Une Journée à l’école : An inductive introduction to the passé composé for Novice High French students


One of the most challenging aspects of my growth in standards-based teaching has been to design lessons that allow my students to acquire the grammatical structures they will need to increase their proficiency. While I have found that most of my students will internalize many structures, such as the use of various articles, many verb forms, irregular adjective forms, etc., other structures require a bit more direct attention.  It has been my experience that the formation of the passé composé is one such structure.  While I understand that this structure would eventually be acquired, I have found that designing lessons that draw the students’ attention to this form and then encourage them to use it to express their own meaning have been effective in improving their overall proficiency. In general, the unit that I shared in this previous post, was very effective in introducing the passé composé to my Level 2 students.  As a result of this unit, my students began using the past tense in their speaking and writing, and were able to understand this structure in context when listening and reading.  While they continued to make errors in choice of auxiliary and agreement (as expected), they also demonstrated their ability to form this tense in new contexts as the year progressed.  In fact, I was happily surprised that this knowledge carried over during the summer and these students were able to discuss their vacations at the beginning of French 3 with no direction instruction or review of the tense. Because this unit was so effective, I will reteach it with only a few modifications.

This unit (click here for the student packet)  consists of five different written or recorded authentic texts, each of which is accompanied by an interpersonal and presentational task.  I have made a few changes, based on last year’s results.  The first of these is that I eliminated the English comprehension questions from the video in lesson 3. I found that completing these questions was very-time-consuming for the students, and providing feedback required too much English on my part.  Instead I will pause the video and ask French comprehension during the viewing phase.  I will then give the students time for the French true/false questions at the end of the segment.  While I included the activities for all three segments in one lesson (they were spread out in last year’s packet), I will most likely intersperse these listening activities among the other lessons to provide variety and increase engagement. The other significant change that I made was to select a different text for the final interpretive reading.  The text that I chose last year was quite difficult for the students, and I preferred that they read a less challenging text in order to focus on the new structure. In addition to the lessons in this packet, I may include some of the supplementary activities in the original post, as well as a Movie Talk activity using the video shared by a reader (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEKLEeY_WeQ&feature=youtu.be).

Edited 5/23/18: Link to IPA

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