FRE 303 Learning Objectives:
Acquire the basics of a cultural lexicon in French.
- Assessment: Students collectively compiled a list of key terms/figures/dates on which they were to be tested. Their ability to define and explain the cultural relevance of the cultural lexicon was assessed in the final exam for the course.
Deepen your knowledge of France and the Francophone world ; its geographical span, history and linguistic complexity.
- Assessment: Students’ knowledge was assessed through oral presentations, a final research project and a comprehensive final exam.
Analyze and compare sociocultural phenomena in France and the Francophone world.
- Assessment: Evidence of students’ ability to achieve this objective was assessed in final research project.
Self-assess your intercultural literacy with regards to French culture
- Assessment: Students’ self-assessment was evidenced in the final written reflection for course in which they self-assessed the impact of their learning in FRE 303 on their own cultural identities. This required integrating academic knowledge with their personal experience and worldviews. Metacognitive reflection on one’s own learning process and inherent biases encourages critical thinking about how knowledge is created and transmitted to others. Students were obliged to articulate how their own understanding and experience of French culture has been filtered by their own cultural lenses and backgrounds. Further evidence of students’ gains in intercultural literacy was evaluated in their final research projects, oral presentations and final exam.
Parfaire votre français oral et écrit/refine your spoken and written French.
- Assessment: Students’ oral and written French was assessed through daily discussion and reflections, their oral presentations, the final research project and the final exam.
General Assessment of higher-order thinking skills-Application, Analysis and Synthesis of knowledge about different cultures:
This course obliged students to make cross-cultural comparisons between France, the US and the wider Francophone world based on information from reliable sources. Through a process of authentic inquiry, students formulated their own culture-based research questions for final projects that were also presented to their classmates. Students were required to locate and embed a discipline-based definition of culture in their analysis; this definition proved to be a useful tool that helped them to articulate their research questions and the broader cultural implications of their chosen topics.
In this student-centered classroom, students were tasked with initiating discussion questions each day and were encouraged to critically assess the design and content of the course itself, particularly with regards to the respective time and weight given to different parts of the French-speaking world over the course of the block. This led to insights and discussion regarding how centralization and privileging of Metropolitan French identity has shaped French and Francophone cultures.
The inclusion of French heritage content that has shaped cultures and identities in the US was intended to provide students with the opportunity to defamiliarize themselves with their own American identity and landscape. Discovering less widely-known and studied French histories and mixing with Native American communities led to further engagement with how Native American history/experience is simultaneously visible (via geographical place names, symbols of sports team mascots and tv/film representations, etc.) and invisible in contemporary American life.
Sample excerpts from students’ final intercultural reflections for course:
Student #1: This course has not only taught me more about the cultures and impacts of cultures in varying francophone countries around the world, it has also allowed me to reflect on my own culture and the similarities and differences my culture as a white Midwestern United States citizen has with other cultures around the world. This course has also given me the tools to be able to talk about culture both with new vocabulary and with learning how to learn about culture.
Student #2: The concept of challenging ourselves as a class to explore and discover identities and values of other communities previously impacted by French colonization has influenced me on a personal note. After realizing how complex it truly can be to recognize how societies, communities, or identities have been created, it has inspired me to question my own self-belonging.
Student #3: In learning so much about the cultures of France and other francophone countries I have thought more about my own culture as well. This course has opened my eyes to more of the differences and similarities between those cultures and my own. I also learned more about the influence the French had on the world we live in today, even being in the US. Learning about Acadia and how that influenced Louisiana was also interesting because, even though I’ve never been to Louisiana, it’s a part of the country I live in, and I had never really learned about it as much as some other parts of the country.
Student #4:My learning in this course has shifted my understatnding about the Francophone World by giving me specific details where I had previous only had vague notions. I knew beforehand of the global presence of the French language, but was unaware of how many African countries, like Burkina Faso, have French as their sole official language. I knew that France’s colonial past was on five continents, but had no idea of the scope of influence they had on North America, let alone my home region of the Midwest. The coursework and class discussions showed me how much bigger France’s global influence was than I had thought. I liked the focus on present day results of historical actions. It was helpful to contextualize our learning by talking and reading about people for whom this is not just a chapter in a book. A good example of this was watching the short documentary about Michif. The readings had lead me to believe it was an archaic language lost to time and repressive government practices, but watching an Elder speak about her experiences in school and being taught her language was wrong and unfavorable reminded me that there are people alive today that do not see this history as being in the past.
Student #5: Before taking this course I had no idea the amount of influence French culture had on the rest of the world. I knew that they had colonized a lot of countries but I really didn’t understand how that affects them still today. After our numerous discussions on culture I feel as though I have a better idea on how France’s colonial rule not only had effects on the colonized countries, but also on France itself.
I was also very impressed when I learned about how the French interacted with the native americans when they arrived to North America. For example, the way the voyageurs and the coureurs de bois would learn the native languages and cultures and form mutual relationships with the natives. This course has really made me question my roots. Throughout this course I feel as though there has always been this question of what is culture, what is my culture, and where do I stand?
The readings we read in class have really made me think about these questions at a much deeper level. Before taking this class had I been I asked these questions I wouldn’t have even faltered when answering. Culture is something you believe in, my culture is American, and I stand in the same culture as all other Americans. I now know that I would have been completely wrong had I made that statement. For starters, what does it even mean to be American?
Do people who live in the busy city of New York have the same definition of what it means to be American as people who live on a ranch in rural Texas? Probably not, but they are both American. Secondly, it is very hard (nearly impossible) to find just a single culture that you belong to. Truthfully you are a combination of lots and lots of cultures put together.
Before taking this class I had never taken a sort of historical/cultural learning class before because I had never had much interest in the material but now my interests have been peaked. I also hope to learn more about international relations after learning about how mixed our societies and cultures really are.