Towards a Verb Profile: distribution of verbal tenses in FFL textbooks and in learner productions


  • Nami Yamaguchi Université catholique de Louvain and Seinan Gakuin University
  • David Alfter Université catholique de Louvain
  • Kaori Sugiyama Seinan Gakuin University, Japan
  • Thomas François Université catholique de Louvain



French as a foreign language, verbal tenses, grammar profile, morphological complexity, automatic identification of tenses


Morphological inflection is known to be difficult to master for L2 learners. In this paper, we examine the state of the use of inflection in the verbal tense system among learners of French, and contrast it with the use in FFL textbooks. The objectives of our study are threefold: 1) To establish the distribution of verbal tenses on French textbooks in an automatic way, in order to obtain the first fully empirical and extensive resource on French verbal tenses; 2) To objectively describe the use of verbal tenses by learners of different CEFR levels; 3) To identify the tenses that learners struggle with. Through the description of the use of the tenses in the learners, we found that they had difficulty with the past perfect indicative, even at advanced levels. The proposed Verb Profile summarizes which tenses should be understood at which level, and as such can guide teachers and learners, as well as help pinpoint tenses that learners are underperforming on.