CURRICULUM UNITS HOME

INCORPORATING CAMEROONIAN CULTURES
INTO
FRENCH CLASSES

Read the overview on this page, then click on any of the links to go to a lesson.
Overwiew

Lesson 1:Introduction to Africa and Cameroon

Lesson 2: Communication in Cameroon
Lesson 3: Transportation in Cameroon
Lesson 4: Clothing in Cameroon
Lesson 5: Weather and Seasons

 

 

 

Overview

As school populations become increasingly multicultural and international communication grows, it is imperative to address multiple cultures in our curriculum. As a French teacher, this means addressing more than simply the culture of France; it means incorporating the culture of other French-speaking countries, such as Cameroon in Africa.

Ideally, the study of other cultures where French is spoken should be incorporated throughout a course rather than confined to a single unit. Incorporating multiple cultures throughout emphasizes their importance. It's easy to do. Simply incorporate related mini-lessons into the lessons already provided in the classroom textbook. For example, during a textbook chapter covering types of transportation and related vocabulary, you may discuss transportation in different French-speaking countries like Cameroon. You may discuss where people go and why, what they transport and where they transport it to, etc. This can be done with units on food, weather, sports, work, clothing, etc. The following mini-lessons are intended to help you incorporate Cameroonian culture throughout your course.

Educators and researchers such as Rossner (1988) and Snyder et al. (1987) view learning as a process involving students and teachers questioning, drawing upon their own experiences, relating them to new information, and creating their own meaning from what they learn. Students' understanding of other cultures involves drawing from their personal background, perspectives, and understanding of their own culture. Hence, the following lessons aim at getting students to brainstorm, make use of what they already know, and make comparisons between Cameroonian culture and their own. Activities include guided discussions and group work as tools for teaching.

Lessons should be conducted in French as much as possible. However, these lessons need not be limited to French classes. They can be modified to use in other content area classes such as literature, social studies or geography classes. French teachers are encouraged to collaborate with other content area teachers and share ideas and materials.

Who are these lessons designed for?These lessons have been designed with middle school or high school students in mind. They have been designed to use in French courses but the discussions and activities may be used in other content area courses such as social studies or world geography.

What should students be able to do? By the end of each chapter or unit covering a particular subject such as communication or transportation, students should be able to (in addition to the textbook material):
1) listen to, speak, read, and write vocabulary related specifically to Cameroon;
2) use the appropriate adjectives, verbs etc. to describe the subject matter, i.e. what someone is wearing, what the weather is like, what someone is doing; and
3) make comparisons, in French, between Cameroon, France, and the United States regarding the subject they have studied.
*One possible way to evaluate students is to have them put together a travel brochure for Cameroon. This could be a culminating activity at the end of a semester. At the end of each chapter or textbook unit in which mini lessons on Cameroon and its culture have been incorporated, students may create corresponding sections of a travel brochure i.e. a section on the weather and what sort of clothes to wear. By the end of a semester, students should be able to put together a comprehensive travel brochure for the country.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Africa and Cameroon

Purpose: Use this lesson early in the course to get students thinking about other places where French is spoken and making connections between other cultures and their own. This may give the language more relevance to students' lives and may serve to motivate them. After introducing places where French is spoken, let students know that they will study about the French-speaking country Cameroon in Africa. You may also talk about other French-speaking countries in Africa if you have information and materials to do so.

Materials: Large wall map of the world, large wall map of Cameroon (optional), small map of Africa located at the end of this lesson bold stickers, scrap paper.

Reminder: This lesson should be conducted in French as much as possible.

Part 1: Brainstorming

1. Looking at a map of the world, ask students: Where in the world do people speak English besides the United States?
2. Allow students in teams of two or three to brainstorm and list places. (England, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Philippines, Malaysia)
3. Looking at the map, ask students: Where do people speak French besides France?
4. Again, allow students in small teams to brainstorm and list places. (Louisiana, Québec, Haiti, Switzerland, Morocco, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon, Madagascar, Vietnam - see attached list).
5. Give students five minutes in teams to list as many places where they know or think French is spoken and to write down their answers on scrap paper.
*Ask students to keep their textbooks closed while brainstorming since most texts include a map of the Francophone world.
6. Collect team responses at the end of the allotted time.
7. Have one student read the team responses aloud to the class.
8. Let the class negotiate and come to agreement upon where French is spoken.
9. Have another student mark with stickers on the world map the countries the class agrees upon.
10. Refer to the list of French-speaking areas at the end of this lesson and read the names of other places students have not named while they continue to put stickers on the map.
*You may, at this time, have students open their textbooks to the map of the Francophone world if it has one.
11. Leave the world map on which students have indicated French-speaking areas hanging on the wall throughout the course so that students may refer to it.
12. Ask students to look at the map and decide where the majority of countries in which French is spoken are located? (Africa)
13. Ask the class to think of why French is spoken in Africa.(Exploration by Europeans, especially French, the search for resources such as gold and ivory, colonialization)
14. Briefly discuss colonialization. Perhaps make a comparison between westward movement in the U.S. by settlers and Native Americans.
15. Briefly discuss history of Cameroon.

Background information:
*See "Cameroon: An Overview" at the end of this lesson.
16. Let the class know that they will be studying about Cameroon and Cameroonian culture throughout the course.

Part 2: Discussion

1. Generate discussion with students by asking: What connections do you have to Africa? Has anyone in the class traveled to Africa or have friends from Africa?
2. Ask students to: Write down two things they think they know about Africa or a specific country in Africa and two things they would like to know about the continent or a specific country.

3. Collect responses. *Students need not put their names on them. The reason for collecting responses without students names and having the teacher read them is to encourage students to feel free to respond and question.
4. Read students' questions aloud and/or write on an overhead projector.

5. Challenge students to answer each others' questions.
6. Any unanswered questions may be left for a discussion at the end of the semester to see if students can answer them at that time based on what they have learned.

French-Speaking Areas of the World
Louisiane                                  Nouvelle-Angleterre                       Québec au Canada        
Miqueion                                   
St. Pierre                                     Haiti                     
Guadeloupe                               Martinique Guyane Française        Tahiti                       
Belgique                                    Luxembourg                                 Suisse
France                                      Tunisie                                         Maroc
Algérie                                      Mauritanie                                     Niger
Mali                                          Sénégal                                        Guinée
Burkina Faso                             Côte-D'Ivoire                                  Togo
Bénin                                        Tchad                                           Cameroun
Gabon                                       République Du Congo                    République Centrafricaine Ruanda                                      Burundi                                        Zaire
Liban                                         Djibouti                                        Ile Maurice Réunion Madagascar                               Vietnam                                       Cambodge
Nouvelle-Calédonie

Lesson 2: Communication in Cameroon

Purpose: This lesson aims at incorporating Cameroonian culture related to communication into a textbook unit covering vocabulary for forms of communication and verbs such as ,<parler>,<écrire>, and <lire>. This lesson is ideal to precede or follow a lesson on transportation since communication and transportation are so related.

Materials: Miniature slit drum, overhead transparencies of a slit drum and a Cabin Telephonique, the film Destination Cameroon, and the "Critical Incident" page (included with this lesson) for overhead transparency or worksheets.

Materials (slit drum and film) can be obtained from the Indiana University African Studies Outreach Program.Call the Outreach Coordinator at 812-855-6825.

Reminder: This lesson should be conducted in French as much as possible.

Part 1: Problem Solving
1. Show the class a slit drum/talking drum or photos of one but do not tell them what it is called. It has also been referred to as a slit gong.
2. In teams of two or three, let students guess what the object is and what it is used for, and write down one possible use for the object.
3. Choose a student to collect team guesses and put in a container.
4. Include a description of the object's real use and tell students that you have included a correct description.
5. Let another student randomly pull out descriptions that the students have written and read them aloud, reading through all descriptions.
6. Give students three or four minutes to guess which definition they think is correct.
7. Tell students what the object is called and give the correct description.

Background information:
The object is called a slit drum. A slit drum is used in various locations in Cameroon and in many other countries in Africa. The slit drum is used to call individuals or to call all persons in a village, perhaps for a meeting or an important occasion, etc. It is used to deliver messages (sort of like morse code). "The slit gongs [slit drums], whose sound carried for miles, were beaten to announce war or call the inhabitants of Fumban [a city in the West Province] together for festivals or in times of need. They lay in the vast dancing field in front of the palace" (Geary, p.88).
8. Show the section in the film Destination Cameroon that presents a slit drum. Time 8:20
Other suggestions:
Have students create codes on the drums for their names or for announcing the beginning and end of class.
Have students construct their own talking drum out of wood or cardboard (be creative).
Have students write a short explanation, using the verbs and expressions in their chapter and/or previous lessons, to describe the talking drum and compare it to a form of communication in the U.S.

Part 2: Making Comparisons

1. Have students think about what objects almost all U.S. citizens have in their home for the purpose of communication.
2. Have one student list these objects and other forms of communication generated by the class on the board or an overhead. (mailbox, telephone, smoke alarm, radio, etc.).
3. In small teams have students discuss how they would ask a friend over to their house or communicate with relatives who live far away if they didn't have a telephone.
4. Have teams share their responses with the class.
5. Again in small teams, ask students to brainstorm how they would receive mail without a mailbox.
6. Let teams share their responses with the class.
7. To generate discussion on the importance of communication, have students talk about a personal situation when they needed to be able to communicate with someone but couldn't.
8. Relay background information to students and show slide and/or photo of a public telephone cabin.
Background information:
Few people in Cameroon have a telephone. Some wealthy people and offices have telephones. What does a Cameroonian do if s/he wants to get in touch with someone? S/he waits until seeing the other person or sends a letter. Some people may be able to use a neighbor's phone. If they cannot use a neighbor's phone, they may go to a public "Cabin Telephonique." However, remember that it is necessary for both parties to have a phone. Even though someone goes to a telephone cabin, the other party may not have a phone to call (especially not in a small village). You can have students think of other ways that messages can be communicated.

Part 3: Critical Incident

Do this activity with the class as a whole, presenting the critical incident on an overhead projector OR with small groups, giving each group a copy of the critical incident. Use the following page titled Critical Incident to make an overhead transparency OR photocopies. The critical incident may also simply be presented orally to the class.
Background information: People in Cameroon do not have mailboxes at their homes. Some people (very few) have post office boxes. People who have post office boxes are usually in high positions at a university or business or in the government. People who do not have a post office box may use the box of someone they know. Mail is often hand delivered. For example, a young boy lives with his aunt and uncle in the city while he attends school. His mother lives in a village far from the city where he attends school. (This is a common situation). When he wants to communicate with her, he must find someone who is going to his village and ask them to deliver a letter or give her a verbal message.

Critical Incident
Directions: Imagine yourself in the following situations and try to answer the following questions.

Situation 1: A student from the United States was visiting a wood carving shop in Bamenda (locate Bamenda on the map). A man who worked in the shop gave the student two addressed letters. What do you suppose he wanted the student to do with the letters? Why?

Situation 2: Later, during the same trip, the student was riding in a bus from Bafoussam to Yaoundé (locate these cities on the map). A man and woman ran out to the road and waved to the driver of the bus to stop. What do you suppose they wanted the driver to stop for? How did they know where he was going?

Lesson 3: Transportation in Cameroon

Purpose: This lesson aims at giving students a basic understanding of what transportation is like in Cameroon and helping them make comparisons between transportation in Cameroon and the U.S. This lesson may be incorporated into a textbook unit that discusses different forms of transportation and related vocabulary and verbs. Materials: Photos and corresponding slides of different forms of transportation in Cameroon (included with this lesson), "Critical Incident" page (included with this lesson) for overhead transparency or worksheets. Reminder: This lesson should be conducted in French as much as possible.

Part 1: Discussion and Comparisons
In order to generate a discussion about transportation and its importance in students' lives:

1. Begin by asking students questions such as: How did you get to school today? Have you ever ridden on a bus or train or flown in an airplane? Do you walk or ride a bike often? Do one of your parents or a relative work in a job related to transportation? How does your mail get to your house? How does the food you find at the grocery store get there?

2. Have students get into groups of three or four and assign roles of a leader, recorder, presenter, and a time keeper if there are four members.
3. Give groups five minutes to list as many ways as they can think of that we travel in our country and two or three ways we transport food, livestock and other goods.
4. Then give each group a photo depicting some form of transportation in Cameroon.
5. Give groups five to seven minutes to discuss what they see happening in their photo and write about it.
6. Allow each group's presenter to tell the class briefly about the photo, i.e. what form of transportation is being used and a possible scenario for where the people are going and/or what they are transporting. Show the appropriate slide as each group discusses their photo.
7. Show any other pictures and/or slides you may have of transportation in Cameroon, i.e. trains, cars, trucks, taxis, mopeds (also taxis), roads and especially pictures of trucks and buses loaded with people, animals, produce, etc. and people walking along side the roads.
9. Generate more discussion, asking questions such as: Why are there so many people on the bus? Where do you suppose they are going?
10. Make comparisons between transportation in Cameroon with transportation in the U.S.

Background Information:
The most common method of travel in Cameroon is walking. Travelers, traders, farmers and others travel by foot, often carrying heavy loads on their heads. They might be carrying water, grain or fruit, for example. At the beginning of the 20th century motor transport was introduced to Cameroon by the Germans who also built narrow gauge railroads in the coastal plantations. Today, Cameroon has a railway system. However, it is not extensive. Cameroon also has its own airlines called Cameroon Air which flies to Europe and within Cameroon.

Cameroon has several types of roads Cameroon has primary and secondary roads which are always paved. However, there are only a few of them, running mostly between the larger cities. The majority of the roads in Cameroon are called primary and secondary "all weather" roads. The term "all weather" is misleading, however, because these roads may or may not be paved and are sometimes impassable during the rainy season. In addition, there are other smaller unpaved roads. The harsh effects of the rainy season leave many roads with gigantic potholes that make them impassable.

Each year many roads must be leveled. It is not uncommon to see a van or truck loaded with people, furniture, produce and animals heading to market in the city or home in a village. I once saw a goat on top of a van tied along with luggage, produce and a chair. In the larger cities, mopeds are often used as taxis. It is common to see three people riding one of these moped taxis. People also use carts to carry food and other items, although more often people use their heads to transport items. Even small children are seen carrying food items for sale on their heads, walking along the road or street selling them.

Part 2: Critical Incident

1. Tell students of the following incident: Joan is a Peace Corps volunteer. She has just arrived in Cameroon and is taking a taxi from the airport to a hotel in Douala (locate Douala on the map). Driving down the road from the airport she begins to notice clumps of grass in the road. They look like they have been purposefully placed there - not haphazardly thrown or fallen. The taxi driver begins to drive in the middle of the road, and moves toward the other side. Then she sees. . .

2. Ask students the following questions: What do you think Joan sees? Why does the taxi driver move over? What significance do the clumps of grass have?

3. Allow students to guess the purpose of the clumps of grass. Background information: When there has been an accident or someone is having car trouble like a flat tire, people do not use flares or flashing lights. Instead, they pull clumps of grass from the side of the road and place them in the road for a distance in front of and behind the stopped vehicle to warn others that they are stopped. Critical Incident Directions: Imagine the following situation and try to discover its meaning.

Situation: Joan is a Peace Corps volunteer. She has just arrived in Cameroon and is taking a taxi from the airport to a hotel in Douala (locate Douala on the map). Driving down the road from the airport she begins to notice clumps of grass in the road. They look like they have been purposefully placed there - not haphazardly thrown or dropped. Paul, the taxi driver begins to move to the other side of the road. Then she sees. . . What does Joan see? Why does the taxi driver move to the other side of the road? What is the significance of the clumps of grass?

Lesson 4: Clothing in Cameroon

Purpose: This lesson is designed to incorporate Cameroonian culture, through clothing and related issues like climate and weather, into a textbook unit covering vocabulary for clothing and verbs such as and . It may also be used to review colors and other adjectives.
Materials: Cameroonian clothing articles, numbered photos of Cameroonian clothing (included with this lesson), index cards; write on each index card the name of a clothing article and the number of the corresponding photo of the article, slides (optional). Clothing and slides may be obtained from the Indiana University African Studies Outreach Program.
Call the Outreach Coordinator at 812-855-6825. Ask around to see if any other teachers have Cameroonian clothing or similar garb.
Reminder: This lesson should be conducted in French as much as possible.

Part 1: Team work

1. Choose students to wear clothing from Cameroon. *If you do not obtain clothing articles, you may rely on photos and slides.
2. Give out numbered index cards with names of clothing articles written on them to students who are not wearing a Cameroonian clothing article.
3. Give other students photos of the items with corresponding numbers written on them.

* Students without anything can pair up with another student with a card or photo.

4. Have students mix and mingle to match the correct name of a clothing article with its photo, and then find the person wearing the item.
5. Have students tell the class what the student in their group is wearing or what the person in their photo is wearing, practicing appropriate verbs. Example: (Jean port un boubou. C'est un chemise porté par les hommes.)
6. Have another person describe the outfit, practicing adjectives such as colors. Example: (Le boubou que Jean port est bleu.)
7. Discuss with students the types of clothing they wear during different seasons.
8. Ask them to think about how climate influences what they wear.
9. Ask students what they notice about the Cameroonian clothing their classmates are wearing or about the clothing in the photos. (It fits loosely or it is very colorful, for examples.)
10. Ask them why they suppose Cameroonians wear loose clothing? Let students guess. (The climate is hot.) (It provides protection from the sun near the equator.)
11. Show pictures or slides of women from Northern Cameroon and ask students to notice the way most women are dressed. (They wear clothing that covers most of their body.)
12. Explain that these women wear clothing that covers the entire body and head because of religious beliefs.
13. See if students can guess what religion this is. (Islam)

Part 2: Problem Solving

*Follow the format for the problem solving activity using the talking drum in Lesson 2: Communication. This time show students a hat or photo or slide of a hat from the Northwest province that Fons traditionally wear. *See photo included at end of this lesson.

Background: Fons traditionally wear this hat. Fons are chiefs of certain ethnic groups in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. Their hats are like crowns that kings have worn in other cultures. Directions: Copy this page and cut apart the following numbered definitions and give to students OR write the definitions and numbers on index cards.

1. Un Kaba - C'est une robe porté par les femmes.

2. Un Boubou - C'est un chemise porté par les hommes.

3. Un Foulard - Une femme qui est plus agée porte un foulard pour couvrire ses cheveux gris. C'est pour garder sa dignité.

4. Un Pagne - C'est un jupe porté par les femmes.

5. Un Gant - C'est une robe porté par les hommes et les femmes.

6. Une Chechia - C'est un chapeau porté par les hommes.

7. Un kwa - C'est un sac apporté par les hommes.

8. Un gandura _ C'est porté par l'homme.
Directions: Write the following definition on a scrap piece of paper and include with the team definitions of the item in a container for the problem solving activity. This is a hat worn by the chiefs of a large ethnic group in the Northwest Province of Cameroon.

Lesson 5: Weather and Seasons

Purpose: This lesson aims at incorporating Cameroonian culture related to weather and seasons into a textbook unit including vocabulary related to weather and seasons, and verbs such as and . This lesson is ideal to precede or follow lessons on clothing, food or transportation, for example, since weather and seasons greatly influence all of these.

Materials: A copy of the poem "A Sudden Storm" by Pious Oleghe and a copy of the poem "Cantate de la pluie" by J.P. Makouta (you may want to make overhead transparencies of these), photocopies of "La saison sèche", "La saison des pluies" and "La barrière de pluies."Materials are included at the end of this lesson.

Reminder: This lesson should be conducted in French as much as possible.

Part 1: Making comparisons

1. Generate discussion about the seasons in the United States by: *asking students to name the seasons (le printemps, l'hiver, l'été, l'automne). *having students tell what they like or don't like about each season. *asking students to tell which season is their favorite and explain why. *talking about the different types of weather we have in different seasons.

2. Read "A Sudden Storm" and then: *ask students to guess what season the poem is written about (spring, summer, autumn). *explain that the poem is written by an African, perhaps a Cameroonian, and could be about a storm in Cameroon. *read the poem again to increase students' comprehension.

3. Tell students that Cameroon has only two seasons; it has a dry season and a rainy season. *You may talk about the seasons now, explaining more to students or you may move on to the jigsaw activity and have students learn about the seasons on their own and share what they learn with their classmates. Background Information: *See information included at the end of this lesson.

Part 2: Jigsaw
1. Have students form small groups, assigning roles of a timekeeper, questioner, writer, and presenter.

2. Give each group a copy of "La saison sèche" or "La saison des pluies" or "La barrière de pluies."

3. Have students read the information and write down what they learn about the season.

4. Have students report to the class what they learned from the different texts.

5. You may want to have students do the exercises that accompany the information about the seasons at the end of the lesson, if it is appropriate.

Part 3: Creative writing

1. Now that students know about the two seasons in Cameroon, read to them the poem "Les Saisons."

2. Ask students to write in their own words what the poem is about or what it makes them think of.

3. Then have them write their own poem about a season, including previously learned and current vocabulary from the unit.