Science, Technology, & Careers

National French Week

Science, Technology, and Careers will be celebrated throughout the U.S. in universities, large and small school districts, urban and city schools, and community French education classes. Choose one or more of these themes which could inspire a broad spectrum of activities depending on the age and interests of your students. Since the French-speaking world is a leader in medicine, transportation, and communications, you may want to select activities which highlight these themes to students who are fascinated by science and its applications. The computers and smart phones now play a large role in students’ lives, and accessing France through the Internet brings the language into real-use situations. In addition, parents are interested in the career possibilities open to young people fluent in French.

Below are possibilities for projects which can be incorporated into National French Week celebrations. The challenge is to take these activities out of the classroom and into the school and community to maximize the visibility of French. As you consider projects, think how they can be played out on a larger scale in the student center, the school or town library, the local newspaper. Engage the support of merchants and travel agents who deal with French products and French-speaking countries on a daily basis. Local industries may have chemists and researchers who might lend their expertise and ideas. Involve the parents of your students whose occupations are related to science, technology, and career placement. The challenge is to create, with the talent and resources at your disposal and in a dynamic and imaginative way, a celebration of French using these themes.

“Thank you Monsieur Pasteur”

At the elementary level draw inspiration from science and health lessons. Discuss Louis Pasteur and pasteurization. Ask students to imagine a life without chocolate milk, cheese for pizzas, or ice cream. The students can draw the pasteurization process from milking the cow through the purification and distribution of dairy products to their table. “Thank you, Monsieur Pasteur” letters and art work can be created after such a discussion and displayed in the town library or at grocery stores. To culminate the project, the students could enjoy a French ice cream party! Involve grocery stores for contributions.

The following activities can be tailored for all levels. They require lead time for research, posters, or banners and encourages interdisciplinary cooperation.

Name that Scientist

Students create posters for the school corridors featuring drawings or pictures of French-speaking scientists, mathematicians, and inventors with a brief description of when they lived and their contributions. Display these posters during National French Week. A trivia contest can be organized for students and faculty, challenging them to match facts with faces featured on the posters.

The same type of contest could occur every day of French Week with information about the “Scientifique du Jour” read during announcements by French students.

Involve the chemistry and physics teachers in projects designed to highlight French scientists. Projects centering on chemists: Claude Berthollet, Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac, Antoine Lavoisier, Louis Pasteur, and Paul Sabatier could be subjects of experiments or posters. Leaders in the world of physics such as Jean D’Alembert, Charles Coulomb, André Ampère, Sadi Carnot, Pierre et Marie Curie, Irène Joliot-Curie, Pierre Duhem, Hippolyte Fizeau, Léon Foucault, Joseph Fourier, Augustin Fresnel, Antoine Becquerel, and Maurice de Broglie could inspire projects, papers, or models for display in common areas of the school or community.

France: World Leader in Medicine

Students are often unaware of the advances Francophone scientists have and continue to make in medicine and pharmacology. The Pasteur Institute isolated the Aids virus and is responsible for significant research in the field of medicine. Students interested in medical careers could be motivated to research this institute. Famous French physicians who could be featured in the who’s who of medical leaders include Jean Fernel, Julien La Mettrie, Pierre-Charles-Alexandre Louis, Luc Montaigner, and Philippe Pinel.

Where in the world?

French geographers and navigators who opened many parts of the world to us and who included Samuel de Champlain, Paul Vidal, Cavalier de La Salle, Jacques Cartier, and the voyageurs, explored the U.S. Students can develop a school-wide guessing game on how many counties, lakes, or towns bear French names or names of French explorers. If your school is located in an area explored or settled by the French, there is a rich source of potential community awareness. Place an ad in the paper or write a feature article on the strong ties your region has to the French-speaking world.

What would our life be like without?

French inventors have changed our world. Louis Braille, André Citroën, Jacques Cousteau, the Lumière brothers, and the Montgolfier brothers are significant contributors. Each of them created valuable products which daily impact our lives. Students can have fun making models or posters of their inventions for display with a history of the evolution of the product and the rapport it has with local industries.

It adds up!

Math teachers will welcome collaboration about Blaise Pascal and René Descartes since their contributions to mathematics comprise a significant part of algebra and geometry. Solicit their support in displaying student-generated posters for the classroom or featuring these scientists in all of their classes that week.

The French Language Covers the World
  • Materials: bulletin board or other display in a conspicuous place or online posting; copy of AATF flyer entitled “Speaking French: An Investment in the Future.”
  • Preparation time: one week
  • Audience: Students, faculty, school administrators
  • Procedure: Students recreate the central panel of the above-mentioned flyer. The finished product should include not only the map but the list of careers. Career possibilities listed can be tailored to local opportunities and augmented with job ads calling for skills in French.

French Companies in the U.S.
  • Materials: bulletin board or other display in a conspicuous place or online posting; student-created or ready-made map showing French investment in U.S.
  • Preparation time: one week
  • Procedure: Recreate the map if you can’t locate a ready-made one which has lines drawn from the various states to circles. In each circle is a number corresponding to French investment in the state. For a bulletin board, replace the lines with colored string anchored by pins.  Add a list of some French companies below the map.   An electronic version can be created with links to the information.
  • Audience: students, faculty, administrators

French Companies in Our State
  • Materials: same as above
  • Preparation time: one week from receipt of statistics
  • Procedure: Search online for information about French investments in your state from the State Development Board or U.S. Department of Commerce.   Use this information to create a bulletin board or other display in a conspicuous place or online posting similar to those described above. Also include investment by Francophone companies from countries other than France. Information can be in the form of a pie chart or bar graph and can be divided into two parts, one for France and one for the Francophone world.
  • Audience: students, faculty, administrators

Guess the Nationality
  • Materials: same as above
  • Preparation time: minimum one week, depending on amount of research
  • Procedure: Students make an interactive real or virtual bulletin board.   A real bulletin board can be created by cutting fold-overs with the name of a company on top. Students lift the top fold and underneath is the nationality. A virtual version can be made where the company appears when students scroll over the name.   Make sure that there are some surprises. More advanced or highly motivated students could research the companies and provide additional information about each company under the flap along with the nationality

French and Careers
  • Procedure: Younger students can study the names of careers in French and learn how French can be useful in each. Each child chooses or is assigned a career in which French is useful and, with the aid of the teacher, letters a simple sign stating “Je suis infirmière” or “Je suis avocat,” “Je parle français” or “J’utilise le français dans mon métier.” Students wear their signs on the day of National French Week when careers are emphasized. They may want to decorate the signs with something that represents the profession such as a stethoscope for a nurse or doctor, an airplane for a flight attendant, or a book for a librarian.
  • Audience: students, faculty, administrators

French: A Language of Business
  • Materials needed: flyers, brochures, labels, and direction leaflets in French from a variety of products. Students can look for labels written in French in supermarkets or stores; many products (cars, dishwashers, cameras, VCRs) provide directions in French, and some dealers (for example, car or appliance) will furnish these in French.
  • Procedure: Students combine written texts with product images to form a colorful collage, with the title “French: A Language of International Business.” Involve the art teacher and make this into a more elaborate permanent display that can be used for several years.
  • Audience: students, faculty, administrators

What's Your French IQ?
  • Materials needed: Materials: bulletin board or other display in a conspicuous place or online posting; flyer entitled “Speaking French: An Investment in the Future”
  • Preparation time: one week
  • Procedure: Students create an interactive question-answer display using questions based on information from the flyer and found online. The questions are written, but the answers are hidden.  Sample questions: Which French-speaking country is the most important export market for the U.S.? Which French-speaking country is the number one tourist destination in the world? Which of the following items does the U.S. import from France? A variation might be to post one or two questions each day during National French Week.
  • Audience: students, faculty, administrators

French across the Campus
  • Materials: recording equipment; list of prepared questions; informed consent form.
  • Preparation time: Several weeks will be needed to identify individuals willing to be interviewed (possibilities are anthropology, linguistics, history, medicine, biology, physics, English); practice interview techniques and practice with the video camera; schedule interviews; record and edit the interviews.
  • Procedure: The interviews should be done with a partner, one interviewer and one camera operator. People being interviewed should be told how the recording will be used and be asked to sign an informed consent form. Interviews should deal with the way these individuals use French in their work but should be in English in order to reach the widest audience. The video should be shown during a prearranged time on the campus station. The recorded material may also be used by professors of French teaching required courses in order to encourage students to take more advanced courses.
  • Audience: faculty, students and administrators

French in the World of Work
  • Materials: recording equipment
  • Preparation time: several weeks will be needed for the project from start to finish
  • Procedure: Same as above but using interview subjects outside an academic setting (international lawyers, diplomats, business people, librarians, missionaries, journalists, hotel employees) who use the language in their line of work. The local Alliance française may be a good starting point for identifying interview subjects. A variation would be to invite a speaker or panel of speakers to the campus and record their presentations.
  • Audience: faculty, students, administrators


Quizzes and puzzles can be run in the school newspaper or on a website during National French Week. Prizes may be given as an incentive to get the entire school to participate. For instance, create a crossword puzzle or other word puzzle using the names of French companies and the products they manufacture.

Which Companies are Owned by French or Francophone Countries?

Students receive a list of names of companies and asked to guess which are French or Francophone owned. Be sure to include names of companies that are not obviously French or Francophone along with well-known companies such as Michelin. School-wide participation should be encouraged.

Models of Modern French Engineering Feats

Students make models of French technological marvels such as the Ariane rocket, TGV, Eurotunnel, Eiffel Tower, Eiffel bridges, Viaduc de Millau, or the Pont de Normandie for display in a prominent places.

Create a French Webpage

Students can create their own webpage(s) or blogs linking any French projects.

Bon Voyage!

France is the number one tourist destination in the world. Students may want to interview travel agencies for insights as to how many people in their community travel to French-speaking countries every year. In addition, students could contact industries to ascertain how many employees travel to Francophone countries and how often. A display could be created using brochures or ads from the agencies and countries with the message: “Travel and French: A Daily Connection.”

Career Fair

Create a career fair in conjunction with the counseling department to bring into the school companies who have international operations. Contact U.S. Government and state agencies, the fashion and garment industry, U.S. subsidiaries of French companies, French subsidiaries of American companies, telecommunications, civil engineering, aeronautics, travel, hotel chains, import/export companies, sports stores, food distributors, and others. This is an excellent opportunity to point out Canada as our major trading partner.

The French-Speaking World in Your Life

In the local news, students should note for a month how many references appear about Francophone politics, economics, sales, entertainment, food, and travel. These articles could be displayed on a large banner which proves that we are influenced and touched daily by the Francophone world.

Vive le Sport Now and in the Future

Many students eat, breathe, and participate in sports and might be anticipating a career in sports. Since many champions from French-speaking countries are known world-wide, a large real or virtual display should be constructed with photos and headlines from Sports Illustrated, biking, skiing, sailing, and soccer publications. A trivia contest could be organized. How many French have circumnavigated the world alone? How many days does the Tour de France last? Local sports stores might donate posters and advertising. The Montreal Canadiens Hockey team has bilingual broadcasts, and many U.S. hockey teams have French-speaking Canadian players who can be contacted for support.

Create a Toy

Students create packaging for a real or imaginary product. The box features pertinent information in French, and students create an advertisement for it, including instructions for use and warnings about dangers.

The Great Bonbon Sales Campaign

As a fundraiser, the French students sell French candy. The advertising, through posters and announcements, should be in French with enough graphics to convey meaning for non-Francophone students. Tee-shirts can be tie-dyed and puff-painted with French slogans for the salespeople to wear on a sales-blitz day. Parents can sell candy at work and display the student-generated flyers written in French.

Scavenger Hunt

Have the students make up questions based on Francophone culture, history, Paris, châteaux, etc. with a bibliography of websites  consulted. Publicize these to the school and have students find as many answers as possible. Offer prizes to the winners. Example: How many arches are there under the gallery at Chenonceau?

“French Rocks”

Students film themselves throughout the fall in skits, mock rock video lipsync’s, and student-created commercials which are played in a prominent place at school as a kickoff to French week. This program could be offered to community television for airing.

Parlez-vous français?

With the cooperation of community television, students produce three or more lessons on basic French for travelers or diners which would be shown during National French Week. They also could offer their services at the local library or elementary school for mini-classes at that time.

Télématin or the Today Show

Students produce a show with two hosts, a weather person, a cooking demonstration, three commercials, a sports report, and a feature story. This project could take a week to write and two days to film, but the results would be not only fun but great visibility for the program if shown at parent conferences, at school, or on community television. Invite students’ friends to stop by during National French Week for candy and a viewing.

Opération Afrique

The Peace Corps connects teachers and volunteers for letter and audio-tape exchanges Link each class with a volunteer in a Francophone country, and learn early what the children in the village could use such as books or school supplies. Start early and collect funds throughout the school to purchase these products. Have an official send-off party during National French Week with press coverage of the event.  Play music from those countries.

Correspondents From Around the World

Link your students to correspondents from Francophone countries. Students love pictures, recordings  done in the students’ native language, favorite songs, etc. Keypals can write each other or establish communication on chat lines. Although this has to be carefully monitored, the benefits are worth the effort. A banner with a copy of the photo of each correspondent could be made to display in the school with the caption “French-Speaking Friends From Around the World.” Explore officially linking your school with a Francophone sister school and maximize the publicity. Perhaps a decree from the foreign school’s principal or town mayor could make the link official. Ask your principal and mayor to do the same.

The Virtual High School

Students can create a Virtual High School with multi-media presentations. They can take pictures of or record students in class, gym, the cafeteria, the school store, and at school events. These would be accompanied by captions or subtitles explaining the images and assembled with music from the school band or orchestra. Then, the program could be shared with students of English at a Francophone school. This project would be announced in the fall and take two months to complete.

Joyce Beckwith (MA)
Brenda Benzin (NY)
Jackie Donnelly (MI)
Nancy Gadbois (MA)
Elizabeth Joiner (SC)