Le Littéraire dans le quotidien

Reviewed by Olga Vasile, Lecturer, CU Boulder on 7/1/19

Comprehensiveness rating: 4

"Le Littéraire dans le quotidien" is comprehensive relative to the pedagogical objectives described in its Teacher’s guide. It exemplifies a comprehensive teaching philosophy and methodology, but it is not a comprehensive manual for French language instruction. Modules are designed with a transdisciplinary approach that aims at developing linguistic, cultural and intercultural awareness primarily through reading, writing and peer editing. Modules can be used to accompany and integrate a language manual (the manual of reference is "Français Interactif", http://www.laits.utexas.edu/fi/ ) but can also be adapted in other teaching and learning contexts. Each module presents thought-provoking content and activities supported by a rigorous theoretical reflection on the objectives of language learning today, as well as on the methods to achieve these objectives. Learning material comes from a variety of excellent sources: a variety of literary texts and other authentic written artifacts and audiovisuals. Non-traditional forms of written communication such as blogs are also part of the resources. The author of "Le Littéraire dans le quotidien" provides essential and comprehensive contextual information to accompany her selection of texts thus making their reception more approachable. Activities are well scaffolded, they support the development of students’ critical reading and writing abilities through independent reflection and collaborative construction of knowledge. A wealth of external written, audio and audiovisual resources that can be used to further elaborate on the topics presented. The ancillary nature of this textbook might be seen as weakness. There are for instance some progression gaps from one chapter to the other. While the book provides links to explanations in "Français Interactif", and other external resources , in my view, it can be used as stand alone textbook only by students who already have a certain linguistic proficiency in French, or who need to consolidate beginners to intermediate linguistic knowledge. Another limitation can be seen in the continuous shifting from one language to the other. This allow students to engage with content that goes beyond their linguistic skills, however I feel that the effectiveness of this strategy needs to be carefully examined. Possibly a less complex presentation could achieve similar results while allowing students to remain in the foreign language.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

The quality of this textbook is high: content is accurate, varied and interesting, it is accompanied by a wealth of external written, audio and audiovisual resources that can be used to further elaborate on the topics presented. Supplementary material is also accurate, error-free and unbiased.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

As far as literary resources are concerned the high quality content is timeless, while when texts are chosen from current and not so current French and American TV programs, or blogs, the risk of resources becoming dated is higher, and most probably will require updating. Unfortunately the links to some external resources are not always current, or the links are broken. Just to give an few example: in “1b. Comment?!” the specific link to the MIT Cultura project http://cultura.mit.edu/1999-fall-mit-int-21/ leads to a “page not found” requiring the user to take additional steps to find the desired content as "archived" material; similarly the movie “L’école pour tous” (p.8) is not accessible because the video: “[...] contains content from Studiocanal, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”; in “09 La Technologie-composée-et-imparfaite” the source of the text “Le Crash” http://www.cettenuitjaireve.com/reves/2010/02/03/le-crash/ is not found. I feel updates could be easily implemented when necessary.

Clarity rating: 4

The text is clear and accessible, however sometimes there is an overload of “directions” and “explanations”. This may be a burden on the teaching and learning process. Long explanation written in English, no matter how interesting, may have adverse effects on students cognitive load especially when considering their often limited attention span and class time constraints. In addition some student may find some explanation difficult to understand due to metalinguistic jargon. With regard to texts and videos in the original language, some of them are linguistically beyond the level of the intended audience (beginners to intermediate students). The challenge therefore remains to establish how to use particular resources without relying on translation.

Consistency rating: 5

The text is consistent in providing high quality and varied literary and cultural stimuli, as well as well structured and guided learning opportunities.

Modularity rating: 4

While the text is designed with a progression in mind, each module can be considered self-contained and complete. It is also possible to use sub-sections of each module, however texts are organized around a well sequenced set of activities and partial use of these would prevent full mastery and exploration of a particular learning objective. It would be necessary to plan the use of a module, or part of it, within a coherent program that reflects similar strategies of teaching and learning, as well as the linguistic level of the students.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

The organization of each module is systematic and consistent, with an emphasis in the first chapters on methodological procedural instructions that is less prominent in later chapters. Culturally relevant advanced organizers prepare the students for the reading, this is done in English in the first chapters and later on with a mix of explanations in English and French; in "Texts" a number of activities raise student awareness on formal aspects of the texts presented; the "Regardez de plus près" section is dedicated to close reading ; another section "Allons plus loin" provides opportunity for expansion. The writing section of each module includes a number of independent writing and peer editing activities that follow a well designed progression.

Interface rating: 4

I did not see any particular interface issue. I just feel however that the author of the text tries to accomplish too many goals in a single textbook, hence many potential deviations. This richness might feel overwhelming for some of today’s students.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical errors observed

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

"Le Littéraire dans le quotidien" presents predominantly, but not exclusively, Francophone texts from mainland France literature and culture. It presents a variety of social, historical, literary and overall multicultural realities. In line with its transdisciplinary approach, it juxtaposes Francophone and Anglophone texts to generate opportunities for intercultural understanding.