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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

French: Performing With Confidence

French IV - V, grades 10 - 12: This lesson focuses on advanced conversation proficiency with connections to social, political, and pop culture. Yvette Heno's students play word games, discuss French politics, and stage a mock press conference with students portraying celebrities and journalists.



Yvette Heno


French IV-V, Advanced Placement




Westside High School, Houston, Texas

Lesson Date

April 10

Class Size



Block schedule, 90 minutes every other day

Video Summary

In this lesson, students participate in activities that improve their oral proficiency and prepare them for the AP French Language Exam. After a series of warm-up activities, students draw on prior research to discuss the French presidential election. Then they rely on research again to perform as celebrities and journalists in a class TV talk show.

Standards Addressed

Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretive, Presentational

Cultures: Practices, Products

Connections: Acquiring Information

Comparisons: Cultural


Advanced Placement (AP)
Advanced Placement is a program sponsored by the College Board. The AP program gives students the opportunity to take college-level courses in a high school setting; passing the course exam may earn them college credit or advanced standing. AP courses follow guidelines developed and published by the College Board.

authentic materials
Authentic materials are resources that have been developed specifically for native speakers. These include print, audio, and visual materials.

heritage speaker
A heritage speaker is a student who is exposed to a language other than English at home. Heritage speakers can be categorized based on the prominence and development of the heritage language in the student’s daily life. Some students have full oral fluency and literacy in the home language; others may have full oral fluency but their written literacy was not developed because they were schooled in English. Another group of students — typically third- or fourth-generation — can speak to a limited degree but cannot express themselves on a wide range of topics. Students from any of these categories may also have gaps in knowledge about their cultural heritage. Teachers who have heritage speakers of the target language in their class should assess which proficiencies need to be maintained and which need to be developed further. See also native speaker.

native speaker
A native speaker considers the target language to be his or her first language. Teachers seek opportunities for students to communicate in person or through technology with native speakers. Students in foreign language classes who are first- or second-generation immigrants and who use the language extensively outside the classroom are also considered native speakers. These students typically maintain the cultural norms of their heritage in certain situations. See also heritage speaker.

Role-playing is an activity in which students dramatize characters or pretend that they are in new locations or situations. This activity challenges students by having them use language in new contexts.

Connecting to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • What is the value of having students enter competitions such as the poetry contest that Daniel entered?
  • Games are used at all levels of instruction. How would you organize them to be effective for higher-level students? What kinds of language and cultural functions should they serve?
  • What opportunities do you provide for students to use language beyond the sentence level?
  • How has the Internet changed the kinds of assignments you give students? What are some topics that would be difficult to teach without Internet access?
  • How do you create effective guidelines for student-created, student-led presentations? How do you assess these presentations?

Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you’ve just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

  • Politics of Art (Spanish) illustrates cultural connections, interdisciplinary content, and formal/informal discussions with advanced students.
  • Promoting Attractions of Japan (Japanese) shows students participating in games that involve spontaneous use of the language.
  • Comparing the Weather (Arabic) emphasizes interpersonal and presentational communications in the context of learning about weather in the Arab world.

Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.

  • Try incorporating authentic games to build vocabulary and proficiency in advanced courses. As you travel or attend conferences, look for games that would give your students the same experience that they give native speakers. Playing authentic games on a regular basis not only is entertaining, it promotes learning and cultural understanding. During the warm-up, Ms. Heno used an authentic French game called Brainstorm, in which students cluster familiar vocabulary words by association, such as “something you can sit on.” The second game, in which students described their choices for the best boss, was another authentic French activity designed to stimulate spontaneous responses on provocative topics. To make the most of these activities, train your students to give answers that go beyond just “yes” or “no.”
  • Explore current events in your lessons. Choose topics from the worlds of politics, science, entertainment, and more. For example, Ms. Heno used the upcoming French presidential election as the basis for a lesson on contemporary French culture. She also juxtaposed this topic, which delved into the history and politics of France, with one that related to students’ interest in celebrities. The common factor was student discussion based upon prior research. To conduct this type of research, students need access to a variety of sources in the target language. If your department or library budget permits, you can subscribe to foreign language magazines or newspapers. Fortunately, all the major media also have Web sites where you can get the latest articles and broadcasts. Assign students the sites that you feel are appropriate. You can also ask anyone traveling to a country where your target language is spoken to bring you back authentic materials from that country.
  • The policies and political alliances of nations change over time. When introducing political topics for discussion, it is important to give students some background information to help them understand the complexities of these topics. Although it would be impossible for students to gain a full understanding of any international issue in the course of just one or two lessons, they can begin to develop a good base of knowledge that will help them move beyond making simplistic statements during discussions.


World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages
The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages create a roadmap to guide learners to develop competence to communicate effectively and interact with cultural understanding. This lesson correlates to the following Standards:

Communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes

Interpersonal Communication

Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.

Interpretive Communication

Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.

Presentational Communication

Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.

Interact with cultural competence and understanding

Relating Cultural Practices to Perspectives

Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied.

Relating Cultural Products to Perspectives

Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the products and perspectives of the cultures studied.

Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives in order to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations

Acquiring Information and Diverse Perspectives

Learners access and evaluate information and diverse perspectives that are available through the language and its cultures.


Develop insight into the nature of language and culture in order to interact with cultural competence

Cultural Comparisons

Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.


Lesson Materials
Rubric for LOTE Tasks (PDF, 15 K)
Generic rubric used by Ms. Heno for activities such as the talk show

Curriculum References
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Languages Other Than English

Yvette Heno’s Additional Resources

Web Resources:
Online edition of the French newspaper (available in French only). Note: Students used this site to research the French presidential elections.

Daily newspaper from Neuchâtel, Switzerland (Available in French only)

Online edition of a French magazine for people ages 15-25, with articles on culture, news, and other current events (available in French only). Note: Students used this site to research the French presidential elections.

French television station’s Web site, with information on travel, culture, entertainment, and news (Available in French only)

Yahoo! France
The French-language version of the popular search engine. Note: Students used this site to research their roles for the talk show.

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2003. 2016.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2