As a language teacher, I teach oral communication skills, different approaches to writing, reading strategies, literary and film analysis, the history of the Francophone world, and critical thinking skills. During my time at Duke University, I have taught all levels of French language courses and a course on literature and film. Prioritizing student language output in my classroom, I create a safe and welcoming learning environment in which students feel comfortable communicating in French. Teaching beginner and intermediate language courses, I share skills with my students to empower them to gain understanding and share their thoughts using French. My lessons involve opportunities for students to grapple with new language skills as well as opportunities to succeed in sharing and understanding information or ideas. I encourage my students to focus first on understanding the big picture and then turn their attention to the details. This progression instills them with confidence in their language capacities and orients their goals toward improving communication skills instead of only mastering grammar rules. When I teach French literature and cinema courses, I encourage my students to analyze the relationships between art, politics, and social situations. I structure lessons to foster understanding, then analysis, and finally judgement. For each film or text, I create a reading or viewing guide that includes important vocabulary with the definitions in French and questions to promote not only comprehension but also critical reflection. In a 2019 course that I designed on French cinema and literature in the 1950s, my students explored different types of scholarly writing specific to the French education system. This experience helped them understand novel methods of literary analysis and argumentative writing. Analyzing Martinican music, discussing the Algerian War for Independence, comparing weather reports across the Francophone world, my students interact with cultural products and information from many French-speaking countries. I strive to value the diversity of the Francophone world as well as the diversity within French-speaking countries. For a beginner-intermediate language course, my students compared a song by Edith Piaf idealizing Paris to a song by Keny Arkana highlighting social disparities in Marseille. In the students’ written responses, many of them reflected on their own tendencies to subscribe to a romanticized stereotype of French culture. Decolonializing curriculums is a goal that I will continue to pursue throughout my career. Furthermore, in the classroom, I emphasize how language is not static or apolitical but changes across and within different countries. Learning verlan and comparing regional differences in the names of French pastries, my students come to see languages as constantly evolving and marked by history. In line with my training in differentiation, I adapt my lesson content and presentation to my students’ background knowledge, goals, and interests. At the beginning of each semester, I send my students a survey to gather information about their learning styles as well as their interests. I also collect feedback about their needs and concerns throughout the semester. This information allows me to incorporate their interests into the lessons and ensure that my teaching responds to their diverse modes of language learning. For example, in an introductory course, many of my students played sports, and several students expressed an interest in art. While studying vocabulary for describing physical appearance and clothing, the students practiced describing portraits by Francophone artist in addition to athletes from various Francophone teams. In my literature courses, I regularly create reading groups in order to assign reading tasks adapted to the rate at which the students read critically. I design my learning units using backwards design. For my lessons and my assessments, I evaluate students’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. My summative assignments typically take the form of written presentations accompanied by oral interviews. For both oral and written assignments, I always evaluate students at various stages of creating the final product so that they understand that language learning is a matter of progress, not perfection. In every class, I strive to create a welcoming and positive atmosphere in which students feel comfortable taking risks with their language skills. My relationships with my students are built on respect for them as learners and as people. Throughout the semester, my students come to me to discuss aspects of the class that they find interesting or challenging as well as to seek advice for navigating their university careers. The days when my students leave smiling and speaking French among themselves, I have accomplished my goal of sharing the joy of learning a language. Professional development is paramount for me as an educator. In 2018, I participated in a enriching month-long pedagogy intensive in France. I hope to expand my knowledge of pedagogical practices by attending future trainings. In particular, I plan to study the verbotonal method of teaching pronunciation and learn new approaches for teaching the writing process. I strive to continue growing as a teacher to help my future students achieve their language learning goals.
Examples of my lessons for a Beginner French course at Duke university can be found here. Examples of my film viewing guides (in French) can be found here.