This year, my goal is to get my students speaking a lot more French and sound better doing so. If it were me, I would like to have something more to show after learning French for four or five years. I suppose this is what is really behind the focus of the (soon to be released?) new curriculum.
As for me, I’m going to vary my approach this year. In the past, a lot of the French speaking came from short daily activities, questions/answers and summative oral presentations that focused on integrated targeted vocabulary and grammar structures. The summative activities were always creative and students responded well to them, however, they were perhaps not the most practical (cooking show, blind date, etc). Based on feedback to some written response questions and from parents, it is surprising to me to find out that students seem to really want to learn French. I know, shocking isn’t it? My challenge this year is how to balance out the practical but still make it interesting and most importantly fun.
For September with my grade eight classes, I have begun with the basics. I mean the real basics like greetings, variations of how are you and trading contact information. I’ve been using the resource and provided them with current lingo/slang in order to make their interactions more authentic. A typical lesson includes some explanation/questioning by me followed by 5 to 10 min of guided conversation with “freestyle elaborating”. We have already tried a short skit with a partner whereby they had to incorporate “Comment vas-tu?” and trade contact information but they were free to come up with their own context. The end product was okay but I found that they were more carried away by adding in all this extra detail to support the scenario which distracted and in some cases derailed them entirely. In the end, I decided that I would follow up with a one-on-one “examen oral” based on the same content. I think that an actual conversation will give me a better idea of how they are really able to communicate. Will keep you posted as to their progress. In the meantime, please let everyone know about anything that has been working for you.