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Planning an Imaginary Vacation in France
Bonnie Griffin
Vanderbilt University
April 13, 2018
French
Novice (low, mid, high)
One class period
Website
No Costs Involved

When designing this project, my primary goal was to introduce students to authentic, up-to-date materials, and to provide students with the necessary tools to complete real-life, practical tasks using these materials. Our class was learning about the different kinds of housing options French people typically enjoy while on holiday, and I wanted students to get a better idea of what these options looked like beyond photos and descriptions in their textbook.

I chose the website Abritel, which looks very familiar to anyone who uses Airbnb or similar websites to find vacation housing. While the website contains plenty of vocabulary that would be unfamiliar to students, the familiar format combined with their level of vocabulary was more than sufficient to navigate the website.

Simply showing students authentic text isn't enough; there need to be clearly articulated goals, and appropriate amounts of scaffolding to provide students with tools to complete meaningful tasks. My goals for this project were twofold: firstly, I wanted students to feel confident navigating an authentic French vacation planning website and successfully organize a holiday they would be excited to go on. Secondly, I wanted students to practice recently acquired vocabulary, and gain valuable practice using the future tense and the subjunctive, both of which can prove challenging for beginner students.

To guide my students, I designed a worksheet, which I attached. First, students explore the various kinds of housing options, and they choose (as a group) the kind that most interests them. For example, many students chose to look at apartments with pools. Then, students consulted a list of currently available apartments, homes, or rooms, and chose one that appealed to them. The attractive design of the website, which features eye-catching photos, helps motivates students to explore their options. The rest of the worksheet guides students through describing the specific location they chose, imagine what activities they will do there, and what they need to pack or prepare before their trip.

My teaching experience has taught me that insufficient preparation for activities leaves students confused and frustrated, but lesson plans that provide helpful structures and gradually prepare students to complete tasks makes students feel capable and more eager to participate. For this activity, students took on a major task, that of planning a vacation in France, but the task itself was broken down into clear, manageable steps. This mindful structuring, combined with a website that provides not only authentic, but genuinely attractive material, resulted in a fun, dynamic, and productive class!

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