Wednesday, 1 July 2020

COVID, 'confinement' and community

There's nothing quite like a viral pandemic to put actions in to perspective. 

I first started this blog with the ambition to not only share my love of teaching French but to partake in a broad community of teachers. When I first started teaching, I felt that it was quite an isolating occupation. Although you get to meet and work with inspiring teachers in your school community, the sharing of resources and ideas can be particularly restrictive in a small LOTE department. Hence, I Love French Australia blog was born in order to feel connected to other intrepid French teachers out there. Why shouldn't we be working together as a connected community?

When our schools started closing for online delivery due to COVID infections in Melbourne (AUS), I was once again reassured by the tenacity of the online teaching community. Through Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, so many teachers were reaching out to each other, whether to graciously offer resources or just to share in a mutual unease and offer support. 

Like most 'essential' workers, I have been working seven-day weeks since the start of term 1 this year. I took on two VCE classes (which I love), which adds to the workload, but also, it must be recognised that teaching is more than just academic instruction. We get into teaching because we care immensely about the wellbeing and future of our students. I think that most of us teachers are always working to ensure that we do the very best for each individual - of course, this can be an exhausting endeavor even without the COVID context! My blogging hiatus as a consequence of this, so far, unprecedented year.

Exhaustion aside, the pandemic has put my purpose of blogging in to perspective. I started this blog to belong and support my community of dynamic French and language teachers who have supported me through COVID and always. We must stay connected and continue to embrace this fine community!

All my best to my colleagues out there! If you ever need to contact me in regards to resources or just some good banter, send me an email at ilovefrenchaustralia@gmail.com


Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Top 5 French Pop Songs for the Classroom 2019

When I was a teen, I learned so much language through music and loved trying to connect with new French music (through CD's back then - a bit harder!). Listening to the latest music trends in France is nevertheless a common request from our students these days. Nowadays, we can easily find music through YouTube, Spotify, social media... and our students are also great a finding music themselves. You can find my Youtube playlist for 2019 through this link.

Here are the top 5 songs loved by my advanced French classes (Year 10 +) this year:

Anglèle feat. Roméo Elvis - Tout Oublier (2018)

Hitting the charts with so many tunes, Angèle has become the ultra-pop French idol with her feminist views pushing the boundaries. My students loved the film clip with this song and bopped their shoulders along with the artists.


Clara Luciani - La Grenade (2018)

A song that continued to climb the charts in to 2019 with the incredible voice that is Clara Luciani. After seeing her at the 2019 So Frenchy So Chic in Melbourne, it's a talent that's hard not to share.


Louane - No (2018)

None other than the top teen French idol, my students love Louane! Once they're hooked to her songs, it's always a good idea to suggest Louane's beautiful starring role in the film 'The Belier Family' available on Netflix.


Christophe Maé - Les Gens (2019)

Released only a month ago, this song is packed with simple vocabulary and diverse adjectives - a must use! Did you know that Maé used to be pâtissier?


Joyce Jonathon - On (2018)

She's become a classic, Joyce Jonathon, having been around for over a decade (like the two artists above!). Another very simple song that's easy to sing along to.



What are your students listening to in the modern French pop scene? Please share!


Friday, 20 September 2019

5 best French food-related idiomatic expressions

Learning idiomatic expressions in a second language highlights many cultural insights! No surprises that in French there are many expressions with reference to food (miam!). Here are my 5 delicious favourites that I share with my students...

1. Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe
- quelqu'un ou quelquechose arrive au mauvais moment


This idiomatic image seems to be a favourite among students as it truly expresses the feeling of finding a hair in your soup! When you 'arrive as a hair in the soup', you have come at the worst possible time. You really don't feel wanted!

Quand je suis arrivé à la fête, tout le monde m'a regardé. J'avais l'impression d'avoir arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe!


2. Les carottes sont cuites
- une situation sont espoir. Tout est perdu.


'The carrots are cooked' suggests a misfortune or a situation without hope. Being unable to turn back the clock.
FUN FACT: 'Les carottes sont cuites' was code during WWII on the London Radio to trigger operations in German-occupied territories.

Ami 1: J'ai reçu de mauvaises notes...
Amis 2: Fin, les carottes sont cuites!


3. En faire tout un fromage
- faire toute une affaire de quelquechose qui n'est pas très important.


'To make a whole cheese out of something' is to turn a nothing situation in to a big deal. I looooove cheese, so I always tell my students you can certainly have too much of a good thing!

Elève: Madame, elle a pris mon stylo!
Prof: N'en fait pas tout un fromage!


4. Rester planté comme un poireau
- l'action d'attendre longuement (immobile et sans bouger)


I always share this expression with my students as I find that many of my students don't know what a leek is! To 'stay put as a leek' is to wait a long time. If you are waiting days for something to happen or tapping your foot to meet someone, you might start smelling like an onion!

Personne 1: L'autobus va bientôt arriver?
Personne 2: J'espere que oui! Je reste planter comme un poireau ici, il y a 20 minutes!


5. Raconter des salades
- Dire des mensonges. Dire des choses qui ne sont pas vraies.


Who doesn't love to tell a few salads or 'tall tales'? (Especially as a teacher to my students...!) This is an expression particularly useful for the end-of-school (Year 12) certificate oral exam when a student is launching in to a good story. As in, '"Je ne vous raconte pas de salades quand je vous explique cette histoire si bizarre...", I'm not telling you fibs when I explain this strange story to you!


As I have only 'scratched the surface' on French idioms with food, write your favourites in the comment section below! 

Saturday, 4 May 2019

French Teacher Resource: Immersion signs (alphabet and commands)

As a language teacher, I try hard to ensure that French is constantly used in a meaningful way for students to feel successful in their learning. This year, I am finally introducing language immersion in to my upper levels and have created some resources to aid in facilitation.

French themed alphabet wall in my French classroom


In my LOTE classroom, it is becoming more apparent to me that both deductive and inductive methods are necessary. That is, sometimes you need to use English as a medium to piece together grammar rules or to teach text-type features, and at other times, students can be forced to learn through the second language in full context. In particular, during worksheets activities, I have been setting a timer for 20-30 minutes and enforcing a 'French-only' rule. If a student 'slips up' and speaks in English to a friend, I tell their peers to instruct, "pas d'anglais...!" Students have found it to be a positive challenge, as a whole.

Classroom commands in easy view next to the whiteboard

Most importantly, I want my students to understand that communication is necessary in learning a language. Asking my students to speak French together highlights the need for meaningful conversation to learn French at school. It is not an easy task but I am persevering to ensure that this expectation is normalised in my classroom.

Therefore, to aid in my endeavour of ongoing language immersion, I have created the following printable Google Slide wall resources:
1. French alphabet - French/Parisian themed (great for secondary girls' school)
2. French alphabet - children's (basic) theme
3. Classroom commands and questions

Print them on card to stick on the wall or print them as small slides on A4 to give to students if you rotate between different rooms.

Do you use language immersion in your LOTE classroom? How do you facilitate immersion in a non-immersion school?

Sunday, 17 February 2019

French Teacher Resource: Whodunnit?, 'Qui l'a fait?', adjectives game

Resources are most effective when students have the opportunity to create, use and share their own work. This is the kind of resource that covers all that, and my students have loved it over and over!

To enrich the learning of adjectives and adjective agreements, students engage in a good game of 'Whodunnit' or 'Qui l'a fait?'!

The Whodunnit game is organised in 3 parts:
1. Students complete a suspect profile
2. The class plays a Whodunnit game
3. Individual feedback collected by students

The whole activity covers 2 lessons, as you will need to collect the criminal profiles to create the Whodunnit game for the following class.

Students listing details from each 'recherché' profile hung around the classroom.

  1. The suspect profiles

To practise physical and personality descriptions, get the students to draw a criminal and give a description. Depending on the level of the class, you can organise the profiles in different levels based on what you wish to test for. 
For my Year 8's, I would provide space for dot-points against different categories, e.g. hair, eyes, personality. For Year 10's, I would ask students to write a paragraph describing their criminal. 

You can access some examples here:

Collect the profiles from students at the end of class. Provide written feedback to students on the profiles, and decide on the "criminals" for the game. For a class of 25-30 students, choose about 5-6 student profiles as the criminals. Make sure the descriptions are varied and creative or targeted to vocab you want students to focus on. You will use these descriptions to create the 'dossier de police', the police suspect file, which you will give students to complete the game and work out the criminals during game play.

     2. 'Qui l'a fait?' game setup and play


Hang each profile on the walls. Begin the lesson by playing the 'Pink Panther' tune as students are walking in to the class - creates the investigator tone!

Go through the game instructions with students, either in French or English depending on how immersive your lessons are. The instructions for students are:
- You are a private detective (individual work) / Tu es detective privé (travail individu)
- Write down the details found on each profile (be precise) / Écrire les détails de chaque profil (sois précis)
- Once the details sheet is filled, collect the police witness file from your teacher / Quand la feuille de détails est remplie, prendre le dossier de police de ton prof
- Use the clues/statements to find out the criminals / Utiliser les indices pour trouver les criminels
- When you have the criminal names, go see your teacher! / Quand tu as les noms des criminels, aller voir ton prof!

Here is an example of the details sheet and police witness file. Change the detail boxes and descriptions based on the level of your students.

      3. Student feedback

At the end of the game, ensure that students collect their original profiles to ensure they receive individual feedback. You will also need to create an extension task for those students who complete the game quickly! Some students love these types of game a lot, and they are not always your top performing students. There is also lots of laughs and chatter as students ask each other questions about the profiles.

Have you tried this Whodunnit game? Let me know how it goes in the comment section!




Sunday, 2 December 2018

Melbourne's French Festivals: Paris to Provence 2018

Another year, another celebration of French culture and language. Enjoy a delectable viewing of this years Paris to Provence Festival held at Como House and Gardens in South Yarra, VIC.

https://youtu.be/-chQC8_EBrw

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

French Teacher Resource: Try Flipping your French classroom

Since beginning my adventure in Flipped Classroom tools this year, I have had many teachers reach out and engage in great discussions or ask questions. You don't have to be a 'tech whizz' to enjoy Flipped Learning, you just have to be someone who is interested in creating engaging and practical resources to suit 21st century pedagogy. Just using one method, such as Flipped Learning, is never the answer to increased student motivation or the ticket to language fluency, but it is one 'super' method in the teacher toolbox.

Flip your dial, too!

Not sure what a Flipped Classroom is? First read my blog on the 'Flipped French Classroom'.

As myself and my students have thoroughly enjoyed using Flipped Learning this year, I thought I would share with you some basic resources that you can adapt and apply to your classroom. There are many ways to 'flip a classroom', but I will share with you here a simple way to 'flip' grammar teaching to get you started:

Step 1. I DO.

You never start telling a story from the middle, you first need to 'set the scene'. The same works for a Flipped Classroom. You first use some classroom time to brainstorm, interview, survey or chat with your students about the content you will be giving them as a Flipped task.

Just like a good story, the opening scene also creates the intrigue for a Flipped task. For example, the following resources are on conjugating for the imperfect tense in French. In class, we first brainstormed the differences between English past tenses and we played a game where they had to guess the correct imperfect conjugation with its subject pronoun - they can easily work it out based on prior knowledge of tenses!

Step 2. YOU DO.

The students are then required to watch a grammar content video for homework. There are a few things I've learned since starting. (A) students need to feel accountable for their work, which is why I have embedded the homework in to a Google Form. This way, their homework is time stamped. Also, (b) I am able to collect ongoing data on student content comprehension. You would think that questions directly relating to a video would be super simple for students, however, this is not always the case. Sometimes I get data that shows 100% student comprehension of the video content. Other times, I have a low to high distribution. I can then use this data to set out my classroom for scaffolded activities.

Take a look at this Google Form on the imperfect tense in French - conjugation, for student homework (make a copy to edit).

Step 3. WE DO.

Homework done? It's now time to set up some scaffolded activities based on the content from the homework. A simple way is to create 2-4 levels that students can work through - a visible progression pathway. I will usually determine the amount of levels based on how students have demonstrated understanding on the videos.

Here are a few situations you may run in to:

1. All students have achieved 80%+ content comprehension
When this occurs, this is a good opportunity for student reflection. Ask students to level themselves by asking different reflective questions. For example, start at level 1 if you feel you have grasped the basic concepts, but start at level 2 if you want to dive in to a challenge!

2. You have a broad range of student content comprehension
When students walk in to the classroom, the data distribution allows me to seat them at different levels. That get used to it really quickly, and realise that they don't have to be at the same level every week. It really depends on the week and how much effort they have put in at home.

3. Some students haven't completed the homework
Ne vous inquiétez pas! There is always going to be a time when a student hasn't completed homework - with or without a Flipped homework task. The great thing about a Flipped Classroom, is you can ask that student to first watch the video and take notes prior to starting the Flipped classroom exercises. If it occurs on a regular, ongoing basis... well, there is something else going on. It's not your teaching.

Setting up the classroom:

I love group tables for a Flipped Classroom, as there is no longer need for a front board. Sometimes I create levelled group tables. Sometimes I mix up the student cohort. But, in the end, it benefits the students if your planning is regular and consistent. What I love watching now is my students engage in peer tutoring, without me even asking. If they know that someone is a few levels above them, they will start to ask those students for help.

I have also started placing mini whiteboard and whiteboard markers on the tables. This enables me to have localised discussions with students and provide examples. Students can also use them with each other. I don't do this for my younger students, I carry around my own mini whiteboard (merci!).

Here are 3 scaffolded tasks to get you started, in response to the homework on the imperfect tense. I generally use the Bloom's Taxonomy to help design my scaffolded activities, as it helps to define the task with a verb:

Level 1 - L'imparfait (La forme)
Level 2 - L'imparfait (La forme)
Level 3 - L'imparfait (La forme)

  • Provide a high ceiling for the final level by adding links to websites.
  • It's important to ensure that the content is the same across the scaffolded levels. The levels are to enable differentiation based on ability so that all students can access the curriculum.

Extra step. Summative assessment.

At the end of the week, you may wish to create a summative assessment to gage how your students are performing.

I sometimes create 'old school' paper vocabulary quizzes or grammar quizzes. I also use Google Form quizzes, however, as you can provide automatic inbuilt feedback for students. You can also change the parameters to enable students to complete the quiz until they reach 100%.

Here is a Google Form summative assessment quiz for the imperfect tense.

A few extras notes.

1. Absences - A Flipped Classroom has worked so well in my classes as students are often absent. Family holidays, sports, excursions... the list goes on. This way, I can ensure that all students have access to the content in their own time. They now understand that the Flipped homework is a minimum requirement and benefits their learning.

2. Revision - it is nearly exam time! Many of my students go back and watch the videos to revise. As they've completed the video as homework, they know where the access the videos.

3. Teacher motivation - you need to encourage 'buy-in' from your students. They won't be motivated to try a Flipped Classroom unless the motivation starts with you!

Can't open the links above? Send an email to ilovefrenchaustralia@gmail.com and I will email you a copy, or simply request access from the link.

Also, post your comments and questions below!