Thoughts on learning about teaching French & classroom management

I am taking a course this summer, a 27 day intensive (did I mention intensive?) course on the teaching of French as a 2nd Language. Each week we have about 12 assignments to complete and reflect on and since it takes place entirely online, the work is mainly in the form of written response. I haven’t written so much in French in a very long time. I received this comment from our instructor yesterday:

Tes arguments sont convaincants et bien articulés. Tu m’as fait rire avec ton beau français! Merci, ça fait du bien!

(Your arguments are convincing and well articulated. You made me laugh with your beautiful French. Thanks!)

I’m not sure if the ‘beau francais’ part is tinged with a bit of sarcasm or not since at times I felt I was pulling vocabulary and turns of phrases out of my nether regions but at least she was smiling while she read it :) One thing that’s certain, the more I write the better I feel about writing in French. My writing seems to be more automatic now. I check my writing – in particular for things like gender and some aspects of verb usage (do I conjugate a certain verb with etre or avoir?) – with firefox’s French spellcheck**, translation tools, and by merely conducting a search for similar phrases in google. I am finding that more often than not I am ok and so I am starting to trust my writing more and doing those checks less often, which also helps to speed up the writing process. What helps IMMENSELY is that the focus is on the content and no one mentions anyone’s errors – a fine example of acquisition theory, that real learning happens through authentic learning situations with meaningful input and not through direct instruction in grammar.

Now that I think about it though, there is no reason why my responses need to be in writing. At times the instructions do mention writing in particular (‘Écrivez un paragraphe pour expliquer chaque image et comment elle reflète vos idées’ – Write a paragraph to explain each image and how it reflects your ideas) but at times they don’t. For example, part of the assignment I am looking at this morning asks:

Cherchez une image en ligne qui décrit vos expériences et vos pensées sur la gestion de classe. Affichez votre image et expliquez ce que cette image signifie pour vous.

(Find an image online that describes your experiences with and thoughts about classroom management. Post your image in the forum and explain what this image signifes for you.)

SO – I am going to go with a voicethread for this one!

Actually, I’ll be cheating a bit since it isn’t a new image but I commented on an image I have already used to talk about classroom management – the Timmy and Mr Whiskers comic. My new comment is the last one (or, if someone adds a comment, the 2nd of my comments) and it is in French. Do you think I should post a translation in English? (a few minutes later…) Ok, I just did! So, where you see my mug twice in a row, the first is my comment in French and the 2nd in English. Do you have any thoughts on classroom management? Any thoughts on particular challenges for management in certain courses or subject areas? Add to the conversation!

You can see this full-sized here: Classroom Management Cartoon

**(re: using spellcheck) which, like I tell my students, I need to be careful with. I used the word ‘atteint’ for ‘attente’ all day yesterday. The word I wanted means ‘expectations’ but the word I chose could mean many things, including ‘suffering from’ :) though, to be fair with myself, we can say ‘qu’on a atteint l’objectif’ for ‘we have met the objective’, so perhaps my error is understandable. French can be very confusing at times!

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Bonjour ;o)
    Si (on ne sait jamais) ton école a un peu de sous a consacrer à ton cours, http://www.druide.com/antidote.html Antidote est LE meilleur correcteur orthographique en français existant. Je n’ai vraiment pas d’actions chez eux, mais je suis une utilisatrice convaincue! Si tu cherches un œil francophone pour relire un texte, n’hésite pas, depuis le temps que je lis ton blog, je peux bien te renvoyer l’ascenseur ;o)
    Bon courage

    1. @LaurenceB, merci, Laurence. Je ne savais pas que tu lis mon blog depuis longtemps, ca me fait plaisir d’entendre ça!

      Pour le moment, je n’ai pas d’école… je prends ce cours de français comme langue seconde pour m’assurer un position en septembre. Alors je me débrouillera sans logiciel cher :) Si jamais j’ai des questions concernant les textes que je(ssaye d’)écris(sre) je vais certainement te demander des conseils – merci, c’est très gentil!

  2. Now that I’ve read your post i was begining to want to take up french seriously. I think it’s a very romantic language.I agree that real learning happens through authentic learning situations not through direct instruction in grammar. I learned that when i took up basic japanese.

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