Happy Mother's Day! Hello to all my Teaching FSL fans and followers.

I've recently been inspired to make French music a more regular routine in my classroom. La Chanson de Dimanche has been born! (post originally written in 2013; last updated in 2022)

image from Teaching FSL's weekly feature "Chanson de dimanche" for using songs in French class

Students have always enjoyed most activities I've tried that incorporated music, yet I still hear from my students that they wouldn't DARE to audition with a French song for our talent contest, or related high-profile school activities that certain teachers at my middle school arrange.

I think this is where I say "The opinions expressed...."

What is TES?

This year (2013), I used an activity I found on the TES Connect website (renamed to TES.com since this was originally published and the site is no longer just freely shared resources, as of spring 2015 - source EdSurge) that went over REALLY well with my students. 

What is TES? (Then and now)
What on earth is that acronym, you ask? It MIGHT be short for "Teaching Employment Services" or some such thing originally, I really couldn't say! Think of it though like the Ontario Educational Resource Bank is to teachers in Ontario - only for teachers in the UK. Except here in Ontario, we restrict people  not employed by a publicly-funded school board from accessing the OERB, and TES is available for ANYONE to join (yes, for free! But there are also paid resources there as well.) (The Ontario resource known as the OERB stopped working early during the Ford government's handling of Ontario Public Education from 2018-2022.) There are lots of great French as a Foreign Language resources to be found there, including some submitted by Canadian French teachers who did not really have places to freely share their own resources when I first started using TES. Teachers of other subjects (English, Math, Science... why not?) should definitely check it out too. These days, TES UK is trying to be more like TeachersPayTeachers meets BoredTeachers.com, two major US Teacher sites. 

My Adaptation & Experience with this Resource

Prior to introducing the song, I taught my students how "si clauses" in French use the imparfait rather than the conditional when talking about hypothetical situations. This was a grade 8 immersion class, and they were ready to learn this distinction. We used an adapted version of this resource (linking directly to it, but if that doesn't work, search for "conditionnel chanson" once you've logged in to TES). Then be sure you're searching in the Resources, not the Jobs section (or some other area, as the site has grown several times). It was shared originally by SkierMeetsBoarder and I did make some changes to it, to suit my class. The French singer who remade this song in 2004 is of Laotian heritage

Screen capture of video "Si tu n'existans pas" originally by Joe Dassin, sung by Willy Denzey
Still image taken from Et si tu n'existais pas" video by Willy Denzey

The original video link provided via TES did not work for me, but I found an alternative one pretty easily on YouTube. When I used it in my class, I noticed that we didn't have the last verse SkierMeetsBoarder had provided in the handout. If you wish to use just an audio version of the song, try Spotify with this link. (Not an affiliate or sponsored link; no links in this post are.)

Free Classroom Activity Chanson de dimanche Et si tu n'existais pas French Song Teaching FSL
Photo by Magda Smolen on Unsplash

Here's the version of the lyrics handout that I used (or click the image above)to make it work for me. The "Learning Goal" clicked with most students right away, and almost all of them "got it" with a tiny bit of classroom reinforcement of the concept following. One student shared the video we watched on his facebook page (LOVE that!) and some of them are still singing or humming the song regularly. My students actually just included "Et si tu n'existais pas" by Willy Denzey on their DANCE REQUEST LIST... not even joking!  Both classes that I had played it for requested it for a school-wide social event (i.e. in front of their non FI peers!) and they each decided this independently and separately. This was a total win.

Since I'd mentioned that "Et si tu n'existais pas" was a remake, some students inquired about the original version of the song, so I shared that video too. Joe Dassin was the original performer. My French immersion students weren't nearly as impressed, to say the least. LOL

So, about this song feature on my blog: I hope to make it a weekly thing to be released each weekend, hence the name La Chanson de Dimanche. It will build up my bank of activities to use in class. That's my ulterior motive, but feel free to benefit from what I share as well! I WON'T be selling any resources using others' artistic work without their permission and the activities that I share here on my blog using songs will be totally free and credited within the resource to the artists that have worked so hard to entertain and enlighten their admirers.
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

At some point, it would be great to make this a weekly linky party, but alas, my French-teacher-blogger network still isn't all that strong and I'm not looking to host a link-up where I'm the only participant.  Also, I wish to mention that I came up with the name by myself, thinking it was totally original.  Then I did a little searching, and it doesn't seem there are any other bloggers out there on the interweb already using that term.  I did find, however, the Chanson du dimanche project - two musicians who have challenged themselves to put out a new song every Sunday.  Kind of cool, so check that out too!  I'm hoping that the world of francophone musical appreciation is big enough for both of us, despite the similarity of names. I'm also not sure if they are still actively doing this, but I certainly won't be writing (and certainly not playing and singing) my own songs any time soon!

Other Educational Ideas for This Song

  • Research either or the singers in more detail. (This makes for a great Asian Heritage Month or French colonialism inquiry connection, when learning more about Willey Denzey)
  • Explore French talent shows (like Star AcadémieGraines de Stars, which Denzey made the final round of in 2000, or T'as du talent - get the double meaning in French there? Love it!)
  • Notice where qui & where que is used, in the lyrics - then write something about love songs, either of the artists, or this song in particular, encouraging students to use the two pronouns (or que as a conjunction!) correctly. 
  • Play a game where students speak or write about what would happen if something didn't exist. Try to link the previous statement to the next one. (For example: "Si les écoles n'existaient pas, je travaillerais dans le bureau de mon père, avec un balai...." followed by "Si mon père n'existais pas, maman devrait cuisiner au feu puisqu'il prépare les repas actuellement." or "Si les balais n'existaient pas, les salles de classes auraient toutes un aspirateur." Continue until a student is stuck or makes a major error. Then restart. After playing, have students write 3 of the sentences used. This reinforces the spelling differences further.  
Hit me up via a comment below - or use the contact form -with any other ideas I should add to this post!