In this installment of TeachOntario Talks we are profiling and celebrating a group of educators who enhanced their students' proficiency in the Core French Classroom. These educators are from the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB).
In 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Education released a new French as a Second Language Curriculum Document with a vision to assist students in growing their confidence in French through communication and interaction, while developing perspectives they need to fully participate as citizens in Canada and of the world.
One of the new aspects of the revised FSL curriculum is the development of Intercultural Understanding. This helps students understand the culture of various French-speaking communities around the world, and assists in developing sociolinguistic competencies when speaking French in a variety of social contexts.
Chantal Bouillon, Erin Naylor, Anne Normad, Meghan O'Neil, and Meaghan Tahon from the PVNCCDSB saw the new curriculum as an opportunity to develop new teaching and learning strategies that would engage students in learning French.
Their inquiry began as a Collaborative Learning Communities (CLC) through the Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), and as their project progressed, it developed into a Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP).
When the educators initially met, they started with the questions: What is the Big Idea we are trying to achieve in French Language learning? What authentic experiences do we want our students to learn and experience? This questioning process, says Erin Naylor, formulated the guiding principle for their project, “What do students need to be able to do in French in order to be successful?”
Students Aselyn Martin and Mya Farace take part in a short exercise where they ask and answer questions in French.
The team planned four units of study that integrated all the strands in the French curriculum: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. These units focused on learning goals that would enable students to take what they learned and use it in real life situations.
Learning Goal /
Action Oriented Task
Students will be able to give and follow simple directions on a map and using an app can tour Québec City.
Giving and following simple directions
Explain Everything App
Students will be able to place an order for a drink, simple meal and dessert at a café, such as Tim Horton’s.
Ordering in a restaurant, making purchases, modifying an order, expressing a preference
Tim Horton’s website
Students will be able to give an invitation, understand an acceptance/declination, and convince a friend to accept.
Inviting, offering, refusing, convincing, accepting, thanking
Students will be able to learn a traditional French song and teach the chorus to another person.
Expressing likes and dislikes using “j’aime un peu”, “j’aime”, “j’aime beaucoup”, etc.
YouTube music videos
As a learning community with diverse perspectives, experiences and skillsets, the teachers collaborated to create: teacher guides, lessons, activities, interactive whiteboard lessons, projects and assessments that incorporated the use of technology. Through this process, they not only learned the technology, but began to see the power of technology in bringing authenticity to learning. It provided real-life content, engaging tools for learning and creation, as well as an ability to reach students with a wide variety of learning styles and needs.
Meaghan Tahon reflects that by using technology, “We can look at things the way they are today. We don’t have to look at a resource from 15 years ago.” She shares an example where students were able to look at the Tim Hortons website in French, and compare it with what was available in their local Tim Hortons. They also practiced dialogues such as inviting friends to an event through tools like FakePhoneText to make their learning more real-life and engaging.
A screenshot taken from the app FakePhoneText, which students used to practise dialogue.
During the project, Erin began seeing changes in her students. “They’re interested and engaged in the learning and they take it home.” Some of her students travelled to Quebec, and proudly shared that they could order meals for their parents.
One grade 6 student shared, “We used the app Pic Collage on the iPad to practice ordering with a friend. It helped me because it was realistic and it had real pictures of food that I could order. When I went to Quebec these words came to mind right away when I ordered at Tim Hortons.”
Says Meaghan, “There is a real understanding that our students can go out, and use their French. It doesn’t have to be just in our 40 minutes of the day.” Even parents commented about how much they enjoyed learning French from their children.
An example of a completed lesson where a student used social context as a means to increase her understanding.
Through this journey, the team began to shift their teaching practices from teaching fun themes such as animals, to focusing on the skill sets that students need to engage in the French culture. Meaghan remarks, “The project really allowed us to turn from what do I want to teach, to what do I want the students to be able to learn and do.”
Questions? Ideas? Comments? Ontario's educators can register on TeachOntario and join in more in-depth conversation about this teacher in Share under: TeachOntario Talks Discussions: TeachOntario Talk Discussions: Enhancing Oral Language Proficiency in the Core French Classroom