As education has increasingly, and for very good reason, used technology to engage the modern learners in our classrooms, sometimes it is the simplest “old school” approaches that can be the most effective. One of our French teachers, Madame Mazur, has incorporated a very simple, but fun and effective introductory activity using student-made dice. Each side of the die contains a different question in French such as “Qui est ton chanteur favori?” (Who is your favourite singer?) or “Est-ce que tu écris avec ta main droite ou ta main gauche?” (Do you write with your right hand or left hand?). Playing with partners or in a small group, the students simply roll the dice and then respond to the questions orally. Madame Mazur has found this to be an excellent “bell-ringer” activity at the start of class and believes that it has really helped the students review their French question-and-answering skills. When asked about their French dice activity, these Grade 7 students unanimously shouted, “Fantastique!”
The Rowntree Core French program begins early and strongly, with students as young as pre-kindergarten gaining exposure to familiar and age-appropriate vocabulary, as well as popular rhymes and songs. In Grades 1 to 3, when French is not yet taught in many Ontario schools, RMS children are busy building their vocabulary, comprehension, and presentation skills in this one of the two official languages of Canada. By the time they reach Grade 4, when all approved Ontario schools are required to teach French for an equivalent of five 40-minute periods per week, RMS students have a great head start, and the many opportunities for having French come alive to help them maintain that advantage!
Public speaking is a life skill that all students should acquire, and we are proud to give RMS children numerous opportunities to do so, even in French! Grade 1, 2 and 3 students all complete French presentations and projects throughout the year, and students do a fantastic job. Recently, Grade 3 students were given a project about parts of their house. They were asked to get pictures (with their parents’ permission) of their own home, with all the different rooms inside, as well as any outdoor space they have, and then present their projects to the class. Not only did they learn practical vocabulary, but also these projects are very nice mementos for the students to keep, since they will probably live in the same house for some time.
Additionally, they will be able to show their future family the house where they grew up. Students were very enthusiastic about this project, and came up with some really remarkable pictures and attractive displays. They were very proud of their work, and they wanted to keep their projects safe so that they could show their younger siblings and cousins when they grow up. They really enjoyed putting the whole project together and communicating confidently in French.
Several students, some of whom have joined us from other schools mid-way through the elementary grades, need a little more help than is available during class time. They have the opportunity to attend our French extra help sessions before and after school in order to polish their presentations to a high standard. There have been many positive reactions from parents to this extra-curricular program. Since many of our parents do not speak French themselves, they appreciate that their children are getting extra support in French. We can see these students are becoming more proficient and confident with their written and oral French. We really look forward to seeing more students take advantage of our before and after school French Help program.
La Practique Rend Parfait! (Practice Makes Perfect!)