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French courses outline

The Cactus Course Outlines provide a learning framework for the Cactus Foreign Language Evening Courses. They are designed to provide you with a good idea of what you might cover over a 10-week period, and include typical themes, grammar and vocabulary fields. They are flexible rather than prescriptive, in that our teachers may decide to adapt their learning plans to the specific level, aims and interests of their classes. Use the tabs below to view the relevant French course outline for your level. If you want to cover the same course outline in a shorter period of time, we also offer One-Week Online Courses and 5-week Courses.

Beginner 1

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Greetings
  • Alphabet + letters combination
  • Nationalities and countries
  • Jobs
  • Numbers
  • Giving personal details (address, telephone number, email, age)
  • Filling a form
  • Food and drinks
  • Holidays in France and abroad
  • Describing a city (jobs and places)
  • Using a dictionary
Grammar
  • Nouns – feminine, masculine, singular, plural
  • The verbs ‘être’, ‘avoir’ in the present tense
  • Articles – definite and indefinite
  • Adjective agreement in gender and number
  • Verbs in ‘ER’
  • Etre and Avoir
  • Prepositions of place
  • Il y a + Il n’y a pas
  • Word order: sentence/question
  • Key prepositions – à, dans, en, au, etc.
  • Yes/no questions
Cultural Content
  • Paris
  • Cities of France
  • French speaking countries
  • French names
  • Map of France
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/active practice
  • Role-plays
  • Lots of listening
  • Pronunciation – key sounds

Beginner 2

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Review and practice level 1 vocabulary/grammar
  • Talking about family, friends and celebrities
  • Talking about oneself – key personal information + likes/dislikes
  • Talking about hobbies
  • Daily life – routines, habits, free time
  • Days of the week
  • Animals
  • Telling the time
  • Consumer goods – clothes, accessories, food
  • Describing objects – shape, colour, size
  • Talking about the weather
  • Shopping
Grammar
  • Possessive pronouns
  • Revision ‘ER’ verbs
  • The immediate past: ‘venir de’
  • Negative sentences
  • Key verbs: faire, aller, sortir, etc.
  • Demonstrative pronouns
  • Frequency adverbs
  • Reflexive verbs in ‘ER’
  • Question words (quel)
Cultural Content
  • French speaking celebrities
  • French daily routine
  • French brands and products
  • Bruxelles
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/active practice
  • Role-plays
  • Lots of listening
  • Pronunciation – key sounds

Beginner 3

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Food and drinks
  • Talking about prices
  • Eating out – booking a table, ordering
  • Eating habits
  • Talking about future plans
  • Talking about abilities
  • Talking about life experience
Grammar
  • Quantities
  • Partitive articles: du, de la, des
  • Near future : aller + infinitive
  • Direct Object Pronouns : le, la, les
  • Passé composé with être and avoir + past participles (regular/irregular)
  • Verbs pouvoir and savoir
  • Time words and phrases: depuis, pendant, il y a, etc.
Cultural Content
  • French food and drinks
  • Eating etiquette
  • French eating habits
  • Famous French people
  • French NGOs
  • French cheeses
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/active practice
  • Role-plays
  • Lots of listening
  • Pronunciation – key sounds

Elementary 1

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Talking about learning a language
  • Talking about feelings and emotions
  • Talking about hobbies
  • Home – describing rooms, furniture and activities in each rooms
  • Accommodation – camping, hotels, etc.
  • Describing objects – shape, size, usage
  • Talking about health
  • Describing ailments and symptoms + body parts
  • Asking for and giving advice
  • Giving instructions
  • Giving your opinion – trouver/c’est + adjective
  • Writing a letter/an email
Grammar
  • Review of Passé Composé
  • Indirect pronouns – lui/leur
  • Aims and causes (pour, parce que)
  • Prepositions of place
  • Comparison and superlative
  • Pronoun ‘y’
  • Imperative
  • Should/Shouldn’t (devoir in the conditional)
Cultural Content
  • Talking about Europe
  • La pétanque
  • French countryside
  • French people and sport
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/active practice
  • Role-plays
  • Lots of listening
  • Pronunciation – key sounds

Elementary 2

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Describing the past
  • Comparing the past and the present
  • Describing someone’s life
  • Telling stories
  • Ask for information about someone
  • Imagining life in the future
Grammar
  • Imperfect
  • Time phrases
  • Indefinite adjectives and pronouns – tous, la plupart, quelque, aucun
  • Using ‘on’
  • Present continous – être en train de + infinitive
  • Passé composé vs Imperfect
  • Relative pronouns – qui, que, où
  • The future tense – regular/irregular
  • Si + future
  • Word order: the adjective
Cultural content
  • Historical figures
  • Strikes, demonstrations and struggles in France
  • French painters
  • Famous places in France
  • French regions
  • French proverbs and quotes
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/active practice
  • Role-plays
  • Lots of listening
  • Pronunciation – key sounds

Elementary 3

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Asking for a favour
  • Asking if you can do something
  • Refusing/Accepting
  • Explaining your reasons
  • Describing actions in the past
  • Telling anecdotes in the past
  • Expressing different levels of certainty
  • Talking about countries
Grammar
  • Modal verbs – vouloir, pouvoir, devoir
  • Conditional tense
  • Use of different registers to express opinions
  • Question words – quand, comment, pourquoi, etc.
  • Country genders + prepostions (à, en, au, etc.)
Cultural Content
  • Dos and don’t in France
  • Molière and performing arts in France
  • Famous French people
  • Francophonie
  • French-speaking Africa
  • French regions
  • La Réunion
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/active practice
  • Role-plays
  • Lots of listening
  • Pronunciation – key sounds

Intermediate 1

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Talking about past experiences and encounters
  • Expressing aims and causes – comme, puisque and parce que
  • Providing a detailed description
  • Describing personal motives
  • Justitying a choice
  • Talking about travels
  • Making suggestions
  • Giving your opinion
  • Hypothesising
  • Talking about countries and regions
  • Describing a fictional character
  • Describing feelings and emotions
  • Talking of hopes and aspirations
  • Expressing regrets
Grammar
  • Review of the past and future tenses
  • Plus-que-parfait (Past perfect)
  • Agreement of the past participle with avoir (passé composé tense)
  • Direct pronouns (le, la, les)
  • Conditional tense
  • Hypothesis : si + imparfait
  • Prepositions with countries and regions
  • Past conditional
  • Adverbs in ‘-ment’
Cultural Content
  • French regions
  • French people and their holidays
  • Popular French tourist sites
  • The French artistic scene
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/active practice
  • Lots of listening
  • Lots of new vocabulary
  • Pronunciation

Intermediate 2

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Expressing, promoting and justifying opinions
  • Debating: politics, recycling, the environment, new technologies, social issues, consumerism
  • Expressing feelings and emotions
  • Expressing obligation, possibilities and restrictions
  • Writing a variety of texts (text messages, emails, letters etc.)
  • Talking about movies (storyline and characters)
Grammar
  • Linking words
  • Subjunctive
  • Verbs to express opinion – je crois que, je pense que etc.
  • Impersonal structures – il faut que etc.
  • Gerund : ‘-ant’
  • Direct vs indirect pronouns
  • Structures with verbs expressing feelings – je regretted que/ je regretted de etc.
  • Pronouns order
  • Relative pronouns – ce qui, ce que, ce don’t
  • Word order : the adjective
  • Style and register: formal/ informal
Cultural Content
  • Political life in France
  • Environmental issues
  • New technologies
  • Social causes
  • French cinema (films, directors and actors)
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/debating
  • Lots of listening
  • Producing various styles of written French

Intermediate 3

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Summarising and reporting information
  • Presentations – structures and phrases
  • Talking about the professional world
  • Details of business etiquette
  • Inequalities at work
  • Expressing feelings and ideas
  • The media
  • Explaining the meaning of a word
  • Playing with words – poetry, proverbs, word-play, word creation, metaphors, stylised writing
  • Language register – colloquial idioms
Grammar
  • Reported speech – structures and tense agreement
  • Collective nouns agreement – une majorité de, la plupart de etc
  • Suffixes
  • Passive tense
  • Pronoun ‘en’
  • Linking words
  • Nominalisation
  • Language register
Cultural Content
  • Equality at work
  • The French Educational system
  • French people and the media
  • Songs in French
  • Francophonie
  • French poetry
  • Slam
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking/debating
  • Lots of listening
  • Producing various styles of written French

Upper Intermediate Lower

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Cities
  • Transformation and changes
  • Degrees of beauty and ugliness
  • Building words with prefixes and suffixes (1)
  • Familiar expressions relating to cities and the countryside and body parts
  • Talk about agriculture, farming and organic food in the modern world
  • Beauty standards in the media
  • The human body and its limits
  • Technology
  • Transidentity in the arts
  • Athletes’ bodies/ sports
  • Marriage in francophonie
  • Love like in the movies
  • Friendship, bromance
Grammar
  • Express cause and consequence
  • Avoid repetitions
  • Neutral pronouns
  • Opposition and concession
  • Impersonal structures
  • The passive form with être, pronominal verbs and “se faire” or “se laisser”
  • Le future antérieur
  • The different pasts
  • Double pronouns (COD, COI, en, y)
  • Reported speech in the past tense
Cultural Content
  • French cities as seen by French artists in poetry, songs and literature
  • Francophonie: African cities
  • Francophonie: agriculture in North Africa
  • Magazines
  • Beauty and identity
  • Film: le grand bain
  • Measuring friendship
Skills Work
  • Write a poem
  • Write an open letter
  • Express sensations and judgement
  • Discuss a point/ debate
  • Show indignation
  • Link texts
  • Express a paradox
  • Offer solutions to a problem
  • Create and present a project to vegetate cities
  • Write an introduction and a conclusion
  • Describe a person
  • Write an editorial for a magazine
  • Write a synopsis
  • Talk about love, life, and the arts

Upper Intermediate Higher

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Le savoir-faire
  • Employment
  • Building words with prefixes and suffixes (2)
  • Working in the arts
  • Scandals and polemics
  • How to describe art
  • Learning French: an obstacle course
  • The beauty of the passé simple
  • Interculturality of gestures and mimics
  • Boredom versus games
  • French humour
  • Writing as we speak and speaking as we write
  • Boredom, apathy
  • Different levels of French
  • Humour and clichés
  • Familiar expression
Grammar
  • The present participle and verbal adjectives
  • Express continuity, interruption and progression
  • Comparison
  • Le passé simple
  • Emphasis
  • Indefinite pronouns
  • Express a goal
  • Logical connectors
  • Express a condition
Cultural Content
  • La parfumerie de Grasse à la Normandie
  • Pierre et Giles
  • Literature: from Madame Bovary to Chanson Douce
  • The Montreux festival
  • Satire in the press
  • Political humour
  • The rise of black dolls
Skills Work
  • Present a traditional skill
  • Create a catalog for an exhibition
  • Create a revue about the world of work
  • Analyse an image
  • Prepare for a job interview
  • Write a cover letter
  • Prepare an essay
  • Write a summary report
  • Argumentation
  • Create a satirical journal and a book of jokes
  • Create a dictionary of expressions and colloquialisms
  • Create an educational resource
  • Present a game

Advanced

Functional Language
  • Developing an argument and defending a point of view
  • Challenging arguments and opinions
  • Expressing beliefs and expressing opinions tentatively
  • Summarising information, ideas and arguments
  • Deducing and inferring
  • Justifying an argument
  • Expressing caution and expressing reservation
  • Expressing empathy and sympathy
  • Evaluating different standpoints
Lexis
  • Vocabulary specific to the topic and subject areas
  • Phrases and expressions relating to the language functions listed above
Topics & Culture
  • International events, current political and economic issues
  • The internet, global communication, social media
  • Diversity, equal opportunity, social injustice, human rights
  • The future of the planet, climate change, global warming
  • Well-being, mental health, stress management
Grammar
  • Express necessity
  • The passive voice
  • present and past conditional
  • The polemic tone
  • Highlighting a subject
  • The double hypothesis
  • The future in the past
  • Different modes
  • Relative pronouns
  • Express the absence of something or someone
  • Euphonic letters
  • Punctuation
  • Verbs to introduce direct speech
  • The different negations
  • Infinitive propositions
  • Express opposition
  • Connectors (logical, temporal)
Pronuntiation
  • The clear pronunciation of topic and subject-area specific vocabulary
  • Sounds with minimal interference from the first language
  • Various features of pronunciation which only occasionally deviate from an internationally intelligible model
  • A range of stress and intonation patterns, pitch and volume to convey subtle shifts in meaning and attitude

Proficiency

Functional Language
  • All of the functions at Advanced level
  • Asserting
  • Denying
  • Softening and downplaying propositions
  • Contradicting
  • Implying
  • Affirming
Lexis
  • A good command of a very broad lexical repertoire
  • A wide range of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms
  • Phrases and expressions relating to the language functions listed above
Topics & Culture
  • Global economy and the influence of global politics
  • The global rise of the far right in the 21st century
  • Internet fraud, scamming, money laundering
  • The impact of Covid on the workplace and across industry
  • Love, marriage and sexuality in the 21st Century
Grammar
  • Approve and disapprove
  • Express firm opinion and lack of interest
  • Inference
  • Using different tenses and modes to express subjectivity
  • Rupture, change and habits
  • Agreement of Tenses
  • Nominalisation
  • Classification, enumeration
Pronuntiation
  • Produce individual sounds so as to be fully understood, with only a rare sound that deviates from an internationally intelligible model
  • Stress and intonation patterns which are recognisably specific to the language without any lapses in intelligibility

Understanding Language Levels

If you are taking a language course with Cactus you can find out more about our language levels and how you can track your progress using the ‘can do statements’ below. These statements outline the key things that you should be able to say and understand once you have completed each level. Can do statements are officially recognised as a set of performance-related scales describing what a learner is able to do in a foreign language, in accordance with the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and the CEFR defined levels.

CEFR Levels

If you are taking a language course with Cactus you can find out more about our language levels and how you can track your progress using the ‘can do statements’. These statements outline the key things that you should be able to say and understand once you have completed each level. Can do statements are officially recognised as a set of performance-related scales describing what a learner is able to do in a foreign language, in accordance with the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and the CEFR defined levels.

Beginner (A1)

  • You can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type
  • You can introduce yourself and others
  • You can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, what you do, people you know and things you have
  • You can ask and give directions
  • You can order food and drink
  • You can make very basic travel and accommodation arrangements
  • You can have a basic conversation, provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Elementary (A2)

  • You can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas including basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography and employment
  • You can communicate in simple and routine tasks, requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters
  • You can describe, in simple terms, aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need
  • You can comfortably ‘get by’ when visiting the country, albeit with some difficulty.

Intermediate (B1)

  • You can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • You can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken
  • You can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest
  • You can describe experiences and events
  • You can talk about dreams, hopes and ambitions
  • You can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans
  • You could consider working in the country using the language (e.g. bar/counter work, waiting service in cafes or basic office work).

Upper Intermediate (B2)

  • You can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation.
  • You can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible, without strain for either party.
  • You can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
  • You can do business with speakers of the language in most run-of-the-mill situations.

Advanced (C1)

  • You can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning
  • You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions
  • You can use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes
  • You can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, logical flow of text, and clear awareness of the audience.

Proficient (C2)

  • You can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
  • You can summarise information from different spoken and written sources
  • You can reconstruct arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation
  • You can express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely
  • You can differentiate finer shades of meaning, even in the most complex situations.

How to book with Cactus

Select language

Simply select which language you would like to learn and from the box below and click lets go.

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