Notes for teachers

Language notes

This word is an easy way to say “hi” or “hello” to friends. Encourage your pupils to think carefully about the pronunciation of u in salut. It’s a sound that doesn’t really exist in English. It may help to say “ee” then round your lips while still trying to say “ee”. The u sound in salut is short.

You can use bonjour as a greeting at any time of the day. It literally means “good day”: the word bon means “good” and jour means “day”. There are two sounds to watch out for in this word. First of all, the nasal -on sound in bon. It may help to suggest to your pupils that they hold their noses to help them pronounce this at first! Secondly, the -r sound at the end of the word. The French -r is quite tricky, but by listening carefully to Mathilde, your class will pick it up.

au revoir
This phrase literally means “to the re-seeing”, or in better English, “until we see each other again”. It’s the most common way to say “goodbye” in French. Pronunciation-wise it has two -r sounds, so listening carefully to Mathilde’s pronunciation will help. Be careful also with the pronunciation of au.

Just as jour means “day”, giving bonjour, so soir means “evening”, so bonsoir means “good evening”. It is a common greeting used in the evening. Remind your learners about the pronunciation of bon and the final -r sound too!

bonne nuit
So far we have seen bonjour and bonsoir, and these both include the word bon meaning “good”. In French, all nouns such as jour, soir, and nuit are either “masculine” or “feminine”. This concept is known as “gender”, so we can talk about the “gender” of a word. In English we could say that the words “lady”, “girl”, “doe” or “cow” are feminine, just as the words “man”, “boy”, “stag” or “bull” are masculine. However, in French all nouns are either masculine or feminine, even if they are not inherently male or female. So the word for “house” - maison - is feminine, and the word for “garden” - jardin - is masculine. So jour and soir are masculine, but nuit is feminine. This is why the word for “good” changes: it’s bon for masculine words, and bonne for feminine words. Note in particular the change of pronunciation: you can hear Mathilde pronouncing the -nne ending and it is not nasal like bon.


You may be wondering about the difference between salut and bonjour. Salut is a bit less formal than bonjour, so you can say salut to your friends or family, but you’re not likely to use salut with people you don’t know. It may help to think of salut as “hi” or “hiya”, and bonjour as “hello”, or even the more formal “good day”!

Cultural points

In France and many other French-speaking areas, it’s very common for people to “kiss” each other on both cheeks when they meet. This happens particularly between two women or a man and a woman, but in some areas and in family situations two men are likely to kiss each other too. It’s normally not an actual kiss: instead you touch the other person’s cheek with your own cheek.

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