The Value of Pedagogy

In French 8, we finished up a chapter book –

Le Nouvel Houdini I assigned it as HW – one chapter a week.  The way I kept the students accountable was to give them a “HW quiz” each week, in English.  I wasn’t testing their ability to read French, but assessing whether they had understood what they had read.  The book contained a glossary and was accessible for most.

I suggested they take notes, in English, as they read. The ones who trusted my advice consistently earned full points on the HW quiz.  This final week, I required them to all make notes and turn them in for 5 HW points.  Most did.

Afterwards, I conducted a short discussion in English.  I asked them what they thought was the pedagogical reason for my selecting this as a HW activity for the past 10 weeks.  One boy remembered what I had told them in 7th grade as evidence for the benefits:

  • a group of middle-aged Korean women who had yet to experience success in learning English finally did when given a children’s book written for 7-8 year olds.  It was a stripped down version of a contemporary romance story written for 11-13 year olds.  They were able to read it and gain confidence.  Their reading ability increased and they gradually read more difficult books.
  • a Romanian woman, world-renown for the number of languages she had mastered, would pick up a new language simply by reading in that language.

I find there is value in spending class time, in English, to share with my students WHY I choose the activities I do.  It sinks in with some!


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