Podcasts are great!! I recently explored a few and found them to be GREAT listening comprehension tools for the classroom. You can find podcasts to meet almost every level as well although I think they may be better suited for high school levels since most of the conversations in the podcasts are fluid and continuous which could be more stressful to 7th and 8th grade levels, (or lower!)
Daily French Pod is a great site which offers an array of podcasts with REAL native French speakers in them. The few that I listened to all contained the same main French man, Louis as the main narrator. You can tell he is truly French and he spoke very slow in review sections and reiterated vocabulary and used different terms to explain the given vocabulary. This is an excellent podcast site!
French ETC is another site you can use to find interesting French podcasts, many of which are in the form of video so that provides a more alluring visual for the students. I listened/ watch the Au Cafe video and it was excellent! The French was much faster however so this video may be better suited for an upper level French class but could still be used for lower levels if you greatly modified the lesson and instruction. Edith Piaf, a very famous French singer sang in the background which could also be pointed out to the students during learning.
The podcast I chose to use to show an example lesson with is the Daily French J’ecris podcast. This podcast was only about 5 minutes long and contained some great vocabulary with one of the key phrases for teaching being “EN TRAIN DE”. (In the process of…) This would be of course a listening comprehension exercise aimed at a high-school level French. The questions could be modified depending on the level. For my purposes, I am going to pretend this was a 10th grade class. For this activity, I would first explain in French what they would be listening to, a French man who narrates the situation and then a very short conversation between he and a woman discussing what she is doing. I would provide follow along questions and fill-in the blank type questions for the students to complete while listening. I would plan to play the recording at least twice. The first time, students would be told to focus on listening and taking notes on the back of their sheet on what they heard. The second time, students would attempt to answer questions, and fill in exercises. The third and final time, if needed, would be played for students to finalize any missing information. Some of the questions could be answered after listening, using knowledge they gained from hearing it three times and from their overall comprehension. The follow-along questions would look something like the following:
1. Qu’est-ce que Marie fait au bureau?
2. A QUI est-ce que Marie veut envoyer (ce qu’elle fait) ?
3. Est-ce qu’elle va bien?
MARIE: Mais non…, j’ai “____________ ______ ___________”
4. Où est-qu’elle va envoyer (ce qu’elle fait)?
5. Pourquoi est-ce que Marie fait ce qu’elle fait? Pour quelle raison?
Les expressions: Ecrivez les expressions semblables où nécessaire.
Définition: EN TRAIN DE-___(In the process of)__________
Que fais-tu? =____(Qu’est-ce que tu fais?)______________
Tu es sur(e)? =_____(tu es certain(e)?)________________
Je vais très bien. = ___(Ça va très bien)____, ____’J’ai toute ma tête.”__
La mer = _____(L’Océane)______
Comme ca. = _____(Sans aucun but)___, ___(Pour le plaisir)___
For the second section, I would explain to the students that they were to write in similar expressions that mean the same thing IN FRENCH. The definition for “En train de” would be discussed as a class.
My main goals for this activity would be for students to be able to:
1. use their knowledge of French to comprehend what is being spoken in the recording in order to successfully answer the 5 questions.
2. use their listening comprehension skills in French to find like expressions of phrases or words. If they are unable to do so, I would hope they can use their knowledge of French to find similar expressions from their PRIOR knowledge in French, not necessarily the phrases mentioned in the recording.
3. use the expression EN TRAIN DE accurately in at least 3 sentences.
As homework, students would write THREE sentences using the expression EN TRAIN DE.
Depending on the level of the class, I may save the following follow-up activity for 11th grade classes but I do personally think it could still for for 10th graders:
Students would write a letter meant to be sent to an unknown person, just as Marie did, with the intention to put it in a bottle and send it off to the ocean. Instead, this letter would randomly be given to another student in the class. (I would put all the letters in a box and students would randomly pick one. Students would be told to glance at it first to make sure they did not pick their own.) I would also count to make sure that every student would get a letter. If say two students did not hand in their letters, they would still be required to pick a letter but I would write letters myself to make sure there were enough letters for every student.
Later on, the class would read their letters from the unknown student aloud to the class. Therefore, students would be well informed that these letters they were to write would be read aloud so they should be sure to do a good job on them. As a class, we could openly guess who we thought wrote each letter. It could be difficult, and the student who’s letter was being read aloud would NOT be required to admit it was their letter being read. The directions for these letters would be pretty open ended. They would have the leisure to write about any topic, (as long as it was appropriate) and pretend they were whoever they wanted to be, (They could pretend they were Leonardo DiCaprio writing this letter, as long as they did not put down their real name.) The letters would need to contain:
-The expression EN TRAIN DE
-At LEAST 8 FULL sentences. (For example: “Oui”, “merci”, “Bonjour.” “C’est bon” do not count as FULL sentences)
-Le Passe compose, (at least twice)
-A signing off of sorts: They would not need to leave a name, but at bare minimum, they would need to leave “un inconnu” or “Une personne (ADJ.-amoureuse, contente, mechante, rigolo…etc…)”
They would need to print the letter and make TWO copies of it, one to be sent out anonymously to another student and another with their REAL name written on the back, for the teacher’s copy, (so the teacher could grade it).
I think it would be a really fun activity and a good way for students to practice their speaking skills when reading their letters aloud. I hope to do this activity one day and I will certainly be using podcasts in class for listening comprehension practices!!