How to do better in your French 222 oral work:


In class tips:

Please never be afraid to participate orally in class.  I will never make fun of you, and will not permit others to do the same.

It is always better for your grade and your development as a speaker to answer in French any question asked of you, than to remain silent.

Listen to questions asked of your classmates and their responses.  You could get the same questions later.

Try to answer questions directly, reusing part of the question in your answer.

If all you can do is get the basic information out, do so.  Then, if you have the presence of mind, go back and elaborate.

Speak as clearly as possible, but at your own pace.
 

As you answer questions in class, record your voice or face me for orals, please remember, this class has a minimum outcomes target, based on the "Linermediate Low/Mid" proficiency level in the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview scale, as given below:
 

Intermediate-Low on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Scale
 
Able to handle successfully a limited number of interactive, task-oriented, and social situations. Can ask and answer questions, initiate and respond to simple statements, and maintain face-to-face conversation, although in a highly restricted manner and with much linguistic inaccuracy. Within these limitations, can perform such tasks as introducing self, ordering a meal, asking directions, and making purchases. Vocabulary is adequate to express only the most elementary needs. Strong interference from native language may occur. Misunderstandings frequently arise, but with repetition, the Intermediate-Low speaker can generally be understood by sympathetic interlocutors.
 

Intermediate-Mid on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Scale
 
Able to handle successfully a variety of uncomplicated, basic, and communicative tasks and social situations. Can talk simply about self and family members. Can ask and answer questions and participate in simple conversations on topics beyond the most immediate needs; e.g., personal history and leisure time activities. Utterance length increases slightly, but speech may continue to be characterized by frequent long pauses, since the smooth incorporation of even basic conversational strategies is often hindered as the speaker struggles to create appropriate language forms. Pronunciation may continue to be strongly influenced by first language and fluency may still be strained. Although misunderstandings still arise, the Intermediate-Mid speaker can generally be understood by sympathetic interlocutors.
 

Of course a prepared speech will vary in that it will be richer in complete sentences, recombinations of expressions and situational adaptations.  Whether you read aloud something you wrote or something I have assigned you, remember the following characteristics of French speech:

While we accentuate consonants, the French focus on vowels

Our anticipation of consonants causes us to close our mouths on vowels, splitting or diphthonging vowel sounds.  French syllables begin with a consonant or consonant or consonant cluster and ends with a vowel. This produces a more "pure" vowel sound,

Many final consonants are silent in French

In a some cases a normally silent French consonant elides a word following it beginning with a vowel sound (ils ont = they have)

In English, we emphasize words by altering rhythm, lengthening syllables and saying them louder. Our discourse tends to highlight individual words.  In French this emphasis is accomplished by word placement, the use of tonic forms or adding words.  French discourse shifts the focus from individual words to whole utterances made of syllables, and the rhythm is fairly even.

In general, French discourse can characterized by the term "chain of sound". Within that chain, syllables are the important units and they are made the same way, beginning with consonant or consonant cluster and ending with a vowel sound (oral or nasal).  Tone decends at the end of short declarative sentences and information questions.  It ascends in yes/no questions.


Pronunciation aids connected with Deux Mondes

In the "Interactive CD-ROM", beginning with chapter 1, the section called "Vidéothèque" contains a pronunciation comparison exercise called "bavardons". It also contains an opportunity to see how words sound in context. In the subsection, "à vos écrins", there is a rectangular button labeled "texte", which will allow you to read a transcription of the dialogue,  while the actors are performing it.

In the "audio CD", along with audio related to your Cahier d'exercices, you will also find a complete introduction to basic phonetics and pronunciation, plus exercises.  Note that any reading in your textbook marked with an earphones icon is read aloud on this CD.
   

Here are some web sites with specific advice about French (often with audio applications)

    How to pronounce French
    http://www.stedwards.edu/hum/guillory/phonetics/frameset.html

    BBC Pronunciation Guide
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/lj/pronunciation/

    Ch. 2 French pronunciation (with realaudio files)
    http://www.frenchtutorial.com/standard/pronunciation/index.php

    Rhythm - French Pronunciation
    http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-rhythm.htm

    Pronunciation
    http://www.ldsmissions.net/fpm/fpg.html

    French Pronunciation Guide
    http://www.askoxford.com/languages/fr/toi_french/pronunciation/
 
 

Oral Evaluation Guidelines

Even though many of the following concerns may not apply to the French oral work you do at this level, here is a whole-cloth list of quality points I use in evaluating student oral work:

Are the answers direct?
Does the paragraph stick to the assigned theme?
Is the information reasonably accurate?
Is there a logical and intuitive organisation to the paragraph?
Are the paragraphs in a logical order?
Do the paragraphs bring the subject or argument to a logical colosure?

Discourse level (text type): is it largely

     individual words?
     phrases (learned or authentic)?
     recombinations of learned phrases?
     basic sentences?
     compound sentences?
     complex sentences?
     basic questions?
     prefaced and complex questions?
     paragraphs?
     appropriately linked paragraphs?

Grammatical accuracy

     utterances opaque because of faulty grammar
     faulty grammar increase the chance of being misunderstood
     the few errors do not impede understanding
     grammatically accurate
     grammatical skill and flexibility enhances sense

Vocabulary and usage

     inappropriate vocabulary or usage obscures sense.
     inappropriate vocabulary or usage increase the chance of being misunderstood.
     a few inappropriate or misused words do not impede understanding.
     appropriate vocabulary and usage for sense.
     highly appropriate vocabulary and usage enhance sense.

Pronunciation an rhythm

     poor pronunciation and rhythm obscure the sense.
     poor pronunciation and rhythm may compromise the sense.
     the few pronunciation and rhythm errors will not compromise the sense.
     pronunciation and rhythm are adequate to convey the sense.
     excellent pronunciation and rhythm enhance the sense.