Learning French – Teaching A Foreign Language

When parents at Winthrop Grade School completed a survey on changes they would like to see at the school, a large number of them wanted students to learn a foreign language. In response, basic French was offered the following year in one first/second-grade multi age classroom. When the students learning French discovered that their peers didn’t have the same opportunity, they were upset and decided to launch a service-learning project focused on teaching others French.

The students started their project by brainstorming what they wanted to learn/share. In addition to the basic language, they wanted to learn about the holidays, traditions and cultures of French-speaking countries. Their teacher taught them the basic language, and brought in guest speakers from French- speaking countries who could share their expertise on various traditions and cultures (i.e., what it was like to live in France or grow up on the Ivory Coast of Africa).

When they had learned basic French and had a good understanding of the cultures and traditions of French-speaking counties, the students discussed how they could share their knowledge with others. The students decided to share what they had learned with the school’s other first/second multi age classroom. With the aid of their teacher, they prepared weekly lessons and hosted Movie Tuesdays where both classes watched French films together. They also prepared a skit for the school’s Africa Night, incorporating what they had learned about French-speaking countries in Africa. The skit allowed them to share their knowledge and enthusiasm about French culture with the entire school community.