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Candide

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

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Candide Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Candide Include:

No study of French history and literature would be complete without at least touching upon the work of the Enlightenment thinker, Voltaire. His well-known scepticism and acerbic wit tore at the foundations of traditional eighteenth-century French beliefs. Voltaire challenged many aspects of the accepted world order in his plays, essays, and novels. Today, his 1759 novel Candide stands out as the most enduring of his works and the most beloved by modern audiences. Its sharp satire but simple narrative style make it an engaging and accessible text for mid to upper level French students.

Candide Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Candide: Le vocabulaire / Candide Vocabulary


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Storyboards are a great way to reinforce vocabulary acquisition. Have students use the Storyboard That graphics to create a helpful visual for challenging vocabulary.

Consider assigning each student or group of students a vocabulary list to accompany a particular chapter set. These students can then highlight the important vocabulary by presenting their squares to the class as a prereading activity. Alternatively, have students use the storyboards as a way to track ongoing vocabulary growth. Students can make one square per chapter, identifying new vocabulary words they found crucial to their understanding of each chapter.* By the end of the book, students will have a helpful visual guide to 30 new French words.

*Bear in mind that you may want to set parameters for the kinds of words students choose. Candide does contain some colorful language that you may not want depicted in a school setting.


Vocabulaire de Candide

FOUETTER
Candide était triste d'être fouetté par les Bulgares.


UN VAISSEAU À
Nous traverserons l'Océan Atlantique sur un vaisseau.


SOUFFRIR
Le chien souffre quand on le laisse trop longtemps dehors.


CORDELIER
Le cordelier porte une robe avec une corde autour de la taille. Il prie tous les jours.


SE PLAINDRE DE
La petite fille se plaint de son frère qui l'énerve.


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For this activity, you will prepare vocabulary squares for upcoming chapters in Candide. For the list of vocabulary words you are assigned, you will create an illustration along with a sample sentence using the words. Use the example provided as a model. Be prepared to teach the words to the class using your illustrations to help.



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Candide: Citation Importante / Candide Important Quotations


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Guage understanding and facilitate class discussion with short personal response squares as students complete their daily reading assignments. A one-cell response only requires a small amount of time, but can effectively promote critical thinking and engagement. Provide students with a prompt to consider as they read a given reading selection and ask them to present their answer to the class using Storyboard That.


  1. What lesson did you take away from this chapter and why?
  2. Who was your favorite character in this chapter and why?
  3. What is one character, location, or object in this chapter that appears symbolic to you? What does it seem to represent?
  4. What do you think was the most important line in this chapter? Explain its significance.

The sample activity below is based on the fourth prompt.


Citation

“Si nous restons ici, nous n'y serons que comme les autres; au lieu que si nous retournons dans notre monde seulement avec douze moutons chargés de cailloux d'Eldorado, nous serons plus riches que tous les rois ensemble, nous n'aurons plus d'inquisiteurs à craindre, et nous pourrons aisément reprendre Mlle Cunégonde" (Ch. 18, p. 116).


Explication

Cette citation est significative parce qu’elle révèle l’ambition, l'avidité, et la vanité naturelle des hommes. Candide ne peut être satisfait dans l’utopie d’Eldorado; il cherche toujours quelque chose de nouveau et veut se sentir supérieur aux autres.

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As you read the next chapter, be on the lookout for important moments and lines. A line might be important because of the way it contributes to the plot development, connects to a theme, or reveals a key character quality. When you’ve found your line, present it at the top of a storyboard and create an illustration in the square. In the textbox at the bottom, add an explanation of the quotation’s significance.



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Candide et les Éléments de la Satire / Candide Elements of Satire


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It is impossible to teach Candide without teaching satire. The novel is a wonderful way to introduce or reinforce this difficult literary concept. Use storyboards to help students isolate examples of satire and thus enrich their understanding of Voltaire’s nuanced social critique. Discuss elements of satire together as a class to get started. Consider reviewing the following concepts:


Les Éléments de la Satire

L'ironie

“Cependant, à force de médecines et de saignées, la maladie de Candide devint sérieuse.”


La litote

"tous deux furent menés séparément dans des appartements d'une extrême fraîcheur, dans lesquels on n'était jamais incommodé du soleil..."


La contradiction

"et tout fut consterné dans le plus beau et le plus agréable des châteaux possibles"


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Candide is a satire, a work that uses humor to criticize something. Satire makes use of irony, hyperbole, contradiction, understatement, and comic juxtaposition to create its effect. As you study examples of satire in Candide, try to identify the literary device Voltaire uses to create that satire.

For this assignment, you will create a storyboard illustrating three examples of satire in Candide. Review your reading carefully to find specific lines or situations that reflect different satirical elements. As in the example storyboard, identify the kind of satirical device, then illustrate the scene, and include the relevant line from the text. Be prepared to explain your examples to the class.



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Candide et L'imparfait / Candide and the Imperfect Tense


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As with most novels, Candide provides an excellent source for reinforcing grammar and language skills. In particular, the tale contains so many scenes in which characters tell stories that there is particular exposure to the use of the imperfect and preterite. Use the novel’s narration to address the differences between the imparfait and the passé simple. A simple way to do this is to have students pull sentences from the book that make use of a particular tense. Students can then depict the scene and explain why it requires a particular tense. Having them illustrate the scene will require students to spend time putting thought and analysis into a particular grammatical scenario. This provides excellent reinforcement for verb tense instruction. The sample assignment below focuses on the imperfect tense.


Règle / RuleExample / Exemple
Une description "C'était un très beau jeune homme, le visage plein, assez blanc, haut en couleur, le sourcil relevé, l'oeil vif, l'oreille rouge, les lèvres vermeilles, l'air fier, mais d'une fierté qui n'était ni celle d'un Espagnol ni celle d'un jésuite."
Action ou phénomène qui se répète, non achevée"Le baron ne pouvait se lasser d'embrasser Candide, il l'appelait son frère, son sauveur."
Action du passé dont la durée n'est pas définieJ'ai besoin de jeunes allemands pour aller au Paraguay.

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For this assignment, you will focus on the imperfect tense in Candide. In a single scene, find three different sentences containing a verb conjugated in the imparfait. Then, create a three-cell storyboard. Below each cell, write one of the three sentences. In the image square above, depict the sentence, and in the top textbox, list the grammatical rule that makes the imperfect tense appropriate for that particular sentence. See the sample storyboard for an example.

Remember the imparfait is used for the following situations:

  • Past events without a definite ending point
  • Repeated/regular actions in the past
  • Physical or emotional descriptions (time, weather, age, feelings, etc.)
  • Background event that gets interrupted by a new occurrence
  • Wishes or suggestions
  • Conditions in “si” clauses (Si...imparfait...conditionnel)


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Candide: "Cultiver notre jardin"


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No study of Candide is complete without an exploration of the final chapter and Voltaire’s ultimate message. Engage students in a final discussion using storyboard discussion starters. Ask students to come up with their own interpretations of what it means to “cultiver notre jardin” in our own lives today.

Il faut cultiver notre jardin... Faites des choses simples, sans s’occuper de la philosophie ou des politiques. Travaillez, pour eviter l'ennui. S'éloignez de la société pour ne pas se mêler au conflits.

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After reading the final chapter of Candide, try to interpret Voltaire’s ultimate message. While he clearly disagrees with Pangloss's optimism, he allows his protagonist, in the end, to conclude simply that he and his friends must “cultiver notre jardin”. What could this mean?

In a storyboard of 2-4 cells, come up with at least two different interpretations of this line and apply them to our society today. For each interpretation, depict a scene in the modern world that seems to exemplify “cultivating our own gardens”. Above or below each image, explain the advice that you think Voltaire intends his readers to apply to their own lives.



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Before beginning Candide, consider previewing some of the relevant context to the novel. Students may need some background in pre-Revolutionary France and in the intellectual and philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment. Additionally, since the novel relies heavily on satire, students will need to be familiar with the purpose of satire and its literary characteristics. Use storyboards to introduce or reinforce many of these concepts. To keep your lessons fresh and inform your teaching, check out the suggested links below.



Essential Questions for Candide

  1. In what situations does Voltaire fluctuate between the imparfait and the passé simple?
  2. How does Voltaire make use of satire?
  3. What worldview is Voltaire trying to disprove in Candide?
  4. What advice does Voltaire give his readers for how to live as happily and peacefully as possible?


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