advice neededI've struggled this past year with trying to teach French 1 and 2. My original plan in college was to teach French, but I fell in love with English literature, and everything changed....

advice needed

I've struggled this past year with trying to teach French 1 and 2. My original plan in college was to teach French, but I fell in love with English literature, and everything changed. I went on to minor in French and become certified to teach, but I have never taught it. Until this year. Now, I graduated from college in 1982! Knowing French came in handy when I worked at a publishing house because I could read contracts from French publishers and do some translation.

I was terrified when I opened the French 1 textbook. The method of teaching is completely different from the way I learned. There are no drills or grammar exercises. It's total immersion, almost like you're transported to France for 90 minutes a day and have to sink or swim. I'm afraid I sank this year.

Does anybody have any suggestions for me? Any resources that would be helpful? Should I throw away the textbook? Heaven help me if even students sign up to make a French 3 class!!!

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't teach a foreign language, but I know when I took French in high school many moons ago, it was also total immersion.  My teacher said we could talk and pass notes, but ALL communication had to be in French.

When I taught in South Korea (English as a Foreign Language) I taught English Conversation. We watched Seinfeld and other sit-coms and then discussed the humor and why it was funny.  We discussed the differences in cultures and daily activities.  We discussed events at the university where I taught, went shopping in the local market, planned meals, etc.  all in English. We listened to English radio and read English newspapers.

You might consider teaching it from that standpoint.  Lots of visual aids, hands-on learning, conversation, and complete immersion.  Have them call your phone and leave a message in French.  Have them explain simple techniques and household products (mixer, how to tie shoes, how to eat an Oreo) in French. 

Who says you can't have drills?  Vocabulary is essential, and sometimes that has to be drilled. 

I'm sure you didn't "sink" like you think.  :)  Keep up the good work, and keep looking for things you can use that will bring out the best in your teaching style and their French skills.  Good Luck!

lmclark3 | Student

I teach Spanish I and II in high school. Our textbooks also make little of grammar and much of conversation without really explaining the mechanics of the language. I quickly learned to implement my own grammar explanations and drills with students before using the practice activities in the book.

I now use the textbook as a source for vocabulary and for scope (what to cover when) but add a lot of my own teaching in between.

One of the most effective drill approaches (and the students love it) is using personal whiteboards (they can be made with a piece of cardstock placed inside a page protector. For subject pronouns and later verb conjugating, I have a set of flash cards with various subjects and verbs. I show the subject and verb and they have to write the answer. They all show me at the same time and I can quickly tell who is on track and who isn't.

Good luck!

dstreack | Student

While doing my Master's work at the University of Findlay, "whole language" was the "in" method for teaching English as a second language.  However, I found that while it sounds good in theory, in the reality of the classroom, many students want and work better with the bottom-up approach.  They are not comfortable with the top-down - they want to understand the part and then are more comfortable putting it together in the whole.  

As an advanced level Spanish teacher now, I find that in Spanish IV, when we focus on reading, writing, speaking, the top-down approach is more comfortable for them now because they have seen all the fundamentals and understand how the "parts" work together in the "whole".  I've come to learn that teaching is effective only if we can understand what students are comfortable in which arena and try plan lessons that appeal to both type of student.  

Keep the faith!  You'll find your way!


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