For some of my classes, usually with the “terminales” (like seniors in the US), the teachers want me to train the students for the baccalauréat (le bac) exam that they have to take at the end of high school. It’s an all-encompassing exam and is required if you wish to pursue further studies. There are several different versions, each with different requirements. Which exam you take depends on which “classe” you are in (re: STI, STG, L, S, ES, and so on).
Well most of the terminal students I have must do an oral exam in English as part of their bac. For the oral, each student will be presented with an unknown document like a political cartoon, advertisement, magazine cover, etc. After receiving the document, they are allotted a short amount of time, about 10 minutes, to prepare their dialogue.
During the presentations, the students must identify and describe the document, analyze it, state their interpretations and their opinions on the subject. The theme can be anything from racism and the digital divide to the importance of the media.
In the past, it was the subject matter that challenged me the most in my search of classroom content. I did not understand what was appropriate for high school students, because it seems to be very varied and also quite different from my American view of high school themes. For example, I don’t ever remember discussing racism and poverty in high school, at least not to the degree that these documents present the topics.
Well, in fact I’m starting to understand that almost anything could be appropriate. So, the other day I was searching for material and had an idea: animals. Ok, so I decided to search for animal related advertisements.
I came across some cute campaigns and also some shocking ones, namely from PETA. They have a campaign out against the fur industry which uses nude photography and slogans like, “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.” Or another where the models hold up dead, furless, bloody animals and have a phrase like, “Here is the rest of your fur coat.”
Upon going to the PETA website, though I found something that struck me more: a video illustrating the foie gras industry, narrated by the actress Kate Winslet. It’s quite disturbing and only adds to my already dislike of the “food.” (which you can read about in a previous entry: “How do you say ‘foie gras’ in English?“)
That video, which I had originally watched on PETAs web site, I found on YoutTube for you all. Only watch if you really want to know.
No I did not use the video in class, even if I might have wanted to. I ended up sticking to some ads about adopting pets rather than buying them and an anti-animal-testing ad about mascara.