ABSTRACT  This paper describes a recent initiative to incorporate folktales and legends from francophone West Africa into a college-level advanced French literary and cultural studies course. Students were asked to keep reading journals to record their reactions to various texts taken from France and francophone West Africa. An analysis of the reading journals shows that critical competencies in Western culture often do not carry over when students encounter African texts. In the same way that students make linguistic errors by translating literally from their native language to the target language, they likewise make critical errors by misapplying critical stances to unfamiliar cultural contexts.