French story and poem: un amour qui finit mal !

My French students are now learning the passé composé in class and I am looking for ways to help them acquire this new tense without doing the traditional grammar approach.

The first text which came to my mind was Le déjeuner du matin which is actually a poem widely taught in French classes because the language is quite simple and repetitive. This poem also uses high frequency verbs and structures such as “il a mis”. The verb “mettre” is used in many different situations in French, from “j’ai mis des bottes” to “il a mis du lait dans le café“. It is also an irregular verb in the perfect tense so learners should hear many repetitions of it in order to acquire it. For my French students to understand this poem, I first thought of introducing the following target structures:

  • Il/ elle a mis – He/ she (has) put
  • Il/ elle a préparé le repas – He / she (has) prepared the meal
  • Sans regarder -without looking

With personalized questions and a story script inspired by Martina Bex’ Spanish story “Una comida especial“, I invented a fun story about a boy who wants to impress a girl by cooking her favorite meal. Unfortunately, things go wrong because the boy wasn’t looking when he was preparing the meal and put weird stuff into the food!
You can view and download the story script with a drawing exercise, alongside with guidelines on how to teach the story here.

Once my French students have acquired the target structures, I can introduce them to the poem. I have found a great short film on YouTube which I can use as a MovieTalk by pausing the video and reading each verse, making sure my students understand fully what is going on:

Learners can then read and mime each verse. They get tons of repetitions of “il a mis” and other high frequency verbs in the passé composé such as “il a bu” or “il est parti”. It is also an opportunity to discuss the typical French breakfast (which is not much!) and habits like smoking.

I do believe it is important to include cultural activities into language acquisition because a language is more than just words and sentences, it is also another way of thinking, another culture. That is why I am always looking for ways to incorporate literature, films or special cultural events in my lessons.

What about you? Do you also include culture in your teaching? How?

If you want to have access to the story, reading activities, a listening and comprehension activity on the poem, a reading with comprehension questions about the life of Jacques Prévert (the author of the poem) along with detailed guidelines and ideas on to plan your lessons, you can purchase the full package on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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