Monday, May 4, 2009

Stage à Boston

Elodie LeNezet-Soule and Valerie Legentil went to the International School of Boston for the second half of the training started in 2007-2008 and continuing at the Awty International School of Houston last November. The theme of the training, “oral language in the maternelle”, is also a primary objective of our whole school project. At the workshop, participants shared their victories and struggles in teaching French syntax and grammar to young children. In immersion schools, developing oral language in French requires creative techniques that teach children to speak correctly, and to constantly develop their oral language skills.

We explored different pedagogical methods to encourage oral language in the classroom. There was a practical aspect to the training, where we went into the classrooms to apply the techniques with the children. Now, we are able to use these practices everyday in our own classrooms, back at l’Ecole Française du Maine. In the GS classroom, you will find 2 “albums” (books) the students wrote and that they love to read out loud everyday. These books are written as we speak, not as we write, as the goal is to develop oral language. This is an excellent way for them children to encourage oral language in French…and the students are really proud to be the authors.

In the class of PS and MS, some of the children already have their own books too, which we call “albums echos”. For the MS, we take pictures of each child during familiar activities, and we select a few photos to create a special book for that child. We look at the book with the child, and he/she tells about the pictures. Next, we use their own words, and just improve the language a little bit, to challenge and encourage them to gradually advance in their oral language development. Each book is unique to the child, and we read and reread this book with the child over time. Children best develop language around their own personal experiences, and these “albums” give them the tools and opportunity to discuss their own experiences. Children love to talk about things they have done and seen as they find these topics most relevant and satisfying.

For the PS, we create a small album with photos of the teacher and the child engaged in familiar activities. For each photo, the teacher asks: “ I am… (naming activity) …and you, what are you doing”? The child answers, “Me, I am…” For example: Moi, je mange… et toi, qu’est ce que tu fais? We call these “Moi, je albums”. We can create these books as tools to help children whose language development needs a boost, or to enrich the language of every child. Since beginning to use these books, Valerie already observes progress in oral language. Using the “Albums echos” and” books in the Maternelle classroom is both motivating and effective, and the professional development opportunity was a valuable and rewarding experience.