Stereotypes of the French
Lesson 3: America Views France

Submitted by Written by Pam Wesely. Updated by Laurent Cammarata and Diane J. Tedick, with additional updates by Pam Wesely.


Students will:

  • recognize some potentially harmful effects of accepting stereotypes

Students will:

  • demonstrate understanding of ways in which our society creates and maintains its stereotypes by examining American cultural products that stereotype France and the French

Language: Content Obligatory
Students will:

  • review vocabulary used to organize and categorize stereotypes: positif, négatif, neutre, produits, perspectives, pratiques
  • learn or review vocabulary used to write notes on presentations about stereotypes: origine, description, classification, commentaire.
  • use vocabulary terms for commonly stereotypical French things (vin, béret, etc.use the passé composé (1st person singular) to report on identification of stereotypes of French in American media with verbs like voir, trouver, decouvrir, lire, etc.

Language: Content Compatible
Students will:

  • use short phrases to take notes during peers’ presentations (see presentations handout)
  • use parce que (because) and form complex sentences (with 2 or more clauses and the present tense) to explain the relationship between their personal stereotypes and the portrayal of French in the media

Learning Strategies / Social and Skills Development:
Students will:

  • develop their critical thinking skills
  • develop skills in conducting independent research and preparing presentations
  • cooperate and approach problems with flexibility.

Time Frame:

One or two class sessions of 40 minutes each, preceded by one student assignment which may take several days to complete.

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access and sufficient computers for all students
  • Television and videocassette player
  • Présentations handout (See "Attachments" below)
  • the French Guide d'analyse des stéréotypes of each student from Lesson 1
  • each students' description of the "typical French student" from Lesson 1

Description of Assessment (Performance Project):

Note to teachers:
In Lesson 3, the teacher can require the students to find more than one example of a stereotype of the French. The teacher can then refrain from doing any presenting and make the exchange and discussion more student-centered and student-run.

The pre-task for this lesson is a student assignment. First, the teacher should hand back their Guide d'analyse des stéréotypes for the French. The students should be sent out to find examples of stereotypes of the French in the American media, particularly ones that reflect those items from their Guide d'analyse des stéréotypes. They should be prompted with mentions of Disney movies, television commercials or shows where French is spoken or the French people are portrayed, and so forth. They should be given several days to complete this assignment, in which time other classroom work can be completed. I do not recommend, however, that this assignment be given before this whole unit is begun, because it would be detrimental to the integrity of the brainstorming in the first lesson.

Focused Learning:
In the first class day, the students should informally present the images that they found of the French in American media, using the passé compose. During and after their presentations, the class should fill out the Présentations worksheet, which will assure their attention and their analysis. In order to do this sheet, they will need to keep their Guide d'analyse des stéréotypes nearby. After the students have finished, the teacher should round out the examples with images:

  • The Little Mermaid - scene with the French chef Les Poissons
  • The Mask - scene when Jim Carrey's character morphs into a Frenchman
  • The Mouse Hunt - scene when Nathan Lane's character imitates a French chef
  • National Lampoon's European Vacation
  • A Wild and Crazy Guy Steve Martin record - "You Naive Americans"
  • Weird Al Yankovic song “Genius in France”
  • Looney Tunes - video of "Pepe le Peu"
  • Xenophobe's Guide to the French (2008) - parallel sections to those looked at in Americ

...and any other American representations of the French. After these presentations and examples, the teacher should pass back the students' original image of the "typical French person." Each student should mark on the Présentation handout how many of the American images are mirrored on their original "typical" sheet.

As a post-task activity, the students and teacher should discuss reasons why the parallels between their personal stereotypes and the portrayal of French in the media exist. The teacher should collect three things at the end of the lesson: the "typical French" brainstorming from Lesson 1, the Guide d'analyse des stéréotypes of the French, and the Présentation sheet for grading.


Students will be assessed on their completion of the assignment to find a stereotype, their participation, and their categorization of their fellow students' presented stereotypes. Comprehension and language use will be assessed informally during the course of the lesson.

References and Resources:

  • For the TrackStar Lesson on French stereotypes: 
    search for track id 28811
  • Yapp, N. & Syrett, M. (2008). Xenophobe's guide to the French. London, England: Oval Books.


NOTE: some attachments are in PDF form (get Acrobat Reader)

Présentations - chart for students to write notes on each others' presentations