Poisson d’avril!

Today was our last day of school before spring break and it was also a half day, which meant 28-minute class periods. After our daily “Quoi de neuf?” discussion about spring break plans (which practices futur proche for levels 1 & 2, and now the futur simple for levels 3-4) that left us with anywhere from 15-20 minutes left in class. What to do?

Luckily enough today happens to be April 1st which means….POISSON D’AVRIL! Students are always surprised to find that, in France and Quebec, one says “April Fish!” instead of “April Fool!” after playing a joke on someone. There is actually a real explanation for this, but I find that the version offered by the Quebecois video series Têtes-à-claques is much more interesting. In it, one goldfish tells another goldfish how “poisson d’avril” came to be – once upon a time, a young girl named Avril (April) caught a trout named Terry, who caused more than just a little bit of mayhem.

Poisson d'avril by Tangi Bertin (c) Creative Commons.
Poisson d’avril by Tangi Bertin (c) Creative Commons.

Before watching the video, I passed out a transcript as the Quebecois accent can be REALLY difficult to understand. I underlined several important phrases in the transcript (“I made it all up!” / “Sentenced to life in prison” / “Drowned in his fishbowl” etc) and at the bottom of the page, gave the English translations and had the students match them up. Most of the kids didn’t bother to read the entire transcript as they were phrase matching, which would normally drive me nuts but actually lent itself well to predicting what would happen in the video, just based on the text.

After we watched the video (checking for comprehension along the way), I passed out little paper fish that they could color and stick on their friends, as little kids do in France. I heard several shouts of “POISSON D’AVRIL!” in the hallways today during passing time, and several students had fun trying to stick their fish on me!

Happy Spring Break!

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