NATIONAL FRENCH WEEK

AATF

USING COMMUNITY RESOURCES AND REACHING THE LOCAL MEDIA IN THE PROMOTION OF FRENCH

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Our task as teachers of French is to promote National French Week in the community in as many creative ways as possible. The more media and community resources utilized, the more effective the campaign. We must repeat our message many times, blanketing the community with the news that “French Week is a community-wide celebration.”

It is important to identify local French businesses. Many major metropolitan cities have French-American Chambers of Commerce. These are the folks to rally to the cause of National French Week. Research local companies with branches in Francophone countries. The Alliance française and French Cultural Service provide invaluable help for locating French professionals locally.

Ask businesses for small grants or an outright sponsorship of a National French Week Fair at your school. The creation of a National French Week Fair invites collaboration with other French teachers in the area and the chance to pool students and resources. Ask business people to come and share their experiences working in French companies or in the Francophone world.

A possible format could include:

  • opening remarks by a local dignitary;
  • a brief keynote speech by a representative of a French company;
  • break-out sessions where students can meet in small groups with business people or former students using French in their jobs;
  • a concluding general assembly where lots of door prizes are awarded. Ask local businesses to donate prizes.

Contact the mayor’s office. The mayor is the most visible political figure in the community and should be amenable to supporting a community Semaine du Français. Ask that an official proclamation be done at City Hall on Wednesday, November 3 to announce the kickoff of the week. Have the proclamation printed in the local newspaper as well as the school newspaper. The media should cover this event, if possible, and the mayor’s office may help you contact reporters who usually cover city hall activities. The proclamation should be displayed prominently in your school foyer.

The superintendent of schools plus the presidents of local colleges and universities should be drafted to support la Semaine du Français as well. Contact the Public Information Coordinator at these institutions and ask them to highlight National French Week in their publications and at board meetings. Arrange for students to attend these meetings and to present a short bilingual program promoting National French Week. Ask parents to attend and lend support to the initiative.

Principals at every level should announce the theme in their buildings. Art work created by students can be displayed in store windows, fast-food outlets, and other businesses. Teachers in other disciplines should be contacted early in the year and asked to talk about France to inspire the artwork. Each picture displayed in town is an inexpensive ad for National French Week. Award prizes for the best work in categories, such as color, theme, or originality.

The Student Council often looks for themes during the fall semester. They might incorporate National French Week into a fund-raiser. French students could organize a bake sale with a French theme in return for publicity.

Local merchants meet monthly through the Chamber of Commerce and their own business groups. Ask to speak or have your students make a presentation at a meeting. They might be willing to include National French Week in their pre-holiday promotions in addition to supporting a National French Week Fair. Galleries and frame shops can feature student and professional artwork with French themes. Restaurants can highlight French specialties while bakeries could promote French bread, croissants, and desserts. Other merchants might welcome a contest in which customers purchasing a minimum of $50.00 are entered into a contest for a free trip to Paris, Quebec, or a romantic local bed and breakfast. A travel agency might donate a travel package, since this type of promotion provides visibility. Even modest prizes such as free French lessons by French teachers could be offered.

The Chamber of Commerce should also be able to provide contacts for local senior citizen groups and service organizations who should be included in mailings asking for support.

Evenings at the mall are prime time to reach a great number of people. If the mall will not donate space, it may be possible to rent a kiosk for a weekend to “sell” French. Divide the costs among a few local schools or French clubs to defray expenses. Create a multi-media display booth “selling” the idea that France and the French-speaking world are major players in the world today. Set up student-created displays with lively music, slides, movies on a continuously playing loop, or posters with themes. Students can volunteer to staff the booths in two-hour shifts and hand out inexpensive candy to attract passers by. This is an excellent opportunity for them to share their love of French and their plans to use it in their future careers!

Prepare a flyer or order copies of "Speaking French: An Investment in the Future" to distribute to the public including key facts about the French-speaking world, briefly documenting any French businesses in the region as well as local businesses with plants in French-speaking countries, and where French courses are taught in the area.

MEDIA SOURCES

Newspapers: Arrange a meeting with editors of local newspapers well in advance of November. Ask them to give extensive coverage to National French Week. Have a delegation of students provide information that can be used in advertisements and articles on the Francophone world. Ask them to cover National French Week events at your school. This is an excellent opportunity to focus on former French students working or living in a Francophone country or using French in their jobs.

Be clear in stating the need for public awareness and the appeal a promotional campaign would have to the community. Be insistent yet show a willingness to compromise. Bring letters from parents praising their child’s French program and any other supporting evidence to show how French is an important part of the curriculum.

Television: Contact the news desk and ask to talk to the coordinator of segments geared to education and children’s activities. Another good resource is community television. “French for Travelers” lessons could be featured in November with your students as teachers. In order to keep their FCC license, TV and radio stations must provide a certain number of hours of community programming per week. Contact your local stations for their policies.

Radio: Contact your community radio station(s) and ask them to broadcast the daily events of National French Week in the community or interview students about foreign travel experiences, for example.

Above all, network! Find out what jobs the parents of your students have and ask them to intercede for you.

Jacqueline Donnelly (MI)

COMMUNITY RESOURCES FOR THE PROMOTION OF FRENCH

Make use of the many resources in your community as you strive to promote French during National French Week and throughout the year. When looking for community support for your promotional activities, consider approaching the following groups:

  • Chamber of Commerce, particularly if there is a chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce;
  • local clubs and civic organizations such as Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Junior League;
  • veteran's groups such as the American Legion and VFW;
  • local or state historical societies or historical preservation groups;
  • businesses with a French connection such as French bakeries, restaurants;
  • businesses which sell French or Francophone products or have an interest in French-speaking matters such as travel agencies, grocery stores, import shops, book stores, publishers, department stores, art shops or galleries;
  • other local businesses without an obvious French connection such as health clubs or gyms, florists, gift shops, fast-food outlets might agree to help with student projects;
  • companies under French ownership or with subsidiaries in France;
  • educational organizations such as other schools, local colleges and universities, business schools, computer training facilities;
  • Alliance française;
  • local media outlets including newspapers, local magazines and other community publications, city guides, local cable access, local television and radio stations;
  • local or state arts societies or humanities associations;
  • local movie theaters;
  • local arts groups, orchestras, dance theaters, theaters;
  • service provides like printers, food and beverage suppliers, hotels;
  • international student organizations;
  • Sister City associations;
  • French and Francophone agencies such as the French Cultural Service, the Quebec Delegation, Francophone representatives.

Things you can request from community resources:

  • free or nearly free food/drink contributions for special events;
  • discounts on printing programs, flyers, announcements, tickets;
  • stickers, bookmarks, buttons, and other promotional items;
  • discounts on ads in local publications;
  • public service announcements on radio or local television;
  • free or nearly free development of graphics and printing layouts;
  • advice on marketing French;
  • free or nearly free dissemination of information;
  • free booklets in French about their operation;
  • free or nearly free guest speakers;
  • free or nearly free rooms for meetings or presentations;
  • information about career opportunities for French speakers;
  • monetary support.

Things you can do in return for support from community resources:

  • decorate the lobby of a hotel, mall, board of education office, public library, grocery store;
  • offer presentations by students including songs, skits, or presentations at meetings of civic associations, school board, and other special interest groups;
  • extend invitations for a media tour of the school in French, food tasting competition, lessons in French taught by students either in school or at other sites such as department stores, Francofête or mini-Olympics;
  • offer services such as short translations, cross-cultural advice, information about the French-speaking world;
  • be visible with your students, if possible, at community events and celebrations.

Gladys Lipton (MD)
Jayne Abrate (IL)

Reprinted from the AATF National Bulletin, Special Issue, Vol. 24 No. 5 (May 1999)

 

Created: April 25, 1999
Last update: July 31, 2015