Sunday, November 17, 2013

AP French: Discussing the film, "L'enfant," during the Family & Communities unit


Students of the French language and cultures need to be exposed to French and Francophone cinema, whether it be via snippets and/or trailers on YouTube or a full-length film.  As all world language educators know, film allows us to take a closer look at the cultures we study. Even the way international films tend to end informs us of our cultural differences. It is so amusing to see students' faces when a French/Francophone film ends abruptly.  What a great way to extend the conversation! Why did it end when it did and could the director have chosen a better moment? What do you think will happen next?
To kick off the start of our latest thematic unit, Family & Communities, students watched their first full-length film of the year:  "L'enfant", a Belgian film by directors Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne. The story is centered on the life of a poor, young couple who struggle tremendously in life and with their unplanned baby. There is plenty of drama as they live on government benefits while the young man lives his life of a thief with his middle school-aged partners in crime.
L'Enfant film.jpg
For the past three years or so, I have shown this film and have found students to love it every time! As a result, this is a great time to really talk about the issues that surround the theme of family and communities. Please note that the film is rated R, so you will probably want to send out a parental permission form (I did not send one out because there isn't really anything scandalous happening other than some cursing here and there. It should be PG-13, I think.)
After the viewing is complete, students prepare an oral presentation of the film. They have two questions that they must answer before choosing their third question. I did not ask them to prepare a visual with still shots from the film, but they did so, and I think I'll require it from now on. (They are so used to having visuals with presentations that it has become second nature. Yay!)
 Please visit my website for the student handout:
Got feedback? Please do share! There are many things that you could do with films, so I would love to know what you would do. 
Have you shown this film before? If so, how did it go?

What are some other films that you have incorporated into the AP units?
Please leave a comment so that we can continue the discussion.
Bon dimanche!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Mission Trip to Haïti

The following is a guest post by Stephen, a sophomore French student at Hammond School in Columbia, South Carolina.  As a member of the Select Ensemble, our school's auditioned choir, he had the opportunity to travel to Italy and perform before the pope on New Year's Day 2013.

This past summer my church youth group went on a mission trip to Haiti. We visited orphanages and churches while there, and ministered to the Haitian people.

We left Columbia very early in the morning and arrived at the Port au Prince airport in the early afternoon. We were immediately bombarded by many people who wanted to carry our bags for us. We got in several vans and headed to the house that we were staying in. We got there late afternoon, and we just hung out for the rest of the day.

Image credit:  

The next morning was a Sunday morning. We woke up at about 6:30 and drove for an hour and a half up into the mountains to attend the Haitian church that we were visiting. They sang many songs in a mix of French and Creole, and they asked us to sing a few to them that we had learned. While singing, they all got very excited, and were dancing and swaying to the music. For the sermon, they had our minister come up and preach a sermon to them, which was translated into Creole by their preacher. We enjoyed a homemade lunch and afternoon with them, and then went home for the day.

Tuesday was probably my favorite day. We woke up extra early that morning, because we had a long trip ahead of us. We drove all the way to the top of Chacha Mountain. There was a small church on the top that we visited and did a day of Bible School and games with. The ride up was intense, with all of us in the backs of trucks and very little room for error, but we all made it safely to the top. We gave a short lesson to the kids, and then we taught them a few games. They especially loved duck duck goose and the sack race. While we were doing this, there were constantly new kids emerging from the forest to join in. We spent all day up there and them headed back to our house.

Wednesday morning we attended the Church on the Rock, which is an early morning church that begins at 6:00AM. They sang and read Scripture for about 45 minutes, and then they asked our minister to give another sermon. He had about two minutes of preparation but did a great job. Also on Wednesday, we visited an all girls' orphanage. The girls there ranged from four years old to sixteen years old. They enjoyed making beads and braiding our girls' hair, while the guys from our church painted the beds and walls, and did any other work that they needed done. At about 5:30 we returned to our house.

On Thursday, we returned to the church on Chacha Mountain, for our day of Bible School with the kids there. We gave a lesson, and then did various things. I started out shoveling sand to help make cement, but I also ended up in a game of soccer with them. They were very, very good at soccer. We stayed until early afternoon, and then headed back into Port au Prince to go to the orphanages. The girls went to the all girls' orphanage and an orphanage for small children, and the guys went to an orphanage for all boys. The boys there were very friendly, and several had t-shirts on from places that I recognized like Hilton Head. We again gave a short lesson and then began to play with the boys. I met a small boy named Duke, who was two years old. He first jumped on my shoulders, and then took me over to a bookcase, made me grab some pictures, and then explained to me about every person in the pictures. He also introduced me to each of them. The boys at the orphanages loved the cameras that we had, and they ran around taking pictures of each other and us. At about six, we went home for the day. 

On Friday, I attended an orphanage for babies and very young children. This orphanage was called the Faith Hope Love orphanage. The kids were very happy to see us, and proceeded to show us their artwork. I talked to one little boy who was getting adopted by a family in Texas soon, and he spoke fluent English. We left this orphanage at about 1:00, and briefly stopped at the all girls' orphanage to finish up the painting that we were doing.

Saturday was our last day in Haiti, and I knew I was going to miss it. The people were so happy, and the atmosphere was great. But, before we left, we went one last time to the all girls' orphanage. They sang us a song, and everyone said their goodbyes. We then went to the Port au Prince airport and flew home. We arrived back in our hometown at about 4:00AM on Sunday morning. I immediately went to sleep for about twelve hours when I got home.

Haiti is an amazing country and I would sincerely recommend it as a top notch place to go on a mission trip.