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Qu'est-ce que j'enseigne ?
... or, what do I teach?
What I teach and the tools I use
In the past year and a half, I have TA'd and and individually taught the first two (of four) elementary French courses offered at my university. Between the three different sections, I have taught over 150 students. While the elementary levels are considered the "easiest" by many instructors and students, alike, the necessary degree of clarity required for this opinion is no easy feat.
The ACTFL guidelines for language instruction that have guided my teaching effectively eliminate two of the major blockers for instructor and student success: organization and course time management. ACTFL's three main components to combat this struggle are the (1) advance organizer, (2) performance objectives, and (3) lesson plans.
Advance organizers help the instructor plan the unit materials in ways that fit with the logical progression of student engagement and comprehension, while keeping the learning goals clear and attainable. An instructor can even give students their own "advance organizer" to read before beginning a unit to make sure the students are up to speed with the necessary background context and basic outline of what they will be learning. This kind of packet gives students the tools they need to succeed while also giving them the responsibility to engage with the material and take charge of their own success.
Performance objectives are the unit and day-to-day goals of the lesson. PO's should be specific and attainable, while also including a natural progression of higher-order thinking and synthesis. The presence of PO's in a lesson give the students a roadmap to follow for what exactly they are working towards as developing speakers of their new language.
Lesson Plans are the day-to-day tool for the instructor to make sure the timing of each course segment and activity fits into the allotted class time. Lesson plans also ensure that each PO will be met and built on throughout the presentation of new information, homework, and overall unit depth and breadth. Lesson plans typically take the most time to build, however, when used as a trifecta of class tools, all three of these ACTFL research-based components allow for a more streamlined and time-efficient educational experience.
Below are a few examples of the ACTFL tools. Notice how the information in each component builds on each other to create a unit on health culture in France that gives the students a sufficient depth and breadth of both cultural knowledge and comparisons, vocabulary expansion, and grammar usage. The biggest impact this course structure has had on my own growth and success in FLE (foreign language education) is the necessity to trust my own preparation and stick to whatever I've planned. Making these ACTFL tools work for me has turned them from basic tips and tricks into essential "power tools" that kickstart an engaging and successful learning environment for students of all learning styles.
In my classroom, I use these tools for every lesson. They have contributed to the average success rate in my class and the level of retention and positive feedback that student give at the end of every semester. Other topics I teach include elementary grammar, topical vocabulary and usage (i.e., how to use your French in a restaurant, social, and academic setting). These tools can be adapted for any subject and student learning-style, so head on over to À VOTRE TOUR to see the other many ways these tools work for the instructor, the student, and maybe even you!
Sample Lesson Plans
Head on over to Additional Teaching Materials to see more resources. Also visit À VOTRE TOUR to try your own hand at learning French with me through the tools laid out here!
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