Discover the assets of poetry in FLE class through two famous poems by Jacques Prévert.

The poetry of Prévert : a fun and effective tool for teaching FLE

The French cultural heritage is full of literary works that can be fully exploited in the classroom, both for working on oral and written skills. Whether you want to revise a grammatical point, improve pronunciation and intonation techniques, or even strengthen writing, for example, there is bound to be a poem that will serve as your educational support. So do not hesitate to invite your learners to travel to the heart of French literature thanks to some poetic texts by famous writers such as Jacques Prévert. Considered one of the greatest French poets of the twentieth century, he wrote many essential texts when it comes to using poetry as a linguistic tool in French as a foreign language course. Here is a selection of two of his poems from his most popular collection of poems called Lyrics. We offer you a few operating suggestions that are easy to implement.

The Message

The door that someone has opened
The door that someone closed
The chair where someone sat
The cat someone has petted
The fruit that someone has bitten
The letter someone read
The chair someone knocked over
The door that someone has opened
The road where someone is still running
The wood someone crosses
The river where someone throws
The hospital where someone died.

Through the study of this poem, you will be able to clearly aim as grammatical objectives the use of simple relative pronouns “that” and “where” as well as the agreement of the participles past in the compound past. What educational approach can we adopt? Several possibilities are available to the teacher. By way of start-up, it may be interesting to offer illustrations of this poem, presented in the form of thumbnails, without text (there are very pretty on the internet). You put them out of order and invite your learners, in pairs for example, to imagine and reconstruct the story. Then you suggest incomplete activity from the text. Depending on the objective to be achieved, each relative pronoun and / or each verb is masked. It is then up to your learners to identify the missing relative pronoun and to conjugate the verb in the compound past while respecting the rule of agreement. Then why not offer a theatrical activity ? For example, you invite a first learner to read the poem aloud, working particularly on intonation and pronunciation, while a second mimics action, particularly working on gestures. Good humor guaranteed in the classroom! Finally, to go further, let the creativity of your students play by offering them to write a poem like this. Then everyone will declaim their few lines whose actions will be mimed by one of their comrades. Thanks to this writing workshop, you may discover poets and budding actors in your classroom!


He put the coffee
In the Cup
He put the milk
In the coffee cup
He added the sugar
In the coffee with milk
With spoon
He turned
He drank the coffee with milk
And he based the cup
Without speaking to me
He lit up
A cigarette
He made circles
With the smoke
He put the ashes
In the ashtray
Without speaking to me
Without looking at me
He got up
He put
His hat on his head
He put
His raincoat
Because it was raining
And he left
Under the rain
Without a word
Without looking at me
And I took
My head in my hands
And I cried.

From an educational point of view, this poem is ideal for working on perfect tense. To introduce this poem, why not offer the discovery through one of the many videos putting this poem? Prefer mute mode first, to allow your class to make oral hypotheses on the theme of the story. Who are these characters? What do they do ? etc. Then, you can continue with a conjugation exercise: you distribute the text and give instructions to conjugate the different verbs in the past tense. To go further, you can make your own video clip by inviting two of your learners to mimic the different actions of the poem. Finally, to work on the written production, ask them to continue the poem by imagining the rest of the day for these two characters while respecting the writing style of Jacques Prévert.