This is a contemporary video series covering Francophone countries that gained independence in 1960 plus the African diaspora. Countries appear in the following order: Niger, Cameroun, Senegal, Chad, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, the African Diaspora in France, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Mauritania, and Mali. Local guides comments on political, socio-economic, and cultural issues and introduce us to country experts in each area.
Afrique 50 ans is a fresh and forward-looking educational resource. It takes the visitor on a spirited tour of the featured areas, guided by the countries' artists, musicians, artisans, workers and others from all walks of life. The visitor can choose his or her own trajectory and take in the sites and sounds of everyday life in the countries at leisure.
All five skills can be improved using these materials. Listening and speaking are the most important goals, as students can discuss what they see. There are some written comments, but students can be given writing assignments based on what they see here.The student will surely improve cultural awareness and familiarity with the diverse African nations.
Target Student Population:
The comprehension level is third-year college or higher. For this to be used effectively at lower levels will require either subtitles or advance preparation by the teacher. The teacher would need to explain certain vocabulary or prepare students to understand the music.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Although this material can be used at any level, depending on the task, it would be most beneficial to Intermediate and Advanced level classes and students. Intermediate high listening skills are needed if students do not have subtitles.
Type of Material:
These videos are web-documentaries from the TV 5 Monde website. Each video has links to other videos.Interviews bring us to organizations, such as NGOs that help women or combat violence, to sports facilities for youth, to local businesses, and to artists, craftsmen, and performers. African cinema, festivals, religion and education are other topics. A Mauritanian sociologist comments on human rights, ethnic divisions, the role of women, economic opportunity, and corruption in his country, and then he gives an optimistic vision of the future of Africa from political, socio-economic, and cultural perspectives. The African diaspora in Paris and its suburbs contributes to French identity. Rural scenes are rare with most interviews taking place in country capitals.
This resource can be profitably used in area study, language courses, Global Studies courses and even as an example of the state of the art in web documentary. One reviewer plans to use this in both composition and conversation classes. It could also be used in contemporary civilization classes and even in Francophone literature classes where these countries are a focus. The music would still require advance preparation by the teacher, especially when the singers are not identified.
Internet access with sound.
Evaluation and Observation
It provides excellent listening opportunities for students in advanced classes. It will complement textbook discussions of Sub-Saharan Africa and provide the three Ps of culture -- we see true examples of the products of culture as well as the practices and the perceptions of culture.
The resource is notable for its authenticity and excellent content. It will shatter stereotypes and give the listener a much broader knowledge of the target cultures. It will also dispel stereotypes about Africa that are a consequence of superficial treatment of the area.
There is no teacher guide to explain the music that we hear, or to go over the major historical high points or the ethnic groups. My own concerns are mitigated by virtue of the fact that all my students know how to use the CIA World Factbook for political, socio-economic, and cultural issues. However, we can't get the culture capsules that could easily be provided by those responsible for designing the videos. More use of subtitles would reach lower-level students.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Today's learner is very used to web video as a source of entertainment, so it is a logical format for 21st century educational activities. These videos can be included to supplement class instruction and subsequent discussions of African topics, particularly those that refer to literature, history or the languages of the featured nations. The videos can inspire rich discussions on how countries have changed or stayed the same in the post-colonial age.
One reviewer writes:
"Advanced students will want to go to Africa. It's very true to life. My classes will use these materials as a complement both to their textbook chapters on Sub-Saharan Africa and their use of France 24 and the Radio France International websites for contemporary news."
We need to provide comments on where to obtain more information.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The video is crisp and clear. The combination of sight and sound is inviting. The tour guides are well-integrated into the web tours and the way they make the tours flow is engaging. The site is easy to navigate and allows the user freedom to choose videos at his or her own pace. This aspect of user choice will make the site accessible to students with different learning styles. These videos are so true to life that I feel as though I am actually in Africa. They are varied and they are short. There are ways for the viewer to switch from topic to topic by clicking on one of the 9 boxes at the bottom of the screen.