Civilisation Francaise addresses the skills of reading and listening comprehension, vocabulary development and writing. As the name implies, it examines nineteen specific aspects of the culture of contemporary France, such as the cuisine, religion, schools, government, and history. Featuring the language as it is spoken in France, the site offers interesting audio recordings of speakers of varying ages and speech patterns. The technical requirements, including Real Player and a recent version of Netscape or Internet Explorer, are clearly delineated on and downloadable from the home page.
While one of the primary learning goals of this site is to impart information about the lifestyles and customs of the French, its activities and entirely French content serve to improve learners' language skills as well. Users can improve listening comprehension, reading and writing skills through the use of this web site. Instructors who wish to incorporate the Foreign Language Standards in their classes will appreciate the cultural richness of the site.
Target Student Population:
Students of French language and/or civilization
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The material on this site could be profitably used in an intermediate or advanced course in French civilization and/ or language. Likewise, it can be used by independent learners or as supplemental material in any course where students possess sufficient proficiency to read and navigate within a site that uses the target language exclusively. The photographs could be used at any level.
Type of Material:
Technical notes on the home page instruct the user that the interactive features of the pages work best with Netscape 3.01 - 4.5 and Internet Explorer 4. Sound and video use Real Media, again with download information on the Civilisation francaise home page.
Evaluation and Observation
The purpose of these polished and elaborate pedagogical activities is explained in a well-designed introduction and table of contents. Contents include questions and tests in varied formats, more than 500 beautiful photographs, high-quality audio, interesting video interviews, colorful idioms, external links, a bibliography, and a list of French films relevant to each cultural topic. Each such topic is uniformly presented on a long page that learners may scroll down in order to access a variety of reading, writing, and listening activities, as well as reference lists and links. Unlike more superficial treatments of French culture, Professor Ponterio's site delves into finer cultural differences: domestic design and architecture, national symbols, and societal changes.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
: The attractive presentation of materials and straightforward organization make the site highly engaging and instructive. The user has the option of testing his/her knowledge, with answers only a click away. The authors have given thoughtful consideration to making the answers easy to find and readily accessible. The interviewees in the videos represent a variety of age groups, thus exposing the user to a variety of accents and speech patterns. The transcripts for the videos are also readily available. With a well-researched selection of external links to complement each section, a student could easily construct a research project using Civilisation Francaise as a resource.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Buttons, labels, and other guides are consistently and logically applied throughout the site, which uses brilliant colors and large, legible fonts. Navigation is easy to and from the table of contents on the home page.. The external links are routinely checked and updated by the author. Learners can use the site, which promises to sustain their interest very well, without assistance.