Can you imagine the excitement with which students greet the opportunity to take part in a French language treasure hunt through the school for objects that stimulate the five senses? How about the fun of reading the daily announcements in French two to three times a week to the whole school or creating a multicultural marketplace where students and community members participate in oral comprehension? These are some of the ways in which I have engaged once reluctant learners of French as a second language.
I’ve been teaching French second language classes at Eastwood Public School in Windsor, Ontario for two years, incorporating different aspects of French language and culture into my classroom. At Eastwood, we have a multicultural community of students from Canadian-born and newcomer families. Many loathed learning a second language. For my English Language Learners (ELL) especially, vocabulary and reading acquisition can be extra hard work as they are learning English at the same time.
Creating a safe space where everyone is working at their own pace doing concrete activities has helped circumvent some of the barriers that ELL students might otherwise face in a core French class. Providing opportunities for students to bring their home cultures into the classroom, reinforcing curriculum from other subjects with French language activities, and celebrating everyone’s creativity have all led to increased engagement and comprehension among my students and increased success for ELL students in particular.