We just wrapped our unit on Amour et Amitié (Love & Friendship) in my split French 3/4, and I have to say, I am so far thrilled with the results. I administered an IPA for this unit, as opposed to a traditional test, and I have been very pleased with my students’ performances. I combined Storytelling with the inclusion of more authentic resources and lots of in-class discussion. For more structured interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational activities, I used an IPA-style approach to prepare them for what to expect on the summative assessment.
One particular part of the unit that we had a lot of fun with was the gossip/rumor-telling portion. During that time, our targeted structure was J’ai entendu dire que… (I heard that…) as well as refining our use of indirect discourse. I started off using Martina Bex’s idea for teaching the structure “Dijo” but instead of focusing on the structure “said” (which my students already know pretty well), I focused on starting off each rumor with “J’ai entendu dire que.” The kids LOVED this activity and we kept it going for nearly the whole hour! Like Martina, I had a lot of “Person A likes Person B” but plenty of other very creative rumors, too – I think my favorite was “Mademoiselle actually prefers to speak Spanish.” In any case, it was a great way to provide lots of Comprehensible Input for students, and have fun, too. I always love to hear kids say, “We didn’t do anything in French class today.” They have no idea what they’ve accomplished!
We also took this time to review how to officially “do” indirect discourse – they already knew, but as I have particular grammar points I am required to hit throughout the course of the year, I took this time to do some more explicit grammar instruction (very limited, however).
After that, I had prepared some questions for discussion, which the students prepared first in partners, and then shared with the whole group:
1. Have you ever told a rumor about a friend?
2. Has a friend ever told a rumor about you? How did you feel when you found out?
3. What kind of problems can rumors cause?
4. Are rumors a big part of our culture? How do you know?
I was fishing for a particular answer for number four, which the kids provided readily when they talked about America’s obsession with celebrities, hollywood, tabloid magazines, etc. I used that as a jumping-off point for analyzing an article from the French version of Marie Claire, who had done a write-up on an interview that Carla Bruni had given, discussing her marriage to Nicolas Sarkozy and whether or not she believed he had ever been unfaithful to her, in response to the endless rumors about the two of them. The kids read the article in partners and did the IPA-style activities; this particular article was chock-full of our unit vocabulary, so they actually found it quite easy to read!
After they read, they completed the interpersonal portion of the activity, in which they discussed with a partner the various contexts in which they themselves have been part of the rumor mill, and whether or not there was any truth to things they had said or heard. They were also provided with a series of scenarios that they had to rank using adjectives like “scandalous” or “revolting” and be prepared to orally defend why they felt the way they did. It was interesting to hear their perspectives on what would be the most shocking to them – many reported that the president having an affair would not rock their world, but their favorite athlete taking drugs would be an enormous scandal/shock. Interesting!
Ultimately, this whole thing acted as a lead-in to our discussion of François Hollande and his big cheating scandal, as well as marriage and relationship conventions in France.
In any case, I am providing the link to the work I developed. I departed a little bit from the traditional IPA format and CI conventions by including a very brief grammar section to review the construction of indirect discourse – this can be easily omitted if that is your personal preference! I also do not have a presentational part included for this particular assignment – the students in my classes had to write a blog entry on the theme of rumors and their impact on others, but you could add something in of your own choosing.