Do French Women Have Hairy Armpits?: An Intermediate Unit on Cultural Stereotypes

Today I’ve decided to share a unit I developed on the theme of French/American stereotypes for my combined French 4/5 class.  I’ve never taught a unit on this theme before, but I think it will be a great way to start the year with this class!

These are the steps I used to create this unit (which you can download using the link at the bottom of the post).

1. Choose a theme

The theme of cultural stereotypes was suggested by a colleague in my district and I think it will be a high-interest topic for these students.  I like to make sure that I’m addressing the AP themes and contexts for this class, because some of the students will be taking the AP Test at the end of the year.  The theme of cultural stereotypes will touch on each of the following AP themes/contexts.  (I added the notes in parentheses).

Theme: Global Challenges / Les défis mondiaux

  • Diversity Issues / La tolerance (Stereotypes)
  • Health Issues / La santé (Smoking)
  • Nutrition and Food Safety / L’alimentation (Typical foods)
  • Peace and War / La paix et la guerre (French and war)

Theme: Contemporary Life / La vie contemporaine

  • Leisure and Sports / Les loisirs et le sport (Petanque)
  • Professions / Le monde du travail (Strikes and demonstrations)
  • Travel / Les voyages (Tourism)

Theme: Personal and Public Identities / La quête de soi

  • Gender and Sexuality / La sexualité (« Feminine » characteristics of French men, sexual behavior)
  • Nationalism and Patriotism / Le nationalisme et le patriotisme (French and war)

Theme: Families and Communities / La famille et la communauté

  • Age and Class / Les rapports sociaux (social roles)
  • Citizenship / La citoyenneté (social mores)
  • Friendship and Love / L’amitié et l’amour (stereotypes about women, sexual behavior)

Theme: Beauty and Aesthetics / L’esthétique

  • Ideals of Beauty / Le beau (Ways of dress/make-up)

2. Develop goals for the unit.

To develop the goals for this unit, I looked at the ACTFL Can-Do Statements for the Intermediate level of proficiency and modified them to fit the specific content of the unit.  I modified Intermediate Mid (Interpersonal/Presentational) and Intermediate High (Listening/Reading) Can-Do Statements when writing the following goals.

Interpersonal Communication: I can exchange information about cultural stereotypes.

Presentational Speaking: I can give a short presentation on a cultural stereotype.

Presentational Writing: 1) I can write a short report on a cultural stereotype.  2) I can write a message to clarify cultural stereotypes.

Interpretive Listening: I can understand a few details in a simple video about cultural stereotypes. (Intermediate High)

Interpretive Reading: I can understand the main idea and a few facts in an article about cultural stereotypes. (Intermediate High)

3. Write the IPA. 

I will discuss the process I use to write an IPA in a future post!

4. Plan the learning activities.

The final step to planning the unit is choosing which activities I will give my students so that they will achieve the goals I have determined for the unit.  I have included the following learning activities in this unit:

1. A small group discussion of French cultural stereotypes + graphic organizer

2. An introductory video

3. A reading activity (authentic online article about stereotypes)

4. A listening activity (youtube video about stereotypes)

5. A small group discussion to synthesize information from the article and video

6. A quick research activity regarding a cultural stereotype

7. A short oral presentation to present research findings

8. An essay about French-American stereotypes

5. Administer the IPA (See below for the link)

 I’d love to hear from any of you who have addressed the theme of cultural stereotypes!

Here’s a link to a packet of learning activities: Stereotype_Unit

Click here for a link to the IPA.

(Edit 10/22/19: The link to the reading is no longer valid. Click here for a Google copy.)

34 thoughts on “Do French Women Have Hairy Armpits?: An Intermediate Unit on Cultural Stereotypes

  1. Sarah Shackelford

    I may have just missed it, but didn’t find a reading for the IPA…Just saw the questions.
    Is there also a reading to use with those?
    Thanks! Very nice unit !

      1. Anna

        I realize this is a really old post, but I’m interested in this unit! The link is no longer working. Did you happen to make a hard copy? I’m thinking the article has expired since it’s from 2014.

        1. Robin

          I am in the same boat! I would love to use this resource but the links to the tf1 articles bring up an error page. Do you have an alternative way to use the article? Thank you very much!

  2. Erica Stones

    Thank you so much for sharing! Another resource that you might be interested in is an old French comic called “Superdupont.” He’s a superhero that parodies all things French / stereotypes of the French (he wears a beret and a French flag, carries a pet rooster, drinks a lot of wine, battles the secret enemy organization “Anti-France,” etc.). I don’t have a copy of the actual comic, unfortunately. ;
    I’ve done a mini lesson on stereotypes before using it and then asked my students to create a stereotypical American comic book character to sort of jump start a discussion.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I wish I could be more helpful, but it has been so long since I used this unit that I really don’t remember anything about the article.

      1. Leslie

        Pas de soucis! Merci pour vos leçons et ressources formidables, c’est vraiment une inspiration et je suis toujours impressionnée par votre travail.

    2. Ingrid

      I think it’s supposed to be what stereotypes French have on Americans. That article goes with the packet. I’m still looking for the one in the IPA!

      1. William Meredith

        Hi Ingrid,

        I have the article, but it’s on my computer and I’m not sure how to upload it here. If you want to email me I can send it to you.

  3. Andrew

    Bonjour Linda,

    First and foremost, I would like to thank you for all of the wonderful work that you do! I have followed your site for years and used many of your ressources. You are truly a gift to us teachers!

    I wanted to point out that in the video Les Stéréotypes Français par un Ricain has the Second Georgia Flag in the background, which contains the Confederate Battle Flag in it. The Confederate Battle Flag is widely accepted as a hate symbol and is used by many hate groups in the US. The Second Georgia Flag was updated in 2001, and again in 2003, so the version shown in the video, which was published in 2013, is dated. I do not suppose the intentions of the man in the video; is he proud of his southern heritage or does he have some troubling values? Either way, I wanted to point it out in the event teachers are inclined to use an alternate video or it comes up in class.

    Thanks again for all that you do!




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