Les Conversations Mises à Jour is a collection of authentic conversations in French that targets mostly intermediate and advanced learners of French. Each conversation highlights the shared experience of two native or near-native French speakers and provides both an oral history of that experience and a trove of cultural references.
We were originally inspired by StoryCorps, an independent non-profit project to provide individual Americans with a way to preserve their own oral histories, and decided to loosely structure the conversations with a similar question and answer format designed to spark a real and open dialogue between the speakers. The conversations are all very different, as they focus on different themes and feature speakers of diverse ages and backgrounds, but they share a common result: a natural and un-rehearsed reaction and commentary in French.
The conversations were conceived of thematically, but are organized also according to the language function that they demonstrate. The concept of communicative functions breaks down a language into 7 core functional components:
- asking questions,
- making hypotheses,
- narrating in the past,
- reacting and recommending, and
- talking about the future.
You can see examples of these different functions and the chief grammar points that come into play for each one in the language functions tab. Also listed on these tabs are all of the conversation clips that demonstrate the respective functions.
Suggestions for Use
Each conversation is edited into a series of clips that roughly correspond to the individual questions asked. They are presented here in the order that they occurred in the original conversation and may be slightly edited to distill the essence of the conversation. Every clip can be watched with or without the closed captions and the full transcript for each clip can also be displayed. In addition, we have linked full grammar explanations for relevant grammar structure to each clip.
We have also provided vocabulary notes for each conversation and sample activities for the collection. Sample activities could be adapted for any of the clips and could target a range of student levels. In most cases, the beginning level activities could be sequencing or T/F activities, intermediate level could be fill in the blank or comprehension questions, and advanced level activities could be a dictée or a even a translation. At every level, however, a great culminating activity is to have the student answer the same, or a similar question that is asked in the video.
This is the ultimate goal of this collection, to have learners of French participate in real conversations in French. We hope you will find it useful in getting your own conversations started, and we invite you to submit ideas for activities to us that use the conversations for inclusion on the site.