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Peer Review

Entre les Murs Study Guide

by Sarah Leahy , Routes into Languages Mike Tait


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Apr 15, 2013 by World Languages Editorial Board
Overview: The Entre les Murs Study Guide, geared toward high school and undergraduate students with an intermediate-high to an advanced level of French, is intended to provoke discussion of the French language, the French education system, the use of non-professional actors in cinema and the documentary genre. A series of film critiques and several short excerpts from interviews with the book's author and the film's director, are complemented by grammar and vocabulary exercises, as well as film analysis activities. The “Entre les Murs Study Guide” is an eighteen-page document that provides fact sheets, pictures, interviews, critiques and exercises around Laurent Cantet’s 2008 film Entre les murs. It is part of a series of publications produced by Tyneside Cinema, an Independent film Theater in Newcastle, UK. Similar publications are available for Angel-A, Fauteuils d’orchestre, l’auberge espagnole, Potiche, Le grand voyage, Le Havre, Les Choristes, and Monsieur Lazhar. The document can be broadly divided in three parts. Pages 1-8 can be used as preparatory work to approach the viewing of the film. It offers: - fact sheets - a summary of the movie - a map of Paris - information about the author of the book the film is based on - François Bégaudeau - and about the director Laurent Cantet - a fill-in-the-blank exercise with useful vocabulary - translation exercises - numerous questions to start a conversation on the film main themes - a list of slang words used in the film with synonyms provided in standard French. The second part on page 9 offers a useful activity to complete during or right after the viewing of the film. Students are asked to fill a grid (with the provided vocabulary) and write about the main characters of the film. The last part is called “supplementary material” (pages 10-16): many of the activities included could be used before or during the viewing of the film, such as the vocabulary to talk about cinema, or the analysis of a short sequence. Other activities include a reflection on the genres of fiction and the documentary and the reading of three critiques of the film taken from French newspapers and magazines.
Type of Material: reference material
Recommended Uses: One may incorporate this resource in intermediate-high or advanced language courses that focus on social and cultural questions. It can also accompany the reading of the eponymous novel. The study guide could be used in a traditional French classroom whose students had previously viewed the film. It also lends itself well to use in a hybrid or online course.
Technical Requirements: PDF reader
Identify Major Learning Goals: The study guide enables students to improve their French vocabulary, especially French terms used to describe cinematographic techniques. It also provides scaffolding for students to improve their knowledge of French culture, specifically the French education system and the large variety of social and ethnic groups that make up today's Paris. he goals are to study in depth Entre les murs through the reading of texts, the viewing of the film, and the writing of a critique. This study also helps students analyze and learn about important contemporary issues such as education, youth, French language, immigration and social exclusion. Finally it helps acquire vocabulary about cinema and about slang.
Target Student Population: The document states A2 students (Common European Framework). However, it seems more appropriate for intermediate-high students, even advanced students, considering that all the interviews and critiques are to be read as is (i.e. no vocabulary provided), and that students are asked to write their own film critique.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: At least an intermediate proficiency in the French language and culture.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The quality of the content is very good. The presentation and the organization are excellent. The numerous colorful images, portraits and documents like maps enliven the guide. The author and director’s interviews were carefully chosen to cover a variety of themes and aspects to take into consideration when approaching a cinematographic work (creation of the film, the genres of fiction and documentary, the critiques…). The site has a clear purpose: To engage students in meaningful discussion of the film Entre Les Murs. There are a variety of short readings from various sources, including extracts from interviews with both the book's author and the film's director, and a series of film critiques. The glossaries (of French slang vs. traditional French terms, as well as of French film techniques which are not only defined, but also explained in English) are very well done and easy to comprehend. The exercises are pertinent and vary in content and function.
Concerns: There are a number of grammatical errors throughout the site: "N'hésite pas À" (p. 3). "Quel" rather than "quelle" for questions 2, 3, and 4 on p. 6. "Francaise" missing the cédille, "vous pourrez y cherchER", "Pour l'instant, essayEZ de..." (p. 7). "Faire partiE", "en entier" (p. 8). "Sur le cinéma français" (p. 17).

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The Entre les Murs study guide is a very useful teaching resource. It can be readily integrated into a traditional, hybrid and online course, as well as used for an independent study. Although the site is only a PDF file, it is highly attractive, with high quality images and bright contrasting colors. The film and accompanying guide lend themselves especially well to use in a undergraduate French conversation, cinema or culture/civilization course. This study guide is, as a start, a wonderful resource for teachers who want to introduce a film in their intermediate-high to advanced language or culture classes. It provides a great amount of authentic and pertinent material to start discussing the film and address social, cultural and linguistic issues. If teachers want to introduce it in intermediate classes, however, it might be necessary to provide students with more vocabulary in order to decipher the readings.
Concerns: If the site were able to directly integrate film clips and/or audio files (of the author or director's comments... or simply of the vocabulary words), that would enhance its ability to engage student learning. Teachers might want to help students understand the readings with more follow-up questions (page 5 for instance), or navigate the Internet by giving exact links for the activity on researching Paris 20th district (page 3).

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The “Entre les Murs Study Guide” can be easily read with a pdf reader or printed out for class. It is well organized, aesthetically pleasing and could be used as is by faculty.
Concerns: n/a

Other Issues and Comments: The site is rich in target language culture (slang, education system, the social/ethnic groups of today's Paris), and will encourage the student to make connections and comparisons to his/her own community. It also serves as a solid introduction to film analyses.