Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Ultimate Immersion Trip System

Last week, we took our 8th graders Québec City for our annual immersion trip.  It is a wonderful opportunity for them, and it is an excellent culmination of our K-8 French program, allowing our students to speak only in French for five days!  We focus on oral communication (using the Real Language right away program!), so any immersion experience is a great opportunity!

Historically, this class trip was not a strictly an immersion trip; students were encouraged to practice their French as much as they could, but, no doubt, they spoke a lot of English.  When I began teaching at Avery Coonley, Denise was very interested in finding a way to intensify the immersion experience and hold students accountable for speaking in the target language during the trip, even with one another.  Our first step was to ensure that all of the chaperones speak French, and that they were up for speaking only in French during the week in Québec.  We have been lucky to have some good connections and some very willing and energetic chaperones. We also started using the travel company Immersion Tours, a local tour company based in Québec.  They provide interactive activities for the students, including a morning to a local school to interact with québécois pen pals.  It has been great to work with a company that reinforces our goals of getting students to practice as much as possible!

(Photos taken at La Cabane à Sucre)

We brainstormed, and we came up with a system to keep the students speaking in French.  We give each student 200 participation points for the trip.  If we hear them speaking English at any time, we write their name down and they lose 10 points.  There is a lot of grace in this system, however, because we bring a lot of extra credit tickets (see our post about billets/boletos), each worth one point.  We are very generous, and everyone feels that they can succeed!

This year, for the first time in this system's nine year history, all of the students finished the trip with 200 points or more-- everyone got an A+!  We threw them a pizza party to celebrate.  Kudos for their motivation and good French-speaking! 

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