Le Petit Déjeuner: An IPA for Novice French Students

petitdejOne of the great things about being in the second year of the process of becoming more proficiency-based in my teaching is that I am able to rely on some of the materials I created last year.  While I’ve found myself modifying many of these units, I’m also trying to reuse those lessons that I found were effective in accomplishing the goals that I have identified for my students.  Having chosen Balance as my #oneword for this year, I definitely have to resist the urge to completely recreate each unit (Although I’m tempted!).

One unit that I’m hoping to change very little is the Food and Mealtimes unit that I used with my French 1 students last year.  This unit, which I shared in three separate posts last year (post 1, post 2, post 3), was effective in developing my students’ cultural competency regarding Francophone mealtimes as well as their proficiency across the modes. On a practical level, however, the length of this unit caused some minor record-keeping problems.  Because 80% of my students’ grades are based on end of unit IPA’s, these students had no major grades for several weeks.  In order to remedy this issue, I’ve decided to give a series of IPA’s throughout this unit. In this way I can assure that my students and their parents have adequate information about their progress throughout the unit.

This first IPA, therefore, will assess the students’ ability to communicate in each mode on the topic of breakfast.  In the interpretive reading they will interpret an article (page 1, page 2  )from Astrapi magazine about making breakfast in bed for Father’s Day.  In the interpretive listening they will watch a video about healthy breakfasts.  Although I included short answer questions here, my students will actually take a multiple choice version on our Learning Management System, Canvas. As always, I do not expect my Novice Mid students to be able to correctly answer all of these questions! I like to build lots of stretch into my listening comprehension, but to assess based on their current proficiency.  In this case, the students are only expected to be able to answer a handful of the questions by identifying key words that they have practiced for the last few days.  After these two interpretive activities, the students will complete an interpersonal communication task in which they play the role of either a Belgian teenager or American exchange student.  As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’ve found that I can more fully integrate culture across the modes by assigning the students roles that will allow them to demonstrate the cultural competence they’ve gained as a result of their work in the unit. Finally, they will write a blog entry about Belgian breakfast habits.

Although it will take a little additional time to grade multiple IPA’s, I think the feedback that my students receive will make this extra effort well worth it!

10 thoughts on “Le Petit Déjeuner: An IPA for Novice French Students

  1. Holly

    We are having fun with this unit! I modified the questions a bit and give this time frame in case you’re interested.
    Interprétation Orale
    Answer the following questions in English. You’re not expected to be able to answer all of the questions, just answer as many as you can. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-0MpW1FWew )

    0-40 secondes:
    1. Why is breakfast so important?
    to recharge your batteries b. to get the bulk of your calories c. to start your metabolism
    2. What two reasons are given to explain why many people skip breakfast?
    no time b. not in the habit c. no appetite
    3. How long do most people go without eating (between dinner and breakfast)?
    10 hours b. 12 hours c. 2 hours
    4. What percentage of people don’t eat breakfast?
    25% b. 20% c. 80%
    5. What group of people eats breakfast the least often (le moins)?
    kids b. adults c. teens/adolescents

    6. What are the four categories of food/drink she describes and what is one example of each that she mentions?
    a._____________________________________ ex._____________________________________
    b. _____________________________________ ex._____________________________________
    c. _____________________________________ ex._____________________________________
    d. _____________________________________ex. _____________________________________

    7. What might an athlete add to his/her breakfast to get more protein?
    carbs b. protein c. healthy fats
    8. What season do we need more (plus) calories?
    summer b. fall c. spring d. winter

    9. In the ____________________ you should have fresh fruits, and in the ____________________ you should have fruit juice or preserved fruits.
    summer b. fall c. spring d. winter
    10. What reasons does the dietician mention for why people don’t eat breakfast?
    lack of time b. not in the habit c. lack of appetite
    11. What parts of the breakfast does she suggest people eat before they leave home?
    diary b. fruit c. cereal d. bread

    12. What parts of the breakfast does she suggest people eat later in the morning?
    diary b. fruit c. cereal d. bread

    13. What does the narrator suggest people should do in the morning to get their digestion going?
    drink a glass of juice b. drink a glass of water c. drink a glass of tea

    14. What does this mean? “La clef de la réussite reste l’envie. Vos aliments plaisir rendent le petit déjeuner un agréable moment à prendre pour soi ou partager en famille.”
    The key to success is envy for the breakfast that your family has.
    The key to success is desire. What you eat makes breakfast pleasant for yourself or with your family.
    The key to success is taking a pleasant moment with your family to share food together.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your work! I know that my readers and myself are grateful for the opportunity to learn from you!

  2. Dawn Floyd


    I appreciate everything you post & consider you my online mentor as I take on the challenge of moving to a more proficiency-based classroom. Not only do you have great resources & activities, but I find them to be great models as I attempt to develop my own.

    I have a technical question about the foods unit for level one that you developed. some of the videos are listed as “private” when I click on the links. Are they your videos or were they posted by someone else? Do you know how to contact the creators of these videos so teachers can access them?

    Thanks for everything you do, and especially thank you in advance for looking into this for me!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Bonjour, I wish I could help with the videos. None of the videos that I use are “mine” they are all things I found on Youtube. Unfortunately, sometimes the owners make changes after I use them. I’m sorry but I don’t know how to contact the owners. Sometimes using authentic materials can be so frustrating! Lisa

  3. Corine Charrier

    Vous etes un tresor, un ange, Madame Shepard! Je vais me servir de cette unite sur le petit dejeuner.

  4. Anna Chang

    Thanks so SO much for everything that you do!
    How did you grade your students on the IPA, specifically for the interpretation orale part? Did you use a scale? Merci!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Anna. When it comes to grading open-ended listening I usually create a scale based on how the students do. For example, if the highest score was a 12/17, my scale might look like this: 11/12 = A, 9/10 = B, 7/8 = C, etc. I don’t try to create a bell-shaped curve, instead I try to find a magic formula so that students seldom earn a failing score. As I explain to my students, I don’t really know whether my questions are written at their level until I see how many they are able to answer correctly. I hope this makes sense! Lisa

  5. Myriam


    Thank you so much for sharing your work!
    I was looking at the document “Le petit dejeuner” which will be perfect for my French 1A class. However, it seems that the link for part II is not availble any more.
    II. Read the article and complete the following interpretive activity. https://karott.egnyte.com/h-s/20131217/d52725a0232f4e06

    Do you by any chance remember the title of this document? I will research it on the web.

    Un grand merci pour votre partage et générosité


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