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How Best to Learn French?
Posted 10/12/2018 12:28PM

We know that individual learning styles mean that students absorb, process, and retain information in different ways. In Mrs. Brescia's French Accelerated 3/4 classroom, it is easy to observe the various activities and tools offered to students.

Mrs. Brescia's class begins with the high school students reciting a prayer in French; it is a common practice for every language class at Ursuline to teach students prayers in the target language. In this Accelerated middle-advanced course, approximately 75% of the class time is conducted in French.

One day last week, after the prayer, the seniors and juniors sang a Beatles song - "Hello, Goodbye" - translated to "Bonjour, Au Revoir." They enjoyed singing accompanied by the music on YouTube as they practiced their pronunciation. After a short conversation about favorite musical groups, Mrs. Brescia explained their next homework assignment - translating a favorite song from English to French.

In a different assignment, students collaborated via Google Docs to create a skit about a group of friends deciding to go out to dinner, arriving at a restaurant, and ordering a meal. The day of their presentation, the girls acted out their French dialogue with the enhanced environment of a table bedecked with a floral table cloth and coffee cups adorned with the Eiffel Tower.


Speaking, singing and acting may be considered traditional ways to practice a language.  What about today's technology? Mrs. Brescia integrates several ways for these young women to build their foreign language spoken proficiency.

Pronunciation, grammar and sentence structure are honed as students record homework assignments on the cloud application VoiceThread. Without pressure, in the comfort of their own homes, these learners record themselves on their computers, hear themselves speak, and can re-record as often as they wish before submitting their video recordings to Mrs. Brescia for assessment.  

These seniors will also be better prepared as they continue their French studies in college, since VoiceThread is used at the college level, integrating with Blackboard, Sakai, Canvas, and other university learning management systems.

The students also enjoy using the Duolingo app to increase vocabulary and practice grammar. They are all smiles as they translate phrases, match pairs of words, or type in French what they hear on the app. Mrs. Brescia can track which girls have completed Duolingo assignments and award extra credit points.

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