AATF EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS FOR 2016
Waring School, Beverly, MA
AATF member: Christiane Jedryka-Taylor
At Waring School, French is more than an academic subject. The language is real, alive, and very present in our school since its foundation in 1972 by Franco-American couple, Philip and Josée Waring. Our approach is unique in that all our classes, from beginners through advanced, are conducted entirely in French by native or near-native speakers. Students can spend up to seven years studying the language, traveling to French speaking countries, thus becoming nearly fluent by the end of their Waring career. French classes are small and grouped by level and not by age.
Our program, started in its present form in the 1990s, begins with partial immersion in 6th and 7th grades. At that level, the focus is on developing quick comprehension and acquiring authentic French pronunciation. Early on, our students are comfortable improvising basic conversations naturally. In a typical class, meeting four times a week, you can see older and younger students gossiping in French, singing pop songs, watching excerpts of the news, playing games or roles or discussing French literature in depth. Every year, our Waring students rank at the top on the national French contest, Le grand concours . Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors excel on the SATII French test and French AP exam. When and if students reach a very sophisticated command of the language, before their Senior year, they often choose to continue to study French enrolling in a post AP course when we offer such a challenge. Only at Waring can the most competent Juniors and Seniors choose to be French TA’s in various classes when possible.
In 9th grade, students participate in a four-week exchange program in Angers, France. Every February, all students participate in a French poetry recitation contest judged by members of the French Consulate and teachers from the North Shore area. Under the guidance of their teachers, each class prepares original skits that they present to all-school meeting in French, thus challenging the performers as well as the audience.
Travel is very much part of the Waring experience, to the province of Québec, to Angers, Paris, and also Provence because we want students to be curious about the Francophone worlds. Waring often inspires graduates to pursue language studies abroad in college and beyond while fostering global awareness.
Here are examples of the unique features our program offers:
- An immersion program for Core (6th and 7th grades), with an annual trip to Montréal, in addition to French classes
- A three-week long exchange program for group 2 students (9th grade) with Lycée David d’Angers in Angers, France.
- For all students, annual mandatory participation in Le Grand Concours
- Annual participation in the French poetry contest for all students
- Endterm for 6th through 9th grades to Québec.
- Student travel to France and some European countries for Juniors (11th grade)
- French TAs (Juniors and Seniors)
- Waring French address at the Commencement Ceremony (12th grade)
The Waring French address is given by one, occasionally two students, who have reached a strong command of French, at the commencement ceremony to graduating students, their family and guests, and the entire school community. All throughout their career at Waring these learners have excelled in both spoken and written French and it is an honor to be selected to be such a speaker.
Arlington High School, Arlington, MA
AATF member: Catherine Ritz
Elon University, Elon, NC
AATF member: Olivia Choplin
A Thriving Program with Active Faculty and Students:
During a time when foreign-language programs are seeing cuts across the board at many universities, Elon University’s French program is growing and thriving. Our faculty are active teacher-scholar-mentors, with research agendas in various disciplines of French and Francophone studies and in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning related to second language acquisition and foreign language pedagogy. They regularly present at national and international conferences and have been recognized on campus for their teaching excellence. With an active French Club, a chapter of Pi Delta Phi, and a strong presence in the Polyglot Floor living learning community, French is a visible and vibrant part of the university community. Recent graduates have been accepted to or completed graduate work at Florida State University, Vanderbilt University, Sciences Po, the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Maryland. During their studies at Elon, many students present their undergraduate research on campus at the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum, the Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures at Elon University, and several have presented or will present off campus in venues as prestigious as the National Conferences for Undergraduate Research, the 20th Century French and Francophone Studies Colloquium, and the American Council for Quebec Studies Biennial Conference. Many of our graduates obtain positions via the TAPIF, where they continue to improve their French while teaching English in France. Others use their French in the realms of international business and international relations.
Creative and Rigorous Curriculum
Elon’s French curriculum offers a wide variety of creative courses with a small number of faculty. Our departmental learning outcomes are designed to help us avoid the problematic dichotomy that has traditionally existed (and has been widely commented since the 2007 MLA report) between “language” and “content” courses. We use a student-centered approach to language learning that combines the best of the communicative language classroom with literacy-based approaches and affords students opportunities to engage with cultural questions more deeply, even as beginners in the language. We prepare students to be advanced speakers, listeners, writers and readers of the French language via a highly scaffolded series of engaging courses.
Two examples of our most innovative and interdisciplinary courses encourage students to use their French creatively outside of the traditional classroom setting: FRE 349-French Theater in Production (which was first offered in January 2012) and FRE 378-French Cultural Shifts Through Music (offered for the first time in Spring 2016). During the January term, FRE 349 students engage in a full-length production of a French play that is presented to a public audience at the end of the month with projected English subtitles. Molière, Ionesco, and Beckett have all been part of the repertoire. A short film about the first iteration of the course can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJTWn8ve4vE.The entire performance of Ionesco’s Scène à quatre can be found here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpYxDaOlrEw. FRE 348 offers students the opportunity to compose and perform their own texts in French around a chosen theme. In Spring 2016, after spending an entire semester examining and researching the widespread implications of the May ’68 cultural revolution, students wrote and performed their own multimedia show related to those events (in collaboration with students and faculty in the Department of Music). Highlights and pictures from the program can be found on the student-created Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/liberteegalitesexualite/
As a culmination of the creative and rigorous work they have undertaken in all of their courses at Elon, senior French majors complete an independent research project in their Capstone Seminar during the fall of their final year of study. The Capstone is designed according to an apprenticeship model, where the teaching faculty member makes the messy process of research visible to novice scholars by walking them through the steps that an expert takes when s/he is working on a new research project. They are guided through the development of a research question, detailed textual analysis, engagement with the current scholarship related to the question, and the writing of a conference-length paper and research presentation. Via this process, students learn to approach their research in the ways that experts do.
For more information on our courses offerings and course descriptions, see Elon’s SMART catalog.
Dedication to Study Abroad
All French majors are required to study abroad for a semester, and French minors are strongly encouraged to do so. Incoming students will have the benefit of taking a newly developed course: Preparing for and Processing the Study Abroad Experience. With a cohort of students who will all study abroad in the same semester, students will follow a 4-credit hour sequence (1 sh. before departure; 1 sh. while abroad; 2 sh. upon return) taught in English by a faculty member from the Department of World Languages and Cultures. By preparing a cohort of students in advance for their study abroad experience, mentoring them via online discussion forums while they are abroad, and debriefing their experiences with them upon their return, this course provides a meaningful space in which students can process their time abroad. It will help students minimize the reverse culture shock that many feel upon their return to campus while maximizing the integration of their time abroad with the rest of their undergraduate experience.
Elon students can study abroad in a variety of programs that offer coursework in French and/or opportunities to use French on a daily basis: three semester or year programs in France, two in Senegal, one in Morocco, and one in Rwanda. We also offer a two-year Dual Degree program in International Business with the NEOMA School of Management in Reims, France. Students who graduate from this program earn Bachelor’s degrees from both institutions. French faculty co-teach the Winter Term GBL 267: Sacred Space and the Place of Religion in 21st-Century France with a colleague from the Department of Religious Studies, and students enrolled in Intermediate French II in the spring semester will have ten days of embedded study abroad in Montreal and Quebec City during Spring Break.
The best place to see the activities and passions of Elon University’s French program is the Facebook page: All Things French at Elon University. “Like” us and you can follow our progress!
Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook, IL
AATF member: Kelleye Guzik
Glenbrook North High school is located in Northbrook, Illinois and is approximately 25 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. At Glenbrook North High School, we are extremely proud of the work our French program has accomplished. We have created new curriculum for all five levels of French, implementing best practices and engaging our students. We have immersed our students in French and Francophone culture. We have also advocated for our programs in middle and elementary schools, and we have seen growth in our own enrollment. We pride ourselves in giving our students the best possible language experience.
During the 2015-2016 school year, all three of the French teachers collaborated to revise our curriculum to reflect best practices. The focus for our classes is communication. We encourage students to concentrate on understanding and communicating a message. Our goal is that students leave the classroom everyday with confidence in their ability to communicate in French. To support this, we transitioned from using a textbook to employing thematic units derived from the AP thematic units. The units are tied to essential questions and can-do statements. Before the unit begins, we present the can-do statements and final assessments to help guide students in their studies. We also align specific lessons to can-do statements to remind students of their progress. Finally, we ask students to reflect on their ability to complete the can-do statements at the end of the unit, which permits us as teachers to reflect on our own lessons.
One of the many results we have seen with this curricular change is a higher level of student engagement. By using authentic resources, such as articles or instructional videos from a specific country, students are generally more interested in improving their linguistic skills. We are teaching them to survive in the target culture by providing materials that they would actually see in an international setting. In addition, we found that creating interactive notebooks helped students concentrate and stay in target language for extended periods of time. They are in control of their own “individualized textbooks,” which permits students to personalize the class to their own interests. Essentially, they are creating a portfolio of things they can do with the language that they can brag about to their parents or friends. We have had a lot of success with these notebooks, and the feedback from parents and students alike is overwhelmingly positive.
Another way we engage our students at GBN is by immersing them in French and Francophone culture. We practice 90% target language usage in all our classes, and we strive for our students to reach this goal, as well. In the past, we have had competitions to inspire students to speak more minutes in French. We provide common classroom expressions to students so that they do not break into English, and they are constantly praised for appropriately utilizing these expressions. Total immersion in our classrooms has strengthened our program and united all of our classes with this common requirement.
While total immersion has greatly aided our pursuit of student engagement, immersing students in cultural activities and celebrations has had an enormous boost of morale and energy. We have made an effort to include cultural comparisons into every day of our lessons. This past year, we planned various cultural celebrations to unite and advertise our program. For example, we planned a Mardi Gras celebration with five different activities in which all classes participated. At each station, students engaged in various cultural activities, such as trying jambalaya and king cake. We also have smaller celebrations, like writing Valentine’s to a local nursing home in French and English or telling jokes for Poisson d’Avril. These activities are fun for students and teachers, and we love planning them to get students excited about continuing their French studies.
After developing all of these aspects of our classes, we knew that we needed to effectively advertise our program. Our French teachers participated in middle school French program activities when invited, such as a French Cultural Fair. We took students on a field trip to their former middle school in order to discuss the benefits of continuing French, and the students loved sharing their personal experiences. We spoke in an elementary school and middle school to promote classes at the high school and middle school levels. We are active in the Northbrook community, as well. Our students prepared a presentation for the Village of Northbrook’s Celebration of Cultures event, where local groups shared various elements of their culture.
As teachers, we regularly engage in many different professional development opportunities, such as Oral Proficiency Interview training, the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages conferences, Training for the Assessment of Language Learning in Illinois, and the American Association of the Teachers of French (AATF) meetings. Two of our teachers have served on the Executive Council for the Chicago/Northern Illinois chapter of AATF. One of our teachers is an ACTFL OPI Rater and Tester. We aim to be leaders in our field, and we appreciate all opportunities to improve our craft and to assist other French teachers to do the same.
We have worked extremely hard at creating a fun and interactive environment for our students at Glenbrook North High School. We are proud of the goals we have achieved, and we look forward to achieving new goals in the future to push our students to a lifelong love of language learning.
Glacier High School, Kalispell, MT
AATF member: Stephanie Hill
Lyons Township High School, LaGange, IL
AATF member: Elizabeth Martinez
Lyons Township High School has two campuses located in the Chicago suburbs; freshmen and sophomores attend South Campus in Western Springs, while juniors and seniors attend North Campus in LaGrange. Students come from LaGrange, Western Springs, Burr Ridge, La Grange Park, Countryside, Indian Head Park, Hodgkins, and parts of Brookfield, Willow Springs and McCook.
The French program at Lyons Township High School supports approximately 390 students in ten different course options: French I Prep/Accel, French II Prep/Accel, French III Prep/Accel, French Language Prep/Accel (Level IV), AP French Language, and Advanced French Communication (Level V; seniors only). Our students succeed regularly on the AP exam, with 96-97% of students passing (achieving a score of 3 or greater), continue to take French courses in college or use French in their advanced education and careers, and remain passionate about their time spent at LT.
The four French teachers at LT (Emily Fellmann, Anna Maria Kostecki, Elizabeth Martinez, and Sam Robinson) believe that our students and strong academics make this French program wonderful, and that the myriad of Francophone extracurricular and optional activities keep our students passionate and engaged while encouraging them to become life-long learners of French.
Students participate in at least one, if not all, of the following activities at some point while in the French program at Lyons Township:
French Club (Le Cercle Français – http://www.lths.net/Domain/88) – The French club meets on a bi-weekly basis to discuss, celebrate and plan events related to the French language and French and francophone culture. Traditional yearly events include a field trip to a French restaurant and a fondue restaurant, sharing French traditions for Christmas at the school’s “Holiday Write Night” event, and celebrations for francophone holidays such as Mardi Gras. This year students had a “vous êtes super!” event to celebrate other students before the school day, and went with the school’s photo club to see Agnès Varda speak and view her works at the University of Chicago. We are adding a trip to Québec on years that alternate with our French exchange program; the first one will be summer 2017! (Note: students not enrolled in French also participate in our club).
French Exchange (http://www.lths.net/fex) – Lyons Township High School has been participating in exchanges since 2004 when master teacher Donna Czarnecki initiated the first one with Lyon, France. Since then LTHS has mounted exchanges every other year up to and including the present time.
LT has had a continuous exchange relationship with colleagues and students from Notre-Dame de Sion school in Marseille since 2010. Typically the French come to La Grange for a two week homestay and the Americans for a 10-day homestay, after which they journey to Paris for several more days.
We at LT are fortunate to have complete support on the part of all levels of our school administration. As a happy result, our students reap countless benefits of this life-changing experience. We plan to continue this exchange for the foreseeable future. Vive la France! Vive LTHS!
French Honor Society – Every year Lyons Township inducts approximately 20-40 students into the French Honor Society. We have a special induction ceremony where students are commended, pass the “torch” and recite a message/proverb in French that is important to them. We conclude with the Marseillaise and a celebration with cake and lively discussion with students and parents.
Additionally, students participate in the following outside activities on an individual or class by class basis:
- Cardz for Kidz – Cards are written in French to be given to children in hospitals in Canada and Haiti (http://cardzforkidz.org/participants/)
- Discovery Center Tutoring – Students volunteer to help their peers with French before/after school or during free periods/lunch in our school’s computer labs
- La Journée Intensive en Français Select students are chosen to participate in a full immersion day sponsored by the AATF and held off-campus; students from throughout the Chicagoland area participate
- Le Grand Concours – All students, through the generous support of our school district and administration, take the French National Contest exam across all levels