French Learning Scenario:
A Francophone Dining Experience

Author: Cynthia Capps & Andrea Henderson
Level: Novice High/Intermediate Low

In this scenario, students learn about the culinary culture of a Francophone country as they plan for, establish, and design their own “restaurant.” They learn about appropriate menu items, décor (including art and music), and advertising in the target culture. A culminating activity provides for the possibility of a “grand opening” of the restaurant. In completing research for their project, students make extensive use of Internet resources as well as other library resources (magazines, books, maps), information obtained by writing regional chambers of commerce and restaurants (addresses obtained from the Internet), and interviews of native speakers living in the community.

These activities enable learners to plan a menu for a francophone restaurant. Working in groups, students identify as many French-speaking countries as they can using maps, library resources, and the Internet. From the established list, groups select a country (one per group) for further study. Each group identifies dishes common to their region and selects several different recipes that will be the spécialité de la maison in their restaurant. Students learn vocabulary words for the different ingredients and convert metric measurements to the English standard in order to plan their “shopping lists” and determine the quantity of each item needed to serve thirty customers. They make a field trip (treasure hunt) to the local grocery store to look for the ingredients to determine if they are available locally and to estimate the cost. Based on their investigations, groups create a menu, determine appropriate prices (in regional currency), and include cultural details such as whether or not the tip is included, whether or not fixed price menus are offered, etc.

ACTIVITY SET 2: Ambience
In order to create an authentic atmosphere for their dining establishment, each group researches regional art and music, selecting examples to use in the restaurant. Information on regional décor can be found at some restaurant Web sites, by writing to local chambers of commerce to ask for brochures, and by interviewing native speakers in the community when available. Once relevant information is gathered, groups decide on a name for the restaurant and design an interior that is both culturally appropriate and inviting, paying attention to details such as table height, whether to use chairs or cushions, table settings, seating arrangements, etc. as relevant.

ACTIVITY SET 3: Staffing the Restaurant
In this activity set, students examine differences in French and American perspectives on a variety of restaurant-related work issues such as professional status and training, customer expectations, and even family expectations regarding part-time or summer jobs for students. From classified ads in francophone newspapers and online job agencies, students discover that special training and experience is usually required for restaurant servers. French exchange students and French community members who are invited to speak to the class may share that teenagers seldom are expected to find a job because their studies are viewed as their work. And French-speakers or others who have traveled abroad share their experiences in French restaurants, pointing out, for example, that the wait staff doesn’t make “small talk” with customers or bring the check to the table without being asked. A graphic organizer is used to compare and contrast these expectations so that students can behave in culturally appropriate ways as they roleplay the proprietor, customer, server, etc.

ACTIVITY SET 4: Advertising for the Restaurant
Each group develops an advertising campaign for its restaurant. To do so, students study French-language commercials in order to determine common elements. ( has video clips from a large number of countries.) Students compare and contrast the francophone commercials with American ones; as they share with other groups, they also note similarities and differences in advertising among the various francophone regions. Groups may choose to develop a print ad for a local newspaper, a taped commercial jingle for a radio station, or a short video “spot” for television.

ACTIVITY SET 5: La Dégustation
Groups can choose from a variety of culminating activities that provide an opportunity to share what they’ve learned from their research. All groups share their advertising strategies along with their final project. Groups/the class may decide to:

  • Present a “cooking show” highlighting a recipe from their country, which they then share with classmates either individually or as a group.
  • Prepare a francophone banquet (as a class) sharing specialties from each of the countries researched.
  • Design their own cookbook of regional recipes illustrated with regional art.
  • Roleplay the Grand Opening of their restaurant with classmates acting as the customers. Some students roleplay entertainers who sing or play regional music for restaurant customers; others are servers who use culturally appropriate table manners, etc. Photocopied local currency is used to pay and count change. Alternatively, students can invite other French classes to attend the Grand Opening.

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Targeted Standards

  • Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative, & Presentational Modes
  • Cultures: Practices & Perspectives, Products & Perspectives
  • Connections: Access to Information, Other Subject Areas
  • Comparisons: Concept of Culture, Influence of Language & Culture
  • Communities: Within & Beyond the School Setting, Personal Enrichment & Career Development

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  • Computer with Internet access
  • Print, audio, and video examples of French and American advertisements
  • Copies of authentic menus from a variety of francophone countries
  • Art supplies for menus, signs, and/or computers with desktop publishing software
  • Camcorder/ video camera

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Reflections on How the Standards Are Met

Communication: The interpersonal mode is used in conducting interviews and roleplays. The interpretive mode is used when watching French commercials and reading source materials, and the presentational mode is used when students present their ad campaigns and other final products.

Cultures: Students understand practices and perspectives (greetings, restaurant courtesy, table manners) and create culturally authentic products (menus, dishes, ads).

: Students use French language resources to gain access to information on French ads, menus, and recipes. They use French to connect to other school subjects: math (metric conversions), business (budgeting, planning, pricing), art and interior design (menus, restaurant décor), music (as a part of the restaurant’s ambiance), geography (francophone regions and cultures), and home economics (following recipes, cooking).

: Students compare French language with English (food and counting vocabulary, questions and answers, present and passé compose tenses) and make cultural comparisons regarding advertising, food choices, and food etiquette/manners. They notice the influence of French-speaking cuisines on American cuisine.

: Students write letters or send e-mail to request information on francophone restaurants and they interact with native speakers in the community. They use French for personal enrichment and career development: they appreciate diverse foods and understand how to prepare them; they understand how their talents in different subjects might relate to a career choice in advertising, interior design, business, cooking, etc.

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Expansion Ideas

  • The French or International Club sponsors a multicultural feast in the evening or during a multicultural fair.
  • Students work with the business teacher and develop a prospectus and a profit/loss statement to determine whether their menu prices were appropriate.
  • Students consolidate the recipes from all of the restaurants into a bilingual (French and English) cookbook.

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  • Teacher’s Discovery Catalog (1-800-832-2437)
    This catalog has print and video examples of French advertisements.


NOTE: These Internet resources may have changed since publication or no longer be available. Active links should be carefully screened before recommending to students.

Recipes and Menus

  • (Louisiana)
  • (Canadian)
  • (French)
  • (Louisiana)


    This site features a metric conversion chart.

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