Pourquoi les BD sont-elles de bons supports pour apprendre et enseigner le français ?

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La bande dessinée est un outil qui peut se révéler très utile dans l’apprentissage du français ; que la lecture de la BD soit faite en classe avec un professeur ou en autonomie.

Si vous aimez la bande dessinée, cette forme de littérature peut être une méthode motivante pour comprendre et apprendre un français authentique basé sur le style direct via les dialogues des personnages fictifs.

Les textes sont courts, percutants et efficaces, ce qui peut être un autre facteur de motivation.

Par ailleurs, l’image donne des indices supplémentaires pour mieux comprendre le sens du dialogue et de l’intrigue.

Cette forme de littérature a également une valeur socio-culturelle forte. Les personnages de BD font partie du patrimoine culturel des populations francophones et ils évoluent dans un univers qui montre le quotidien dans une culture locale.

Les BD sont des supports propices à la discussion. Le professeur de français peut choisir un angle interculturel, un angle chronologique pour comparer deux époques, un angle artistique pour analyser la complémentarité image-texte… Et on peut se poser la question suivante : l’humour des BD est-il capable de traverser les barrières culturelles et linguistiques ?

Les projets qui peuvent émaner des bandes dessinées sont nombreux. La finalité la plus évidente est la création d’une BD en classe. En groupes, les apprenants peuvent se mettre d’accord sur les aspects suivants :

  • Création de l’intrigue
  • Profil des personnages
  • Apparence des personnages
  • Dialogues
  • Décors
  • Couleurs

Que de conversations animées en perspective !

 

Mais quelles bandes dessinées font partie de la culture francophone ?

 

Les auteurs belges sont particulièrement créatifs dans le domaine de la bande dessinée :

 

Tintin est le héros de BD belge par excellence. Ses aventures peuvent être de bons supports pour des analyses chronologiques et l’évolution des représentations au fur et à mesure que le temps passe. Cette BD est un très bon support pour les adolescents, jeunes adultes et adultes.

 

Blake et Mortimer est une bande dessinée d’espionnage belge qui peut convenir aux adolescents, jeunes adultes et aux adultes.

 

Les Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs) sont de petits êtres bleus qui vivent dans des maisons en forme de champignons et qui craignent le méchant Gargamel. Cette BD est adaptée aux enfants jusqu’à l’âge de 12 ans environ.

 

Boule et Bill est également une création belge. Boule est le maître et l’ami de Bill, un cocker anglais. Ce dernier ne parle pas mais arrive toujours à se faire comprendre. Cette BD est un support exploitable avec des enfants jusqu’à l’âge de 12 ans environ.

 

Lucky Luke est un personnage issu d’une coopération franco-belge. Il est un cow-boy solitaire qui évolue dans un western. Il s’agit d’un support attractif pour les adolescents, les jeunes adultes et les adultes.

 

Spirou et Fantasio est une autre BD issue de la collaboration franco-belge. Les personnages éponymes sont des reporters qui essaient de sauver le monde de personnes méchantes comme des gangsters, des savants fous et des dictateurs. Cette BD est adaptée aux enfants jusqu’à l’âge de 12 ans.

 

Astérix est une création française apparu en 1959. Son scénariste est René Goscinny et son illustrateur est Albert Uderzo. Les aventures humoristiques d’Astérix racontent les péripéties de son personnage éponyme, originaire d’un petit village gaulois qui résiste à l’invasion des Romains. Cette BD est divertissante à tous les âges.

 

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La plupart de ces bandes dessinées ont été adaptées au cinéma ou sont devenues des dessins animés.

Comparer la BD à l’une de ses versions cinématographiques peut également être une exploitation intéressante.

 

En conclusion, la bande dessinée est une forme littéraire à valoriser pour apprendre et enseigner le français de manière ludique.

 

Is it worth reading children’s books to learn French when you’re an adult?

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A lot of students think that because they are beginners, they should read children’s books. They think that the vocabulary they will find in this type of books is adapted to their level and needs. But they are wrong!

First, the topics which are developed in children’s books are not adapted to the interests of adults.

Second, the vocabulary that you find in them is childish, as a consequence it’s difficult to use it as an adult.

Third, don’t think that children’s books are easy. These books are written for native speakers. You will certainly meet tenses that you have never studied before such as the passé simple, the imparfait and the plus-que-parfait. These tenses are used for fairytales and stories and are not adapted to the beginners ‘level.

As an adult, what should you read?

If you’re a beginner, read books which are adapted to your level. This type of books exists. They are especially written for foreigners and hold vocabulary and tenses which coincide with the requirements of the following levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. These levels correspond to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

When you begin to be more comfortable in French, you can read authentic documents that is to say texts which were written for native speakers.

What to choose?

Read what is interesting to you.

You’re going to spend a lot of time reading, and as time is precious, don’t waste it with useless content. Follow your heart and choose books about topics that you enjoy.

Contemporary literature is easier to read than classics.

Reading the newspaper can be an excellent exercise too. You choose your favorite articles and you can read them quickly discovering vocabulary that you will be able to use during conversations.

The fact of reading in a foreign language as a complement to your studies is one of the best things you can do. Indeed, you will discover a lot from a linguistic and cultural point of view. But if you read, don’t try to understand the text a 100%. Don’t spoil your pleasure looking up every single word in the dictionary. Just look up the words that cause problem to understand the global message or words you’re curious about. Write them in a notebook to begin a vocabulary list that you will try to memorize later.

Reading is a long process, it’s important to choose the right texts which are adapted to your level and to your interests, otherwise you may give up this such pleasant and efficient activity.

 

How to fill your learning gaps in French?

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You’ve studied French for a while. At the beginning, you understood grammar quite easily and you even had pleasure hearing your voice enunciating the beautiful French sounds. But classes slowly became more and more difficult and you began to notice that you’re having some learning gaps.

Having learning gaps is never a good feeling. Indeed, you understand a good part of the classes but the things that you don’t understand always come back and spoil your pleasure. Some students even give up because they think that they will never understand some grammar points or other elements, which are so much different from the ones in their native language. But giving up is a failure. So how is it possible not to remain stuck in your learning of the French language?

First, make a list of your main difficulties: passé composé versus imparfait, for instance… By being able to point your linguistic learning gaps, you have already done 50% of the job to resolve your problems.

Second, speak to your teacher about them. He / she may be able to integrate reviews in the program. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself, your difficulties are certainly the one’s of most of the other students. If all your difficulties can’t be integrated in the program, ask your teacher to guide you in the resources you can use.

If you study French on your own, vary your sources and do exercises which are corrected online. The more you practice, the more you will have a chance of understanding the linguistic element.

If one day, you spend one hour doing exercises and you still don’t understand. Keep calm. Think of something else and relax. You will understand another day.

Reading in French and being careful with the linguistic elements can help you understand grammar in an authentic context. It may click when you expect it the least.

Consequently, if you have some learning gaps which spoil the pleasure of your learning, DO NOT GIVE UP! Take the bull by the horns and face your difficulties instead of fleeing them. Understanding some linguistic concepts can take time, but they are just a little part of the subject. Carry on being in contact with the French language, vary your sources, practice as much as you can and eventually, you will be able to fill your learning gaps. And if you really feel stuck, your teacher will help you.  Never keep your difficulties to yourself, there is always a solution.

 

How to manage your time to work on your French between classes?

When you began French classes, you were enthusiastic. You spent time to read your vocabulary out loud and do your exercises. Time flew by and you began to spend less and less time on your French between classes. One day, you realized that the French class was particularly difficult and you began to think of giving up. You think you’re too busy to continue. You have your work, your family and other activities…

 

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Stop thinking in this way. It’s the trap where most of the language students fall but YOU are different. You love the French language so you should find time to catch up and work on your lessons between the classes.

It’s important to know that most students think of giving up from time to time but it doesn’t mean that they really do it. It’s not by giving up that you will find satisfaction and reach your linguistic goals to make your dreams come true.

First, take your calendar and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What time am I most available to study?
  • What day could I study?

You just need to find one hour or two per week. The time that you need must be estimated according to your level and the amount you have to catch up.

To be really efficient, two separate hours are better. You study and learn a first time during the first hour and you check what you memorized and reinforce your learning during the second hour.

To make this study moment attractive, you can organize a setting for your French studies:

  • French music as a background (not too loud, of course)
  • If you study in the morning, bake some frozen croissants and drink a good coffee while studying.
  • If you study in the evening, drink a glass of French wine (only one!) while you’re studying.

If other people in your group have problems to be motivated, get together once a week in a café or at somebody’s place to study together and help each other.

Don’t hesitate to speak about your problems with your teacher, he / she will guide you and help you get caught up and find pleasure in French again. It’s the job of a teacher to give you tips and organize his/ her class to review vocabulary and grammar. If you have problems, other students probably have problems too. Consequently, by speaking about your concerns, you can help other people!

Don’t think more, go to the supermarket and buy croissants and wine. Enjoy your French moments alone or with some other students from your group!

 

If you read this article until the end, you may be interested in this one:

Why is it necessary to practice your French outside a classroom?

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Reading in French : Why and how ?

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Reading a book or an article in French is a big plus to improve your linguistic skills.

You will learn new vocabulary, discover French-speaking cultures by enjoying 100% because you choose your reading.

The more in contact with the French language you are, the more your written comprehension will improve.

The first articles or books that you’re going to read may be difficult but don’t be discouraged. You can begin by articles or books which are especially written for foreigners who have your linguistic level: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.

You can evaluate your level thanks to this official document created by the Council of Europe:

Chart to check your level

You need to be a little organized when you read in a foreign language:

  • Highlight the recurrent words which appear in your reading and look them up in a dictionary to be sure to understand the plot. But don’t use the dictionary for every single word. It will spoil your pleasure. Search for the most important words only.
  • Write the words you find in a notebook to begin a vocabulary list that you will be able to read and memorize.
  • Take into account the context. If you don’t understand a word, being logical can help a lot.
  • Transparent words (words which are similar in English and in French) can help you too.
  • Be wary of false friends.

Here is a list of some false friends to have in mind:

Words in French Translation into English Don’t mistake with
Actuellement Currently Actually = en fait (en français)
Administration

 

Paperwork Administration = gouvernement (en français)
Une cave cellar Cave = grotte (en français)
Un caractère

 

personality Character : Personnage (d’un roman, par exemple)
Un collège

 

Secondary school (the first four years) College = université (en français)
Un commercial

 

businessman Commercial = publicité à la télévision (en français)
Des fournitures

 

supplies A piece of furniture = meuble (en français)
Issue Way-out Issue = problème à traiter (en français)
Une librairie

 

Bookshop Library= bibliothèque (en français)
Résumer

 

To sum up To resume = reprendre (en français)
Sensible

 

sensitive Sensible = sensé (en français)
Demander quelque chose

 

To ask for something To demand = exiger (en français)
La concurrence

 

competition Concurrence= simultanéité (en français)

Reading a long book in French may not be the most motivating to begin with that’s why press articles about subjects which are interesting for you can be a solution. The advantage of articles is that they are short but rich and they deal with society. For instance, if you read articles about French society issues, you will find the most interesting vocabulary to interact with native speakers and have interesting conversations.

Bilingual books can be a good idea too, but you need to be self-disciplined. Don’t be tempted to read the pages in your native language only !

Specialized magazines or websites such as http://califrenchlife.com/ can provide articles written for foreigners. You will discover the centers of interest of the French-speakers and you will find the most difficult vocabulary explained at the bottom of the article in French or in English.

Reading in French can be a real pleasure as long as you choose the right texts for yourself and your needs. It’s important to include this activity in your schedule. Regularity is a strength when you learn a foreign language.

How to be more comfortable when you speak French?

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Speaking is the most difficult skill when you learn a foreign language. Indeed, you need to mobilize all your linguistic and cultural knowledge quickly to be able to communicate what you want.

Language students are often frustrated during this phase because they cannot express themselves as comfortably as they wished.

Here are some pieces of advice to improve your speaking skills in French :

 

  • Think in French. Don’t try to translate the message word by word from your native language.
  • Simplify your ideas and use the vocabulary that you know.
  • If you don’t know a word in French, you can give its definition or you can directly ask the person to whom you’re speaking to help you find / learn the right word.
  • Try to speak in French whatever happens, never speak English ! As English is a lingua franca, people will try to practice with you but be strong, you need to practice your foreign language too !
  • Try to apply the grammar you know. For example, think of using the right tense when you can identify that it’s the right context to use it.
  • Don’t panic. Be the master of your speech. Take the time you need to express yourself in a clear way.
  • Listen to yourself and if you notice a big mistake, don’t hesitate to correct yourself. Say “pardon” and say your sentence again. Correcting yourself is not a sign of weakness but proof that the quality of your speech matters. If you need two attempts to succeed in saying a clear sentence, don’t worry. Native speakers hesitate and make mistakes when they speak too. The brain is not always perfect.
  • Seize all the opportunities to speak in French. The more practice you get, the more comfortable you will be.
  • Analyze the situation of communication before using “tu” or “vous” or some slang.
  • If you don’t understand the other person immediately, say “pouvez-vous répéter lentement, s’il vous plaît?”
  • Accept the corrections from the native speakers. They will help you in the future.
  • If one day, you meet a person who does not have the patience to speak with you because you make some mistakes and you’re not quick enough, change interlocutors, this person is not worth it and has certainly never practiced any foreign language.

 

Be self-confident. You have a superior position because you are the one making effort by speaking a foreign language. Everybody will appreciate your effort, even if it’s not perfect.

Don’t be discouraged. Speaking a foreign language is not easy but your efforts will be rewarded one day. You will be proud of yourself. Being able to speak a foreign language will allow you to live magical times and live experiences that you wouldn’t have had by speaking your native language only.

How to write a text in French when you’re a beginner?

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A lot of beginners think that writing a text in French is difficult.

Here are some pieces of advice to feel more comfortable when you have to write a text in French :

  • First, think in French. Forget your mother tongue. During this exercise, your native language is source of interference and mistakes.
  • Before writing, you should know what to write. Consequently, thinking of the content of your text is essential. Work with drafts and use as many sheets as you need. Make a brainstorming and write your ideas using short sentences or keywords in French.
  • Then, organize your ideas. Your development can be chronological or thematic. Your choice will depend on the type of subject you have to develop.
  • Begin to write your text.
  • Simplify your ideas, use the vocabulary that you know and think of mobilizing your knowledge in grammar.
  • In order to write a coherent text, use linking words : tout d’abord, ensuite, puis, finalement…
  • If you don’t know a word in French, it’s not the end of the world. Try to give a definition of this word. Look it up in the dictionary only when you really can’t find another way of expressing yourself.
  • When you use a dictionary, try to read all the suggestions to choose the right context. Avoid automatic translators, they often choose the context for you and the result is often mediocre.
  • When you have finished writing your text, take the time to read it two or three times. Question yourself about the use of the tenses, the prepositions, the order of the words in your sentences… You will be surprised by the number of mistakes you can avoid just by reading your text again.

After the writing, you can be proud of yourself because you were able to think and write in a foreign language. Bravo!

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