Past, Present and Future

Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?

Focus on the main topics of this unit: the tenses passé composé and futur simple.

A complete portfolio contains 5 assignments. Complete all the assignments from learning path 1, learning path 2 or mix and match between horizontal pairings:

  • Duolingo or my Quizlet
  • The video series or the french cartoons
  • Your own quizlet or a script
  • The comparing tenses activity or the comic
  • The French Experiment text(s) or the audiobook activity

As with past portfolios 2 assignments aims for a pass, 3 for a c+ 4 for a b, 5 for an A – although the grade depends on how well you know passé composé and futur simple more than the work itself.

Learning Path 1

Learning Path 2

Duolingo’s Triumphant Return

Duolingo is gamified language-learning software… When we used it in our first and second learning guides it worked for some – but not for all. Consider how effective Duolingo was for improving your French – if it did nothing for you, then try Quizlet instead…

Clarification: although it can be useful to “practice” previously reviewed lessons, these will not count towards the ~150XP worth of new lessons that you are aiming for. Also note that duolingo has past tense and future tense lessons – it may be worthwhile to work ahead towards those lessons!

Word of warning: Duolingo can be a time sink – the alternative to this assignment (my Quizlet) is strongly focused on the unit material!

Quizlet is the New Duolingo

Unit 5 introduced students to Quizlet but we did not explore much of its functionality – it is like flash cards 2.0… Since part of learning a new language comes down to vocabulary, we’ll be exploring the unit vocabulary (and some review vocabulary) through Quizlet.

Note: The vocabulary tackled in this Quizlet is directly from the pertinent videos in the “I’ll take a video over a worksheet any day” activity. It also models how to make your own quizlet (40 terms, a mix of vocabulary types). This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – complete a portfolio assignment simply by studying for your interview!

“I’ll take a video over a worksheet any day!”

When we tackled our earlier learning guides, the students who watched the videos and took notes rather than doing the worksheets often seemed to have an easier time with the interviews. This learning guide is therefore worksheet free! I strongly recommend taking some notes as you watch along – if only to prove that you have done the work.

Avoir and Être
Passé Composé
Futur Simple

Clarification: the first video is a sample of the kind of review available online. The avoir / être videos are there for people who are unfamiliar or need to review these verbs (used in passé composé). The passé composé (er verbs) and the futur simple videos are the meat and potatoes of this unit. Directly copy the notes from Alexa’s videos on these topics (passé composé, futur simple) as the minimum for completion of this assignment.

“I miss Saturday morning cartoons”

One way to improve your French is through immersion. If you want to avoid formal lessons in grammar, pronunciation, and tenses, then maybe Caillou or a more advanced French cartoon will meet you where you are at… The shows I’ve listed are often more accessible than Hélène et les Garçons! I strongly recommend that you take notes along the way, if only to prove that you’ve done the work!

Beginner - Trotro
Beginner - Caillou en Français
Intermediate - Corneil et Bernie
Intermediate - Titeuf
Intermediate - Les Zinzins de l'espace
Intermediate - Les Malheurs de Sophie

Clarification: use French subtitles rather than English – especially if watching without audio! As it is important to revisit the unit themes in every assignment, I strongly recommend completing this activity by picking out verbs, then conjugating them in passé composé and futur simple. Ensure the English and French are side-by-side to promote easier review.

Make a Quizlet

Here’s a chance to take your learning in your own hands. What vocabulary do you want to know? Use Quizlet to create a list of vocabulary in French and English related to our unit theme of “past, present and future.”

What is Quizlet?
How do I make a Quizlet?
How do I share a Quizlet?

Clarification: Please do not use the vocabulary from my quizlet (from the “Quizlet is the new Duolingo” activity). A complete assignment has a minimum of five sentences using passé composé, five sentences using futur simple, and 30 miscellaneous terms, phrases, verbs (ie. 40+ cards total)

Scriptwriting in Different Tenses

In unit 5 we created several scripts which we used to debate, tell stories and put the Big Bad Wolf on trial… Here is an opportunity to write a script following the theme of “past, present and future.” In order to drive this theme home you will highlight futur simple and passé composé.

Need an idea? Why not write a press statement from the perspective of a celebrity apologizing for past actions / behaviour / etc. Acknowledge what happened (past tense), how the celebrity feels (present), and what they will do / are going to do in the future (future tense).

Clarification: this script should be a minimum of 100 words. I strongly recommend including five sentences in passé composé and five sentences in futur simple.

Comparing Tenses

Describe, with examples, how the French tenses you have begun to learn in this unit differ from French to English. This can be written in English or French.

Do we have word endings? Do we have regular and irregular verbs – are these irregular only in the present tense or in other tenses as well?

Note: You may need to seek out additional sources to complete your research.

Note: your description should cover passé composé (especially in the form “I have eaten / you have eaten etc.”) and futur simple (“I will eat / you will eat etc.”)

Here is a partial exemplar for a tense that we are not covering (another kind of past tense called imparfait):
In English we say “I was happy” – this indicates that we were happy in the past, and we have to decide from the context whether it was an instantaneous feeling or if it was over a period of time. In French this is done with the way that we conjugate the verb – so “I was happy” would appear as “j’étais content.” We still need three words to say this – so the way that we conjugate this is very similar. There are some differences because we only have two versions of “to be” in English when we are using this tense, “was and were” – in French there are five different ways that we change “être”
Passé, Présent et Futur Bande Dessinée

Write a three-part comic strip (think Sunday morning funnies) which takes place in the past, present and future (and uses appropriate tenses).

Clarification: Your comic should contain at least three panels (consider the provided example as having 8 panels). It should contain at least one sentence using passé composé and one using futur simple.

Note Taking, Highlighting and Vocabulary & Traditional Stories

Enjoyed the Big Bad Wolf? The Ugly Duckling? Try reading through the rest of the French Experiment’s offerings along with the audio accompaniment. Find a way to weave this into your portfolio by taking notes, practice vocabulary, and highlighting tenses.

Clarification: I strongly recommend completing this activity by picking out verbs, then conjugating them in passé composé and futur simple. Ensure the English and French are side-by-side to promote easier review. Complete at least one page single-spaced in this way…

Descriptive Paragraph & French Audiobooks

Examine one or more stories (available in print and audiobook form)… Highlight examples of futur simple, passé composé, either in notes or in a descriptive paragraph.

Fontaine's Fables

A classic of 17th century French literature, Fontaine’s Fables were originally meant for a sophisticated audience, but later were widely adopted in support of children’s moral education. Sample these fables, available in text and audiobook form. Show you work by compiling notes, vocabulary, etc.

Le Petit Prince

This classic is also available in print form.

Le Petit Nicolas

This classic is also available in print form.

Clarification: I strongly recommend completing this activity by picking out verbs, then conjugating them in passé composé and futur simple. Ensure the English and French are side-by-side to promote easier review. Complete at least one page single-spaced in this way…

Why learn about tenses anyway?

Big Ideas

Rarely do we examine English grammar – by learning French tenses, we can reflect on how English uses them…


Students explore francophone media in the form of both popular music and kids cartoons…