FrancoForniens: Bringing Oral History into the French-language Classroom

In this presentation, I will show how I borrowed techniques from oral history to build an archive of interviews with “FrancoForniens,” or French speakers living in the Bay Area. Oral history has long been employed in K-12 classrooms to “personalize” the experience of history for students; it asks them to consider how history has impacted the everyday lives and memories of real people. For my project, I interviewed a diverse population of local French speakers, asking them to reflect upon their experiences of mobility and cultural exchange. By focusing on others’ experiences of “culture” and indeed, “culture shock,” I built materials that encourage students to critically engage with the experience of cross-cultural exchange. This engagement will not only prepare students for their future experiences of living and working abroad, but expose them to the diversity of cultural perspectives already at play in their local communities.

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