(Note: I don't recommend trying this if you're on a cart. It needs to be set up before the students arrive since the idea is to get them settled in & capture their interest.)
I would show a short (30 second to 3 minute) video clip or display an interesting French image. Then I'd ask a fairly simple question either based on the visual or inspired by it. (Often they would be personal questions with no real wrong answer... to promote the idea that effort = success.)
An example of one thing I used was this video.
After, I removed the chart paper covering the question which I already had on the blackboard...
"Selon toi, quelle est la meilleure raison d'apprendre une autre langue?"
All answers submitted went into a monthly draw by class for a visit to our tuck shop. Here's the raffle ticket that I used.
|Graphic Frame by Ashley Hughes (www.theschoolsupplyaddict.com)Image on ticket from MS Clip Art Gallery|
Since I felt a little guilty about using so much paper for my seven and a half classes, to be a little bit more "green", I used our Risograph machine and copied high volumes on the back of "GOOS" paper. (That's what we call paper that's already been used, but on one side only - aka Good On One Side instead of the less cool-sounding "scrap paper")
You could also use this freebie as an exit ticket related to a more content-specific question or to have students ask a clarifying question which could be part of the review next period.
I hope you find a use for it!