Un voyage virtuel à Paris: An Authentic Task With Authentic Resources

I had been planning this post for awhile, but now seemed as good a time as any to write it, given the current hot topic of authentic resources on foreign languages teach blogs and Twitter (some blogs that have weighed in with some thoughtful posts:  Language Sensei, Sra. Spanglish, and Martina Bex, among others).

I just finished an activity with my students that I call "Un voyage virtuel à Paris."  This is the third year I have done activity.  I used to do it over the course of two days, but I decided that condensing it into one day would be more practical.  The purpose of the activity is to have students practice telling time, the days of the week, and dates, while navigating authentic websites with both familiar and unfamiliar vocabulary.  To accomplish this, students must imagine they are planning an imaginary trip to Paris for a week.  They must find flights, a hotel, and sites to see.  When they find this information, they record it on their itinerary, using both numbers and and then spelling out the numbers as words (this to reinforce the numbers in French).  I provide detailed instructions to help them navigate the sites, and students are allowed to work together and ask me for help as well if they get stuck.
It's important to make sure students understand before embarking on this "voyage" that these are real sites and that they are not to enter any personal information on them.

Here are some of the sites they visited:

Air France- Students picked a time to travel and made note of when their flights were.  Some students were able to figure out that "Première" meant first class, and went ahead and flew in high style.

Hotels.fr - Students chose a hotel in Paris to stay in and recorded the price.

La Tour Eiffel- This is one of several tourist sites students could visit. They had to pick a time to visit when it was open and determine the price.

Other sites students could visit:

One year, I also had the students plan a trip by train to Versailles on SNCF, but, as this step proved rather frustrating and time consuming for the students, I have since eliminated it.

The day following the activity, I had students discuss what they learned (in English...a rarity!).  It was nice to hear the students comment that they felt better about larger numbers, days of the week, and dates.  They also mentioned that it helped them feel more confident that they can navigate these websites even without understanding every word on them. Every year, I make some changes to the activity.  For next year I thought it might be a good idea to give the students an imaginary budget, to make it more authentic.  This activity can be as simple or as complex as you have time for.  If you wanted to extend it further, you might consider having students plan meals at restaurants.  See my posts here and here about restaurant menus.

There are so many ways you can take this activity, and I'd like to hear what you would do with it!  How might you change or improve this activity before taking it to your own classroom?

20 Authentic Restaurant Menus from Francophone Countries

About a month ago I shared my scavenger hunt using Google Maps to explore real Parisian restaurants.  While I love having students explore Paris this way, I also like to use the more detailed menus to teach with.  Some ways I use menus:  Ask students to discuss what they want and how much it costs or have students answer questions about the items on the menu for homework or on a test.

Below are some menus I've used in my classroom along with some others I've added for more variety.  You'll notice that not only are there a variety of countries and continents represented, but also the type of food contains quite a range.  I'll admit that I do show my students McDonald's and other fast food menus.  While they are not the healthiest places to eat, I show students what McDonald's is like in France - how it looks different and offers different menu items.  It helps dispel the myth that the French eat only haute cuisine, and helps them understand how an American concept like fast food has been adapted to suit French tastes.  Additionally, many of the items on the menu are cognates, making it an easier menu to comprehend.  The varying currencies on the menus open up an opportunity to discuss more than just the Euro.

The menus with stars are better suited for intermediate or advanced students, and the ones without stars are especially useful for novice students.

  1. African Village Hotel, Djibouti
  2. La Banquise, Montréal, Québec
  3. Café Be, Printemps, Paris
  4. Chameleon, Paris*
  5. Le Cochon Dingue, Québec
  6. Le Cochon Dingue (Carte Lunch Weekend), Québec
  7. Le Coco's, Tahiti, Polynésie française*
  8. Complètement Toqué, Bastogne, Belgique*
  9. La Croissanterie, France
  10. Déli-cieux, Printemps, Paris (a café on the roof of Printemps)
  11. La Grillardière, Casablanca, Maroc
  12. Hôtel DuPeyrou, Neuchâtel, Suisse*
  13. Le Mabouya, Sainte-Luce, Martinique*
  14. McDonald's, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France
  15. Paillaird, Québec, Québec*
  16. Pause et Vous (Page 1, Page 2), Lyon France
  17. Le Piano, Porticcio, Corse, France*
  18. Rapide Pizza, Six-Fours-Les-Plages, France
  19. Restaurant Farid, Dakar, Sénégal
  20. Au Stade, Antananarivo, Madagascar
I've also placed these items on a Google Map:

View Des restaurants francophones in a larger map

40 Fantastic Blog Posts from 2013

Happy New Year from the French Corner!  If you're on school break and need a little reading material, I've rounded up some of my favorite blog posts from the last year (in no particular order).  These posts range from news stories on the benefits of learning another language to cultural vignettes to ideas for the foreign language classroom.  You'll also find my top five posts of the year.

  1. Not a Cliché:  The French Love Their Bread from My French Life
  2. Authentic Input Versus Grammar Drills:  A Case Study from Cecilelaine
  3. Drawing and Gesturing:  Keep Your Students Engaged in Listening from Cecilelaine
  4. The Importance of Learning Foreign Languages from Montana Public Radio
  5. Your Mind on Languages:  How Bilingualism Boosts Your Brain from Huffington Post
  6. Gallery Walk from The Comprehensible Classroom
  7. Being Bilingual:  The Neuroplastic Workout from Livingbilingual
  8. Letting Go of the Vocabulary List from Amy Lenord
  9. The Conversation Circle from Amy Lenord
  10. 15 Fun Collaboration Activities for World Language Teachers from Calico Spanish (a #langchat summary)
  11. Speaking a Second Language Delays Dementias... from NBC News Health
  12. Putting the FL in STEM from Transparent Language
  13. Peer Editing for Success from Oodles and Gobs
  14. 14 Haunting And Magnificent Vintage Photos Of Paris At Night from BuzzFeed
  15. World Languages Students Are Poppleting from Langwitches Blog
  16. I've Got a New Way to Write from The Comprehensible Classroom
  17. Exciting Syllabi from The Creative Language Class
  18. World Languages, Facebook, Pinterest, Culture and Literacy from My Languages
  19. Reading in French from Changing Phases
  20. Thinking in a Foreign Language: How to Do It and Why from Lingholic
  21. Authentic Resources + Embedded Reading from Señorita Barragán
  22. Picture Prompts from Elmundodebirch
  23. The Right & Wrong Way To Use Technology For Learning from TeachThought
  24. Fantastique French Work with StoryBird from MFL Tomlinscote
  25. The Quick Sketch & Share – Interactive Homework Review from Language Sensei
  26. Extend Your Discussion from The Comprehensible Classroom
  27. Using Google Apps to Make Interactive Stories from eTools for Language Teachers
  28. Présentations : commençons par le commencement from Territoires des Langues
  29. Translated film titles - a languages game from Dom's MFL Page
  30. Beginning of the Year: Getting to know you game from Maris Hawkins
  31. Tout le monde qui... from Je m'appelle Madame
  32. 7 familles + une from Territoires des Langues
  33. Ideas to Get Your Students to Your Site on Day 1 (or 2 or 3…) from Language Sensei
  34. Teaching Activities Created in Mentormob and EdCanvas from 3 Rs 4 Teachers
  35. Using Infographics to Promote Your Department from Ritzforeignlang
  36. Grade 5 French Stories from French at RCS Elementary
  37. Get 'Em On Their Feet from The Creative Language Class
  38. J'adore la musique francophone from Les Chevaliers du Château des Champions
  39. Design a Worksheet Homework from Frenchteacher
  40. Class Project: Reasons to Study a Foreign Language from Classroom Creativities

And to top the list off, here were my top five most viewed posts of 2013:

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