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Last August, I wrote about the differing outcomes of the two Intensive Elementary French sections I taught: one remote synchronous, the other remote asynchronous. My write-up included some descriptive statistics, and ultimately concluded that learners in the synchronous course achieved higher scores than those in the asynchronous course. At the time I wrote the post, my statistical literacy was less than it is now, so the purpose of the present post is to determine whether these findings were statistically significant.

I. Do final course grades differ between the two modalities?

I took the two sections, asynchronous (n = 19) and synchronous (n = 10), and conducted a two-sample t-test to determine whether there is a meaningful, measurable difference in the average final course grade for each modality. The data from each section were normally distributed according to visual testing and the Shapiro-Wilk test (asynchronous p = 0.12, synchronous p = 0.26). An F-test revealed that the data were not of equal variance (F = 13.66, p < 0.001, 95% CI [3.69, 40.01]). The Welch two-sample t-test revealed a statistically significant, large difference between the asynchronous and synchronous sections (t(22.49) = 3.87, p < 0.001, d = 1.29, 95% CI [-2.04, -0.53]). The observed difference in means was -26.46, with a 95% CI [-40.63, -12.29]. A post-hoc test revealed an actual power of 0.80.

Boxplot comparison of the two groups' final course grades. Left boxplot tracks the asynchronous scores, right boxplot tracks the synchronous scores.
Plotted using ggplot2 with R.

As you can see from the visualization, the learners in the asynchronous course had a much wider spread of final grades, compared to the learners in the synchronous course. The huge, statistically significant difference between the modalities can be seen most glaringly: nearly 75% of the synchronous scores fall within just the fourth quartile of asynchronous scores.

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While role play activities are a popular mainstay in language textbooks, I’ve always been dissatisfied with how shallow they can be. In this post, I’m going to compare the traditional role play activity found in American language textbooks to Robert Di Pietro’s (1987) Strategic Interaction scenarios. I start by defining each of these activities before discussing what happened in my French classroom the other week when I ran a Strategic Interaction activity, and drawing some conclusions about the two different activity types.

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This past Summer, I taught two sections of the same French course during the same six-week session at a large, public R1 university. The main difference between these two sections was the mode of distribution: one was delivered asynchronously, while the other section met synchronously over Zoom for 80 minutes twice per week. I wanted to record some of my observations, in an attempt to explore some of the different student outcomes. Note that this is an informal comparison, and no personally-identifiable data are being shared.

I’ve broken down this post into several sections:

  • Course description and distribution model
  • Modifications for online distribution
  • Student population
  • Unexpected roadblock
  • Interaction and engagement
  • Grades
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
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I always love to incorporate the wider world of Francophonie into my French classes. One of my go-to assignments is a Francophonie research project. I’ve run variations on this theme across all levels of French study, and I’ll make a separate post about the whole project itself, but I wanted to share a supplemental assignment which incorporates digital literacy skills and some elementary coding.

For French I, the base project involves researching a country (location, capital, leader, languages, foods, etc.), which students then present in front of the class in French, while the rest of the students filled out a little passeport I had them assemble. One quarter, I brought my students into the library, to visit our learning technologist, who walked us through an “hour of code” exercise: digital postcards.

Here’s a sample of what a simple one could look like, using some C0-licensed pictures of Paris:

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My school's learning technologist directed me to VidCode's "Bestie Greeting Card" activity. Students learned some JavaScript, uploaded some videos and pictures of the countries they researched, and created animated, digital postcards for that country.

Some of my students got really creative, incorporating background videos, multiple images and filters, etc., showcasing pastoral countrysides, urban landmarks, and local delicacies from the countries they researched!

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Élise Gravel, a québecoise children’s book author and illustrator, has some wonderful posters to teach children about inclusivity and social awareness. Many of these are available for free to download and print from her blog, available in both French and English. Some topics include:

  • Identifying and stopping bullies
  • What is Autism?
  • How to minimize our impact on the environment
  • Making mistakes is human
  • Boys and girls can like whatever they want to like

You can hang these in your classroom for passive impact, or you can incorporate them into your lessons by having students analyze them and share their opinions.

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French news sites

Below are some French-language news sites that I give to my students for current events presentations.

General, simplified

Print news sources

Non-print news sources


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