French 3700 – Cultural Analysis,
“Americans versus French, really?”
“Passez-me voir !”

Cultural Analysis – I re-designed this course with a grant from the Anderson Language and Technology Center.

An upper-division elective for majors and minors, this course seeks to elucidate and analyze major cultural differences between the two nations, particularly in areas that the students might encounter during study abroad or internship situations in France. I orient this course toward dynamic student engagement. Using theoretical knowledge as a base for cultural analysis, students study movies, news and other materials of their choosing, which they then share and debate. Students research practical subjects of interest about their majors and how to live in France (open a bank account, find an apartment, travel, study) and present the information to the rest of the class. The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is used to measure students’ levels of understanding. They build a videocast with their favorite subjects. The entire syllabus, instructions and communications are in French.

The semester is divided in 6 “analyses” of 6 days each:

·        la France & les Français, culture et histoire,
·        la maison & les murs, la perception de l’espace,
·        la conversation & la politique, la sphère du privé et du public,
·        la famille & les relations, une société de traditions,
·        le couple & se réaliser, indépendance et solidarité,
·        l’amitié & l’identité, égalité et fraternité.

Each “analyse” is organized around 6 days. Almost every day, students write a short essay, take a short quiz and speak around the subject of the day in small groups and with the designated animators of the day. They write their final paper in steps along the semester; they hand in a paragraph each day, based on a text or an article they read, or on a film they watch. They improve their paragraphs over the semester to form a paper.

The course is on ning at The students post their homework on the forum and discuss each other’s opinions on the different subjects they have been asked to research.

Students will produce a documentary-videocast based on one of their paragraphs. They do this in steps (research, plan, redaction, recording, etc.) with my assistance. The videocast will be subtitled in French. The best videocasts will be posted on


Invisibles différences, Raymonde Caroll, Paris : Seuil, 1991.
Français Américains, ces différences qui nous rapprochent, G. Asselin, Paris : Alban, 2004.



France: Jeux d’enfants, Y.Samuel: 200. Les Murs: Paris, C.Klapish: 2008.
Politique: La faute à Fidel, J. Gavras: 2006. Welcome, P. Lioret: 2009.
La Famille: Le premier jour du reste de ta vie, R. Besançon: 2008.
Le couple: Prête-moi ta main, E. Lartigau: 2006.
L’amitié: Mon meilleur ami, P. Lecomte: 2006. L’Homme du train, P. Leconte, 2002.

French 3700 (course description:
Passez-me voir! (course website:

I received the ALTEC Best Course Design Award 2010, for designing this course online,

from the Anderson Language and Technology Center