Using multimedia to teach French language and culture
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In order for the study of French to survive in American higher education, it will be necessary to adopt a pedagogy that motivates learners as well as teaches them both language and culture. I argue that the judicious use of visual materials (film, video and graphic novels) is ideal for this undertaking. I further assert--based upon numerous sources from fields such as Second Language Acquisition, cognitive psychology, anthropology and sociolinguistics--that language and culture are inseparable, and that visual materials provide the necessary context to facilitate the teaching of both. Visual materials present both problems and opportunities. I discuss such difficulties as cognitive overload (i.e., students’ being overwhelmed by too much information in too short a period of time) and suggest practical solutions. I also present criteria for the selection of films, such as appropriateness, learning goals and appeal to US university students. I also show how authentic media such as video can be adapted for all proficiency levels (e.g., assigning beginners’ simple word recognition tasks). In considering graphic novels, I suggest a familiar comic strip, Tintin, which is appropriate for beginning to advanced students, and which is likely to appeal to all students, given its American film adaptation. In the appendices, I include applications of the points presented in this report. In the conclusion, I argue that, regardless of the length formal instruction in French, this pedagogy can support practical skills (for example, dealing with people from other cultures) and lifelong learning (for example, staying involved with French culture through the aforementioned media).