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.
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?
(Lightbown & Spada, 1999)
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!
Using pair work and group work when teaching languages is so great because it gives students far more opportunity to speak. In our language classes at ACST, we encourage our students to exchange opinions, practice new vocabulary and listen to their peers trying out their newly acquired language skills. Carefully planned activities and purposeful pairing means that children who are more able can model language for others and those who are less competent feel confident to experiment with language and will feel more at ease taking corrections from a peer rather than in front a whole class.
The photos below show Grade 3 students learning to tell the time, practicing with their partners using a teaching clock to say what time it is in French.
One of the goals for the World Language department this year is to try and develop curriculum and instruction in which language and content reinforce each other to deepen student learning. This means that where appropriate, we will integrate other subject matter into language learning and we will use the foreign language to reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines such as Math, Science and Social Studies.
For example, Grade 2 students at ACST have been learning to tell the time during their Math lessons. It’s been really insightful to see them making connections and using their newly acquired Math skills to tell the time in French. We will be doing some fun time-related activities this week and next week – making our own clocks, talking about our daily routine and what we do at certain times of the day, etc. Click on the video below for a sneak preview:
Here’s an interesting article I came across that talks about the importance of speaking another language and how crucial it is in all areas of business. What are your thoughts? How well are we equipping our children with the tools that they will need to survive in the global marketplace? Call me biased, but I definitely believe we’re giving them a headstart in our foreign language classrooms! 🙂
You can watch an interesting video clip of actor Larry Lamb here, who attributes his success to his primary school French teacher! I hope we can inspire some of our students in a similar way.
Have a great week!
One of the three principal strands on our AERO World Language Standards is Culture – this means that our curriculum encompasses not only vocabulary and grammar, but also gives students insights into the cultures that are expressed through language and literature. At ACST, we aim to share with students an understanding of the practices, products and perspectives of the culture in the target language we offer (French, in this case). We do this by exposing students to various aspects of French culture such as games, songs, folk tales and celebrations.
Now that the winter holidays are almost upon us, we will be looking at some of the ways in which the holiday season is celebrated in France. In particular, we will look at some of the practices and experiences of French children at Christmas time, making comparisons to our own cultures, and identifying similarities and differences in which we celebrate various holidays.
The presentation I will be sharing with the children is shown below:
Please let me know if you have any concerns or queries about the activities we will be doing next week. You’re welcome to come by my classroom (P07) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , your input is always very welcome. 🙂