French: Performing With Confidence
Connect to Your Teaching
Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.
- What is the value of having students enter competitions such as the poetry contest that Daniel entered?
- Games are used at all levels of instruction. How would you organize them to be effective for higher-level students? What kinds of language and cultural functions should they serve?
- What opportunities do you provide for students to use language beyond the sentence level?
- How has the Internet changed the kinds of assignments you give students? What are some topics that would be difficult to teach without Internet access?
- How do you create effective guidelines for student-created, student-led presentations? How do you assess these presentations?
Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you've just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.
Politics of Art (Spanish) illustrates cultural connections, interdisciplinary content, and formal/informal discussions with advanced students.
Promoting Attractions of Japan (Japanese) shows students participating in games that involve spontaneous use of the language.
Comparing the Weather (Arabic) emphasizes interpersonal and presentational communications in the context of learning about weather in the Arab world.
Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.
- Try incorporating authentic games to build vocabulary and proficiency in advanced courses. As you travel or attend conferences, look for games that would give your students the same experience that they give native speakers. Playing authentic games on a regular basis not only is entertaining, it promotes learning and cultural understanding. During the warm-up, Ms. Heno used an authentic French game called Brainstorm, in which students cluster familiar vocabulary words by association, such as "something you can sit on." The second game, in which students described their choices for the best boss, was another authentic French activity designed to stimulate spontaneous responses on provocative topics. To make the most of these activities, train your students to give answers that go beyond just "yes" or "no."
- Explore current events in your lessons. Choose topics from the worlds of politics, science, entertainment, and more. For example, Ms. Heno used the upcoming French presidential election as the basis for a lesson on contemporary French culture. She also juxtaposed this topic, which delved into the history and politics of France, with one that related to students' interest in celebrities. The common factor was student discussion based upon prior research. To conduct this type of research, students need access to a variety of sources in the target language. If your department or library budget permits, you can subscribe to foreign language magazines or newspapers. Fortunately, all the major media also have Web sites where you can get the latest articles and broadcasts. Assign students the sites that you feel are appropriate. You can also ask anyone traveling to a country where your target language is spoken to bring you back authentic materials from that country.
- The policies and political alliances of nations change over time. When introducing political topics for discussion, it is important to give students some background information to help them understand the complexities of these topics. Although it would be impossible for students to gain a full understanding of any international issue in the course of just one or two lessons, they can begin to develop a good base of knowledge that will help them move beyond making simplistic statements during discussions.