The subject of la routine quotidienne (daily routine) is one that can be a bit controversial among some of the teachers who make up the #langchat community. There are many who say that daily routine verbs (wake up/take a shower/get dressed) are not high-frequency enough to devote time to, but I disagree; in part because I’m expected by my district to teach these verbs so I might as well make it interesting, but also in part because these verbs help me to better engage with my students in the target language.
For example, the student who is habitually late to first hour can now tell me why in French – My sister showers for too long every morning.
Or when we do our beloved “quoi de neuf?” discussion at the beginning of class, students can start to expand a little more – I’m tired because I have too much homework and go to bed at 2 AM every night.
Likewise, daily routine verbs are a good lead-in to other reflexive/reciprocal verbs that they’ll need later on – like when we talk about health and injuries, and relationships in level three.
While it seems like daily routine verbs might be a little bland and difficult to contextualize, there are some things you can do to spice it up!
I typically introduce the daily routine using a simple PowerPoint presentation I put together while I was still in college. I had my roommate take pictures of me in various places around our apartment, going through the motions of a typical day. (They’re silly pictures – in the “I’m taking a shower” scene I’m clearly standing in the shower with all of my clothes on and a towel on my head.) I start out by telling the students that I’m a huge perfectionist, I have a very strict routine, and then I go through the presentation. During this time, I also do some PQA so the students can start to hear the other forms of the verbs and they’re not just stuck listening to “je” all the time.
After I talk about myself during the presentation, I announce dramatically that even though I’m a perfectionnist, I have a terrible roommate who parties at all hours of the night, goes to bed at 2AM, brushes her teeth with my toothbrush, etc. The kids think this is hilarious.
When I finish with that, I show the script and highlight a few key sentences that contain both reflexive and non-reflexive verbs, and I ask the students to spend some time trying to figure out what they think it means. They already have a basic knowledge of object pronouns, and so they are pretty quick to understand that in the case of a reflexive verb, the subject is doing the action to itself. In addition to the presentation, co-constructing meaning, we do TPR movements and a lot of PQA, which means at least two full class periods of CI.
As I teach high school, moving away from home and living with a roommate is a very real possibility for the vast majority of my students. Having lived with roommates for all of my adult life, I know how tough it can be when your personalities and routines don’t mesh, and how important it is to communicate about those issues so a household can run smoothly.
So, we went on the hunt for roommates! We started with an authentic reading via the website Appartager.com, where people seeking roommates post advertisements and descriptions about what their apartment has to offer, as well as the kind of person they’re looking for. It was a great way to review basic adjectives as well as rooms of the house, which I never spend a lot of time on but the students pick up fairly easily. After we read a few posts, we talked about what makes a good or bad roommate and why it might be important to know the routine of someone you’re living with.
I put together an interview sheet with 5 simple questions, and had the students respond to them first from their own perspective. Then they had to ask the questions of their classmates and record their answers in the appropriate form of il or elle. (My students have a habit of writing down answers verbatim – so, from the je perspective – when interviewing one another.)
We finished up with a presentational writing in which each student had to pick which of their three partners would be the best roommate and describe why they chose that person.
This week, we’re wrapping up present-tense reflexives with a short assessment based on this Time for Kids article. It’s not totally authentic and I did have to translate it from its original English to French, but it serves the purpose well enough and offers a little cultural context into everyday life in France. I designed an IPA-style reading task and will include a writing extension in which the students imagine that they’ve been asked to write a similar article now from their American perspective, aimed toward a French or francophone audience.
While it’s not the most scintillating subject, I hope I’ve added a little more context and interest to our Daily Routines unit. It may not be a popular choice to include in a proficiency-based World Language curriculum but as it’s a subject I’m required to teach, I’d like to spice it up as much as possible.
Next week we move on to reflexive verbs in the past tense – stay tuned!