Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words


Photo Credit: <a href=””>ggallice</a> via <a href=””>Compfight</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

In my 8th grade French class, I have been trying to incorporate more “authentic” materials into my lessons. This can be tricky. A lot of the authentic language-rich items that may interest my students are sometimes too far beyond their current language skills. One topic, however, that we have discussed very successfully is elephant poaching in Africa. This topic worked well with my students because they already had some background information about it, and the language level of the materials on Radio France Internationale has been accessible. They also tend to be quite passionate about how animals are treated, and they are aware that endangered species need to be protected. I was so impressed with many of my students’ abilities to communicate complex ideas and feelings about this topic in French. The article and associated audio that we used to learn about this topic is no longer available online, but this one is similar (although this audio clip is more difficult than the one we used before).  Some of my students also read about “elephants” now using Twitter to raise awareness about poaching. 

One speaking activity that I want to do more often in my class is having students describe images. I have chosen the above image from Compfight as one that I could use in class because students could talk about it in various ways. Some might simply describe what the elephants in the photo are doing, or what they look like. Others could tell a story. They might also make a connection between the image and the student in our class who frequently mentions his love of elephants. Of course they can also make the connection with the problem of elephant poaching and the species being endangered.