How I teach

ListingTechnology Use Classroom Flow•Portfolio Use•FeedbackObjectives•Assessment

Courses Taught

Fall 2012 Elementary French 101
Spring 2013 Elementary French 102
Fall 2013 Elementary French 101
Spring 2014 Elementary French 102
Spring 2015 Elementary French 102
Fall 2014 Elementary French 103
Fall 2015 Accelerated Elementary French 103
Fall 2016 Accelerated Elementary French 103
Spring 2016 Intermediate French 111
Spring 2017 Intermediate French 111

Stewarding Technology

As Director of the Language Resource Center, one of my responsibilities is to be the steward of innovative teaching with technology. In addition to training workshops for colleagues classes (usually 3 to 4 sessions per week), I focus my teaching on the elementary and intermediate language classes (see above listing), which are devoted primarily to communicative competence. Since all faculty at Lafayette teach some beginning level classes, teaching at this level has provided me with an opportunity to develop a variety of good, working technology models that can be used by all.  We have built an impressive array of multimedia artifacts that promote proficiency in all modes and encourage students to create narratives with imagery; these include Powerpoint presentations, video essays, i-books with voice overs, documentaries, video self-portraits, video captured Skype interactions between Lafayette students and foreign counterparts, annotated media film critiques, padlets, comic books, and the list goes on.

Classroom Practices

My own French classes meet regularly in the Resource Center where I design activities that complement our texts and workbooks. We frequently move from large group activities with me, supported by activities on a SmartBoard and then move into small group conversations between students or small group interactions at workstations using authentic cultural sources: restaurant visits, city searches, and information on university living abroad.   We regularly work with Apprendre TV5 video clips, which are challenging, but are so important to student learning; students gain insights into true Francophone media, see real, world images,  are guided through scaffolded listening exercises that are paired to their

Professor Mary Toulouse

individual competencies (A1, A2, B1), and participate in language building activities that are supported both visually and aurally. I do a some programming myself once in a while: with the permission of Alain Boublil, lyricist-composer, I have  scripted a fun, music-centered audio comprehension unit for class use based on his rock opera “La Revolution française; the teaching objective is to get the JIST (j-just listen, I-isolate vocabulary, S-Seek out sentences, T-target facts), similar to the structure of an IPA exercise.

Portfolios Developed

Along with a variety of multimedia projects using the aforementioned technologies, I  integrate weekly blog-portfolio assignments into my French classes and organize them according to the communicative modoes, these spin-offs of the CanDo self-efficacy statements, “Je lis”, “Je parle”, “J’écris” have a postitive impact on student  and helped them  develop important metacognitive skills. They have empowered students to improve their learning.

In the elementary courses, the proficiency is focused primarily on reading printed texts, listening comprehension, as well as interpersonal and presentational speaking. Please see student sample 4_1  and student sample 4_2.

At the intermediate levels, students learn to interpret more difficult video and textual readings as well as  begin to create relatively complex writing projects. Student sample 4_3, Student sample 4_4. For all projects, we use a process approach towards completion:

Step 1: Research and vocabulary building through reading and research
Step 2: Written draft version 1
Step 3: Final draft with corrections
Step 4: Practice of pronunciation with Text Aloud software
Step 5: Video production and creative interpretation
See Rubric: Videos_Benevolat

In all my French classes, students are required to read a weekly “text” of their choice so as to build vocabulary that reflects their personal interests; again, as per the IPA interpretive guidelines, they are asked to pick out 4 cognates, 4 new words, one or two phrases, write a short summary of what they understood in French and a short reflection on why they chose this text and what they learned. I see, and students confirm that, being regularly engaged in authentic, albeit difficult texts, that are based on their interests increase student proficiency.

Student Class Feedback

In general, the course evaluations have been positive. This is a hybrid course where grades are based on tests, participation,  regular portfolio use, and quality project-based work showcased and reflected on in their portfolios. Students appreciate using the the language skills they are learning as a means of  access into Francophone culture.

In respect to the portfolio, the students seen to adapt to the technology quickly, but find having to produce quality “evidence” of what their learning a challenge, albeit satisfying. Asked if the portfolios helps with their learning, the answer is usually “YES!”. It keeps things organized on paper and in their minds. However, some have commented that taking tests in easier.
See ePortfolio rubric__FR111

Student sample 1_evaluation.  Student sample 2_evaluation.

Objectives and Outcomes of French 111

  1. Increased performance in all the 5 modes with a special focus on development of auditory comprehension, reading, and presentational writing and speaking.
    • Students will be able to read, listen to, and interpret authentic on-line texts, songs, or videos of their choice (usually) and within their competency range (per the ECRF).
    • Students will participate in Skype interpersonal exchanges or conversations with native speaker class assistants and peers.
    • Students will be able to create multi-modal presentations, projects and other artifacts (Fotomagico voiceovers, PowerPoints)
    • Students will be able to research, write, and compose short image supported essays, interactive books, and/or  documentaries that are part of a process (Biographies of Zidane, Toussaint Louverture, Napoléon, Henri IV)

2.  Knowledge and acquisition of more complex grammatical structures as they may be used to provide understanding of authentic materials and subsequent reproduction by learners

  • Students will be able to use targeted grammatical concepts in written or spoken presentations (Planning future trips, comparing French personalities to Americans, hypothetical situations)
  1. Improved understanding and access to authentic Francophone cultural sources so as to develop openness, empathy, and a knowledge of world
  • Students will use be able to use language learned as an access point to humanistic endeavors and attitudes, such as those found in French history, politics, the arts, sports, and service organizations (Documentaries on Doctors Without Borders, Action Contre la Faim)


Portfolio posts, corrections and reflections on progress
Chapter Tests: l, ll, lll.
Class participation, attendance, and regularity of  portfolio-blogs, “Je lis”, engagements.
Final and mid-term project (documentary & i-Book) with reflections on assessment of growth and achievement over the course of the semester.