QUEBEC INTERNET TOURIST SITES
Reprinted from the AATF National Bulletin, Vol. 26 No. 3 (January 2001)
The Guides touristiques published for each of the twenty tourist regions of la belle province by Tourisme Québec have long been an excellent resource for teaching the geography and culture of Quebec. The booklets of about 100 pages contain maps, an overview of the region (le portrait de la région), various circuits listing the principal attractions, museums, parks, restaurants, and lodging. Color photos depict important sites, and advertisements add more detail. Now this information has been transferred to the Web. Although some instructors will continue to prefer the booklets for their convenience, now that the brochures have become the basis for the regional Web sites, they are much more accessible.
Activities centered around tourism allow students to explore geography while mimicking the way native speakers use the Internet when planning a trip. Two sites are convenient portals for Quebec. The best is the provincial government's site [http://www.tourisme.gouv.qc.ca] where students will find the page that allows them to access Quebec's twenty tourist regions, or they can try going directly to it at [http://www. tourisme.gouv.qc.ca/francais/tourisme/regions/regionst.html]. Another site, more commercial in nature and with less infor-mation, might be easier for students at a lower level to handle: [http://www. quebecweb.com/tourisme/introfranc.html]. For more information about Montreal, see la Page Montréal: at [http://www.pagemontreal .qc.ca/] or at [http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/].
While this article focuses on Quebec, students could use the same strategies to explore the Acadian connection in the maritime provinces (see the tourism section of Acadie.Net: [http://www.acadie.net/]) or Francophone Manitoba at [http://www. travelmanitoba.com], where the search feature will turn up a long list of sites related to Saint-Boniface. The Quebec government's Office de la langue française pro-vides an on-line dictionary of Internet vocabulary students might find useful: [http://www.olf.gouv.qc.ca/] (Click on Ressources linguistiques and then Terminologie d'Internet).
The activities can be used singly or as a unit. They progress from simpler ones that emphasize recognition of data to simulations that are progressively more complicated. I have used the tourist agent simulation as a single independent activity both in courses on Quebec culture and in conversation courses. In a conversation course I used the package as a two-week unit. In that case, I first asked students to survey several regions on successive days. Students then progressed to the tourist agent activity which requires that they first plan an itinerary using at least two regions and next present it to clients; the Web consultant activity served as a capstone. During the course of the unit they reported to the class on their surveys of sites, pitched their itinerary to other students who played the role of clients, and produced a written consultant's report on improving the Web site.
I. Survey. Each Tourisme Québec site contains a feature, usually called Le portrait de la région, that gives an overview. Ask the students to mine it for as much of the following information as possible. While most information will be found on the Portrait d'une région page, students may have to check other parts of the site as well.
II. Travel Agent Students play the role of travel agents who must put together a day-by-day itinerary within one or two regions for clients who have special interests recommending activities, restaurants, hotels, etc. They then use the itinerary to convince the clients to purchase the tour package.
Assign students different regions so that all of the province will be covered when they present their itinerary to the class. When the clients have contradictory tastes the planning becomes more challenging. For other ways of organizing this activity, see Jayne Abrate and Townsend Bowling's "Paris on the Web: Surfing along the Seine," The French Review 73 (2000), 1165-1178, which proposes a similar activity dealing with Paris (1169-1171). They also provide suggestions for using the Internet in the classroom.
Vous êtes agent
de voyage. Préparez un itinéraire pour
deux clients de goûts opposés.
It can be wise to couple this activity with a review of grammar, for example, the use of the definite article and prepositions with geographical sites; the use of appropriate tenses and moods for pitching the itinerary (future, imperative, conditional of politeness); the difference between verbs of destination and verbs of motion (aller à Montréal en voiture; conduire une voiture sur l'autoroute).
III. Web Masters Students serve as Internet consultants who advise an attraction or region how they could improve their site. Students should first identify what they consider to be the attraction's most distinctive features. How could these features be made more appealing to potential tourists (perhaps American or French ones)?
1. Evaluation of the Web site. The first step of the consultant's job is to assess the site itself. This is a more com-plicated version of the survey in activity 1 in that it focuses more on how the site presents the region than on retrieving basic information about the region. I prefer to have students concentrate on the information the site provides about the region and only secondarily on how it functions as a Web site. Students determine the overall interpretation of the region that is projected by the written text and accompanying images.
2. Consultant's Report. Suggest that students concentrate on the content of the site rather than its Internet features per se (ease of navigating, flashy visuals, etc.). If students have access to the printed brochures of Tourisme Québec, they might compare them to the Web sites.
The site is now designed for the general public. If students do further research on the region, using either print or Web sources, they can suggest improvements to the site based on this more extensive knowledge: other options for travel, other attractions. If their knowledge of the region is limited to the information provided by the site itself, their suggestions can focus on how to make the site itself more user friendly, more attractive. This may require that students have an extensive mastery of Internet and computer vocabulary, but the Office de la langue française site listed above can be helpful in this regard. It is often easier for students to suggest how the site can be refocused for a narrower interest group. For example: American tourists who are interested in what Quebec offers that they can't find in the U.S. (natural features that are unique to Quebec, Quebec's French culture, but who could be reassured that English can be used almost everywhere); French tourists who are interested in Quebec's natural beauty and how Quebec has adapted its French heritage to a North American context; or make it appeal to the age group of the students, skiers, or nature lovers, etc. This strategy allows students to recombine the information that the site already contains.
More Web-adept students might want to produce such a page rather than simply describe it.
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Created: December 29, 2000
Last update: December 29, 2000