French Poem

This poem can be used to generate some very high quality CI in French classes at any level. Just project it on the screen, start reading it and discussing it (R and D) and you will see that at some point you have a story going.

At that point just bring up the ant and first knock some language around with him or her (great interview opportunity). Next go with what comes up, which would be to bring up a few penguins and ducks (not too many in the cart) and then enact the story. Don’t be afraid to do a few grammar pop-ups! Tons of CI possible here!

When doing this poem, you will be very aware (since the image is so bizarre) of how your students are truly not focused on the language but rather are locked on to the message/image, while you cleverly pour the CI deep into their brains à leur insu.

If the image gets off the ground, you can say that you are a professional at Reader’s Theatre, because that is what this is. It’s also a chance to really enjoy your job, to remember that there can be joy in teaching, and all we have to do is get the kids focused on something interesting while we cleverly insert the language into their brains. (I cleverly repeated that bc I still think many CI teachers forget the part about CI instruction that is in italics.)

By the way, I have an entire list of good simple poems. When I finish the Four Truths activity, instead of going to stories, I will definitely do some CI with these poems. It is a fantastic way to do CI! The entire list of simple poems is here:

French Poetry for Projection


Robert Desnos

Une fourmi de dix-huit mètres
Avec un chapeau sur la tête…
Ça n’existe pas
Ça n’existe pas…
Une fourmi trainant un char plein
De pingouins et de canards…
Ça n’existe pas
Ça n’existe pas…

Une fourmi parlant français
Parlant latin et javanais
Ça n’existe pas
Ça n’existe pas…

Et pourquoi? Pourquoi … pas?



8 thoughts on “French Poem”

  1. Ben, do you know the poem “Tu dis” by Prévert? At least I think it’s by him. I have no idea which book it was published in if it was. I can’t find anything certain about it. There are a bunch of different versions, some at least are by other people copying him. Sometimes the internet weirds me out.
    Anyways, it’s a great one for beginners. I’d love to know if you know anything about it.
    Thanks for your little collection. It’s just what I need to get me back to making my own.

    TU DIS

    Tu dis que tu aimes les fleurs,
    tu les coupes.

    Tu dis que tu aimes les poissons,
    tu les manges.

    Tu dis que tu aimes les oiseaux,
    tu les mets en cage.

    Quand tu me dis « Je t’aime », j’ai peur…

    ~ Jacques Prévert 1900-1977

    1. I found another version of this poem.

      Tu dis que tu aimes la pluie,
      et tu fermes la fenêtre.

      Tu dis que tu aimes les fleurs,
      et tu leurs coupes la queue.

      Tu dis que tu aimes les poissons,
      et tu les pêches
      et tu les manges.

      Alors quand tu dis que tu m’aimes,
      j’ai un peu peur.

  2. I didn’t know this one. Very nice. I’ll add it to the list. There is one by a guy named Paul Géraldy that evokes that sentiment as well, called Dualisme. It’s in the list. I really like the way the kids respond to this poetry when I don’t have a plan to teach it. In the case of La Fourmi, it turned into a hilarious Reader’s Theatre scene, because the poem, the fantastic images, lends itself to that. Other poems we just read and talk about, sneaking in a little English, and then move on to the next poem. Very relaxed. Just hanging out with some poetry. We don’t always have to use CI all the time. Some of the stuff we used before we discovered TPRS wasn’t so bad. I am going to get these kids to memorize some of these poems and organize a little poetry declamation contest with prizes later when the winter starts beating us over the head. (Delhi is COLD in winter!)

    (By the way a note to those in DPS – Kathryn Kuypers is traveling around India right now with a friend and will be here in Delhi next month. How cool is that?)

  3. For German teachers, I recommend “ottos mops” by Ernst Jandl. It’s a great little poem that uses “o” as the only vowel.

    ottos mops trotzt
    otto: fort mops fort
    ottos mops hopst fort
    otto: soso

    otto holt koks
    otto holt obst
    otto horcht
    otto: mops mops
    otto hofft

    ottos mops klopft
    otto: komm mops komm
    ottos mops kommt
    ottos mops kotzt
    otto: ogottogott

    After we have read it and understood it (it’s actually pretty easy with only a couple of new word “trotzt”, “koks”, “horcht”), we play with it by substituting the vowel. It’s as fun and as nonsensical as the old camp song, “I want to eat an apple and banana”.

  4. I invite teachers of different languages to send in their favorite simple poems and I will categorize them by language and make a category for each of them. This can be a useful resource for teachers who might want to experiment with a class poem.

  5. I was reading The Big Book of CI over break, and was interested to see the section about using poetry! I’d tried to come up with ways to comprehensify short texts that really are over the students’ heads, but for various reasons I still need to include in some degree. This year, I have been teaching 3 well-known Bible verses, one at a time, each spread over several weeks. (I’m at a Christian school; that’s not only okay, it’s encouraged.) We did a whole variety of stuff with the aim that they’d understand and visualize the meaning. (Including drawing, then playing with their drawings, per my favorite.) But just a bit at a time, like 3-4 syllables — otherwise it’s way too much new language at once.

    I am using the same approach to teach a famous Chinese poem. I’d share the poem here, but this blog can’t handle characters. But it’s Jing Ye Si, “Thoughts on a Quiet Evening,” by Li Bai. 4 lines long, 5 characters per line, which is very typical of Tang dynasty poems. I personally love that poem, and it’s one of the first taught to Chinese kids, too — so it’s a big payoff if you know it as a non-native speaker. It’s wistful and about being far from one’s home. I plan to blog some time about the details of making this more CI than just memorizing a poem would typically be.

  6. This discussion reminds me of a poem by Georges Jean– “Il y a des mots”

    Il y a des mots, c’est pour les dire,
    c’est pour les faire frire
    c’est pour rire.

    Il y a des mots, c’est pour les chanter,
    c’est pour rêver,
    c’est pour les manger.
    Il y a des mots que l’on ramasse,
    des mots qui passent,
    des mots qui se cassent.

    Il y a des mots pour le matin,
    des mots métropolitains,
    ou lointains.

    Il y a des mots épais et noirs,
    des mots légers pour les histoires
    des mots à boire.

    Il y a des mots pour toutes les choses,
    pour les lèvres, pour les roses
    des mots pour les métamorphoses
    si l’on ose.

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