Francophone music was a point of entry to French language and culture for Luke Westman, and he now has his French IV and V students listening and learning. “Music is a great way to connect,” says Mr. Westman. His carefully planned coursework is sure to keep the conversation going despite the challenges of distance.
Before leaving campus for the remote learning period, students in both sections agreed to use music as a launchpad for discussions about French culture and language. Mr. Westman curated a list of mostly French and Belgian rap from which his students can select tracks to analyze and discuss. The tracks reliably use phrases and idioms that may not appear in a traditional textbook but are commonly used by native speakers and useful in conversational French.
Assignment work includes creating reaction videos in which listeners document first impressions of a new track. Lyrical analysis and a written paragraph that contextualizes the song and artist follow. The online availability of music makes it easy for listeners to delve deeper into an artist or style if they hear something they like.
Because of its ubiquity and relatability, music provides an ideal starting point for further consideration and insights into French life. Classes have discussed gender, the meaning of celebrity, geography, and relationships. Mr. Westman encourages his students to seek more music and to use the quest as a springboard for further exploration.