You can't become fluent in French if you don't practice what you've learned, and French clubs are an ideal place to practice. If there's no Alliance Française or another French club near you, maybe you need to take things into your own hands and create your own. This isn't as daunting as it sounds-all you need to do is find a meeting place and some members, decide on meeting frequency, and plan a few interesting activities.
Before you set up your French club, there are two things you need to find: Members and a meeting place. Neither of these is super difficult, but both require some effort and planning.
The best way to find member is to advertise. Get news about your club out there by posting in the school newsletter, on bulletin boards at your school or in your community, or in local paper. You can also inquire at local French restaurants if they will let you post something.
Another tactic is to recruit from French classes. Ask teachers at your school and others in the area, including schools geared towards adults, if they will help tell students about your club.
Decide on a Meeting Place
Where you have your meetings will depend a little on who your members are. If your club is made up only of students at your school, you can request permission to meet in the school cafeteria, an unused classroom, or the library or community center. If you have members from the community at large, you might suggest meeting at a local café, restaurant, or bar (depending on ages) or at members' homes (take turns). In fine weather, a local park is also a good option.
Plan Meeting Schedule
At your first meeting, agree on a day and time for future meetings and discuss the types of meetings you'll be having.
- Lunchtime Table française: Students and people from the community can just drop in when they have the time. Hopefully, French teachers will offer extra credit to their students who attend.
- Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings
- Outings to plays, opera, movies, museums
- There needs to be at least one person in semi-charge who speaks fairly fluently. This person can help everyone feel comfortable no matter what their level, help others with their French, encourage conversation when it lags, and remind everyone to speak French. Asking questions is a good way to get everyone talking.
- Have a set meeting time and date (every Thursday at noon, the first Sunday of the month) to help keep the routine.
- Meet for at least an hour, preferably two, to make sure it's worth people making the effort to show up.
- Collect members' names and contact info so that you can remind them about meetings. An email mailing list is an excellent way to do this.
- Stress the fact that all levels are welcome and that it's in everyone's best interest to talk.
- Just for fun, you could decide on a club name and get T-shirts made.
- Be strict about French only.
OK, so you've figured out your meeting time, place, and venue and you've got a bunch of interested members. Now what? Just sitting around and talking in French is a good start, but there are lots of things you can do to spice up the meetings.
- Brunch, lunch, dinner at a restaurant
- Cheese tasting
- Crêpe making
- Dessert tasting
- French-style barbecue
- Wine tasting
- Le monde francophone: Week 1: France, week 2: Belgium, week 3: Senegal, etc.
Music and Movies
- Listen and/or sing (get lyrics from internet)
- Rent or stream movies to watch at member's home
- Make a trip to the theater
- Plays: Take turns reading
- Novels: Take turns reading, or copy extracts to discuss at the next meeting
- Poetry: Read or write
- French culture
- French-speaking countries
- Regions of France
- Trip photos
- Culture and history quizzes
- Twenty questions
- Taboo: put a bunch of random French words in a hat, pick one, and try to describe it while others guess what the word is.
- Bastille Day
- Mardi Gras
- Poisson d'Avril
- National French Week
- Get together with other language clubs
There are no hard and fast rules for French club activities, but these are just some ideas to help you get started.