Before our December holiday break, I created my first student task based on Comprehensible Input (a method of second language acquisition). Tasks, a new (to me!) vehicle for language acquisition came out of the workshops I attended at ACTFL in Boston last November. (See previous post about putting 2016 ACTFL resolutions to good use).
The topic of our task had been Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. The French input I had given them was all about top choice gifts that French children, teens, moms, dads and grandparents wanted this year. Students received about 30 minutes of input that I made comprehensible through pictures and spot translations for new words. The next day, we revisited the material and then students received 2 tasks:
- take a personal poll in French about which gifts appealed to them. Do this by placing a check (reinforcing the new words and structures) next to the French description of a possible gift.
- circulate and interview classmates about their gift preferences.
We then drew some simple conclusions about who likes what kinds of gifts.
One of our last ‘zooey’ days before school let out before the holidays, I let the kids have 15 minutes to video interview their peers and teachers in English about gifts. We then viewed the footage and enjoyed some good laughs!
As a way to ease back into French when we resumed in January, I had prepared a video of 4 brief interviews of our middle school teachers who speak some French.
I actually gathered the raw video before break (yes, my 4 good sports pretended that it was the first week in January) and then edited it into a YouTube video of 3 minutes.
Day one of the new year, I had each class recall when we had looked at the research and discussed top gifts for 2016 in France. My conversation with each level in simple French brought back that task’s vocabulary as we reviewed THEIR own gift preferences. I then explained how I had interviewed some of their teachers. While watching my video, they were to jot down the gifts they heard mentioned.
This video activity turned out well. I met my goal of easing all of us back into ‘doing French’. I reinforced the input from December. AND most importantly my students saw adults they respect and like USING French.
In addition, I was able to point out some mistakes and explain that it didn’t matter, that what was important was that these teachers were communicating a message to an audience. Was the message comprehensible? Yes!!!
Tagging on to that discussion, I sought also to remind them of why they were investing time each day in French class. The only logical reason is that they want to speak French!
It follows then, that they should frequently ask themselves:
- What can I do in French?
That question is what drives my curriculum choices and planning.
Enjoy watching my very accommodating colleagues speak French at the link below: