A Toolbox for all Language Educators
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“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 “Je suis africain,” and asked the class to choose and present on a famous figure from the song (Mandela, La Kahina, Malcolm X, Kateb Yacine, Jimi Hendrix, Jacques Derrida, Angela Davis, Frantz Fanon, Lumumba, Sankara, Bob Marley, Hampâté Bâ, Aimé Césaire). There are 13 figures, so it is likely that two students will need to work on the same person. See below for the homework assignment.

In addition to this assignment, the clip provides an excellent opportunity for a number of activities. I took the following ideas from TV5 Monde’s lesson plan for the song.

TV5 Monde suggests first showing the clip without sound. This is a great idea as the images provide material for discussion. For example, the clip can be stopped at .04 seconds (pictured above), and students can be asked to describe the decor, recycling both color vocab and nouns like chair, radio and telephone, as well as introducing new terms like fabric and colorful. Before resuming the video, give students a list of activities to look for in the clip. Include verbs which are shown (jouer de la musique, se maquiller, boire du thé) and verbs that are not featured (jouer aux cartes, faire du vélo). This both provides a nice introduction to some new verbs and gives students something to look for. 

Allow students to watch the film with sound once before passing out a printout of the lyrics with fill in the blanks and playing the clip a third and final time. Students will fill in the words they hear. For a similar activity see here

The TV5 Monde lesson plan also provides prompts for discussing the tone of the clip and song, found here. Their lesson plan series, Paroles de clips, has nearly 400 songs and is an excellent resource. 

Devoir: Choisissez une des personnes mentionnées dans la chanson. Écrivez quelques phrases pour expliquer qui c’est.

Comment il/elle s’appelle?

D’où vient-il ou elle?

Pourquoi il ou elle est connu.e? (What is he or she known for?)

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