As part of French 3’s “Legends and Supernatural” unit, I wanted to address the griot storytelling tradition of Francophone Africa – and WOW I did not anticipate it being so hard to find #authres for this mini-lesson. To be honest, I almost abandoned it all together but I’m glad I didn’t because it shaped up to be an interesting lesson! Plus, it exposed my students to a culture that I tend to shy away from because I am not as familiar with it as I would like to be.
Here’s my lesson sequence:
Day 1: I did a TPRS-style story to illustrate the role of a griot in society. I had one student play a griot, and several others play the roles of people in a village who want stories or songs for their family history. The students just had to act out what I narrated.
Day 2: We did the “C’est quoi un griot, d’abord?” reading with accompanying questions, then watched a TEDx video (in English) of a griot playing traditional instruments and singing; in the latter half of the video he explains what a griot is. We then started the process of watching a video of a griot (I think – at least an African storyteller) tell the legend of L’Homme et le hibou. This is a VERY challenging video; I provided the students with unfamiliar vocabulary and also asked some guiding questions in English to help them figure out what to listen for.
Day 3: We continued with the L’Homme et le hibou video and then broke down together how the story fits the typical characteristics of a legend (animals, magic, personification and a lesson). Then we watched the trailer for Youssou N’Dour’s documentary I Bring What I Love. I had the students do a CLOZE exercise of his explanation of his heritage and upbringing as a griot. There are English subtitles for his French speech, but they are very much just paraphrasing what he says and do not correspond word-for-word to his dialogue; you could alternatively just play the audio first and the video later. I would recommend at this point playing one of N’Dour’s songs.
Day 4: We read the legend Comment le lion devint roi and decided together if it fit the characteristics of an African legend or not. The version of the legend I used comes from http://www.conte-moi.net and there is audio and accompanying exercises in addition to the actual text.
Day 5: Begin the final assessment; the students work in groups of 2-3 to retell a legend, griot-style (or they may write their own legend). I have given them strict parameters in order to keep it simple enough for their proficiency level and also asked that they create a slide of images for any unfamiliar vocabulary that may come up in the legend, to make it more comprehensible for their classmates. We’ve spent the entire semester working on past tense narration, so that is really my linguistic focus for this assessment.
Here is a link to my resource packet for this lesson. As per usual, if there are language errors or formatting things you would like to change, please fix them on your own copy.