Course rationale

The Modern Languages and Linguistics Department at UMBC is dedicated to the teaching of Foreign Languages in their cultural context. Thus, in the French Area, we believe that our students should interact, via authentic documents, with French-speakin g society in its daily reality.
French 303 is a special topic course whose purpose is to create the instructional modules that guide the students through different aspects of the French society or the Francophone world of today. French 303 will help the students explore the meaning of growing up in France in 1996.
Effective culture-based French courses on modern French society should take advantage of the information-transfer systems provided by the latest technologies: satellite TV, and current video texts, but also the new information databases offered through I nternet.
Focusing on French Youth Today, this course will also address some methodological problems that the student frequently encounters when using authentic FL documents .

Target population

French 303 is a "special topic" undergraduate course designed for implementation in the French Language program at UMBC. It is suitable for participants who:

Course description

In this French 303 course, you will learn about the environment and the value systems that French young people hold today. This course is built on different modules corresponding to specific topics such as family, health, relationships, education, the jo b market, but also entertainment, sports and leisure.
This course will be based mostly on very current authentic documents: newspaper and magazine articles, video texts or TV programming, and the World-Wide Web.

specific initial requirements

A basic training in E-mail and Internet navigation is necessary. The first two initial sessions will be conducted by the Center for Language Initiative technician and myself.
At the end of these two sessions, you will be requested to:

Notes about the Internet

French 303 should have launched its home page by mid-January. This home page, easily accessible, will be your gateway to the Net. A series of Hyperlinks will connect you to a selection of French servers.
Our technical assistant will explain basic procedures and offer a "Hands on" session on how to navigate on the Net, to download materials, to save documents as text files, or to print a hardcopy for immediate use. Technical guidance will be available thr oughout the entire semester.
Computers stations are available in the Multimedia Center. The Center director, Joan Costello, can provide assistance with any questions and/or difficulties you may have.

Required text:

Welcomme, Geneviève & Willerval, Claire (1994) Juniorscopie. Paris: Larousse, 1993.

Class schedule:

French 303 will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 11:15 am.

Attendance policy:

Participants are expected to attend every class and are also expected to arrive on time, so that we may start promptly. If you must miss a session, you are expected to let me know in advance. You may do so by leaving a message at the MLL office or by se nding an E-mail message to my box.

Grading policy:

All assignments should be turned in on time. Late assignments will be marked down one letter grade for each week they are late. There will be no incomplete given in this class.

Participant Evaluation:

Your grade will be computed as follows:
Participation and attendance: 20%
Oral presentation: 15%
Portfolio: 25%
Written report: 25%
Article: 15%


Office: 148B ACIV
Office phone: 455-2600
Main office phone: 455- 2109
E-Mail: devernei @

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Terminal objectives

After completion of French 303 special Topic, French Youth Today, participants should be
able to:

? when given a topic to analyze on today's France, locate without any hesitation five different sources of current authentic documents. These five sources must include both electronic and at least three other kinds of information data systems.

? once initiated to accessing Internet and when given a topic to analyze on French Youth today, identify the location of proper information on at least 5 different Internet sites. Pertinent data means any data that directly relates or inter relates with the given topic.

? once initiated to accessing Internet and E-mail, demonstrate the proper use of authentic documents by preparing a portfolio on at least one topic of choice. The portfolio must be 50 pages long, reflect at least five different s ources of materials, five different Internet sites and be organized in sub-topics.

? when given an authentic text, decode the terminology specific to authentic documents without having to rely on a dictionary. To be satisfactory, the decoding must be correct at least 7 at of 10 times.

? when doing an oral presentation, explain verbally at least 4 aspects of a topic of choice in the context of France today. This presentation must be concise and short (no more than 12 minutes) and the aspects chosen must be essential to th e topic.

? given any writing support materials necessary, demonstrate thematic comprehension by writing a short essay on different but interrelated topics on French Youth today (e.g. education and the work place). The essay shou ld be 5-6 pages long. It should include an introduction, a cross-topic reflexion and a conclusion.

? given any writing support materials necessary and the opportunity to self correct, demonstrate information processing skills by writing a short publishable article on the topic of choice (4-5 pages). This article should be error free at a rate of 90% or above and include terminology typically used with authentic documents.

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course structure

French 303 French Youth Today relies heavily on videotexts as means of teaching thematic features. Thus, the course is divided in modules which , for the most part, articulate around videotexts designed to build up the semantic background ne cessary to any topical study.. Each module represents one week workload. Every other week, we will read one newspaper or magazine article on the topic under discussion.
At the beginning of each class, we will briefly discuss the current socio-polical events reported from Radio France Internationale and read daily on Frognet.
At the end of the semester, you will present an exposé of a topic of your choice in the context of France today.

special features

Module I, " getting started"
has been specially designed to help you through a few technical aspects involved with using E-mail and Internet.
It will also help you to learn how to process authentic documents in French.

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your portfolio

At the beginning of the semester, you will choose one topic of choice
among the topics studied in class. All semester long, you will gather various documents that will constitute your research background information..

To receive full credit, this portfolio must contain:

your written report

This project will help you contextualize your topic in two ways: within the setting of French society and in relationship to at least another topic. Exemple, with Health as a chosen topic, one may select to study : family and health issues, education an d health, health and leisure, etc. This written report must include an introduction, a cross-topic reflexion and a conclusion.
This paper should be at least 5 to 6 pages long, 12pt font and double spaced.
It will be due on the last day of class.

your oral presentation

Each student will present his/her research in the chosen topic in class.
To get full credit, this presentation will explain at least 4 different and essential aspects of the topic in the context of France today. Your oral presentation map must be put on a tranparent. You will also provide one resume sheet that will be distributed to other participants. Your presentation should last between 10 and 12 minutes and will take place in Module 12-13.

your article

In order to synthesize what has been learned in this course, you will write a short publishable article on your topic of choice. This article should be at least 4-5 pages long. It will give a precise description and analysis of your subject in the 1996 France and use terminology specific to authentic documents.

You must use computer-assisted writing tools such as Système D ( a software program that facilitates the process of writing in French) or any other means to control the quality of this article. The end product should be basically error free (only 10% mistakes allowed).
This paper will be due at the end of module 11. I will read and underline mistakes to let you rewrite another version if you so choose. This last version will be due on the last day of class.
The best papers will be published on the course home page..


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Week one
Module 1: Getting started

Using E-mail; accessing the Net; the authentic document
Homework: 1. Read daily the RFI news and be ready to answer questions on your
next class.
2. Read in Juniorscopie pp. 8- 16 ; pp. 50-58
Handout: 3. Read "sans pères et sans repères", Le Nouvel Observateur du 2-8 novembre 1995.

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Week two
Module 2: Topic: Family structures

A. Introduction. Video: Family ties.
B. Focus: analysis and discussion of "sans père et sans repères".
Homework: 1. Read daily the RFI news.
2. Read in Juniorscopie, pp. 18-45.
Hand out: 3. Read in L'Express, November 3 1994 " Les canettes du désespoir", p.31.

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Week three
Module 3: Topic: Health issues

A. Introduction. Video: contraception and Aids prevention in secondary schools .
B. Video: on substance abuse.
Homework: 1. Read daily the RFI news.
2. Read Juniorscopie, pp- 64-68.
Handout: 3. Read " Le doc: Parlez-leur d'amour", pp 24-27.

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Week four
Module 4: Topic: On relationships.

A. Video: on love and relationships.
B. Focus: analysis and discussion of "parlez-leur d'amour".
Homework: Read RFI news.
Read in Juniorscopie : "l'après-bac", pp.130-132.

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Week five

Module 5: Topic: The Education system I

A. Video: the university in question
B. Video: the CIP (Post High School diplomas and the government reform)
Homework: Read RFI news.
Handouts: Read in L'Express, November 3 1994, pp. 36-40.
Read in Le Point, " La vérité qui fait peur", 25 novembre 1995, pp.30-34.

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Week six
Module 6: Topic: The Education system II

A. Video: Young people speak to the government
B. Focus: Higher education in crisis. Analysis and discussion of "la vérité qui fait peur".
Homework: Read RFI news.
Handout: Read Le Figaro Magazine," ce qu'attendent les jeunes", pp. 40-44.

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Week seven
Module 7: Topic: the economic factor

A. Video: social crisis
B. Video: the suburbs
Homework: Read RFI news.
Handouts: Read in Le Nouvel Observateur, June 21 1995, pp. 4-12.
November 8, 1995 pp.4-9

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Week eight
Module 8: Topic: Value system/ beliefs I

A. Video: l'Islam en France
B. Video: Taize
Homework: Read RFI news.
Read in Juniorscopie, pp. 159-166.
Read "les voies de la citoyenneté". L'Express, November 3, 1994, pp.33-35.

Week nine
Module 9: Topic: Value system/ beliefs II

A. Video: the national service
B. Focus: French attitudes on politics . Analysis and discussion of "les voies de la citoyenneté"
Homework: Read RFI news.

Week ten
Module 10: Topic: "Speaking young"

A. Video: the language of Youth
B. Text: "Une pouffe de notre temps" (Le Nouvel Observateur du 16-22 novembre 1995).
Homework: Read RFI news.
Read in Juniorscopie, pp. 181-203.

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Week eleven
Module 11. Topic: "Leisures"

A. Audiotext: Renaud dans "Laisse béton"
B. Video: some French singers
Homework: Read RFI news.

your article's first draft is due

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Week twelve
Module 12:
Class presentations
Homework: Read RFI news.

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Week Thirteen
Module 13:
Class presentations
Homework: Read RFI news.

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Week fourteen
Module 14:
Conclusion and comments

your portfolio, your written report and article's final version are due.