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.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *