Un gars, une fille was originally aired on France 2 from 1999 – 2003 Monday through Friday from 7:50 – 8:00 PM, just before the evening news. The series (composed of short sketches) follows the relationship between Jean – a.k.a Loulou – and Alex(andra) – a.ka. Chouchou – from the most routine situations to more extraordinary contexts.

Many of these scenes are of pedagogical use in the French language classroom from several perspectives. First of all, they introduce students to authentic language in familiar situations that often reflect the content-driven presentations behind several contemporary French textbooks. For example, episodes in the first series include Dans la cuisine, À la banque, and Au supermarché. These contexts lend themselves to natural use of vocabulary that students generally learn in typical first- and second-year courses. Furthermore, the length of each sketch (generally one to three minutes) is appropriate to beginning learners’ ability retain information in the target language. Shorter segments permit students to focus on key vocabulary and/or structures without sacrificing a concrete, authentic context of native speech created for native speakers. Additionally, the physical nature of the sketches allows even the beginner to grasp the essence of many of the scenes without understanding every word, thus encouraging the development of observational skills to decode non-verbal cues that are integral to comprehension and communication in a foreign language. Each of these benefits makes the series an ideal choice in an introductory or intermediate French class.

These attributes also increase the flexibility an instructor has when using them in her classroom. As students’ functionality in French increases, it is possible to reuse episodes learners have seen before in order to deepen their understanding or to focus on finer details of a conversation. A set of sketches organized around a theme allows many grammar points to be addressed while following a content-based presentation. At the same time, the independent nature of each sketch would also permit an instructor to present usage in a variety of contexts so students receive input in multiple situations.

Since its beginning in 2012, French à la mode continues to evolve thanks to content contributions that further the original idea of a language learning website built around the content of authentic video produced for native speakers. Additional sketches from “Un gars, une fille” have been added and subtitled in both French and English. This allows self-taught learners to check their comprehension and practice their skills as well as providing authentic materials for instructors to use in traditional classrooms. The creative commons license also encourages the sharing of these materials. Users are invited and encouraged to point out any glitches or corrections to fix as well as contribute more substantively with activities of their own. While the project remains centered on the video clips, recent additions include cultural information that learners access by listening or by reading. Dialogs incorporating the vocabulary and theme of the lesson have also been added to the intermediate level pages. Additionally, YouTube videos are now a staple in the Causons un peu sections in which students are challenged to further explore the topic they have been working on. These links range from video blogs on fashion to promotional videos produced by departmental tourism agencies. They provide a natural way for students to apply the concepts, vocabulary, and cultural knowledge they have been acquiring on each page. Students can also use these videos as a springboard for their own further research on a given topic. Finally, the “Slang/Idioms” sidebars on each content page are constantly being updated to give learners the most up-to-date perspective on French as possible.

This is a work-in-progress, and contributions are welcome. Please click on the Contact button in the top menu above, if you are interested in collaborating.