The People Next Door

Author: Joan M. Diez
Lesson Plan:

Throughout the years I have collected a good number of brochures and travel guides, which I take to school every now and then for different purposes. These materials are informative and colorful, so the kids enjoy using them...and they often learn a lot of interesting things too.

For some strange reason, most people in my country (Spain) hate the French. Others look down on the Moroccans and (I keep wondering why) nobody seems to care much about the Portuguese. I do not intend to win the Nobel Prize for Peace or any other International Relations award, but I strongly believe that ignorance is the root of most evils and, in order to fight any signs of prejudice and/or racialism in my students' minds, I decided to carry out a project involving the geography, the history, the traditions and the culture of our neighbors in France, Morocco and Portugal, with the hope that my kids will look at these countries and their people somehow more respectfully, so that the situation described above changes...the sooner, the better.

If you feel your students will benefit from reading about your neighboring countries, you can easily adapt our project to your own interests and needs.

We used similar strategies when dealing with the different countries. Find below some details of our research on France and the French.

We started by choosing a number of interesting topics (art and artists, business, cuisine, entertainment, fashion, geography, history, literature, famous people, places, politics, sports and the cinema.

Then, after using various manuals, encyclopaedias and, of course, the Internet, we made a list of names under each category, e.g.:

Business: Air France, Bic, Citroën, Dupont, Galleries Lafayette, Gauloises, Le Monde, Michelin, Renault.)

Fashion: Cacharel, Pierre Cardin, Chanel, Dior, Lancôme, Yves St. Laurent.

Language: ballet, cabaret, café, croissant, hôtel, lingerie, toilette, vol-au-vent.

The Cinema: Brigitte Bardot, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Juliette Binoche, Gerard Depardieu, The Lumière Brothers, Yves Montand, Jacques Tati.

Afterwards, we looked for information on the selected words and names, added pictures where possible...and we eventually made a booklet: "France, Morocco and Portugal from A to Z". It is not available at bookshops but...if you'd take my word for it... it's interesting!