When I first started learning my second language, vocabulary was its own exercise and not strongly connected to the unit content. Learning vocabulary often meant studying large banks of words and trying to memorize them for a quiz. And shortly after the quiz, many of those words would be forgotten because I wasn't using them … Continue reading
8 ways to get more out of listening resources in second language instruction.
In a second language environment, one of the most challenging skills is listening. I've heard anecdotal evidence in my school district to confirm that this is the area of greatest challenge for most of our secondary level language students, and I've seen firsthand in my classes that it can lead to high levels of frustration. … Continue reading
How do you say that? 13 ways to work on pronunciation in second language classes.
During my years as a second language teacher, I have learned some things about my student's struggles with pronunciation. This scene from My Fair Lady shows poorEliza struggling to master one lesson right after another, using a bewildering and changing array of learning strategies. https://youtu.be/MJr9SSJKkII First, I've learned that despite many teachers' complaints to the … Continue reading
On my bookshelf: Selections from a recent resource review
For teachers, finding opportunities to get involved in one's school district is usually not difficult at all. The challenge often comes in deciding which opportunities to choose, because it's impossible to participate in all of them. For the past few years, I have chosen to participate in LRS (Learning Resources Services) reviews of French books. … Continue reading
7 ways to extend questioning in second language classes
It's one of the standard forms of human interaction - ask a question, give (or get) an answer. We do it thousands of times a day, but it can be deceptively simple for second language students. The best thing to help students learn how to ask and answer questions is practice. Repetition. Lots and lots … Continue reading
12 key questions to build listening skills in a second language
When language learning is divided into its four core skill areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing, listening is often an area where students struggle the most. Listening to an authentic speaker or watching a video in the target language feel overwhelming to them, and they need specific instruction in how to do it. If … Continue reading
Three ways to integrate differentiated listening activities in second language classes.
For the past 4 years, I have been part of a committee in my school district looking at a range of programs from publishers, with a goal of finding a new program for our schools to adopt in our French as a Second Language (FSL) classes. One of the biggest objections to the old programs … Continue reading
On my bookshelf: 3 new French books with First Nations connections.
I've been making a big effort to integrate more non-textbook style reading into my French as a second language classes over the past few years. I vividly remember the moment at which I started to understand French books on my own without translating, and the excitement of having access to new ways of expressing thinking … Continue reading
Six alternatives to oral presentation in second language classes.
I vividly remember what it was like to participate in my first university level French class. It seemed like everyone else was talking easily, having conversations and responding to the professor's questions in French. I, on the other hand, felt totally inadequate. Nothing in my high school French experience had prepared me for this. We … Continue reading
Cultural celebrations: cheese and chocolate tasting
Full confession - while there is no actual holiday during which everyone gets together and celebrates cheese and chocolate (although... wouldn't that be amazing?), planning a classroom experience like this is an opportunity to showcase certain aspects of French culture that are fun, interesting, easy to compare to others, and very popular with my high … Continue reading