Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reforme en français

This year in my French class, I have been asking myself some questions. These questions were ranging from “Why am I the one working the most in the class while I already know French?”, “How come my students cannot speak any French?” to “Why do I teach what I teach?”

I had to find a solution in order to make my lessons more students centered. As I have also been teaching Social Studies, I could see that students could be more independent in their learning and that they could be in charge of their learning. As much as I am egocentric and that I love that “ it is all about me”, school is not for teachers but it is for students. So it was time that I find solutions to put the kids at the front instead of ME the teacher.

As I was looking at a solution or solutionS, I have been reading a bit about Task Based Learning and asked advice to our wonderful National Advisor Ruth. Of what I read TBL seems to be quite structured which could be restrictive for me as I like going in every directions.

So instead I came to my class and I showed my students a simple Powerpoint that I had made in the morning about my school. I told them in French that they had to produce a Powerpoint as well about their school in pairs and that they could not speak any English at all, if not they will be punished. After a few moans they started to work. I hadn’t given them any vocabulary at all or any structures. They didn’t even know how to speak about school subjects. I wanted that the learning comes from them instead of me telling them what to learn.

Using phrases like “ Comment dit-on biology room en français?” they managed to produce great writing (this was obviously a writing assignment) but the best for me as a teacher was that they chose what they wanted to learn, and actually if we compare what I was going to teach them initially and what they learned there was not a huge difference.

I had to be a bit vigilant though when the students were talking among each other though. They were discussing in English so I had to punish them. Their name appeared on the board and after 3 ticks they will be dramatically punished. Nobody got punished as they started to speak French among them and using sentences like “mon portable à la maison, demain photos du collège”. I think because I did not give them the choice that they had to speak in French at all times, they felt in danger and they had then to speak French. I think that in conventional lessons they were not using the French they already knew because they were in their comfort zone that English was acceptable and possible. If one goes to France one will learn French not because French is spoken there, but because one HAS to in order to get understood.

I was indeed very pleased with this try, and I will do it again.


  1. Ah Florence. I love your blog. I loved your piece about asking yourself why you are the one working the hardest and you already speak French. So funny but my goodness so very true. I feel sometimes like I am spinning plates in the classroom like in the circus going from group to group getting them motivated/engaged. I look forward to hearing more about TBL. And I would have liked to see the Japanese teacher's cartoons too. Sounds like a good session.