Science, Jeux, etc. There are links provided to related videos on YouTube. Most of the articles are subject to a fee-based subscription, but quite a few are available free of cost. 

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

The topics on this site offer a great variety of categories such as science and sports and games. The links to YouTube videos provide another window to extended learning and reinforcement. 

RFI Savoirs - Journal en français facile 

This excellent site designed for learners of the French language features news podcast in easy French and provides written transcripts which can be used pre or post listening, depending on students’ level. The news stories are presented in a classic radio news-reporting format and are updated every day which means there is a great wealth of material and the topics are very current. There are features designed to train learners to read the news such as “Les mots de l’actualité”. Topics range from Géopolitique and Environment to Économie and Santé.  

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

Using this listening- and reading-based approach to initiating classroom discussion in French trains two of the most challenging skills in learning French – listening and reading comprehension. Classroom discussion repeats and reinforces vocabulary other language features presented in the material. Round off the class by listening to the podcast one last time and the effects will be even longer lasting. 

Intermediate to Upper Intermediate Sites with French News Articles 

Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France 

These sites are based on two associated publications Le Parisien (the largest newspaper based in Paris) and Aujourd’hui (circulated in other regions of France), the print editions of which have a circulation of over 500,000. The website offers a mix of paid and free articles. The articles are written in authentic language which is still accessible since the articles are short and to the point.  

Why they are effective for French classroom discussion: 

Using authentic French newspapers lends itself to an excellent groupwork activity if small groups each read and present one of various articles on a single topic. The subsequent discussion will be even more effective. 

Metro/20 Minutes 

This site is based on the print edition of a newspaper which is distributed for free, especially on the French metros, and which is designed to be read on public transport commute. The articles are therefore short and condensed which are useful for learners looking for less length French articles to read. 

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

Using short articles is an excellent “filler” for transition periods in classrooms and the entire article reading and discussion time can be condensed to about 30 minutes. 

French Newspapers Sites for Advanced French Learners 

Le Figaro 

This site is based on the classic French newspaper. The online newspaper comprises such topics such as Politique, Société, Èconomie and Voyage. Many of the articles are free while some are subscription only. Using authentic newspapers which are not written for easy reading or for language learners will teach essential skills such as reading vocabulary in context and skimming articles for relevant information. Subsequent discussion is a reinforcement of all things learned. 

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

Using real articles written for real French people can be challenging, but the payoffs can be immense. Of course, the subsequent classroom discussion will reinforce and activate long-term learning effects. 

Le Monde 

This website is based on another well-known French newspaper with well-written articles about a variety of French and international topics and also offers video presentations on many of the topics in the news. Most of the articles are free with advertising links.  

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

Just like Le Figaro, the articles can be challenging, but the learning effects are that much greater. Using the videos as an extra activity means that the learning effects will be reinforced and enhanced. 

Topic-based news articles for classroom discussion 

Topic-based news articles are highly effective for classroom discussion because they can engage students’ personal interests. Here are a few ideas of sites which might be suitable for some groups of students. 

Sports – French sites with articles dedicated to sports 

L’Equipe  

This site is based on the famous newspaper dedicated to articles about sports including Football, Cyclisme, Jeux Olympiques, and Auto-Moto just to name a few.  Many articles are often offered only subscription-based but there is a bit of free content available as well. Focusing on this topic might spark some students’ passion and initiate lively discussions. Combining articles on sports with vocabulary in line with curricula that often includes such every-day subjects as sports and body parts (injuries!) can enhance the topics even further. 

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

For sports-interested students, this approach is highly recommendable because reading French sports articles will ultimately teach more than just the vocabulary of sports - a lot of useful words on other topics will sneak in! In addition, the language is often colloquial, opening a window onto another level of vocabulary and idioms. 

Celebrity News and Gossip. Guilty pleasures without the guilt – because they’re in French! 

Voici 

This website is based on a French weekly magazine which features articles on such as Famille royale or Télé. While this might seem a bit silly for some, the simplicity of the topic might provide a light-hearted relief from more serious articles about wars and inflation. In addition, the articles are often written with a lot of idioms and other colloquialisms.  

Why it’s effective for French classroom discussion: 

It’s a light-hearted topic and gossip is a guilty pleasure for many people even if they won’t readily admit it. The topics are generally straightforward, leading to simple discussions and descriptions of situations that occurred in celebrity news.

Journaux Français French Newspapers App from MUNBEN  

An excellent free French newspaper app with over 75 journals! 

This is a fantastically comprehensive app with links to over 75 newspapers and magazines such as Le Figaro, Le Monde and 20 Minutes or L’equippe. You can find French articles in the categories regional, French national and world news, sports, celebrities and fashion. Some of the offerings are only available by subscription but others offer plenty of free content. 

Whichever level of French you teach, using French news articles to spark discussion in the classroom can be an effective way to repeat and reinforce vocabulary and language structures, guide students into speaking freely on a variety of topics and generally increase their confidence in speaking the language. 

Author

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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