Middlebrook seeks new French textbooks

Middlebrook sixth graders may soon have new French textbooks, thanks to a group of world language teachers, whose textbook recommendation was presented to the Board of Education on Thursday, May 28.
A book search committee — comprised of Cider Mill world language teacher Paul Kueffner, Middlebrook world language teachers Simon Bulenzi, Peg Sheehan and Jennifer Dunn, and Wilton High School French teacher Martine Berliet — has recommended a replacement for the current Allez-Viens textbook series used for the sixth grade French curriculum.
According to the committee’s recommendation, the current series is “outdated and no longer relevant for 21st Century learners.”
Bulenzi, who presented the recommendation to the board alongside Middlebrook Principal Maria Coleman, said Middlebrook has been using Allez-Viens since 2000.
“When I first started working at Middlebrook in 2003, I noticed that some of the information was outdated,” Bulenzi told the board.
“One point being that we don’t use francs anymore and the textbook talks about francs, so [we have had to] convert francs to euros and make sure they [the students] knew what it meant.”
Bulenzi said the culture portrayed in the books is also outdated, requiring teachers to “supplement a lot of outside information.”
“The video programs [are] also very outdated and the kids often make fun of the hairstyles [from] back in the 80s,” he said.
To bring the curriculum more up-to-date, the book search committee recommended the Bien dit! textbook series be used instead.
Wilton High School started using the Bien dit! series in 2007, and Middlebrook ordered teacher copies of all the series’ levels in 2013, according to the recommendation.
The Middlebrook teachers have not only examined the ancillaries, but have found the materials to be “very up-to-date and age-appropriate.”


According to the committee, the Bien dit! series is not only “appropriately challenging” to young learners, but also:

  • Correctly aligns to the national and state standards;

  • Provides many support and multimedia ancillary materials;

  • Has lots of visual, clear directions and explanations of grammar;

  • Has a consistent layout with logically and thematically arranged chapters;

  • Features events throughout various parts of the world in stories, articles, references and timelines;

  • Contains accurate and current information.

  • Includes the Francophone world — not just France.

Additionally, the textbook series has an online component that gives students access to multi-media, interactive activities with feedback and other various assessments.
The new series would cost the district $4,760 — $70 per textbook for 68 students — with all ancillary materials and teacher editions included in the total cost.
The committee is hoping to incorporate the textbook next school year.
The Board of Education will vote on the recommendation this month.