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Unit 1 Overview

In Unit 1, you show what you know about the concept of family in different societies of the French-speaking world (la famille à travers le monde francophone). You'll need to interpret texts, charts, interviews, and presentations that address a wide range of topics relating to family: values, traditions, changing roles, and challenges across the French-speaking world. It's to your advantage to develop a strong understanding of at least one francophone culture other than France.

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Image Courtesy of VSB Diversity

🔍Essential Questions

  1. 👪 What constitutes a family in the French-speaking world? (Qu'est-ce qui constitue une famille dans le monde francophone?)

  2. ❤️ What are some of the important aspects of family values and family life in French-speaking societies? (Quels sont quelques aspects importants de la vie de famille et des valeurs familiales dans le monde francophone?)

  3. ❗❓What challenges do families face in today's world? (Quels sont les défis auxquels les familles font face dans le monde d'aujourd'hui?)

1.1 Family in Society

What constitutes a family in the French-speaking world? (Qu'est-ce qui constitue une famille dans le monde francophone?)

Definition of family (la définition de la famille)

Be able to articulate your own definition of what family (la famille) means. Here are some suggestions (sources cited).

  • L'ensemble formé par le père👨, la mère 👩 (ou l'un des deux) et les enfants 🧒 (Larousse.fr)

  • L'ensemble des personnes unies par un lien de parenté ou d'alliance (Larousse.fr)

  • La famille est une notion qui n'est pas toujours facile à définir. Les formes familiales sont nombreuses et continuent à évoluer. Pour les sociologues et les anthropologues, la famille et une institution, c'est-à-dire un ensemble de normes et de règles 📜 régissant les relations entre les membres de la famille. Les formes familiales sont en fonction des cultures. La famille demeure néanmoins une valeur essentielle, elle est fondée sur le couple, les enfants et solidarité 💞 entre ses membres. (https://www.superprof.fr)

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Image Courtesy of wordart

✏️ How To Describe a Family (Comment décrire une famille)

Once you hit AP® French, there's an expectation that you know basic vocabulary for describing your family members (see Wordcloud above 👆🏼). Below you'll find vocabulary expressions to describe the range of family structures (les structures familiales). The more vocabulary you know, the better you'll be able to explain what constitutes a family in different French-speaking countries. BONUS: You're also going to better understand written and audio sources in French 🤓

The descriptions below come from l'INSEE 💸 (l'Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques), which is part of the French Ministère de l'Economie et des Finances and responsible for the French census, as well as collecting other cool data about the French. It's a great resource for AP French students! The descriptions are in French to give you what you'll need to describe and discuss families in francophone countries.

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Image Courtesy of insee

Pour la majorité des Français, la famille est composée du couple et des enfants. C’est pareil en Belgique, au Luxembourg et au Québec. Pourtant, dans les pays où l’Islam est la religion prédominante, la famille peut être différente.

La famille traditionnelle 👨‍👩‍👦 est une famille composée d'un couple d'adultes, mariés ou non, et d'enfants nés de leur union (ou adoptés ensemble) partageant la même résidence principale.

Il existe aussi...

  1. la famille nucléaire / la famille biparentale: les enfants vivent avec leurs deux parents ( mariés ou non).

  2. la famille monoparentale: les enfants vivent avec leur père ou leur mère (mais pas les deux!).

  3. la famille recomposée: les enfants vivent avec leur mère, ou leur père, et un beau-parent (le beau-père, la belle-mère).

  4. la famille adoptive: les enfants vivent avec des parents non-biologiques.

  5. la famille homoparentale: les enfants vivent avec leur père ou leur mère biologique et son compagnon de même sexe.

  6. la famille tribu: il y a plus d’une génération qui vivent ensemble. Par exemple, les grand-parents vivent dans le même foyer.

    1. Dans les pays francophones où l'Islam est la religion prédominante, on voit aussi . . .

  7. 7. la famille polygame : un homme est marié à plusieurs épouses (jusqu’à quatre). Dans cette situation, les épouses ont souvent leurs propres foyers.

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Une famille polygame au Mali. Image Courtesy of Afrique Magazine

Five French-speaking countries where same-sex marriage is legal (Pays francophone où le mariage pour tous existe)

  1. 🎉 Belgium (2003)

  2. 🎉 France (1999 civil unions legal; 2013 same-sex marriage legal)

  3. 🎉 Quebec, Canada (2004)

  4. 🎉 Luxembourg (2015)

  5. 🎉 Switzerland (registered partnerships legal; marriage legislation pending as of 2020)

  • 🎉 If you consider the French-speaking areas of the US (Louisiana and Maine, for example,) that makes 6 🤗

  • In 2020, no French-speaking countries in Africa permit same-sex marriage or partnership 😟

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Image Courtesy of la Nouvelle Républic.

Strive for Five Vocab 🔑🔑

  • la situation familiale: célibataire / marié.e.s / séparé.e.s / divorcé.e.s / veuf-veuve

  • la structure familiale: un foyer / un ménage / une maison

  • un couple marié

  • un couple en union libre / vivre en concubinage

  • être pacsé.e.s / le PACS: le Pacte Civile de Solidarité

  • un.e époux.se; un.e concubin.e; un.e conjoint.e (partner or "significant other")

According to service-public, "Lorsque l'on souhaite vivre en couple, il est possible de choisir entre le concubinage (union libre), le PACS ou le mariage. Les droits et obligations qui en résultent diffèrent que vous êtes concubin, pacsé ou marié."

  • Le mariage pour tous: La loi Taubira (2103) autorise le mariage homosexuel en France.

  • Dans une famille homoparentale, le père social / la mère sociale est le parent non-biologique, quand ce parent n’a pas ou n’a pas pu adopter l’enfant. (In a same-sex parent family, le père social / la mère sociale is the non-biological parent; this term is used when this parent has not, or has not been able or allowed to adopt the child.)

1.2 Aspects of Family Values and Life

What are some of the important aspects of family values and family life in French-speaking societies? (Quels sont quelques aspects importants de la vie de famille et des valeurs familiales dans le monde francophone?)

Family is a cultural institution whose functions include procreation, socialization of children, and transmission of cultural and/ or religious values. There are similarities and differences across French-speaking societies as far as family values go, and over the past 50 years or so, family values have evolved significantly.

Studies of European and African cultures indicate a difference between individualistic vs. collective societies. The two images below provide you with the key differences.

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Image Courtesy of Very Well.

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Image Courtesy of Very Well.

Family Values: Differences Across Cultures

Religion

✝️ Although in Europe religion played an important role historically (particularly Christianity), France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, and Quebec are generally secular, or not religious. This means that there's no official religion, and in some situations, legislation prevents the ostentatious displays of religious practices. Religious traditions that influence family structure still exist, but modern family structures are becoming the norm.

🕋 In Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroun, Mali, Benin, Madagascar, and other African francophone countries, religion still plays a major role in everyday life. Morocco and Algeria are Muslim countries, whereas other countries are officially secular. Religious traditions that influence family structures still exist (e.g. polygamy) but changes in society are having an impact on family structures.

Family Structures and Children

In Europe and the majority of the European Francophone world, the nuclear family is still the most common structure, although the concept of family is morphing to reflect same-sex couples, single-parent families, etc. Furthermore, in Europe, consensual marriage is the norm. Europeans also focus on the individual, developing children to reach their potential.

In African francophone countries, the extended or multigenerational family is common, as are polygamist families. The nuclear family is less common in rural areas, but exists in urban cities. In the African francophone world, arranged marriages are as common as consensual marriages. When raising children, focus is on the community and what serves the best interests of the whole.

While these comparisons can help you understand and organize what you've learned about francophone countries, they should be considered guides. Be careful not to overgeneralize when describing and discussing individual countries. You'll want to draw on what you have studied and learned in your French classes when writing or speaking about francophone countries, especially for the Cultural Comparison section on the test. 🤓

Strive for Five Vocab 🔑🔑

La famille joue un rôle critique dans la socialisation de l'enfant. Les membres de la famille transmettent les règles et les valeurs de la famille et de la société. La famille représente la sécurité pour l'enfant, et les parents ont la responsabilité de garantir le bien-être de l'enfant.

  • les moeurs (mores, social practices), les valeurs, les traditions, les normes

  • un système de croyances (a belief system)

  • la liberté personnelle vs. la solidarité du groupe (personal freedom vs. group strength)

  • un rite de passage (a rite of passage)

  • les changements / les développements / l'évolution

  • individualiste vs. collectif (individualism vs. collectivism)

  • Quelques verbes importants: respecter / violer; transmettre (to transmit); s'entraider (to help each other); appartenir (to belong); soutenir (to support) honorer(to honor); fêter (to celebrate); créer (to create); assimiler (to assimilate); affirmer (to affirm); partager (to share); évoluer (to evolve); comporter (to include); empêcher (to prevent)

  • ancien (remember that this can mean both old and former) / les aînés (du village, par exemple—the village elders) les ancêtres (ancestors)

1.3 Challenges Families Face

What challenges do families face in today's world? (Quels sont les défis auxquels les familles font face dans le monde d'aujourd'hui?)

Most families face some type of challenge in today's world, right? Some of these are shared challenges regardless of where people live. Below you'll find some descriptions of these challenges in French; these will help you as you develop your skills in describing and discussing modern families.

Les rôles changeants des parents dans la famille moderne:

  • 👨 Est-ce que le père reste le “chef de famille”? Dans quelles sociétés francophones? (Is the father still the "head of the family"? In which francophone societies?)

  • 👩 Est-ce que la mère est le dernier bastion de la famille? (Is the mother the last stronghold of the family? What about in families with 2 mothers? 👩‍👩‍👧‍👦 )

  • 🧹 Comment gérer ou partager les tâches ménagères? (How is housework managed or shared?)

  • 👶 Qui s’occupe des enfants si les deux parents travaillent hors de foyer ? (Who cares for the children if both parents work outside the home?)

  • 🏛️ Comment adresser la discrimination contre les familles non-traditionnelles? (How do non-traditional families address discrimination?)

  • 💰 Comment financer les frais de scolarité (How do families finance the cost of education)?

  • 💓 Et si l'on n'est pas d'accord avec la polygamie, mais on n'a pas de choix? (What if you're not ok with polygamy but you have no choice?)

  • 🌆 Les foyers à plusieurs générations à cause des crises économiques, les prix de l’immobilier / de logements surtout dans les grandes villes; donc les enfants qui cohabitent plus longtemps avec leurs parents. (Households are comprised of several generations due to economic crises, the cost of housing especially in large cities; thus children are living longer with their parents.)

  • 💔 Aider ses parents dans les situations difficiles (deuil, maladie, perte d'emploi) est un devoir pour beaucoup d'adultes. (Helping parents in difficult situations (death of spouse, illness, loss of employment) is a responsibility for many adults.).

  • 📜 Les couples qui vivent en concubinage n’ont souvent pas de droits ou de protection sous la loi. (Couples living together don't have the same rights or protection as married couples or couples in civil unions).

  • 🚗 La difficulté des jeunes adultes d'entrer dans le monde du travail. (The difficulty that young adults have entering the world of work).

  • 👧 L'education des filles, et les conséquences à long terme. (The education of girls, and the long-term consequences).

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À quoi ressemble le milieu familial des enfants québécois d’aujourd’hui? Image Courtesy of Naître et grandir.

Strive for Five Vocab 🔑🔑

  • la PMA—la procréation médicalement assistée (medically assisted reproduction)

  • s’entendre avec (to get along with someone) Je m'entends bien avec ma belle-mère.

  • avoir le droit de— (to have the right to do something) Les femmes marocaines ont le droit de demander le divorce.

  • autoriser / permettre (to allow/ to permit) Le Coran autorise qu'un homme peut prendre une deuxième femme.

  • le chômage / être chômeur (unemployment/to be unemployed)

  • subvenir aux besoins de sa famille (to meet the needs of one's family)

Preparing for the exam

Unit 1 highlights three of the FRQ - the Free-Response Questions:

  1. Email Reply 💻

  2. Conversation 🗣️

  3. Cultural Comparison ⚖️

The main theme of Unit 1 is Families & Communities, but also includes Personal & Public Identities, Contemporary Life as well as Global Challenges.

For the email reply, you might be asked to describe your family, or explain what you know about family structures of a francophone culture. You may be asked to explain challenges facing families in today's world, the impact of social media on identity, or your own personal interest and goals Don't forget: The email reply is formal! "Vous", monsieur, madame, s'il vous plaît! A successful email reply should include clear examples and appropriate language. Practice using the vocabulary and expressions shared here to prepare. You got this!! 💻

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For the conversation, you'll need to respond (spontaneously!) to questions about contemporary issues (life, your family, your interests, school, friends, even global issues). For the Conversation task, you'll always be speaking with someone your age, so the register is informal—"tu", not "vous"! Your questions and answers should be informal, but you still need to use accurate vocabulary, as well as appropriate greeting and leave-taking expressions. 🗣️

The cultural comparison is a formal presentation, and you'll need accurate vocabulary and clear examples, and good organization to respond well. Past topics include technology, immigration, health care, and recycling, to name a few. Thinking about the theme of Families & Communities, you might be asked to compare family structures or changes to family structures, rites of passage, changing roles in families, or maybe housing structures and affordability. Using the resources above, as well as your own rock-star skills, you'll hit this one out of the park! ⚖️

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