Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened up McDonald's BBQ restaurant in 1940 in San Bernardino, California. (7) In 1948, they closed (for alterations) and reopened as McDonald's. The first franchise opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, in 1955; this is the date used to calculate anniversaries. By 1965 (the 10
anniversary) there would be more than 700 McDonald's locations in the U.S. The first McDonald's television commercial was broadcast in 1966. In 1967 McDonald's went international, opening locations in Mexico and Canada. Today, there are McDonald's located in more than 118 countries worldwide. Fresh salads were first introduced in 1987; the McDonald's website was born in 1996. According to Nadim Audi in his NY Times article "France, Land of Epicures, Gets Taste for McDonald's," there were 1,140 McDonald's in France, as of October 2009.
The French website for McDonald's is: http://www.mcdonalds.fr/. The current catchphrase of McDonald's in France, as listed on the website, is: Venez comme vous ítes. (Come as you are.) In the U.S and abroad, versions of the English I'm lovin' it have been used, with both of the following variations cited as being seen on French advertisements and packaging: C'est tout ce que j'aime (It is everything that I love); C'est ça que j'aime (It's this that I love). Some ads also use the young and modern text messaging shorthand for j'aime, which is J'M. Note the way this mirrors the McDonald's arches at the same time, for some slick double-duty advertising power!
There are a great many French language McDonald's commercials available on the web. The challenge here is choosing the right ones to use with your students. Below are three examples of commercials that I would choose, along with a summary of the commercial, and how it could be used in the classroom.
Le Double Cheese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTsg3STk-4E&feature=channel
In this commercial, two males are sitting on a bench talking about the Double Cheese. One asks the other if he likes the Double Cheese. He responds that he does, and starts to describe how the parts were layered in the sandwich. We hear him describe it in the past tense, il y avait…, and so we learn that it used to be offered but is no longer. The men are quite nostalgic about it. The first tells his friend that the order in which he remembered the sandwich being made was wrong, and proceeds to tell him the correct way it was made. The friend tries to add tomatoes and is corrected yet again, that only pickles and onions were added, no tomatoes. So the friend who had been wrong sums it up correctly, the other adds ketchup and mustard, and he agrees. A voice-over is heard that says: Vous l'avez adoré, le Double Cheese est de retour. (You loved it, the Double Cheese is back.)
Students at this level won't understand the tense changes to indicate that the burger wasn't offered for a while, but they should be able to read the body language and facial expressions of the two men. I would ask questions like: Est-ce qu'ils mangent un Double Cheese à ce moment? (Are they eating a Double Cheese right now?) Qu'est-ce que ça veut dire, que le Double Cheese est de retour? (What does that mean, that the Double Cheese is back?) I would demonstrate leaving the class - Je sors de la classe, je suis de retour, quand je prends l'avion, j'achète un billet aller-retour–using motions and movements to clarify meaning and to cement it for students.
Some questions, like the first one, should be Oui/Non answerable, or answerable in simple French terms with which your students are familiar. Others, like the second, should be comprehensible to the student, so that he or she starts to wonder about why an establishment would stop selling an item, and why then it would "bring it back." In this way, a consumer-culture thought process can be initiated within the student, without the demand for an answer in class. To answer these types of questions in French is not level-appropriate for my students, but they can understand the questions. The point isn't for them to know how to answer that question in French, but to start to understand what is happening in the commercial, without taking class time to explain and discuss it in English. The first type of question can be used to get students speaking in the target language, either reiterating what was indicated, or by responding to questions that use structures you have been preparing them to use and answer. The second type of question can give students more input, as an opportunity for your faster-paced learners to make connections to structures and vocabulary beyond the lesson's goals, as well as to get the class engaging their higher order thinking skills.
At the bottom of the screen for most of the commercial, the following message is listed: Pour votre santé, pratiquez une activité physique régulière. (For your health, practice regular physical activity.) At the last section, it changes to this: Pour votre santé, éviter de grignoter entre les répas (For your health, avoid snacking between meals.) The website for the French national nutrition and health program (Programme Nationale Nutrition Santé, or PNNS) is listed as well. Some questions that could be asked are: Est-ce que tu crois que la santé est importante en France? Pourquoi? (Do you think health is important in France? Why?) Est-ce que les publicités de McDonald's aux États-Unis ont un message de santé aussi? Pourquoi? (Do McDonald's advertisements in the United States have a message of health also? Why?)
See Classroom Activity 1 for a detailed breakdown of the vocabulary, language functions, and grammar concepts demonstrated in this commercial, which can be used to develop conversational practice.
Chicken Shake: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWF5lYtlcaY&feature=related
This is a cute commercial that can show kids what the "Chicken Shake" is. A father opens his baggie of chicken, pours in a spice packet, closes the bag and shakes it (to get the chicken coated in spices.) His young child watches him, with his own carton of French fries in front of him. He mimics his father, and of course when it gets to shake time, he makes a mess. The father is so engrossed in his meal that he doesn't notice at first. When he does he looks around in embarrassment but then looks lovingly at his son. There is no spoken language during all of this, but at the bottom of the screen is another message from the PNNS: Pour votre santé, mangez au moins cinq fruits et légumes par jour. (For your health, eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.) Then a woman's voice is heard saying: Épicer, Secouer, Déguster. (Spice, Shake, Enjoy.) Nouveau Chicken Shake. Barbecue, curry, ou provençal. 2E95 deux euros quatre-vingt-quinze seulement. (New Chicken Shake. Barbecue, curry, or Provençal, 2 euros 95 only.)
There is very little language in this commercial, but it perfectly shows students what the Chicken Shake they will have seen on the menu is all about. Show this before they view the interactive menu, so they haven't already seen an image of the item. Before viewing the commercial, ask the students to write down and draw what they think the Chicken Shake is – Qu'est-ce que c'est, le Chicken Shake? Listez les ingrédients et dessinez un exemple, s'il vous plait. After viewing the commercial, questions can be asked to get kids thinking about how they could have figured out that it wasn't a milkshake. Est-ce que tu croyais que le Chicken Shake était un boisson? (Did you think that the Chicken Shake was a beverage?) Le Chicken Shake, c'est où dans le menu? (Where is the Chicken Shake on the menu?) C'est sous la catégorie boissons froides, desserts glacés, ou poulet? (Is it under the cold beverages, frozen desserts, or chicken category?) Est-ce que nous avons un plat similaire aux États-Unis? (Do we have a similar dish in the United States?) Here we are looking for the idea of Shake-n-Bake chicken. (8)
This commercial can be used as a springboard to discussing the different categories of food, which items fall into which categories, and what students like to eat for each meal. Create an interview grid, with student names down the side and the six categories of what students could eat and drink breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert, beverage. Or perhaps the grid would work better over two days, exploring three categories one day and three the next. Another variation, the back of the grid could be blank or it could be what students don't like to eat for those categories. These decisions should be made based on where your class is; make the task one in which everyone can be successful, as described in the section entitled Interview Activity Variations.
Following are questions that can be asked in this section: Qu'est-ce que tu aimes manger pour… le petit-déjeuner, le déjeuner, le dîner, le casse-cro—te, le dessert? (What do you like to eat for… breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert?); Qu'est-ce que tu aimes boire? Comme boisson? Comme boisson chaude? Comme boisson froide? (What do you like to drink? As a beverage? As a hot beverage? As a cold beverage?); Est-ce que tu aimes manger/boire X pour le petit-déjeuner, etc.? (Do you like to eat/drink X for breakfast, etc.?)
For upper levels, have students say present tense of verbs – I eat X when I am hungry, thirsty, craving salty things, etc.