Pour Utiliser Un Dico: A Lesson Plan

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post called A Thorough Guide to How to Use a Dictionary for French Students. I recently created a lesson plan based on it that I have not yet implemented, but I would like to use in my classroom. I believe knowing how to use a dictionary is a valuable skill that needs to be taught, otherwise the effectiveness of the dictionary is greatly diminished. As a teacher of first year French students (7th graders), this is not a lesson I will implement right away (especially since a certain amount of prior knowledge of French grammar is required), but I think in most cases it would be a good lesson to give before doing the first writing assignment or project of the year. Students can use the first page of notes as a sort of "cheat sheet" when they are writing subsequent compositions.

Objective: After the completion of this lesson and with practice, students will be able to effectively use a dictionary to improve their reading and writing skills in the target language.
• SMART Board or non-interactive projector connected to computer
• Website: Wordreference.com
• Guided notes/Paired practice worksheet
• Classroom set of dictionaries
Instructional Sequence:
• Distribute guided notes and paired practice to students
• Project guided notes on SMART Board or other projector
• Have student read introduction and explain the importance of the skill of using a dictionary
• Fill in symbols and meanings with students (have them figure them out)
• Have student read context paragraph; clarify the meanings of “context” and “idiomatic expression”
• Have student read agreement paragraph; clarify when a verb or an adjective would have to be changed
• Show WordReference.com, explain how it works
• Let students work on paired practice for 10 minutes before going over it.
• Undoubtedly, the issue of using an online translator will come up. If/when it does:
o State that using a translator to write a paper or an assignment is cheating, and will be treated as such
o State that translators don’t do as good a job as you can with a dictionary, and it is very obvious when they are being used
o Remind students that taking the shortcut of using a translator, besides not being effective, does not give you any practice with the language, and as a result you won’t perform as well in class and on assessments.

Guided Notes and Practice (Key)

What's New at the French Corner

Je suis prof de français !As you may have noticed if you visit the blog's website (as to opposed to reading this in your RSS reader), The French Corner has taken on a new look. I decided a change in design was long overdue; I have had the same one for a couple of years now I think. I have a very happy announcement to make to my readers; I will begin my first year of teaching this fall! I will be teaching 7th grade French at Maple Avenue Middle School in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Une Entrevue Avec Joe Jonas

When I was student teaching I created a couple of Xtranormal videos to use in listening activities reviewing basic French grammar. I wanted to make a talk show interview with a celebrity, and I settled on Joe Jonas because one of the Xtranormal avatars was a dead ringer for him. I chose Conan O'Brien as the talk show host (not realizing his tenure was almost up!) because, again, it was the closest match with the characters. I also created a sheet for students to complete as they watched the movie, which I uploaded to Scribd. If it weren't for all the amazing bloggers out there that talk about all these incredible tools (Box of Tricks, Joe Dale and Les Chevaliers du Château de Champions to name a few), I never would have thought to create this!

See the Activity Sheet for this Video

When I "Discovered" French

With Discover Languages Month coming to a close very soon, I wanted to take a chance to share some of the resources that I used when I first "discovered" French, eleven years ago. These are the books, websites, movies, etc. that I used all through high school and some of them I still use today. If you're just discovering French or looking to recommend something to someone who is, have a look at this list!

The Olympics and Cognates - The Sequel Post

Stade olympique de vancouver
Stade olympique de vancouver
by Centre_France is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

My last post was mostly teacher-centered so I wanted to take the opportunity to write a similar post geared at those of you who are learning French.

Using les Jeux Olympiques as an Opportunity to Learn About Cognates

Word collage created with Wordle

For one of my grad classes I will be developing a mini unit of instruction this semester. I have already written one of the lessons, which I will teach to my classmates, and I thought I would share it here. I have seen so many great resources on Twitter and in the blogosphere about the Olympics that I thought this topic would be great for a lesson. After perusing the French version of the Vancouver Olympics website for ideas, I realized that learning the names of the winter sports would be pretty easy since so many of them are cognates, so I centered the lesson around introducing the concept of cognates to students. The lesson finishes off with an assignment that asks students to use their knowledge of pop culture as well as cognates to decipher ads in French that I found on the Vancouver site. This is a pretty short lesson (20 mins) so in a real world setting it would probably only take about half the class. If you haven't already, I strongly recommend perusing the French edition of the Vancouver website for lots of opportunities to practice your French, as well as the Education Center for some great teaching resources! Also see the Sports & Leisure vocab page for general sports terms.

Grade Level - Beginner

1. Build students’ vocabulary pertaining to winter Olympic sports
2. Increase students’ awareness of cognates in French and English
3. Connect a current event (the 2010 Olympics) to the curriculum

1. Pictogram Worksheet (Foreign Language House has a free one!)
2. Large visual representations of Pictograms (Find them here)
3. “Les expressions des Jeux Olympiques” worksheet
4. Koosh ball or similar to toss around classroom

Instructional Process
• When the students enter the classroom, they will see a cluster of words in French relating to the winter Olympics displayed on the board (this could be a Smart Board or projector).
• Once class starts, the teacher asks the students if they recognize any of the words in the cluster and their meaning in English, and finally if they know what connection all these words have.
• Teacher asks students how they knew what some of the words were, such as Jeux Olympiques (similarity to English), and explain what role cognates play in French and English, especially in sports
• Teacher distributes Pictogram worksheet, with the 2010 pictograms for each of the 15 winter sports. Students have 5-7 minutes to complete the worksheet individually or with a neighbor, matching the French terms with the correct pictures, relying on their ability to find cognates along with process of elimination
• Teacher goes over correct answers with the class, using photos or projections of large pictograms as a visual aid for the students to follow along with. Teacher will demonstrate pronunciation and have students repeat. Students will correct their answers and write the English word underneath the sport. Teacher can remark on how some of the sports are named. After going through all of the answers, teacher will review pronunciation again.
• Students will rely on their knowledge of cognates and popular culture to complete tonight’s homework, which is a worksheet with five current advertisements by sponsors of the Olympics. Students will answer the questions about the ads. Teacher distributes assignment and explains it, then students put it away and clear desks.
• At the end of the lesson, every student stands up and must answer a vocabulary or grammar question related to the lesson (eg what’s the French term for downhill skiing?) before they may be dismissed. The teacher has a koosh ball, and asks students the question, and students who know the answer may raise their hands and the teacher will toss the ball to a student. Once they answer correctly, they can sit down, and throw the ball back to the teacher.

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