Earlier this month, France had its presidential election; incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was voted out and socialist François Hollande was voted in--France's first socialist president since François Mitterand left office back in the mid-1990's. Endeavoring to widen my students' horizons, I tried to incorporate a bit of French politics into their language classes a few weeks ago... Curious, one of the questions I thought I'd ask, after the students learned who François Hollande was, was: "So, when you hear 'socialist,' what does that mean to you?"
(Surely, with all of the political ads in this country right now, and bumper stickers proclaiming Obama's socialism, the kids had heard the word, right? Surely, somewhere in middle school and/or high school, they've studied this...right?)
In two different classes, more than one student came up with this definition of 'socialist:' "someone who likes to talk, right?" Ahem. Well, maybe...but SOCIALISM is NOT the same thing as SOCIALIZING!!!!! ARGH!!!
There is a certain logic, I suppose. But also ignorance--and some of these kids are only one or two years away from being of voting age!
So, if socialists like to socialize, I guess capitalists like to use BIG LETTERS only and communists just want to live together...and anarchists just want to build a giant boat?
Speaking of things French...did you know that the sixth-largest French-speaking city in the world is LONDON? Yes, London, ENGLAND, site of this summer's upcoming Olympics. Between three- and four-HUNDRED THOUSAND émigrés français call that city on the Thames home. Bon voyage and mind the gap...
On to French children's books.
A good friend came across this article in today's Guardian.
"Terrifying French Children's Books"
(Where is Mommy?)
(It's no big deal.)
And there are some more photos of these children's books' covers here.
Instead of the cute 'little piggies going to market,'
les enfants should confront this existential truth:
"Toes don't have names."
But if you think those livres en français are scary, you must check out this German offering from the 19th century: Struwwelpeter. (More info here.)
You better stop sucking your thumb, little boy!
(Wow. 19th century children's fare. Wholesome.
Mommy, read me another story before bedtime, just one more, please!)
Vocabulary lesson for today: