Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The end goal : Ownership.

Denise and I finished writing Level I of REAL FRENCH tout de suite! and REAL SPANISH ¡ahora mismo! just last August, and it’s been an exciting year of sharing these materials with others and even better, getting to use them in our own French classrooms at the Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, IL.

We very much enjoyed our recent “conference tour” where we were able to present at and attend a variety of foreign language conferences. We came away from the IN-NELL, CSCTFL, Wisconsin FLESFEST, and NECTFL conferences with renewed energy and ideas for our own teaching.

Denise and I were particularly challenged by workshops given by John Demado and Laura Terrill at the CSCTFL conference. Both speakers talked about teaching language in such a way that allows students to come to a point of ownership. As John Demado says, “you do not renovate that which you do not own,” and we want students to feel empowered to use the language meaningfully and move forward in their personal linguistic development. We believe that ample practice time is an essential factor in the journey toward ownership, and we see this over and over again as we use our REAL LANGUAGE right away materials.

As we prepared our presentation for the NECTFL conference and pondered this idea of ownership, we wanted to emphasize the way in which our REAL LANGUAGE right away program is set up to do just that. As we presented, we urged teachers to use our materials with the objective of having their students internalize and own the vocabulary, structures, and linguistic functions in this unique communicative program. We were able to show some video of the students using the follow-up activities in our Teacher’s Guide, which allow students to use the language they have practiced in the Partner Conversations and take it to the next level, one where the language comes to them automatically and is in fact, their own.

Here is a clip of my 1st grade class that will give you a feel for this :

As you can see, the students are participating in a Classroom Mixer where they are using the structure "Est-ce que tu as...?" (Do you have...?) in a very spontaneous and automatic way. It is so rewarding for students to arrive at this point of comfort and ease in using the language!

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