Reflection Journal 1
I feel that I am prepared to meet the challenge of teaching FSL because I have a well-developed pedagogy regarding my teaching practices which can be applied to all topics. These include strategies to address differential learners, philosophies of assessments of and for learning, modelling life-long learning and its processes, and establishing a safe and inclusive classroom where students are able to grow and develop their skills. The challenges that I foresee relate to my lack of personal proficiency with the language. I am going to have to learn ahead of and most likely alongside the students as this is not a topic I am proficient at. My language learning journey has been limited due to my requiring learning assistance time when I was at the elementary level which removed me from learning French with my peers. My action plan for improving my language proficiency is to become involved with my eldest daughter as she begins learning French next year in school, and to explore some online learning resources for myself to learn from. For me personally, the most effective language learning has always occurred through active processes versus passive. Listening to someone explain how to write or speak is less effective than my actually practicing writing and or speaking and receiving formative feedback as I go.
A challenge I foresee in teaching FSL relates to the student’s engagement. How will I keep the students engaged and interested in learning French? Having completed my practicums in a grade 7 class, I observed a wide variety of engagement issues that were cross curricular. So how do I specifically improve engagement levels for a diverse community? In my grade 7 class, there were 7 ELL and two students with IRPs. Additionally, there was a wide variety of learners in the class of 31 students. I feel that the solution to keep the students engagement levels at a high level is to keep it fun, interesting, and attainable. Lessons should be planned that promote collaboration, real life connections, and kinesthetic activities. Activities such as acting or creating skits that portray real life scenarios are strategies that I envision using.
My journey of learning French has been anything but normal and I am at a point in my life where I am re-learning this beautiful language. As a child, I had several learning difficulties and required attention in English and Mathematics. I recall as a student in Elementary School being introduced to French, however it was very short lived because I did not continue with French due to my attendance in LAC (Learning Assistance Centre) during the French period. In grade 7, I had the opportunity to attend the North Vancouver Diagnostic Centre where I transferred schools to attend a very intense program. In that program I only concentrated on Language Arts and Math, so there was no French in my curriculum. When I entered Secondary School, I did not take French in my junior grades however as a senior no longer in LAC, I felt that I was so behind in learning French that I decided to pursue the German language as my second language elective instead.
One of the challenges I face as an emerging educator is that French is part of the curriculum in grades 5 through 7. I am very aware that I must improve my proficiency of the language in order to be a successful teacher of this topic. This is why I choose to take this course. I am looking forward to learning more about strategies for teaching a second language, while also developing my basic French skills. I recognize that I will have to do more than this course to attain the level in French I need, and I plan to achieve this through working alongside my daughter over the next three years, as she begins her journey in French next year (grade 5) and also by engaging in on-line French language education opportunities. Lastly I am exploring the possibility of taking some adult beginner French classes in the fall.
Throughout my education I have observed different methods of teaching that have been both positive and negative. Specifically when learning a second language, I recall a negative experience in high-school while learning German. My German teacher was a very traditional teacher. We were sat in rows and we were expected to never get out of our seats. Every lesson followed the same routine day in day out. The teacher would introduce a new topic and we would spend the rest of the class memorizing the learning objective. I recall that we would rarely review any of the material from the previous days, nor was there a lot of connection to the big ideas. I found this challenging. I was not connecting with the learning, it was difficult to maintain focus, and the learning was difficult to retain because it was all so disconnected. Learning for me needs to be connected and interesting. An example of a positive method of teaching that I observed occurred during my long and short practicum. The French teacher taught a lesson on clothing and she introduced the topic by scaffolding the different clothing terminology. Next, she had the student’s pair up and explained that they would be performing in a fashion show during the next class. Person A would mc and describes the clothes that Person B was wearing while Person B walked the catwalk. Then the roles switched and Person B would mc while Person A modelled on the catwalk. During the rest of the planning lesson the student’s collaborated and prepared for the fashion show. They were all engaged and were having a lot of fun working on their mc and practicing their model walk. On the day of the fashion show, the teacher also had music playing in the background that I thought supported and complimented the relaxed atmosphere and this seemed to diffuse a lot of the student anxiety. The end results were very impressive and the students did a great job with their clothing description and their model walk.
In conclusion, I feel that my teaching philosophies will enable me to meet the challenge of teaching FSL successfully. I recognize that I must address my lack of personal proficiency with the language and have a plan for doing so, and I have appreciated this opportunity to reflect on my experiences when learning language to better my skills as an educator of FSL.