My Favorite Spook-tacular Resources for French Class

bedtime

Most days, I can say that I really don’t regret my decision to study French instead of Spanish. I think the French language and culture have a lot to offer students! That is…until the end of October rolls around, my students are squirrely, Halloween is approaching and Spanish teachers have a great cultural and linguistic opportunity in Day of the Dead and French teachers get…la Toussaint. Womp womp.

I’ve done lessons on la Toussaint before and while it’s been a great educational opportunity, it’s not exactly the most engaging subject as Toussaint tends to be eclipsed by the two-week vacation that all French students get in honor of the holiday (which no one really celebrates beyond laying mums on a loved one’s grave).

My French 3 kids have JUST started a unit on Legends and the Supernatural (previously done at the end of last year with my level 4 kids), so they’ll be seeing most of these resources but they really could be adapted to (almost) any level. Our grammar focus for all of first semester in level 3 is passe compose and imparfait, so this unit lends itself very well to narrating stories in the past!

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a way to use the language to honor this spooky season, consider some of these resources!

MovieTalk

Alma (used in conjunction with this article)

Dirt Devil commercial 

Vampire’s Crown

The Black Hole

Video/Listening Resources

Créatures Fantastiques: Le Loup-Garou du Québec

Créatures Fantastiques: Le Windigo

A la découverte des catacombes avec Donia 10 ans

The Michel Ocelot film Les contes de la nuit

Story Time: Experience Paranormal

Le Conte des trois frères (Harry Potter)

Reading Resources

Most of my reading resources for this unit are self-created Embedded Readings of the following stories:

Le Nain Rouge de Detroit (try as I might, I cannot find a document that is already in French, thus I created it myself based on the details here)

La Peau de chagrin by Balzac (far too long/difficult to read in class; embedded version with the highlights is the way to go)!

Barbe Bleue by Perrault (I choose this one as it is particularly scary/gory for a fairy tale!)

Les Lavandières de la nuit

Article: J’irai dormir dans les catacombes!

Et voilà! Hopefully these resources will help carry you and your students through the spooky  Halloween season (and help take the sting out of not having a calavera to decorate or an ofrenda to build)!

Joyeuse Fête des Rois!

Epiphany is one of the holidays I was lucky enough to celebrate in France and I have to say, it’s one of my favorites. Not because I’m particularly religious, but my goodness do I love that big ol’ puff of almond goodness, la galette des rois. Not to mention the fun little traditions that go along with it!

Since French 2 is when my students learn about holidays in the Francophone world, I do most of my holiday celebrations during that level. Yesterday, we learned about la Fete des Rois and today we “celebrated” it by eating some galette!

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Intro/Hook

When the students walked in, they saw 5 images projected on my SmartBoard but no captions – three kings, a fève (the figure that goes inside of the galette), a galette des rois, a crown, and a little boy under a table. I asked them to imagine how the images were related to one another, which really got their attention and I think they had fun trying to figure out a story to tie everything together.

Input

First, I did a MovieTalk of a Léo et Popi video in which a family celebrates Epiphany by eating a galette des rois. I liked this video for the MovieTalk because I could build some suspense when the little boy opens the bag that his dad brought home – they were dying to know what was inside! It was also fun to watch them begin to realize what was happening when the mom in the video found the fève in the cake. After we did the MovieTalk, we went back to the original 5 images to see how we could better connect them.

Then, the students watched this video that gives some more detail on the holiday and filled in an IPA-style listening comprehension sheet. On the back of the listening comprehension was a quick reading I had typed up based on this slightly more difficult authentic resource.

Extension

At the end of the class, we were ready for some output! I put the images back up on the board and the students wrote a short summary of how all the images were related to one another, based on what we read and listened to in class.

Today, we ate some galette that I made at home (relatively easy if you buy packaged puff pastry) and the students then completed a speaking activity in which they had to call my Google Voice number and explain the holiday as though they were living with a host family in France and calling a friend back home to fill them in on what happened. Not totally contextualized, but it was a fun way to get ’em talking and using the past tense, which we’ve been working on for the past several weeks.

Se lever du pied gauche

Have you ever had one of those days where you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and for the rest of the day nothing seems to go your way? Me too. I think in this profession it happens more often than we’d like to admit! While I’m a big believer in the idea that life is 10% what happens to you and 90%  how you react to it, I can admit that sometimes I don’t react all that well when I realize I’ve woken up 40 minutes late, or forgotten my lunch at home, or that I’ve washed my face with hair conditioner instead of facewash (yes, this has happened. More than once).

Well, we’ve definitely all been there, and so have our students. Because I’m required by my district to teach reflexive verbs in both the present and the past tenses in level two, I decided to try and make the most of a tricky grammar point and add a little bit of realistic humor.

I based this part of my unit around the French idiomatic expression se lever du pied gauche, which we would express as “to wake up on the wrong side of the bed” but which literally means “to get up on the left foot” in French. This was a good hook for my students, who had fun trying to piece together all of these words (which they know individually) and make both literal and figurative meaning out of them.

I then did a MovieTalk about a guy who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. By the way – have you heard of Film English? It’s aimed mostly at ESL students and teachers but there are so many fabulous short video clips and lesson ideas that it really is a treasure trove for MovieTalk as well. In any case, in this video there’s no dialogue, but there is an interesting twist when the man “splits” in two and we can see how his day would have unfolded normally AND if he had woken up on the wrong side of the bed. I really try to flood the kids with input during this stage and do pop-ups of the grammar where I actually do very little instruction and let them work out the rules on their own. Happily, a lot of the kids got it pretty quickly.

Since this is only level 2, I can’t say that I expect them to reach mastery of these concepts at this stage but they’ll see the material again in level 3 when we reach our friendships and relationships unit. Well, we did a lot of listening, reading, describing the video, and even put together a skit in small groups in which the kids had to describe to a friend their “weird” day – such as I woke up in the dog house or I brushed my teeth with soap and washed my face with toothpaste, etc. When it came time for our writing assessment, I was pleasantly surprised with what some of them had to say:

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Bonne continuation!