Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Embed - July 31: Polyvore

I've embedded a set I've created on Polyvore.  Students could use these as inspiration to write dialogues.  For example, they could have two characters in the dialogue: the customer and the shop employee.  They could also use the set for a writing exercise on description and use of adjectives.  Another possibility is to have the students describe the set and have the class draw some items according to the description.  I like the idea of analysing characterization.  A variation of this could be a set and the students have to describe the personality of the person wearing it.

Response: Online translators

It's interesting that after I mentioned online translators in my last post, that we are looking at online translators today.  However, after further thought, online translators can operate as sophisticated dictionaries.  If students attempt to rely on a translator to do their work for them and plug in complex sentences, the translator most likely will not translate properly.  I think that online translators is one of the first issues to be addressed in an L2 classroom.  Once in my practicum, I did discover that a student used a translator.  It was mostly correct except for a handful of very awkward words.  The level of the French I saw was also beyond that student's ability level.  Now I wonder if the student found someone to translate it for her.  Either way, it was obvious and I had her rewrite the assignment for me in class.  I also noticed that the spacing between letters and the odd placement of periods made me suspicious.  That student was meticulous and would never put in strange periods and spaces like that.  Once again, I'm wondering if there is a technological solution to this besides having the students write in class with pen and paper.  It seemed like even if my SA and I were clear about online translators, they would still try to use it anyway thinking that we wouldn't notice.  The most frustrated person in the end would still be the teacher.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Embed - July 30: E-mags

I didn't know that so many e-mags would be available for free and in high quality!  I've embedded a volume of the e-mag «Clap!».  I could use this particular magazine for an in-class exercise or for homework.  I do agree that magazines are more visual and this particular magazine is quite visually attractive.  The students would be interested in the pop culture content in the magazine as well.  The articles can be very short and can be used as prompts for writing.  This would be particularly useful as a resource paired to many resource packages that schools buy such as Ça Marche! and On y Va that have units with themes on film and TV shows.  It would be a great way to supplement a textbook with more current content.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Response: Reading in the L2 classroom

I thought the article was very practical.  I appreciated the reminder from the article that students need to be reading different kinds of texts and that aren't always storing information in paragraphs.  I also liked the reading exercises that we could make quickly to help students with their reading skills.  My question is then how we would integrate technology into this area.  Technology does enable us to share text from the Internet with our students (e.g. blogs, websites).  However, if I did assign reading a webpage for homework, it is highly possible for students to Google Translate it.  During my practicum I did come across this problem and a teacher's solution for this was to do everything in class the old school way with dictionaries and paper.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with the pen and paper approach and we do not need to forcibly include technology in areas such as these.  However, it is true that student productions created with the aid of technology are easier to mark and students learn a great deal from online dictionaries as well.  I'm hoping that there is an online tool that could help with that.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Embed - July 26: Culture through music - La Fouine

In this post I have embedded a quietubed version of La Fouine's Tomber Pour Elle and included a link to the lyrics.  
I used this song as a listening exercise in my class, but if I were to talk about culture, I could ask them them to pick out words relevant to that.  References to the RER, the apostrophed words, and the slang would expose them to other aspects of French culture.  When I showed this clip in class, many of my students were surprised that the artist and the people in the video were not all European.  Just seeing a wider view of francophone identity can be beneficial in itself. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Response: Culture in the L2 classroom

I liked the article in the sense that it raised a lot of questions and avoided presenting a narrower view of culture in the classroom.  One of the most important questions it raised that is closely related to FSL culture in the classroom is authenticity.  My highschool French teacher was amazing and I model much of my teaching after her style and techniques.  However, I still had a strong impression leaving highschool that "francité" was a man with a moustache, a baguette, a beret, and a striped shirt.  It is absolutely true that FSL teachers can do more for French cultural understanding.  Technology could definitely help in that regard, by giving students access to real live francophones or a wider variety of representations of francité.  Connecting with today's class on videos, this medium could definitely help students see francophones participating in culture through daily life and candid conversations.

Embed - July 25: Screencast

This is a screencast of part of a lesson explaining how to use passé composé and imparfait in a sentence.  I used Prezi and background music to make the video smoother.  I could use screencasting in many ways in my practice.  I could post lessons on difficult concepts that students ask about so that they can review it as many times as they would like at home.  This creates easily accessible differentiation for students that need it.  I could also screencast videos for Social Studies as well where I could zoom in on historical images or military maps and deconstruct the image or explain military movements.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Response: Video in the classroom

After reading the article by Canning-Wilson, it seemed like most of it was pointing out that there was no scientific study-proven evidence that video helps with language learning.  Later on in the article, the author does list benefits that videos can bring to L2 classrooms.  There seems to be contradiction in the article content in that respect.  This does bring up the idea of how much our teaching practices, especially that of technology integration, should be based on research.  Though it difficult to actually implement action research projects in classrooms, much of teacher practice and experimentation can be considered scientific and based on hypotheses and tests, even if most of it is anecdotal.

In another vein, I do think about the visual "crutch" quite a bit.  It is difficult to find age-appropriate content for students, especially for the highschool FSL classroom.  Videos seem to be a go-to source.  One way to circumvent this potential problem is to brief the students on the content, show only the audio component, and then show the visual component to check to see how drastically the comprehension differs in each stage.  That will be a method that I will try in September.

Embed - July 24: Audioboo

This is an excerpt from a song by Québécois artist Coeur de Pirate.  The students could listen to the song first and then listen to the spoken version I've recorded in order to scaffold their listening.  

I like this tool very much!  During my practicum, I found that a lot of the recordings used in the listening exercises were too difficult for my students to follow.  The language was too high-level and it was annoying for the students to have every other word rewinded.  I modified it by reading the scripts myself and modifying on the spot.  This was not very efficient, since with a recording a teaching could do administrative tasks while the class did the exercise.  Tools like Audioboo could enable me to record a modified version of the script where I could insert fun sound effects and music.  The students would be more engaged and I could finish other tasks at the same time.  Also, students could record their own dialogue and self-evaluate their own French.  It might take some getting used to, but it would be a powerful tool.  Parents could also hear recorded versions of their children's oral French improving as the school year progresses. 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Response: Listening strategies

I was quite excited to read this article on L2 learning, since I haven't read much from the area in my
courses as I would've liked.  The strategy-based theory is interesting, and it seems like the osmosis approach to language teaching is still out there.  It may look like application of the "osmosis" philosophy but it may also be teachers not knowing where to start teaching listening.  Looking back on my practice so far, it was interesting that teaching grammar and writing was quite strategy-based, but listening was not.  The students were supposed to "just do it".  I'm curious as to how we can use technology to teach strategy-based learning.  I have used French songs in class, but it would be great to hear about other tools and resources as well.