La Francophonie Diverse: French Adjective Agreement Through Art

byBrittany Zezima Dilworth

Dans les décombres du colonialisme, nous avons trouvé cet outil merveilleux, la langue française.”- Leopold Sedar Senghor, founder, L’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie


“Only the white kids take French”. I often wonder how cultural theorist Leopold Senghor would feel about this sentiment being expressed regularly in my class. Although the wording may differ depending on the student, the idea is the same: My students of color do not feel welcome in the French classroom. Past experience has led them to feel “othered” in the face of the representations of the French language that they see as Americas. Somewhere amongst a sea of croissants and baguettes, the Eiffel Tower, and one track from the musical Hamilton, they get the sense that French is a cold, difficult language that does not include people who look like them. I was inspired to create this unit in order to allow students greater exposure to Francophone diversity early in their study of French. I want to give my minority students an exhibition to the very wide global demographic of French speakers that more realistically mirrors their own diversity.  Therefore, the goal of this unit is to more heavily integrate francophone Africa and the Caribbean into the curriculum beyond the geographical overview they receive at the beginning of the course.


Our school district’s current French I curriculum incorporates some cultural components of the la francophonie2 (the French-speaking areas of the world) beyond France. However, the current textbook series presents the greater French-speaking diaspora in a very disjointed manner without ever really going into enough detail about any one place. This curriculum will serve to replace part of the second unit on noun/adjective agreement. The colors are usually a good starting point for students of French to describe nouns because while most of them are regular (noir/noire, vert/verte, bleu/bleue, etc.), they also offer good practice working with irregular (banc/blanche) and static adjectives (orange, marron) as well. Rather than a more rote memorization-based approach to learning the colors, which ends up being tedious and painful for everyone, I would like to have students explore and examine art representing the culture of the former French colonies while using the language to describe the artist's color and image choices.  This will give students the opportunity to encounter not only significant historical and cultural aspects of Francophone Africa and the Caribbean, etc., but also to see French speakers of color depicted in the works of art.

The teaching context for this unit is Pierre S. DuPont Middle School3 in Wilmington, Delaware. A strong proponent of public education, PS DuPont commissioned the building of the school in 1934 to provide an accessible for students in the city. Pierre DuPont himself was the great-grandson of French-born industrialist Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours4. The area’s Francophone connections have held strong over time, and Nemours, France remains Wilmington’s sister city to this day.

PS DuPont serves students in grades 6-8. It is the only one of the district’s three middle schools eligible for free breakfast and lunch for the entire student body. The building’s demographic encompass a feeder pattern that is primarily from inner city Wilmington. The remainder is made up of students outside of the feeder pattern who are enrolled in the district’s Gifted and Talented (GT) program, totaling a little over a quarter of the school’s 927 students. 40% of the population is African American, 30% is White, 15% is Asian, 10% is Latinx, and 5% is mixed race/other3; This make up can be challenging because the demographic represents a canyon-sized gap between the mostly minority, frequently economically disadvantaged feeder population and the overwhelmingly White and Asian portion comprising GT, who travel from more middle-class neighborhoods with financially stable families.

While it is true that Delawareans in general grapple with the misconception that Spanish is the “easier” choice because “no one speaks French here”, anecdotally this is even more prevalent among black and brown students. In 2019, the Brandywine school district began using a career pathway approach to helping students to select a language for high school credit based on what job or college major they may choose in the future. Although French is deemed applicable in this presentation to over 25 different types of vocations or areas of study (about equal to the number identified as applicable for a speaker of Spanish), the majority of students fall prey to the generalization that French will be a more difficult language to learn and that their opportunities to use it in real life will be limited. Despite Delaware’s strong Francophone history and school namesake, this generalization results in a rather small French program at both the building and district levels. According to a 2013 study of 5th grade students of French by Sybille Heinzmann, “the more important they [students] judge French to be, the more positive their language attitudes are”. Indeed, research has shown that learners’ attitudes toward the target language (TL) is much more predictive of their ability to gain proficiency than the language itself.

The other factor which heavily influences World Language course selection, and perhaps the one I am most interested in for the purposes of this unit, is the discrepancy between the number of white versus black students who choose French. This schism is quite clear in the eighth grade World Language classes, where only 3% of African American students who chose to study a language selected French, compared to 29% of their White peers. As previously mentioned, the cause is largely a very pervasive stereotype that if you are not a white person, French is just not possible for you to learn. Though it may seem an overly-exaggerated statement, further research by Heinzmann has also found that “only learners’ attitudes on specific TL groups exert a significant effect on their motivation to learn French”. In short, if students’ immediate mental image of the phrase “French person” conjures an image of a man in a beret smoking a cigarette in front of the Louvre, they likely don’t see themselves as being a good fit as a character in that world. To fill this gap, this curriculum unit will present the larger Francophone world as an interwoven part of French language and culture, rather than the short paragraph insets and footnotes we currently rely on.

Content Objectives

This curriculum unit will build upon what French I students have previously learned about French nouns and using vocabulary to talk about oneself, daily life, and negotiating meaning in the L2. More concisely, further description will be provided in this thematic unit on how to address the questions (1) Who is part of la francophonie? What patterns do we notice in the demographics of people around the world who are native French speakers? (2) Is there a body of Francophone art that truly represents this demographic? (3) What themes may exist in these Francophone paintings that are relevant to us? (4) How do we apply the target language to discuss and describe Francophone art? (5) How can we transfer the skill of describing objects and images in the target language to describing them in our everyday lives? It will be broken into three parts which focus on different aspects of language production.

Part I: Le colonialisme au monde francophone

To open the unit, I would like students to first discuss the idea of colonialism’s impact on art in the Francophone world. While the concept of colonialism has been part of the state’s social studies curriculum for a long time, the effect former on former colonies’ traditional textiles and art has not. I would begin with a 2019 New York Times article titled France Vowed to Returned Looted Treasures. But Few Are Heading Back, which examines the restitution of indigenous art and artifacts by France to West Africa (specifically Benin, Senegal, Mali, Martinique, etc.). Any time you can generate classroom discussions based on personal opinion, middle schoolers are usually inspired to chime in, particularly if the topic at hand is some kind of injustice. In Beth C. Rubin’s article, “There’s Still Not Justice”: Youth Civic Identity Development Amid Distinct School and Community Contexts, she states, “As youth develop, they create meaning, identity, and a sense of themselves by using a variety of sources, including existing constructions of ethnicity, race, gender, and social class”.

Starting the unit with this discussion will allow for not only a short review of the geography of former French colonies, but also a chance for students to see the subject of Francophone art through the lens of the “wokeness” they are so fond of making Tik Toks and SnapChats about. Although the article is in English, it would introduce the question of how they as students of French conceptualize the idea of la francophonie, as well as offer a more holistic view of how the art of the formerly colonized parts of the Francophone world was and is often displayed and represented by mainland French museums for public consumption rather than remaining with the actual cultures that created it.

Having provided students some background on Afro-Francophone art history, I thought a good first introduction to color vocabulary in French would be the poem Poème á mon frère blanc (Poem to My White Brother)5 by Senegal’s first black president, Leopold Sedar Senghor. This poem is one I first began using during Black History Month, as its theme and authorship emphasize a French-speaking person of color. In trying to diversify the French I curriculum, it now seems counterintuitive to relegate this piece to the month of February.

The poem specifies how color is used more liberally to describe whites versus blacks (“Quand je suis ne, j’étais noir… Quand tu es ne, tu étais rose…”). Using a rainbow of example descriptions, it stresses how the defining aspect of a person of color, no matter the situation, is always their blackness, while whites in contrast can move through various shades depending on their emotional or physical state. By ending with the question, (“Alors, de nous deux, Qui est l’homme de couleur ?” ) Senghor makes a powerful statement to the reader about labeling. This idea is certainly relatable to my students and will hopefully convey a parallel to their own feelings about living in a society that still defaults to whiteness.

Written as a comparison of the lives of black people versus white people, the poem also fits the criteria for selecting materials for the World Language classroom. In the article Main Features of Choosing Authentic Materials in Foreign Language Classes, BM Barotovna specifies several principles for choosing appropriate texts, among them, “what may be difficult for students (language, content, assessment)”. Poème á mon frère blanc does utilize the imperfect and future verb tenses, which students in their first level of study would have not yet learned, but this is easily overcome by pre-teaching which verbs represent which tenses. The overall level is comprehensible with some support from a bilingual dictionary. The poem is otherwise a strong example of an authentic L2 text that can be used as a task to introduce the new color vocabulary through interpretive reading while also discussing the work’s underlying message about race relations in the Francophone world.

Part II: Comment on décrit ça en français?

Though there is a large grammatical component to this unit, it is important to be mindful of maintaining strong language acquisition pedagogy by teaching the grammar through comprehensible input. The basis of any strong curriculum unit in the World Language classroom is Stephen Krashen’s (1982) statement that, “Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language…” For that reason, the students will learn the concept of noun/adjective agreement through tasks and activities which mirror real world language use as much as possible.

Students will observe the market painting Combat de coqs6 by Haitian artist Laurent Casimir, and briefly share their observations (in English) about its archetypes and how they may relate to aspects of the country’s culture. Common themes found in Haitian market paintings that students may notice and teachers may want to emphasize include dense population, traditional dancing and celebrations, and cockfighting, all depicted in vivid hues. While the style of painting necessitates the language function of naming the color words in French and then applying them by labeling the examples by Casmir, it also presents a snapshot of a previously unknown part of la francophonie. Fairly quickly, students can use the new vocabulary to choose their favorites from a selection of the artist’s work. While the color vocabulary words themselves (which were introduced through the Senghor poem) are generally a matter of memorization, different works by Laurent Casimir or in his style can be utilized as warm-ups in subsequent classes to get students excited about describing the images and completing a realistic task in the target language.

The next stage of the unit will involve the concept noun/adjective agreement, first with colors and then moving on to other common adjectives.  Besides verb conjugation, mastering noun/adjective agreement is perhaps the most important grammatical objective for not only students of French I, but for the remainder of their journey to proficiency. French teacher Marie Surridge (1995) attests that, “If you look closely at the reaction of Francophones to such mistakes [in noun/adjective agreement], you will realize that the result is often total incomprehension.”  The only way to prevent this is to get students flexing their agreement muscles early, before they become fossilized in ignoring it as part of the second language’s system.

To teach the concept of changing the gender and number of the adjective (in this case, a color) to match the noun, without resorting to rote memorization of rules, I will return to Laurent Casmir’s paintings in order for students inductively identify the rules for agreement using color-coding7. He has a wealth of work well-suited to this purpose, Sans-Titre8 and Carnaval Haiti9 are both specific examples that reiterate the cultural themes discussed above.

Once students have become familiar with the rules of agreement, I will then present a painting by Senegalese modernist artist Iba N'Diaye10 titled Le Sacrifice du Mouton. As an artist trained in France and an adherent to the negritude movement, N’Diaye’s work is indicative of a need for the self-identification of blackness and a removal of European influence and perceptions in literature, art, and music. Leopold Sedar Senghor promoted the movement as “a construction of black identity based on essentialized notions of race”. His viewpoint that “L’émotion est negre, comme la raison est hellene11asserted that black Francophone art was influenced solely by the binary of European technology and colonization versus African nature and “primitiveness”.

N’Diaye’s work felt by some members of the black Francophone to be a celebration of Africanness, and by others an example of hybridity resulting from his training in Europe combined with his biological predispositions as a black man. His painting Le Sacrifice can be interpreted by students as a depiction of native African peoples’ relationship with nature, or rather a metaphor for how the colonizer bled le mouton (the colonized population) for its beneficial resources.

Since N’Diaye typically uses people as the subjects of his paintings, students can create their own descriptions of color without becoming overwhelmed by a large amount of unfamiliar vocabulary. In addition to increasing their language proficiency by studying N’Diaye’s work, the door has been opened to a new-to-them representation of what it means to be a French speaker living in a decolonized society.

Once noun/adjective agreement using colors has been mastered, students will be provided with a list of other general adjectives to expand their vocabulary. To apply the skill using the new descriptors, students will be given a brief presentation on Alabama creole artist Andrew LaMar Hopkins12. Although I have encountered several more senior artists from the Francophone world while creating this unit, I also know that my gen-z, social media generation of students need someone a little more recent in these lessons to make them more relevant. Hopkins describes himself in his Instagram bio as, “Francophile, artist, drag queen”. I could not have found a better contemporary artist to include here if I created him myself. His work focuses on the role that la créolité (the self-identity of the Franco-African-American population) and its associated culture played in the 18th and early 19th centuries in Alabama/Louisiana.

La créolité manifested as a response to the 1930s’ la negritude discussed above. However, with time, la negritude was felt to be somewhat problematic in its oversimplification of how race impacts the creation of art. In contrast, Martinician writer Edouard Glissant13 stressed the need for a style which incorporated the history of blacks across the Francophone world, including the impact that slavery, colonization, and contact with other indigenous groups may have had on their literature and art work. La créolité celebrates the unique qualities of la francophonie which contribute to diversity, rather than Senghor’s insistence on a fixed universal civilization that preserve clear lines between racial groups.

Students will analyze Hopkin’s painting La Belle Nouvelle-Orleans Creole14 and share their observations in English before moving on to creating a description using their aforementioned new vocabulary in French. Students will observe that painting depicts white subjects as well as black ones enjoying life in antebellum Louisiana as equals (or at least, not in the roles of colonizer versus colonized), conveying the theme of hybridity as a positive concept. The painting also portrays Francophone culture’s status as an amalgamation derived from contact with whites, indigenous people, etc. This painting, being so recent in comparison to those earlier in the unit offers a more modern look at la francophonie.

It will be necessary for students to re-visit the method of color-coding to grasp how other groups of adjectives change in the feminine or plural form (for example, heureux/heureuse, animal/animaux) as the number of adjectives at their disposal grows and their descriptions and observations about Francophone art become more specific.

Part III: Qu’est-ce que je peux créer?

At this juncture in the unit, I would love to have students take a field trip focusing on Francophone art and the existence of a wealth of paintings originating from formerly French- colonized countries. Rothe (2023) states in his article about increasing diversity in specifically the novice-level World language classroom that “…not all language instructors and learners have access to nearby heritage sites or open-air museums. Therefore, they need other activities that engage learners in their language communities locally and help them explore the diverse lived experiences of the TL”. A more interpersonal experience would support my overall goal of this unit’s advocacy for the importance of representation of the heterogony of the French-speaking world.

Previously, I mentioned contemporary artist Andrew LaMar Hopkins, who both personally and artistically is a strong role model for students as a black, male, LGBTQ+ member of the Francophone community. My hope is that he or another colleague of his in the art field may be available for a “virtual trip experience” via a presentation on Zoom detailing some additional Francophone artists, the implications of la créolité found in his paintings, as well as his own family history and self-identification as a member of the Francophone community. Having a question and answer session, even a virtual one, would bring a more humanity to the idea of people of color in the Francophone space and serve to develop students’ “plausible foreign language selves”15 as learners of French.

Following the virtual Q & A session, I would like to provide the students with at least 10 different pieces of art representing different countries in la francophonie, with an option for some additional choices that students could research and analyze independently for the final project to prevent too many students from focusing on the same work. I have been able to find paintings from Haiti, Martinique16, Canada17, Senegal, New Orleans, and Algeria which will be discussed throughout the unit.

For the final activity, students would pick one of the works of art we have studied and recreate it in their own style as “word art”. In other words, students would replace the sections of color in the piece with the color word in French18. This activity connects the previous analysis of artwork students have done throughout the unit to their own second language use using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). This culminating project would also serve as the final artifact in the students’ EPortfolios19, which they will build throughout the unit. When finished with the fabrication of their own “word art” design, students would then curate their own “art gallery” as a class by hanging their pictures on the walls and walking around describing their classmates’ work using noun/adjective agreement. This task would prevent students from becoming isolated to the grammar and vocabulary they are engaging with in their own project, by allowing them to think about see some other representations of la francophonie in the work of their classmates as well.

To address the presentational speaking standard, students could create a short presentation for the class as an extension activity if time at the end of the unit allows, to describe their own recreation work in French using noun/adjective agreement as well as how it may be different from the artist’s original work. Subsequently, students could independently complete a brief analysis of on of the paintings not analyzed in the unit, including a brief biography of the artist and what that individual’s painting has taught them about Francophone culture.

Overarching Understandings and Questions of the Unit

Students who have received the instruction contained in this unit will take note of the following understandings: (1) La francophonie is a diverse group with a culture that includes a rich history (2) Native French speakers of all ethnicities exist, with the largest part of the demographic being people of color (3) As learners of French, inclusivity of Francophone art history beyond the white, Eurocentric perspective is necessary (4) Themes in Franco-African and Franco-Caribbean art often mirror those that we see in that produced people of color in the Anglophone world  (4) We can apply the target language to discuss and describe Francophone art and express our likes and dislikes about it  (5) Describing objects and people in French is a relevant and transferable skill to describing objects and people in our daily lives

Essential Questions:

  1. Who is part of la francophonie?
  2. What patterns do we notice in the demographics of people around the world who are native French speakers?
  3. Are most well-recognized pieces of French art truly representative of that demographic?
  4. What themes may exist in Francophone paintings that are relevant to us?
  5. How do we apply the target language to discuss and describe Francophone art?
  6. How can we transfer the skill of describing objects and images in the target language to describing them in our everyday lives?
  7. How can we challenge our own stereotypes about Francophone culture and French speakers?

Teaching Strategies

Along with my considerations regarding the theory of language acquisition and art history content, I knew I wanted to create something that utilized the basic methodologies of creating a communicative environment where students felt comfortable making errors and taking risks in the L2. While many programs rely heavily on the use of translation and memorization to convey the meaning of vocabulary and principles of grammar and structure of the target language, I consider both to be tools which can often become a crutch if overused. If students never learn to negotiate meaning in the second language, they will have a difficult time acquiring enough language to fluently express themselves with any level of comprehensibility. Thus, all of the strategies listed below are designed to allow access to content presented in French, with some L1 support where appropriate.

Visual Supports

The discussion texts incorporated in the unit will appear in English and include a strategy vital to any world language classroom: visual support. While identifying colors and writing in simple sentences, by Common Core Standards, are not considered middle school level objectives, the students will have the opportunity for exposure to language in this unit in the form of the titles of various works of art as well as other short primary source texts about the artist themselves. As previously mentioned, Krashen (1981) states that students require comprehensible input in order to increase their language proficiency. This means that information presented in a lesson needs to be i + 1, or just slightly above their ability to comprehend at their present proficiency level. Thus, the texts provided will ultimately accessible through the use of accompanying visual aids, video clips, audio, etc. The images will be hand-selected by the teacher using Google to support student comprehension of the main ideas of any French language texts text at various points.


Hockly & Dudeney (2007) propose three questions to evaluate whether the use of technology is effective for vocabulary instruction with second language learners: “Are we increasing their motivation and engagement?”, “Are we allowing them to practise and produce language in useful ways in class?” and lastly, “Are we giving them the opportunity to take their language learning out of the classroom and have extra exposure to [the target language]?” My content will meet all three of these criteria by providing students with a way to interact meaningfully with language in a way that closely mirrors the ways in which they use it in real life through the use of Lingt20. Lingt is a speaking practice platform that allows students to make short recordings of themselves speaking, which are then posted to a forum within the application that only the students and myself can access. This tool is perfect for learners of French because it has a very simple and user-friendly interface for recording, and includes a feature that allows the teacher to post specific prompts, images, or videos for the students to respond to. Completed responses and privatized. This lowers the affective filter by keeping students’ expressions to short bursts, as well as removing the anxiety of asking students to present their ideas in the traditional whole group presentation.

Total Physical Response

Total Physical Response (TPR) is a pedagogical methodology developed by Asher (1969). This strategy teaches new vocabulary by requiring students to respond physically with gestures, props, etc. to input that they hear in the second language. Asher purports that students are more likely to process and internalize language when they involve a simultaneous response from the central nervous system. Total Physical Response can be as simple as one gesture to indicate the meaning of a verb, or a whole series of commands students must follow to pantomime the actions of characters in a text. 

Authentic Listening

The development of strong listening comprehension skills is crucial to the success of L2 learners. As students spend nearly double the amount of time listening as they do speaking and three times as much time as they do reading or writing, their ability to understand a non-sympathetic native speaker of French determines their success at acquiring proficiency in the target language as much as their ability to produce it. Self-paced listening to authentic source materials is an ideal means of strengthening listening skills. Authentic materials are those featuring native or native-like speakers of the target language created for real-world purposes. For example, a podcast, a Youtube video, an interview on a talk show, etc. By exposing students to authentic listening tasks with the proper scaffolding, we can slowly improve their understanding.  

A wonderful tool to use for this purpose is a program called Edpuzzle21, which allows teachers to assign listening content that includes questions and notes inserted at various points to support comprehension. Teachers can upload a Youtube video, screencast of their own creation, or copy of an assignment made by another teacher on the site. From there the video can be cropped to include only relevant parts, as well as modified to include closed captioning, multiple choice or open-ended questions of the teacher’s design, or inserted notes to clarify content. Videos that include questions can be automatically or self-graded to measure student comprehension. Students can also re-watch (but not skip) sections of the assigned video to review before answering a question. 

Vocabulary Journal

Following the need for meaningful vocabulary use in the second language classroom as detailed above, students will keep a vocabulary journal22 for the words in this unit. Although old-fashioned compared to today’s more “flashy” methods of teaching vocabulary, I have personally found that having students write their own vocabulary list is more effective in ensuring student retention in my practice; The vocabulary journal serves as an anchor for students to reference as they continue to work with the vocabulary in different contexts throughout the unit. Research shows that students need at least 17 different exposures to a new word in order to retain it; by having a vocabulary journal at their disposal at all times, students can regulate their own interactions with the terms.

Classroom Activities

Since the main goal of my classroom is to facilitate the acquisition of language through a communicative approach, students will spend a minimal amount of time as “receptacle” of information and instead use language to examine concepts in a meaningful way and engage their critical thinking skills to process ideas being presented in the second language (L2). The activities will incorporate all four domains of language (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) to ensure that students develop all aspects of their language proficiency throughout the unit.

Coloriage par Code

The method of using a Coloriage par Code incorporates the theory of Total Physical Response as well using use of visual cues to convey meaning. A 2009 study at the University of Kansas concluded that learners of German who used color-coding to discern the patterns of morphological endings in noun/adjective agreement had an enhanced understanding of the target language as well as a higher likelihood of effectively applying the skill communicatively.

Of course, eighth graders still secretly love coloring, despite their attempts to hide it; By evaluating and categorizing noun/adjective phrases with high frequency vocabulary that they have already learned such as des femmes noires, un pomme rouge, un poule blanche, etc. using different shades of highlighter, they can then articulate the rules for the agreement of regular color adjectives based upon whether they are masculine singular, masculine plural, feminine singular, or feminine plural.

Je remarque, Je me demande

As the second part of the unit continues, students will move on to studying paintings from different areas of the Francophone world. Although students will likely have no background on art history from this area of the world, this is a very low-stakes activity which encourages risk-taking and L2 use. As an opening activity, students will view a photograph of a painting by a French-speaking artist. They will view the pictures before being given any information about the historical context or background we are studying. As they do so, they will complete notes for each picture on an “Je remarque, Je me demande” (“I notice, I wonder”) graphic organizer. This worksheet requires students to record their individual observations, as well as any questions they have. The exercise enables students to think critically about the input and utilize inductive reasoning skills, versus traditional deductive instruction. Students will then discuss their responses as a class before the teacher moves into a more direct lesson about the painting.

Small Group Painting Analysis

Utilizing group work in the World Language classroom encourages more student-centered learning which is more likely to produce organic language use rather than teacher-initiated use of the target language. Zhang (2010) discussed the benefits of collaborative work, stating that it, “places responsibility for action and progress on each of the members of the group somewhat equally. Positive role and goal interdependence help students become less dependent upon outside authority.”

Students split into heterogeneous groups to and conduct a round robin to discuss each painting in English using the “je remarque, je me demande” activity where they took notes individually. As they share ideas, they will make a list of any familiar French vocabulary noted in the painting, as well as any words they may need to look up later. They also note any metaphors or ideas they feel that the artist may be trying to convey. The class then reconvenes as a whole group to review what they have said and receive background information from the teacher on the artist, Francophone country of origin, time period, etc.

Color Word Art

Bomgaars et al (2020) studied the effect of VTS on students in the world language classroom. Using the VTS protocol, the teacher presents an image (in this case, a painting) and poses the following three questions to students: What is going on in this picture?, Why do you say that?, What more can we find? The use of VTS has been shown to “be considered an impactful strategy in enhancing students’ language production” in both speaking and writing.

By considering these prompts and then using them to render their own version of the artwork using the color word in place of the actual color in the original, students are applying familiar vocabulary, interpreting new vocabulary used by their peers, and producing output in the L2 to describe their own recreations. The flexibility of color word art also gives students the opportunity to convey their understanding about the art history components of the unit.

Gallery Walk

One of the simplest strategies utilized in this unit is called a gallery walk. Bowman refers to this strategy as, “One of the most versatile learner-centered activities” The students simply circulate through some type of content provided by the teacher, which could be anything from writing, to pictures, to the work of other students. After they have the input, students can interact with it in a variety of ways, for example, completing a graphic organizer (as they will do in my unit), having a class or partner discussion, or adding something to the content of their own creation. Gallery walks encourage students to think critically about the topics being presented to them. They also give second language learners the opportunity to process input receptively before having to respond to it, as they might in other types of strategies such as a socratic seminar. In addition, a gallery walk can be used to introduce new topics as well as review what has been previously learned. 

This part of the unit would also address the interpersonal reading standard which must be met by French I students as per the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Interpersonal language use requiring collaborative dialogue necessitates that learners negotiate for meaning, particularly for students at lower levels of proficiency, which according to research naturally results in self-reflection of language use as well as utilizing peers to help provide unknown vocabulary.


I consider EPortfolios to be an invaluable tool in my classroom because they allow students to consider to evaluate their own perspectives and learning on their own time, without having to share them publicly. Rothe (2023) describes the use of EPortfolios as, “a flexible and versatile pedagogical learning and assessment tool for language educators”. As the teacher, I can see what they learner’s understanding of different topics is and how their view their own learning. The EPortfolio also serves as a way to measure growth of language proficiency over the course of a unit and, ultimately, the school year.

An EPortfolio’s format is at the discretion of the teacher, but can include reflection questions for students to answer, independent activities such as finding and submitting photos of something in their daily life, or noting and explaining new vocabulary they encounter. Each piece of the EPortfolio is completed individually with a certain due date, and further sections are added after each deadline to keep students working in real time, as opposed to completing the entire thing at once. They are typically digital, to allow the teacher ease in offering feedback and comments in one central location, although they could also be done in notebooks depending on the needs of the class.


Academic Standards:

This unit is based upon the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Language’s World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages.23

All four language domains (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) are represented in the classroom activities. Educators teaching this unit may choose to more intently focus on Communication (language acquisition and use), Culture (gaining a stronger understanding of the target culture), Connection (recognizing parallels between cultural practices of the target language and their own), Comparison (comparing and contrasting their own experiences with those of the target language/culture), or Communities (participating in the global diaspora of the target language/culture) as they see fit.

They may also choose to use the language portion of the unit as a review to focus more on Francophone culture, or increase the complexity of the language tasks to accommodate learners with higher levels of proficiency, if desired.


Asher, James J. "The total physical response approach to second language learning." The modern language journal 53, no. 1 (1969): 3-17.

An explanation by Asher of the TPR method of second language instruction, using physical movement and gesture to make language comprehensible to the learner.

Barotovna, Barotova Marifat. "Main Features of Choosing Authentic Materials in Foreign Language Classess." Miasto Przyszłości 28 (2022): 122-124.

An overview of the criteria one must consider when choosing appropriate materials for World Language instruction, including a checklist used to evaluate the other/other material.

Bomgaars, Jill, and Jeremy W. Bachelor. "Visual Thinking Strategies: Exploring Artwork to Improve Output in the L2 Classroom." Online Submission 5, no. 1 (2020): 1-34.

Further explanation on the use of VTS strategies.

Bowman, Sharon L. "The gallery walk: An opening, closing, and review activity." Professional Speaker and Corporate Trainer Bowperson Publishing and Training, Inc. Glenbrok, Nevada. Available at http://bowperson. com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/11/GalleryWalk. pdf. Accessed on March 2 (2005): 2015.

An overview of the Gallery Walk approach to encourage a communicative, student-centered lesson.

Casimir, Laurent. “Combat de Coqs.” Haitian market painting. iArtX. Accessed July 16, 2023.

Access to the above named painted, as mentioned in the unit content.

Casimir, Laurent. “Carnaval Haiti.” Easy Live Auction. Accessed July 17, 2023.

Access to the above named painted, as mentioned in the unit content.

Casimir, Laurent. “Sans-Titre.” Political firing range. Artsy. Accessed July 17, 2023.

Access to the above named painted, as mentioned in the unit content.

Heinzmann, Sybille. "Young language learners' motivation and attitudes." Young Language Learners' Motivation and Attitudes (2013): 1-288.

Further reading on the relationship between the self-perception of language learners and its impact on language acquisition.

Dudeney, Gavin, and Nicky Hockly. "How to teach English with technology." (2007): 25-28.

Further information on incorporating technology into the second language classroom.

Hopkins, Andrew LaMar. “La Belle Nouvelle-Orleans Creole .” New York Times, January 16, 2020.

Access to the above named painted, as mentioned in the unit content.

Kohler, Traute. "Using neurocognitive theory to develop a new approach for teaching German grammar the effect of color-coding German grammar on language acquisition." PhD diss., University of Kansas, 2009.

Research supporting the use of color-coding as a strategy for grammar lessons in the second language classroom.

Krashen, Stephen. "Principles and practice in second language acquisition." (1982).

Krashen, the “father of second language acquisition”, explains his theories on the process of language learning and the pedagogy that supports language development in students.

Krashen, Stephen. "Second language acquisition." Second Language Learning 3, no. 7 (1981): 19-39.

Krashen introduces his hypothesis on language acquisition and details observable behaviors that Indicate language development.

Lewis, Shireen K. Race, Culture, and Identity: Francophone West African and Caribbean

Literature and Theory from Negritude to Creolite. Lexington Books, 2006.

Lewis provides a concise, easy-to-digest history of art and literature in the Francophone world outside of Europe, including the associated political movements and how they have influenced the self-identity of black French-speakers.

Nayeri, Farah. "France vowed to return looted treasures. But few are heading back." New York Times 22 (2019).

Article for student consumption on the repatriation of artwork from France back to former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

N’Diaye, Iba. “La Tabaski (Le Sacrifice Du Mouton).” Artnet.Com, 1970.

Access to the above named painted, as mentioned in the unit content.

Rothe, Lucian, Chiann Karen Tsui, Paul A. García, and Michael B. McCloskey. "Creating Safe Spaces: Diverse Instructional Materials for World Language Learners." NECTFL Review 90 (2023).

Further research on creating an inclusive environment in the second language classroom for all learners by providing a range of representations of native speakers and diverse examples of the people of the target culture.

Rubin, Beth C. "“There's still not justice”: Youth civic identity development amid distinct school and community contexts." Teachers College Record 109, no. 2 (2007): 449-481.

Research supporting the developmental and emotional benefits of incorporating student interaction with and discussion of social issues in the classroom.

Senghor, Léopold Sédar. "Léopold Sédar Senghor." Pan-African History (2003): 169.

Biography of OIF co-founder, author, and former Senegalese president Leopold Senghor, including the full text of his poem, Poème á mon frère blanc.

Surridge, Marie. Le ou La?: The gender of French nouns. Vol. 1. Multilingual Matters, 1995.

Further reading on the important of early master of noun gender and agreement for novice French learners.

Zhang, Yan. "Cooperative language learning and foreign language learning and teaching." Journal of language teaching and research 1, no. 1 (2010): 81-83.

More information on the benefits and applications of cooperative group work in the second language classroom.


1 Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2020 musical, in which Alexander Hamilton’s son Phillip practices his counting in French

2 Further information on the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie

3 Further information on PS DuPont Middle School in Wilmington, Delaware

4 Additional information on the DuPont family, their immigration from France, and their establishment in the Delaware area

5 Full text of Poem to My White Brother

6 Combat de coqs image :

7 Example of using color-coding to teach noun/adjective agreement:

8 Sous-titre image:

9 Carnaval Haiti image:

10 Additional background on Senegalse painter Iba N’Diaye.

11 See page 52 of Race, Culture, and Identity: Francophone West African and Caribbean Literature and Theory from Negritude to Creolite

12 Further reading on artist Andrew LaMar Hopkins

13 Further reading on Franco-Martinician writer, Edouard Glissant

14 La Belle Nouvelle Orleans Creole image :

15 Additional information on the theory of “plausible vs. implausible language selves”

16 Marie-Joseph Angelique image by Black French-Canadian artist Annie Beaugrand-Champagne

17 Laure image by Matinician-French contemporary painter Elizabeth Colomba

18 Basic example of student-created “Word Art”.

19  Further explanation of using EPortfolios in the second language classroom.

20 Lingt recording program website.

21 EdPuzzle video/listening app website.

22 Further information on using vocabulary journals in the second language classroom.

23 American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Language’s Website- World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

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