La Guinguette is an online newletter produced by Lyon-based Discours et Methode publishers of instructional materials for learning French. The newsletter publishes articles that are divided into three themes: News, Culture, and Society. Each article has an audio recording of the text. Users with fast connections can listen to the article read in real time and those who do not can download these audio files to his/her own computer. A printer-friendly version of each article is also available.
Additionally, users can subscribe to a free e-mail bulletin that details the contents of each new issue of La Guinguette. The newletter is published fortnightly. Archived issues are available beginning in the year 2000.
The publishers also produce commercial products, such as CD-Roms of the best of La Guinguette and other French language instructional materials.
Learners can improve listening and reading comprehension with La Guinguette. Cultural awareness and vocabulary expansion can also be enhanced.
Target Student Population:
Intermediate and Advanced students of French language and civilization.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Intermediate to Advanced French language proficiency.
Type of Material:
Can be used on an independent study basis to improve listening, reading and vocabulary. Articles can also be used in classrooms as a springboard for discussion or writing assignments.
Evaluation and Observation
The articles in La Guinguette are timely, yet have enough general relevance for a long shelf life. For example, articles featured in 2002 issues highlight the comedic genius of Jacques Tati, the popular French film Amelie, and hard news coverage of the controversial French elections. Politics, international commerce, and crime have also been covered. The newletter's content is well-written and difficult expressions are glossed for French learners.
The archive feature allows educators to choose from a wide variety of subjects. Instructors will find the cultural authenticity of the articles a definite plus when presenting French culture to students.
More glosssing of vocabulary and expressions used would benefit intermediate-level learners.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Articles in this multimedia newsletter could be assigned for independent study and could be used profitably by those who want to keep up or enhance their French proficiency level outside the classroom. The facility to download and review the text and audio makes these materials flexible to use.
Learning assignments featuring cloze exercises, comprehension questions, and critical thinking exercises can easily be constructed around the articles, many of which will fit right into the second and third year curricula, while others can supplement the regular program and provide a chance to read authentic French.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The facility to download the articles is a powerful feature. La Guinguette is easy to navigate and the design is clear. The sound quality is good, although users who insist on superioior sound quality might opt for the cd-rom version. The e-mail bulletin is an extremely useful tool to remind educators to check La Guinguette for its most recent articles.