Project #lalala : French learners are writing and recording songs for an album with professionals French and Pakistani musicians!
Hello Laurent, could you tell us about your background?
I have a dual academic background in French Literature and Linguistics, after teaching in French high schools for a while, I discovered French linguistic cultural cooperation in several foreign universities, and began working for the Alliance Française network. Having also trained in business management and project management, I was subsequently entrusted with greater responsibilities within the network. Today, I am the Deputy Director and Head of Studies at the Alliance Française in Karachi.
Can you introduce us to the Alliance Française network in Pakistan?
The context is rather complicated, but fascinating. Pakistan previously had up to seven different teaching centers, but after recent upheavals in the area, such as the conflict with Afghanistan, the Karachi bombing in 2002, and the growth of religious extremism, the position of the French language was severely weakened. The Alliances of Quetta and Peshawar were closed, as were all the annexes in Karachi and Lahore. The network today has three main centres, one in each of the three major urban centers: Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. Although we operate in a difficult environment, particularly in terms of security, Karachi is a megalopolis of more than 20 million people with exceptional potential, our projects are thriving, and our cultural events are extremely well supported.
What is Project #lalala and what are the objectives?
That’s a really good question, which I always enjoy answering. Project #lalala is the continuation of our ‘Si on Chantait’ (Let’s Sing) project, which was conducted over two consecutive years in China, during the period of the Cross-Linguistic Years (2011 and 2012). Project #lalala is a collaborative writing project, which uses both a task-based approach and global simulation. In universities, schools, and Alliance Françaises across Pakistan, French language learners are currently working in collaboration with their teachers and professional musicians in France (‘Studio Nomade’) to write songs. Depending on their skills and interests, they are encouraged to get involved beyond the words and music: visual materials, technical aspects and even music publishing are open to them. In addition, the teaching staff are creating teaching resources to accompany the CD. Project members are interacting for several months via online platforms prior to the musicians flying over to Pakistan and going into schools, bringing with them all the equipment necessary to transform the classrooms into a recording studio, hence the name ‘Studio Nomade’. The best songs will then be chosen and recorded by the students and musicians. Finally, the CD will be manufactured and distributed for free across the Alliance Française network.
With the previous project in China, over 15,000 copies of the CD were distributed, in two Chinese editions, with some tracks featuring famous French musicians; Kent was the guest of honour on the 2011 edition. The 2012 project edition was recognized in awards presented by Yamina Benguigui, delegate Minister for La Francophonie, and Hao Ping, Ambassador of China to France, at the National Library of France in early 2013. In short, this is an absolutely exceptional project with multiple objectives and outcomes; including French language learning, intercultural exchange, dynamic networking and creation of partnerships.
For our new project, we wanted to make an album across the entire Indian subcontinent. Unfortunately, however, the political context has meant that this is currently impossible. With the support of the Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Action, Martine Herlem-Hamidi, and the Executive Director of the Alliance Française of Karachi, Jean-François Chénin, the Cultural Department of the Embassy of France in Islamabad and the AF network, kept the project scheduled to go ahead in Pakistan. This is a decision that we are all excited about, not only because we love this project, but also because it gives us the opportunity to offer another perception, another more positive image, of Pakistan.
How can we learn more about this project and follow the news of the Alliance Française in Pakistan?
To start with, you can follow the twitter hashtag #aflalala, the new project name for this year. There are also dedicated interaction spaces on the French learners’ social network in Pakistan, www.myfrenchbook.org. Simply register on this platform and you can participate in discussions, alterations, and even listen to pre-production tracks!
It is also possible to follow the project’s progress, and all the news from the network in general, on the new online magazine ‘The AF Mag Pakistan’ where articles are regularly posted at https://afpakistan.wordpress.com/
You can also check out the Alliance Française of Karachi’s facebook page, on which we communicate daily with thousands of followers.
The full album will be available free online at https://myspace.com/studionomade, where you can listen to all the previous editions in their entirety. All the tracks are of a very high quality and entirely conceived by French language learners, from beginners to advanced levels.
The physical album will be released in June 2014, marking the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Alliance Française of Karachi. It will be available on request.
(poster : original design by Urooj Fatima, student of AfK)