Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Organic World Language

The teaching of World Language has certainly changed since I was a 7th grader – and for the better.  When I joined a beginning French class last week, students were engaged in song, preparing a series of lyrics they would sing with their 8thgrade peers during a flashmob at the upcoming Pause Frances celebration, which would showcase their projects about French culture.  What is more fun in middle school than a sanctioned flashmob? J The teacher encouraged students to sing with charisma, even if they were still working on their French language.  Our world language teachers constantly teach to the philosophy that taking risks to communicate in the target language is the primary goal of language learning at WMS.  Communicating in French continued to be the focus as the class transitioned into an Organic World Language (OWL) circle activity.  Desks and chairs were pushed to the perimeter of the classroom, while students gathered in a community circle to ask and answer the question, "Qu'est-ce qu'il y a dans le panier?"   (What is in the basket?)  A large photo on the powerpoint of a series of school supplies prompted students to express what they saw, practicing listening and speaking French.
I eavesdropped on a paired conversation as one student offered to her partner, “Dans le panier, il y a une règle." (There is a ruler in the basket.)  Keeping the conversation going, the teacher had students shift positions in the circle high-fiving neighbors as they moved to create new small groups.  Then, each student selected a card with a photo on it from a basket the teacher had placed on the floor in the center of the circle.  Students rotated through partner conversations, trading photos as they went to practice more vocabulary, describing what was now missing from the basket, “Il n'y a pas de papier.”  (There is no paper.) The energy was high and students were fully engaged in moving and speaking.  It was inspiring to watch.