Your French class deserves to see the full, complex, and beautiful range of Francophone culture for what it really is. Too often, Black leaders are underrepresented in French culture lessons, even though the Black French-speaking population outnumbers that of France. There’s no shortage of inspiration for which leaders of color to showcase in your middle school lesson plans or high school French activities.
Watch the Full Demo Lesson Video
To make it easy to find quick-to-implement ideas you can use tomorrow, I‘ve compiled for French teachers the very best highlights from my years as a French teacher and the resources I used to celebrate Black Francophone leaders in my French 1 curriculum.
Celebrate Black History All Year Long
Although these lessons are especially helpful for ideas for Black History Month in French class, I had the most success in class when representation was a focus all year round. Your students of color will appreciate this too.
I recently had an interview with John Bracey about “Connecting with Students of Color” during my free virtual conference – you’re invited to the next one! – Practical & Comprehensible. One of his most powerful points was how weird and awkward it is to be a student of color and have a month to “celebrate a culture.” That culture is who he is as a human being. In his words, it was like he only belonged or was appreciated at school in February. Or even worse, that he was the uncomfortable center of attention.
Although honoring Black History Month is great, it can also be misused to be the only time we focus on representation and honoring Black History. John encourages us to combat the erasure of people of color from history by putting the stories of people of color back into the whitewashed curriculum.
Black History Month Ideas for French Class
February as Black History Month will only land well with your students if you’ve been valuing Black contributions and leaders all year long. Otherwise, it can come off as a check in the block. I’ve made this mistake before. It felt forced and inauthentic. Conversations were entirely one-sided, led by me.
Have you ever felt like this in your class? It all changed when I flipped the point of representation in class to focus on two things:
1. celebrate leaders over oppression
2. representation all year long and especially in certain months, not just during certain months.
Spend More Time on Leaders, Not Oppression
The first part was very crucial – conversations in schools about Black history are dominated by struggle. While we’re not here to erase history, there are just as many stories of triumph, strength, and leadership. Why not highlight those in your French class?
From this effort to show students more Black leaders and community heroes who speak French, I curated a list over the years of the best French materials to make this as easy as possible for you as the teacher.
Black Leaders: Lessons for French Class
Ready for the class on digital and in-person demo lessons for celebrating Black Francophone culture in your French class?
Here are all of the mentioned resources from the class:
- Article Madame Figaro – Business Leaders from the Afro-Diaspora
- La Négritude Literary Movement
- Qui Parle Français? – CI Reader for novice level * (this is an affiliate link through Amazon – I get a small commission at no cost to you if you choose to purchase.)
- Full Blog Post on Black History Month Ideas for French Class
- Full Blog Post on Culturally Responsive Teaching in World Language
Aimé Césaire and La Négritude – Digital Lesson for French Class
If you’re ready to deep dive on La Négritude with your class, check out this virtual field trip on his home country la Martinique and his rich life history there.
This post is part of the WoLang Wednesday class series. Every Wednesday, I go live @3pm EST either on instagram or facebook for a fun, casual chat on all things world language. Some classes are for French, some for Spanish, and many for both.
Never miss a class – make sure that you’re following me on instagram and facebook to get notifications each Wednesday about when I go live and what the classes are about.
If you love this post and you’d like to go deeper on representation and the how to become a more culturally responsive teacher, check out this post on Culturally Responsive Teaching In World Language.
Decolonize Your Curriculum
Ready to learn more about Decolonizing your Curriculum?
Download the Roadmap to Proficiency for World Language Teachers. There are even more steps outlined in there for how to reframe your curriculum and lesson plans outside of a colonizer/colonized mindset.
You can also read more in my post here about what decolonizing your world language curriculum means. I’m certainly not an expert, but the work is urgent and worth sharing.
Keep doing amazing work in your classroom and I can’t wait to hear about your Francophone lessons that celebrate Black excellence all year long.
Rooting for you,