Pardon the French
MARGUERITE Barwell was given a mission ? to make French textbooks more relevant to Australian teenagers.
The result is a series of different level French workbooks that include a section on texting in French, Australia's involvement in and around the battlefields of north-eastern France, and mention of French explorers who contributed to the charting and naming of places of the Australian coast.
Also included is references to Coffs Harbour and 'la grande banane' (the Big Banana) and cultural material relating to the Pacific region.
"My aim is to help students understand their own culture as well as the French culture," the Bishop Druitt College French teacher said.
Ms Barwell was approached by the Australian division of Oxford University Press (OUP) in 2003 with the textbook project.
"The aim was to develop a series of different level French workbooks for Australian and New Zealand students of French. The objective was to address changes in the NSW French syllabus," she said.
Her first set of workbooks were written in 2003, and published in 2004 as support for the student text 'Equipe'.
The new series of three workbooks, published two weeks ago, complements 'Equipe Nouvelle', the latest French textbook released by OUP.
"My brief was to create and write French activities with an Australia content," Ms Barwell said.
"I received a French government scholarship in January to do research at the University of Franche-Compte in Besancon and included my research on using black and white photography in the French classroom in the third book of the series."
Ms Barwell said when creating the new textbooks she kept in mind what today's students wanted, and needed. "I tried to make learning as fun as possible, including puzzles, cartoons and games," she said.
"But the most important thing was to make these books relevant. I have included references to skateboards, new technology and a whole section on texting in French.
"I want the students to understand that kids around the world are the same, they just speak different languages."