Le Petit Prince: A Communicative Approach
Although my teaching has evolved considerably over the past 25 years, one constant has been Le Petit Prince. This novel has been part of my French 4 curriculum nearly every year and I love it more every time I teach it! Fortunately, my family understands my passion for this character, and I now have a wonderful collection of Little Prince memorabilia including jewelry, a lunchbox, and even a pair of hand-painted shoes. Most of my students grow to love this novel as much as I do and often buy their own copies after they graduate. I was especially touched to receive an e-mail last spring from a former student who wrote to me to share an article he had read about the novel in The New Yorker. Although I hadn’t realized it when he was in my class, this novel had meant a lot to this student and he was excited about coming across the article years after reading the novel in my class.
Last year, because my French 4 students were placed in the same class as my French 5 students (who had read the novel the previous year), I had to take a short break from my beloved novel. For this reason, I’m especially excited to teach it this year! Although I won’t start until January, I’ve spent the last two weekends revamping my materials in order to make sure that my approach reflects my current understanding of best practices. I’ve included a link to the workbook I created at the end of this post. Here’s a description of how I’ll teach each chapter. (The information in parentheses refers to the corresponding workbook section.)
#1: Advance Organizer (Part A)
For each chapter I’ve included a question or two related to the theme of the chapter. The students will discuss these questions in order to prepare for the reading.
#2: Vocabulary (Parts B/C)
I’ll start each chapter by presenting a few key words from the chapter. I’ve provided pictures for the concrete nouns (and some verbs) and French definitions for the others. I’ll project the pictures on the screen and ask the questions which incorporate the new vocabulary so that they are familiar with the words before we begin reading the chapter.
#2: Introduction to the text (Part D)
I’ll begin by playing the animated audio version of the text I found on Youtube. Here’s a link to the Chapter 1 video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvRIccSAHEwk . After they’ve listened, they’ll read the text and answer the comprehension level true/false questions for the chapter. The students will work in groups to read and answer these questions, and we will then go over them as a class. I have chosen true/false questions here, because I find that they encourage discussion more than other types of objective questions. When I go over this section, I always ask students to justify their responses with specific details from the text. They have to explain why the item is either true or false.
#3: Inference Questions (Part E)
In this section, students read inference-based questions and choose whether they agree or disagree with each statement, providing evidence from the text. I often have the students respond to these individually, and then discuss with their groups. The nature of the questions encourages both an in-depth reading of the text and lively discussions, as there is often not a clear cut “right” answer.
#4: Role-Ply (Part F)
Next, the students work with a partner on the role-play based on a hypothetical discussion related to the chapter. These role plays provide additional opportunities for interpersonal communication, as well as help the students to synthesize the material from the chapter.
#5: Key Quotes (Part G)
Lastly, the students discuss a key quote from the chapter and how it relates to their own personal experience.
While I developed these activities to maximize opportunities for interpersonal communication, they can also be adapted for other modes or for assessment purposes. Because my grading system is based on language skill categories, I include assessments for each skill through this instructional unit. Therefore, I might occasionally have the students work individually on the true/false questions and submit them for an assessment of their accuracy (interpretive reading), rather than discussing them in class. I might also prepare comprehension questions for the videos, in order to assess their interpretive listening skills. The “Citation Clé” sections can easily be turned into a writing assessment, rather than/after being discussed orally in class. I record interpersonal speaking grades as I circulate among the students each day, but students could also prepare a response to an inference question, quote, or role-play, for an assessment of their presentational speaking.
Here’s a link to the workbook I’ve developed. Le Petit Prince . Although I condensed it into 25 pages for the purposes of sharing, I will probably add spaces for student responses so that the copy I give them will be considerably longer. Also, since I just finished this work I haven’t yet seen it in printed form or used it in class you’ll probably find some typos or other errors—please accept my apologies in advance! I’ll update the link if I find any glaring errors!
I’d love to hear your feedback on these materials, as well as your ideas for this novel. Please share by adding a comment using the link above!