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La leçon and the pleasure of reading plays for beginners

While I’ve always loved introducing a few choice poems to my 101 and 102 students, I’ve been relying more and more heavily on video content. Sara Kippur’s recent article in the PMLA journal provided an excellent reminder to incorporate French literature in language classes, even at the beginner level. Kippur’s […]

French Greetings & Goodbyes

Which activities should I do on the first day of class? After several years of teaching, I still ask myself this question. As the first day sets the structure and tone for the whole semester, I am always on the lookout for new ideas. This year I created a YouTube video […]

Create Your Comic Strip: Humor and Vocabulary Acquisition

Specialized Vocabulary: The Job Interview I wanted to have an activity for intermediate- lower advanced students related to “La vie au bureau”- worklife. Learning about work life is challenging yet essential for students without work experience at a professional level, since most of them are considering an internship at an […]

Developing Formal Composition Skills: Song Lyrics and Registers of Language

  Some song lyrics like those of Oui ou non by the Belgian singer Angèle can be used with intermediate or early advanced students to address the three French registers of language (soutenu or formal, courant (or usual) and familier). As they progress to become fluent, students often like to […]

Working From Home: A Still Life

For many of us, our kitchen tables have become our offices. A variation on the typical “classroom objects” lesson, this activity takes advantage of the work-from-home situation to encourage students to identify objects found around them. The task combines article practice, object vocabulary and the phrase “il y a” with […]

Teaching French for beginners in time of Coronavirus

This is a PowerPoint that I designed for my 1030 class from the comic writer Fiamma Luzzati published in Le Monde. You can use it for your class as reading, vocabulary, or essay activity! Link to Powerpoint Slides: Petits soucis psychologiques en temps de Coronavirus

Using Subtitles to Improve Pronunciation

To keep the spirits up and maintain engagement during this week, I created this non-graded activity just to work at home on pronunciation. I designed it for beginner students, but it could easily be adapted to more advanced levels. This activity allowed me to combine two of my favorite tools: […]

Consuming Desire: The Female Body in Historical Advertising

The images advertising of women’s beauty and care tell a cleverly designed story intertwining social norms of desire, intimacy, and gender. Examined diachronically, these images record the emergence of a modern understanding of self-fashioning entangled in growing consumerist expectations. I’ve become interested in these archival materials while researching the construction […]

Generating Class Discussions with WordClouds

There exist many free and user-friendly word cloud generators online (a list is offered here). They can be very helpful with getting a group discussion started. The example, below, comes from an activity revolving around the (very catchy) song “Où va le monde?” by French band La Femme (This Youtube […]

Transitioning to Distance Learning: Interview with Pr. Sophie Queuniet

Pr. Sophie Queuniet is a Senior Lecturer in French at Columbia University. She has taught French language courses online for many years. She shares a few pieces of advice on distance learning. Conseillez-vous un enseignement à distance synchrone (toute la classe se réunit en même temps en ligne) ou asynchrone? […]

Distance Learning: 8 Tips by Pr. Richard Schumaker

Longtime online instructor Pr. Richard Schumaker shares best practices and challenges to be aware of as CUNY transitions to distance learning. This is a difficult time for everyone – set expectations, accordingly.  Avoid isolation. If possible, develop relationships with colleagues that teach the course that you are about to teach. […]

“Je suis africain” music video

This activity is specifically designed for a Novice Low to Novice Mid French class. Imagine students’ hands shooting up to be chosen to present on Nelson Mandela. That’s just what happened when I did this activity in my French 1 class. I screened the music video for Rachid Taha’s song […]

Call for Contribution

Language Pedagogy @CUNY is now accepting contributions of language instructors across CUNY. Rebecca Raitses and Angélique Ibáñez Aristondo, both doctoral candidates from the French Program, have been developing this teaching resource website for the last few months. Their goal has been to provide a collaborative space to share and showcase […]

“What the World Eats”: Practicing names of food

This activity is ready to implement in any language and best for novice mid to novice high.  In this activity, students view photographer Peter Menzel’s photo series “Hungry Planet,” which documents what families around the world eat in a week. Students then describe what they see in the photos, namely […]

Fictional Family Tree

In this activity students break into groups to diagram a famous, fictional family tree. Students then present the family to the class. This activity is ready to implement in any language and best for novice mid or whenever the family unit is covered. Implementation: Students choose which group they’d like […]

Assigning “Rebel Ladies”

Pénélope Bagieu is a French illustrator whose graphic novels have received widespread recognition. Her blog BD Les Culottées (which was compiled into a book in 2016 and 2017) features a series of women with an unusual or inspiring story. The comics are short, interesting, biographically accurate, and funny. These comics […]

Teaching Languages through the Arts: Tips from NYC Museums

This post outlines the teaching resources offered by three NYC museums as a way to start filling your “toolbox” with visual-based activities. Many museums have developed valuable resources for educators interested in implementing activities based on artworks. With a bit of adjustment to your own teaching and learning environment, these may be fruitfully […]

Tactile Vocabulary: Designing Images

In this low-stakes exercise, students create an image that they design themselves, using a set of vocabulary words being studied. For this example, the language unit was focused on fashion, and so each student created their ideal outfit using fashion and textile words in the target language. However, this exercise […]