How to Teach French Using Newsdle
Newsdle has a host of useful features that teachers can use to help their students learn French, no matter what their level. The creators of Newsdle believe that the best way for students to learn French is by reading about things that they find interesting. All the Newsdle lessons are news-based; whether it's sports, world affairs, or French culture, our topics are wide-ranging. They are written by qualified French teachers, and three brand new lessons are added each day, so there is always something new to read and study.
Newsdle lesson topics
Some of the Newsdle Classroom features that French teachers will find especially useful are:
- Comprehension questions
- Spoken audio for every article
- Interactive live dictionary that can be used to create electronic flashcards
- Grammatical explanations and Key Vocabulary lists for each article
- Teacher dashboard to set assignments and monitor student metrics and performance
- Articles are mapped to popular global syllabuses and curricula such as the AQA, GCSE, International Baccalaureate, and others.
Newsdle curricula options
Although Newsdle is an online news-based graded reader, it can be used to practice not just reading, but also listening, writing and conversation.
Newsdle to Practice French Reading and Vocabulary
Reading is one of the best ways to level up your French skills, as it helps you learn vocabulary and grammar while experiencing it all in a real-life context. If you have access to authentic, up-to-the-minute material, such as news and current affairs articles, then all the better. By reading interesting and engaging French content students are far more likely to stay invested in their studies and learn more at a faster rate.
Newsdle’s articles are graded at six different levels, so teachers can choose material that best suits their students’ current ability.
Each article is accompanied by a set of 4 to 6 comprehension exercises. They can be used by students to check if they are understanding the main points of an article. To keep students interested, the comprehension exercises come in different formats: fill-in-the-blanks exercises; vocabulary matching; choosing the correct response; sentence building, and so on. And comprehension exercises are all automatically graded, saving teachers time otherwise spent marking students’ work.
As a Primer for Actual Newspaper Articles
Not only do Newsdle articles cater to different levels of capability, but they also help students expand their vocabulary related to the event. And for an added challenge, intermediate and advanced learners, once they are familiar with the vocabulary, can take on the task of reading about the event in a French newspaper or magazine. This will bring to students a sense of pride and accomplishment when they realize they can comprehend authentic French articles!
Reading Logs and Reading Challenges
To encourage students to read outside of the classroom, students can be asked to maintain a weekly log. In the weekly log, they can record the day and length of time they read, and record any new words, phrases, useful idioms, or sentences that they learnt from the article.
For many people, introducing a bit of fun competition can be a great motivator. Have a monthly Reading Challenge where students track how much time they spend reading French articles, with a prize for each month’s winner.
Match the definition with the word
The teacher can choose some key vocabulary, then provide students with just the definitions for the words. Students must then find the words in the text that match the definitions. This also practices scanning, which is a useful reading technique.
Newsdle to Practice French Listening
All the Newsdle articles are accompanied by an audio track, read by native speakers. When students listen to native French speakers they learn correct pronunciation and intonation. The audio tracks can be paused or skipped at any time.
Listen first, then read
Most students have better reading comprehension skills than listening skills. To improve students’ listening skills, it’s a good idea to begin by listening to the audio of an article a few times. The students can then check their comprehension by reading the article, before listening to the article a final time.
Listen while reading
There’s a theory that reading a text while listening to the audio of the text at the same time will make dramatic improvements in students’ language learning progress. Listening while reading engages different senses as well as different parts of the brain, which in turn is believed to help remember information better.
Reading along will also improve their French listening skills. Have you ever heard a song in your native language and you can’t quite make out the lyrics? But then when you listen to the song with the lyrics in front of you, suddenly you can hear the words clearly. You wonder why you didn’t recognise the words in the first instance! The same thing happens when you listen while reading the text; words that seemed a blur of sounds suddenly become recognisable when you read what you are hearing.
Dictation is where the teacher slowly reads out aloud the text and students try to write what they hear. This works well as both a listening and a spelling exercise, as students may correctly hear words but then misspell them. Be careful not to make the dictation exercise too long and risk losing students’ interest.
Newsdle has not only French reading comprehension quizzes but also listening quizzes. Students listen to the audio and then answer a set of questions on them. It’s a good idea to have a mixture of reading and listening quizzes so that for some articles you can finish with a reading quiz, whereas in other articles they can begin listening to the audio and do the listening quiz. And on Newsdle there is of course the option to set both listening and reading quizzes for an article.
Newsdle to Practice Speaking and Conversation in French
The ways to use Newsdle as a springboard for speaking and conversation practice are myriad. This article sets out in detail thirteen different ways to use Newsdle to practice French conversation.
Just as a few examples, students can work in pairs asking and answering the comprehension questions that Newsdle provides. Students can look at the images that accompany each article and use these as talking points. (For lower-level learners you could simply ask students to describe what they see in the photo).
Newsdle lesson image
Higher level students can have a debate where they take opposing sides on an issue, or they could hold a mock press conference, or role-play a reporter asking witnesses, victims, and so on.
Many polyglots swear by the shadowing technique where you listen to a recording of a native speaker and immediately repeat what you hear as accurately as possible. Shadowing helps with French pronunciation and intonation, and it develops listening skills. It also helps fluency, because you are responding rapidly to what you hear without having the time to translate it back into your native language.
Newsdle to Practice Writing in French
Writing exercises are best suited to intermediate and advanced learners, but some exercises can be developed or modified even for elementary learners.
Each Newsdle article comes with a vocabulary list. Students can be given the vocabulary lists to learn as homework, then tested on their spelling in the next lesson.
Create a Timeline of Events
After reading an article students can create a timeline that sets out in chronological order the main events and incidents covered in the article. This is a good exercise for lower-level students but can be used for higher levels as well.
Devise a Discussion Question for the Article
Another exercise that would suit lower-level learners is to have them think up a discussion question or questions relating to the article. After correcting the questions for grammar and spelling, they can then be used to lead off spoken discussions.
Summarise the Article
Ask students to summarise the article they have read in a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs.
Write a Letter to the Editor
Most newspapers have a Letters to the Editor page. Students can pretend they are writing to the Editor and agree or disagree with an article or provide their point of view on an article’s topic. As another option, students could pretend they are writing a comment on the newspaper’s blog or online article. This can be an opportunity to use more informal language.
Set an essay topic based on the article
Best for advanced learners, you could ask students to write an essay on the article. Essay topics might include looking at the pros and cons of the issue covered in the article, or writing a persuasive essay on the topic. Students could also be asked to research the topic, then write a short research paper or report.
Newsdle to Practice French Grammar
Newsdle offers a complete level-targeted list of grammatical explanations for each lesson. French grammar is made relevant with contextualised examples.
Newsdle grammar explanations
Many learners find French grammar a turn-off, and grammatical rules dry and boring. However, grammar is important if students are to reach a certain level of proficiency. Using the correct grammar is vital if a student wants to be understood by a native speaker, both in spoken and written communication. The key is to make the grammar lessons fun and engaging, for example using team quizzes, a game of Grammar Jeopardy, or a Grammar Olympiad.
Help your students learn French by engaging them through the latest news, and test and track their progress using Newsdle’s inbuilt comprehension exercises and student management system. If you would like to receive a quotation for Newsdle Classroom in your school or university, please get in touch with us at email@example.com.
Nick is an English teacher who has taught English as a Foreign Language in China, Italy and France. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Modern Languages), majoring in French, from the University of New South Wales. He loves travel, reading and football and, of course, learning languages. Four years ago, Nick and his wife co-founded an online English language school targeted at the Chinese market (since sold to Chinese investors). He has also ghost-written the autobiography of a well-known Australian horse trainer.