But Miss, (or
as the case may be)
…. Why do we even have to learn French? France is so far away and nobody even speaks French here. What's the point?
Outside of all the standard language teacher responses involving the joys of learning another language, the beauty of the French language, the increased English vocabulary skills that come from shared word roots, and the doors now open to you as a learner of French, there is also the fact that in Connecticut we are so relatively close to a rich Francophone culture in the Canadian province of Quebec. As we seek to introduce the varied available realms of possibilities in life to our barely-teenaged students, it is imperative that we help them develop a sense of the larger world around them, and how that world is and has been shaped by others over time.
In this unit, we will focus on two distinct aspects of that larger world around our students - land and people - as we examine the geography of French-speaking North America and the immigrant families who brought that heritage and culture to the United States. Specifically, we will look at the path of migration over time from France to Canada to the U.S., and a brief history of who did what and why. We will start with the period of exploration from France to North America and the settlement of New France. This initial migration will be the anchor for our work. From there we will address the idea of forced migration with the Acadian Expulsion in 1755, which brought Acadians to the United States, Louisiana in particular. Finally, we will explore late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century immigration to New England and strive to understand concepts of national identity in the process. Students will put themselves into the roles of these French Canadian immigrants to practice the language skills of talking about self and others, family members in particular, via letter writing and role-play activities centered around the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century immigration of families to textile mills in New England.