Le Littéraire dans le quotidien
Joanna Luks, Cornell University
Pub Date: 2015
ISBN 13: 978-1-9379630-6-4
Conditions of Use
Le Littéraire dans le quotudien offers instructors and students a set of tools that will help them to use readings and culture in lower division read more
Le Littéraire dans le quotudien offers instructors and students a set of tools that will help them to use readings and culture in lower division courses. The textbook does offer a fairly comprehensive approach to the readings, offering readings for the first year, with each main reading comprising a chapter of the text. These chapters are established in phases, to help orient the reader with the theme of the reading and to push the reader to continue and engage with the language. The stages are as follows; Préparation, Première lecture, Regardez de plus près, and Allons plus loin.
The content of the textbook appears to unbiased, the readings draw from a variety of sources (poetry, short story, blog posts, etc.) but they do not seem to convey and particular ideology or bias.
Since the reading passages within Le Littéraire dans le quotidien were chosen for way in which they represent the French language and culture, the information contained within should be fairly pertinent in years (decades) to come. At particular risk, however, is the chapter on technology. The reading itself is fairly timeless, but some of the ancillary material presents terms that may become outdated.
The structure of the chapters in Le Littéraire dans le quotidien is such that each begins with a presentation in English, in an effort to orient the reader with the ideas to follow. Subsequent sections are fairly easy to understand. As it is noted in the introductory sections, there is no answer key to the readings. One advantage to this is that instructors will need to read the passages as well, forcing them to resolve anything that they may have found unclear during in-class sessions.
This textbook remains consistent (in format and substance) throughout the chapters presented.
Each chapter can be used as a stand-alone module for a first or even second-year French course. The text itself would not be a good stand-alone book for a first-year course, but it can serve as a dedicated reading/writing text to compliment speaking and listening.
The textbook is logically organized, though some chapter could be switched around with little to no disturbance to the flow of the material.
Within Le Littéraire dans le quotidien, there are often several hyperlinks per chapter to external sites and sources. A few of these are no longer active or have since been moved. Everything within the textbook .pdf (images, text passages) was clear and discernible.
I did not see any noticeable errors in grammar (French or English).
The passages in Le Littéraire dans le quotidien are primarily drawn from a French centered framework. By incorporating more francophone individuals, it could enrich the cultural relevance of the text as a whole. However, this was not the aim of this project. Nevertheless, build within the project is the opportunity for others to create additional chapters/modules, making it possible for those who may wish to have another French-speaking culture represented, to do so and to share it with others.
I anticipate that I will be using some of the readings, activities, and discussion from this textbook. While I do not recall it being specified in the preface, I feel this textbook is best suited for a face-to-face course, and it would benefit from some modifications for those who wish to integrate some of the material into an online French course.
The text does what is sets out to do, namely it offers students a new, literary-infused way of developing their reading/writing skills. Although some read more
The text does what is sets out to do, namely it offers students a new, literary-infused way of developing their reading/writing skills. Although some opportunities exist for incorporating listening and speaking activities, these are not overall the focus of this text. There are numerous resources offered for supplemental texts and/or the study of grammatical points, however the grammar is not explained in the pages of this textbook. The instructor would have to provide extra materials detailing grammatical concepts.
Excellent choice of reading/writing activities. The original pieces of text are in French, while the prompts, indications, explanations, are in English. Clear, easy to follow language throughout.
The textbook proposes a fresh take on the acquisition of reading/writing skills: inductive reasoning, student-led exploration of linguistic resources, authentic texts and tasks, development of interpersonal and intrapersonal writing modes. The chapters are easy to use independently, to be reorganized according to the proposed learning objectives.
The author does a good job of presenting new grammatical terms and of explaining literary forms. New concepts are briefly explained, with examples, and guidance is offered for supplementary reading/resources.
The same pedagogical sequencing is used for reading/writing activities throughout the textbook. These steps take students from making inferences about the author/text to a first reading, followed by a session of social or collaborative reading, to a close reading of the texts' linguistic, stylistic nuances. The last stage of the reading task is designed to offer a more in-depth interpretation of the text, while preparing students for the ensuing writing task.
Modular use of the chapters is possible to fit a diverse range of courses and teaching styles.
The sequencing of chapters and topics follows an increasing level of complexity/difficulty. Within the chapters, the reading activity precedes the writing of the first draft, followed in turn by peer editing before a final version is reached.
The text is free from errors or distortions, easy to read and work with.
There are no grammatical errors.
The text approaches the French and Francophone culture from different angles and guides students in their discovery of new modes of seeing/thinking. From poems to blog posts and from fairy tales to love letters, French culture is explored and explained.
With its approach of teaching the language/culture through the literary, the textbook could be successfully used in second year French courses. While the reading and writing are beautifully presented, with plenty of in-class and outside-of-class practice ideas, the teacher will need to compensate for the lack of aural/oral practice to ensure all 4 skills are worked on. The language of the textbook and that required in many of the activities is English. It would be difficult to use this textbook in an all-French classroom context, where the target language is used at all times. Certain grammatical concepts are presented briefly, in passing, which means that the instructor would have to provide explanations and examples/exceptions, as needed.
The text covers most topic covered in an beginner and/or iintermediate. A lot of the topics are in a logical order and/or have a communicative read more
The text covers most topic covered in an beginner and/or iintermediate. A lot of the topics are in a logical order and/or have a communicative connection. However, there are some topics that seem to be awkwardly placed which makes it hard for professors to teach them. For example, chapter 1 and 2 can be used in my French 101 course, but chapter 3 can only be used in my French 102 course. Chapter 1A corresponds to chapter 1 of my course and Chapter 1B corresponds to chapter 2 of my course. However, chapter 3 and 6 both correspond to topics that I cover in French 102, chapter 8.
I did not see any errors
I actually did learn a few things from this text. The contents are very excellent and relevant to how students should be using the language.
Great! Language is understandable for beginning students, but challenges students to learn new terms and phrases.
Excellent. However, there is no clear theme of this text. It seems to be a mixture of forms of art, but I am not 100% clear.
It is very easy to divide and edit this book to my liking, however, the topic arrangement is very award.
Topics could be easier to move around. There are certain chapter that can easily move then there are others that cannot. Try doing a content analysis of textbooks to see the order they typically present grammar and restructure this text to match that format.
This book is entirely too eurocentric and this is the main reason that I will not be using it. It also has multiple negative aspect that contribute to students hidden curriculum of cultural knowledge. While the cultural topics are interesting they are hoesntly not relevant to my students. I do not think any of them (except the art majors) care about graffiti. Dually, there is no reason that Martin Luther King Jr and Maya Angelou are mentioned in this text, but not Maryse Condé, Aimé Césaire, Leopald Senghor, Alexandre Dumas, Raphael Confiant, MAriama Ba and others from the Caribbean and Africa-- where they actually speak French!
Excellent text overall, I think with some editing, and piloting, and curriculum alignment this will be an excellent contribution to teaching material in French! There are not many of these out there, but teaching are constantly looking for a way to have students apply the grammar in a meaningful context.
This book was designed to complement first and second year language programs with a series of increasingly more challenging reading and writing read more
This book was designed to complement first and second year language programs with a series of increasingly more challenging reading and writing exercises. While direct instruction of grammar is not the focus, each chapter reinforces different grammatical concepts by asking students to engage with them via the texts presented. Therefore, Le Littéraire dans le quotidien could serve as a companion book to another OER book, such as Le Français Interactif (which is referenced at several points), that covers language and grammar instruction. It could also be adapted to accompany other textbooks that introduce French students to basic grammar. Globally, I was impressed by the textbook's comprehensiveness. Le Littéraire dans le quotidien provides a thorough introduction to a variety of literary and popular genres such as poetry, instructional texts, travel writing, memoir, blog posts, jokes, letters, and aphorisms. Each piece of writing is contextualized with information about the author and time period, explanations of genre conventions, and a series of exercises that guide French language students through the reading and writing process. Thus, students have the opportunity to become more analytical readers as they annotate, discuss, and write responses to the text. Then they can further hone their writing skills by composing a creative text that responds or builds upon the genre highlighted in each section. LFDLQ could, however, benefit from a reference section with overviews of grammatical points so that it could function as a stand-alone text.
I did not notice any instances of error or inaccuracy. One of the book's strengths is that it presents a variety of different registers, which I see as contributing to an accurate representation of the French language in its diverse usages. For example, in Chapter 1, the author presents the use of nouns as adjectives (e.g. Moi, je suis très café, mais lui, il est plutôt thé"). While this usage fairly common among native speakers, it is unusual to see it included in a textbook. I also liked that Luks proposes both formal and informal versions of everyday expressions (e.g. Ce n'est pas grave v. Pas de problème or Comment/Pardon v. Hein/Quoi?). On the other end of the spectrum, Chapter 10 familiarizes students with the passé simple, which is featured in Perrault's version of "Le Petit Chaperon Rouge." Generally speaking, the range of source material insures variety in register.
I found this book to be extremely culturally relevant and, consequently, high in interest. Since it was published fairly recently (2013), it does not suffer from the painfully dated references that plague many textbooks. Nor does it rely too heavily on allusions to "current events" that will no longer be current within a year's time. Aside from the pictures of authors, there are a limited number of photographs of people that would tie the book to the era of its creation. Instead, many of the images selected for the book are abstract and artistic in nature; thus, they lend themselves well to longevity. When the need arises, the text will be easy to update. The author also anticipates that certain links included in the texts may eventually cease to function and provides search terms in case this should happen.
Le Littéraire dans le quotidien is written in clear, accessible prose. Even though the book asks students to do sophisticated work as readers and writers, it does not burden them with excessive jargon in the process. It provides the appropriate terminology, furnishes lucid definitions, and helps students to assimilate the information through the use of well-chosen examples and follow-up questions.
The book provides a consistent format. First, students complete reading exercises (both individually and collaboratively) organized around 1-3 short texts. Then, they do writing exercises inspired by the genre of the the text they have just read. Finally, they fine-tune their work through peer-editing. As outlined in the table of contents, each chapter targets a form of "cultural knowledge and mindset" while also reinforcing "language use and strategies." The tasks students are asked to do vary in difficulty from chapter to chapter but generally remain level-appropriate. While the explanatory texts and questions are written in English in the beginning chapters, the textbook transitions towards additional use of French in the latter chapters.
I found this book's layout to be very attractive and user friendly. Information is presented in small chunks, with effective use of white space to allow the reader to mentally digest the material and annotate texts in the margins. Colored font sets off titles and key points, and text boxes highlight important pieces of information. The text is also image rich, with carefully selected artwork that reiterates the chapters' themes and acts as another point of entry for the material. On a similar note, the cover pages for each chapter were quite striking and would lend themselves to discussion. I also appreciated that the text includes links to relevant YouTube videos that present modern adaptations of some of the works (Le Hareng saur by Charles Cros, for example) as well as other authentic resources. While the format for each chapter is the same, each separate piece stands alone. It would be very easy to use select portions of LLDLQ in an intermediate language class or even a special topics course, such as "Business French."
The text is organized logically and designed to align with students' progress through a traditional grammar book. That said, I did, at times, question the sequencing. While I found the activities based on Proust's questionnaire and Le portrait chinois to be high in interest and potentially very enjoyable for students, I think they would work better later in the book. Some of the model responses are somewhat sophisticated and use grammatical structures and vocabulary that would be inaccessible for most true beginners. If I were to use this textbook, I would probably do the "autoportrait" exercise from Chapter 4 before the questionnaire/portrait chinois since it is is not as abstract and could easily be written entirely in the present tense.
I did not encounter any interface issues. The user guide that precedes the first chapter offers very clear instructions about how to use Google docs and forewarns of the potential formatting issues that can result when a Google doc is exported or saved as a Word document.
I did not encounter any grammatical errors, either in English or French.
Luks makes an effort to include a diverse range of texts and authors from different time periods, backgrounds, religions, and political orientations. In this respect, I especially appreciated Chapter 6 which examined the work of a Franco-Tunisian calligrafitti artist, El Seed, alongside of aphorisms and slogans from Mai '68. The author's choice to include a short excerpt from Kristin Ross's monograph on the strikes of '68 emphasizes that the political dimensions of the movement and workers' engagement in the strikes have been softened in French public memory, much in the way that Martin Luther King, Jr. has been de-politicized in American public memory. The excerpts from Chroniques de la dérive douce by Haitian author and Canadian national Dany Laferrière also add a more transnational dimension to the textbook. Most of the selections, however, are written by canonical French authors. Additional efforts to include work by Francophone authors could benefit this work. For example, the section that deals with fairy tales and fables could easily be paired a short "conte" by Patrick Chamoiseau or Cajun and Creole folktales from Louisiana collected by Jean Arceneaux. Engagement with issues of gender, sexuality, and disability could add another layer of cultural relevance to this text.
At first I was skeptical about the book's format because it assumes the regular use of English in class and incorporates translation exercises. Admittedly, this approach runs somewhat counter to my training and usual methods as a language teacher. The benefit, however, from diverging from the full immersion model is that it creates space for students to develop another level of critical awareness about the target culture and their own. On a practical level, I would be interested to know how this text is combined with a more traditional grammar-based class since curricular demands often edge out enrichment activities at the early levels. A sample syllabus would be a useful resource to link to. Personally, I can imagine this book working well as a creative writing course for intermediate level students. Overall, I found that Le Littéraire dans le quotidien offered an inventive approach to the study of literary texts that encourages students to develop a more sophisticated awareness of themselves as language learners. I also appreciated the wide range of texts included and the attention accorded to how contexts and conventions shape a piece of writing's meaning and reception. The primary documents in the final chapter (journal entries and correspondence from a French prisoner of war during WWII) are particularly worthy of note
Table of Contents
1a. What’s in a name?
2. Un portrait chinois
3. Envie de voyager
4. Respect et verité
5. Un peu de hareng fume
6. La Ville et le graffiti
7. Fêtes et souvenirs
8. Sur le chemin du retour
9. La Technologie...
10. Il était une fois
11. Mais je digresse
12. Le Monde du travail
13. L’Amour (et la guerre)
About the Book
Le Littéraire dans le quotidien is an open textbook for use in French courses. The Literary in the Everyday represents a new pedagogical approach to reading and writing at the lower levels and is applicable to all languages. Teachers of foreign languages besides French can read about the approach in the Teacher's Guide. Click here for individual chapters.
About the Contributors
Joanna Luks earned a B.A. in Chinese Studies from Columbia University, a professional certificate in teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) from the American University of Paris, and an Ed.M. from Boston University's School of Education in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
She taught EFL in France and China, and ESL at Boston University and, starting in 1994, at Cornell. She joined the French program at Cornell in Fall 2003. She has been married to a Frenchman since 1984 and lived in Paris for six years. Her areas of interest include TA development for language pedagogy, articulation across language, literary and cultural studies, and materials development for language learning and teaching, including the (re)conceptualization and visualization of grammar drawing from theories in cognitive grammar.
She is currently the course coordinator for French 1210 and 1220, the introductory level. In Fall 2004 she was awarded a grant by the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning and provided support by the Department of Romance Studies for the creation of a course for TA development within the department. The course was offered for the first time in Spring 2005.