De Gaulle le 14 juin 44 à Isigny, place du marché
Conversations & Interpersonal Communication, French Third Year, Instructional Design

WWII Unit for Intermediate-Low Students

Soldiers walking down both sides of street. Background; pool/billiards; Louvre sign; church.
A Villedieu les Poêles (Manche), rue Gambetta, photo prise le 2 août, les GI’s se dirigent vers le Sud-ouest. Libération le 2 août par la 4th US ID.

Students are very interested in the French perspective of history. As a social studies teacher too, we just don’t have time to cover WWII in depth any more. At least in the schools I’ve taught 😦

Certainly, students don’t understand why France capitulated so “quickly”, who Charles de Gaulle was (nor his importance), what collaboration was like, and what happened to French citizens who were Jews.

So I’ve found resources and created a unit studying WWII through the French lens.

To introduce the unit, I’ve asked students to do a KWL (or SVA en français) with a PowerPoint in French.

I lecture about Hitler’s ambitions:

(Eventually, I’d like to build in more lectures and have plans for doing so…but they’re not ready yet!)

Students watch “Pourquoi a-t-il eu la seconde guerre mondial” from 1 jour 1 question:

  • Transcript
  • Students take the video and the lecture to make a timeline of what happened leading up to WWII.

Students read “Journal d’un enfant pendant la seconde guerre mondiale” I found this in France and enjoyed that it has historic break-outs and a story line narrative in the first person. I’ve made a digital copy of this book here. (I’m looking for native speakers who would be able to record an audio book chapter by chapter!)

To work through the book interpersonally, I created a a workbook that goes along with the book chapter by chapter. It was modeled after Madame Shepard’s communicative approach to Le Petit Prince. It has:

  • “Before you read” discussions
  • key vocabulary (mostly in French) with discussion questions
  • true/false discussion
  • deeper discussions about what happened in the text
  • role plays
  • key quotes
  • grammar notes

Here’s a copy of the workbook for you to use with the reading. (I’m working on finishing the final few pages of the book, pages 52-59)

While students work through the book, on Mondays I show Les grandes Grandes Vacances by Les Armateurs (Kirikou, Triplettes de Belleville, T’choupi) in French with French subtitles. I play it on my region-free DVD player. You can find it on Netflix now, but it doesn’t have French subtitles. It’s utterly charming, easy to understand, and absolutely sucks you into their story. It’s a perfect companion to the book.

Here’s the Bande-annonce:


5 thoughts on “WWII Unit for Intermediate-Low Students”

    1. I’m very pleased that you like it! I hope that you can use what you can to make your unit even better!

      Do you have any resources for La Guerre des Boutons that you like to use/supplement with?


  1. We are just finishing the book “Journal d’un enfant…” and I have appreciated your workbook resource! For the last few pages, students are writing their own vrai/faux and d’accord/pas d’accord. They are prepared after having read them throughout the book. This book works so well with Les grands grands vacances. I want to do a project as an end of book/series assessment. Thanks again for sharing this resource! My students (and I) have learned a lot!


    1. I’m very glad that it worked well for you too! My students really enjoy learning so much about WWII since they tend to skip over so much in US History class.

      I’ve really learned a lot more about French WWII history from starting this exploration too!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s