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Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
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Translating Likes and Dislikes

When French philosopher Roland Barthes penned his famous list of likes and dislikes, “J’aime, Je n’aime pas” in 1975, it was intended as a statement of his individuality. Sixth grade French students have been working on their own “J’aime, Je n’aime pas” projects in the style of Barthes and presenting them in class.

Sixth grade World Languages teacher Rachana Sudhaman introduced students to the writings of Roland Barthes. They researched his importance to French culture, and together they listened to a recording of him reading from his essay. Students practiced their reading comprehension skills by answering questions about Barthes’ likes and dislikes based on the recording. Then they started composing their own lists. Translating their preferences into French required students to identify a lot of new vocabulary. For example, students may never have heard the French words for less common vocabulary such as cranberry, cinnamon, or lobster. They learned the correct pronunciation and the importance of identifying the proper articles for each word as masculine, feminine, singular, or plural are very important in French grammar. The sixth graders had the choice of creating a digital or hand-drawn poster of their likes and dislikes. Each student presented their “J’aime, Je n’aime pas” projects to the class and was assessed on their creativity, variety of nouns and verbs, and the fluidity of their pronunciation. 

As a class, they discussed Barthes’ idea that his likes and dislikes are an expression of uniqueness, some of which he may share or not share with other people. “In this way, it ties into the school year theme of keeping an open mind,” says Rachana. “The kids all have their own likes and dislikes, and they are unique in their own way. Even if they don’t like the same things, they can still be friends.”
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