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
colourful, so the kids enjoy using them…and they often learn a lot of interesting
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 neighbours 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
If you feel your students
will benefit from reading about your neighbouring 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, eg:
Business: Air France, Bic,
Citroën, Dupont, Galeries 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 take my word for it… it´s interesting!