Monday, December 16, 2013

Fun with graham wafers!

Each month the languages department in our school holds a multi-cultural seminar where we bring in students who study both French or Spanish to participate in an activity.  This month we wanted to do something a little bit different and so we held a 'monuments making' activity class.  We began by showing some prominent French and Spanish monuments or buildings such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral in France.  The students created their own versions of the monuments out of milk carton bases, graham wafers, royal icing, jujubes, candies, mints, licorice, etc......  Here are just two of the creations that we are most proud of.  :)  The students are still talking about this activity and students from all over the school have heard about it and have come by our classroom to have a look! 
la Tour Eiffel
la Cathédrale de Notre Dame

Friday, December 6, 2013

Allons-nous à la plage?

Non!  We are not going to the beach but your students will have fun with this one!  This is a wonderful idea that I picked up at a conference just over a year ago now and have just had the opportunity to try it in my classroom this year.  For each unit that you teach, write a variety of questions about that unit on the beach ball.  When you're busy taking attendance and the students are waiting for you or when you have a few minutes at the end of class, toss the ball out into the audience.  Yes - to your students! :) When a student catches the ball he or she must answer the question wherever his thumbs are.  That means of course that your student has a choice of two questions but that's certainly ok! The student must first read the question aloud and then come up with an answer to the question in French, bien sûr! The students then take turns tossing the beach ball to each other.  If the same question comes up, that student must answer the question touching the other thumb!   :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Push the envelope!

Push the envelope in terms of sentence structures with your students.  Do they always give you sentences that are 4-5 words in length?

The roll of the dice will soon change that! 

My students know that when a pair of dice is put on the table that there will be some serious thinking involved!!  and some fun too!  :)   All students must create a sentence with the number of words that is shown for the number on the dice when rolled. I set my cell phone timer and they must write, write, write.  Just when they think they are getting the hang of it all, I throw an additional dice onto the table, and another the next round and another and another.   Soon, the students are combining long sentences together in order to reach the number thrown on the dice.  If the group is lucky the student throwing the dice throws low numbers, if not, the students are trying to make crazy sentences!!  Today, one group had to try to make a sentence with 40 words.  Yes, that's not very practical, nor is it good French, but it gets the students to pull words out of their heads that they had forgotten were in there!  

Afterwards, each student shared their favourite sentence (not the shortest one, nor the longest) aloud with the class.  This was my opportunity to help with pronunciation and correction of sentence structures and vocabulary usage.  I am always amazed at what they can put together.  :) Give it a try!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Moving away from script to "real" speech

How can you help students move from writing French scripts to doing true French oral production?

It is so easy for students to use an on-line translation site to assist them in creating their "speech" but certainly detrimental to their development in so many ways!  As the difficulty level increases while learning a second language so does the difficulty for students to create conversations without the use of "written aids".  When you ask a question students seem to immediately want to pick up a pen and write an answer down!!  Crazy but true! It's a comfort mechanism for them which if not curtailed can hinder their speech development.  HOWEVER, I believe that there's nothing wrong with students being able to jot down ideas or words to help them out. 

My beginner's class will soon be putting together a presentation to tell me about their likes and dislikes in terms of food, beverages, leisure activities, and school subjects along with information about themselves, their families, and pets. We have been working with -er verbs, one and two verb sentences, avoir expressions, partitive articles, idiomatic expressions and preferences.  This is an awful lot for them to remember and use!  We have been practising for two months now and soon they will show me what they have learned.  I know that this will be very scarey for some of them, but I also know that they will be able to manage their presentations with a little help.  So, today, I showed them exactly how to do this.

Using PowerPoint or Word or a cut and paste picture they will make a "slide" or "mini-poster" with a picture on it with a couple of words included.  They are "prompts" to help them put together a sentence or sentences of their choice.