Les Loisirs: A Novice Mid unit on leisure activities

browsing-15824_640As I began planning my French 1 units for fourth quarter, I took a fresh look at the ACTFL Can-Do Statements for the Novice Mid proficiency level. This is where I expect my French 1 students to be by the end of the year and I wanted to make sure that I addressed any areas in which they needed additional preparation. As I looked at the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do’s, I realized that I definitely had some work to do. The statement “I can ask some simple questions” jumped out at me. Many of my Level 1 students rely heavily on yes/no questions in their interpersonal communication. Although they have recently begun using qu’est-ce que and qui, I have not adequately prepared them to be able to ask and answer when and where questions as mentioned in the example Can Do statement. I also realized that they need a lot more vocabulary in order to adequately address the statement “I can communicate same basic information about my everyday life.” While they learned how to talk about what they like to do, I have not spent nearly enough time on activities that would teach them to talk about what they do/are doing. With these goals in mind, I began developing this unit on Les Loisirs .

Lesson 1: The students will begin by reading an infographic on French leisure activities and completing an interpretive task. They will then interview a partner about his/her leisure activities and the frequency with which s/he does each one. Next, the students will write a short paragraph about their own leisure activities.

Lesson 2: The input for this lesson comes from a video about French leisure activities. I will play the video as a whole-class activity, pausing when necessary to ask questions. While students at this proficiency level cannot be expected to independently interpret many details on a video like this, they can pick out key words. After the video, the students will complete an interpretive task in which they fill in a Venn diagram comparing their preferred leisure activities with those of a partner. They will then write a paragraph about whether they have much in common with their partner, based on what they learned when completing the Venn diagram. I have recently seen a new venn diagram maker for computers, so I may get them to try using this as it will help with learning how to transfer and represent data using different methods, e.g. written and digital.

Lesson 3: The input for this lesson will also be a video, in this case it is about video games. I think this will be a high interest topic for these students and will provide a good hook to the lesson. Following the video, the students will interview a partner about his/her leisure activities and complete a table with details that s/he finds out by asking information questions. The final task of the lesson will be a paragraph in which the students describe what they do during their ideal Saturday.

Lesson 4: As with the previous two lessons, this one will begin with a video. I should note that the reasons I have chosen to introduce these lessons with videos are a) My students always struggle with listening and b) Video interpretive tasks (as I use them during instruction) are less time consuming than reading tasks. Since I control how often I stop the video, rewind it, etc., I can spend as little or as much time as I need. On a reading task, I feel it’s important to give the students as much time as they need. Because of the diversity in reading proficiency in my class, reading activities often take an entire class period. Because I’m specifically addressing interpersonal communication in this unit, I want to make sure my students have enough time to adequately complete these tasks. In this lesson, the students will complete a “speed-friending” conversational activity. As a follow up presentational activity, they will write a note about which friend they had the most in common with.

In addition to these activities, I will spend lots of time asking personalized questions regarding my students’ leisure activities so that they are able to correctly answer information questions by the end of the unit. My IPA is still a work in progress, but I’ll make sure to include it in my next post!

For those of you that are assessing your students on the ACTFL Can Do statements, I’d love to know how they’re doing!

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