C’est quelle partie du corps?

Grade 3 students have been learning about body systems during their unit of inquiry. Have a look below to see some of the ways we have been integrating in French class. Beginner students learnt names for parts of the body whereas more advanced French learners looked at the journey taken by a morsel food as it goes through the digestive system, and what happens when air is inhaled into the lungs and how oxygen then travels through your bloodstream.

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What happens to my brain when I learn a new language?

There have been lots of studies to show the positive effects of learning a new language: better job prospects, easier international travel, more friends, etc… But did you know that your brain actually undergoes some changes when you speak more than one language?

Watch the video below to find out more:

Using student interest to provoke learning

When teaching language, I think a lot of our content can be enhanced by adding elements of what the students love into it, even when the topic itself isn’t that engaging. For example, we have recently been learning vocabulary about the house and furniture or items that are found in rooms in the house. Harry Potter has recently piqued the interest and enthusiasm of my 3rd Grade class, so I thought this would be a great way to teach key vocabulary under the ruse of exploring their passion for Harry Potter. We collectively described what we think Harry’s room looks like, pointing out important French words related to the topic and then the students drew and labelled pictures of Harry’s room. This led on nicely for students to write a description of their own room.

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New Year’s Resolutions

I thought the New Year would be a perfect opportunity for students to start talking about the future and what they ‘will’ do or would like to do; in other words, introducing the future tense in a simple and very authentic way.

Some of you (parents) will have had emails from me this week: I have been using a program called Evernote to record student work – I use the iPad to take a picture of whatever they’ve been working on, and then conference with them for a quick 2-3 minutes so they can tell me about their work. I find it is a great way of record-keeping and documenting student progress. I look forward to being able to look back on student work in a few months’ time so they themselves can see the growth in their learning and identify their goals for future learning. Click on this link for an example of how I use it in my classroom!

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What is the best way to learn languages?

This is a question that has plagued language teachers and researchers for years. Over the years, we have moved from traditional grammar-translation methods to more communicative task-based approaches and language teaching and learning continues to evolve as we learn more and more about the brain and how it enables us to make connections and transfer knowledge from one language to another.

According to this interesting article, the key lies in having a good foundation of grammar and structure in one’s own language. The more a student is confident and has the metacognition of how his own language works, the better he will be able to learn a new language.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think your own knowledge of English and the way you learnt grammar affects the way you learn or speak a foreign language?

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(Lightbown & Spada, 1999)

Using Google maps in the classroom

Our current unit of study is finding our way around places in town, and giving directions so that students can ask and find their way to the supermarket, park, swimming pool, etc. Using our individual iPads, we tapped into the power of Google maps, found our current location and then each student chose a destination that they wanted to get to. Watch the video below to see one student giving directions from the American School to our local supermarket, Carrefour.

Students have been very enthused to see this real-life application of what they’re learning, and at their request, our next week’s activities involve us travelling to Paris on Google Maps and finding our way from the Champs Elysées to the Tour Eiffel, or from the Louvre to Notre Dame. The potential of technology is absolutely amazing and I love seeing how excited and passionate the students get when learning is authentic and meaningful to them!

French song-writing

Singing is a wonderful way to dramatically improve your strategy when learning a new language. I have observed this from my students over the years and found that they will memorize song lyrics almost effortlessly and they can really let go of any inhibitions and anxieties about language learning when music is involved. In our French class, we often sing songs related to the topic we are learning about, and with my current 3rd grade class, we even composed a couple of extra verses for a song that we’ve been singing. It was a whole-class joint construction where the children tried to use as many words as they could from our unit on food. Here’s how it goes, sing along if you can – you’ll find the lyrics below the video link:

 

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Chez Mimi

‘Chez Mimi’ is a great series of episodes produced by Channel 4 about a cantankerous concierge called Madame Mimi and the different eclectic personalities that live in her apartment building. In Grade 3, we watched parts of the episode ‘A table’ and the children loved it! They requested a link for it on the blog so here it is, by popular demand:

Parent-teacher conferences

As you know, parent-teacher conferences are coming up on Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th October. I am looking forward to meeting you and discussing your child’s progress so far this year. I will share you with my goals for your child’s learning in French and some areas for growth. Please sign up for a slot using the sign-up website that was sent out and if you have any questions or would prefer to come in at some other time, don’t hesitate to contact me! Email: stharoo@acst.net

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