Articles for Teachers

About Teaching a Second Language - Take Away the Frustration
By:Tania Mesar

Speaking with colleagues about teaching a second language always raises an interesting debate. Looking at French as a second language, a common response that many students give is "I hate French!". To avoid being unrealistic, we must ask ourselves if rigidly following each strand of the French curriculum offers an organic process of intellectual growth, or if it presents an awkward and rushed approach, bounded by unrealistic goals.

One thing that I have learned about teaching a second language is that students take French for a variety of reasons. They are either pressured by government, school, or parents; and some are even self-motivated. Some students are pushed into French classes kicking and screaming, others jump at the opportunity to learn a new language and its cultural appreciation.

A French teacher must not only push high-achievers to new levels, but this teacher must use the appropriate teaching techniques, in conjunction with the curriculum to model the Core, Extended and Immersion programs, to ensure struggling students a chance for achievement. A better understanding about teaching a second language comes organically from experience with each class more easily than from studying pages from curriculum documents. When it comes down to it, we teach 'students', not 'curriculum'.

In high-school French, culture is integrated into the classroom in differing amounts by various teachers, depending on the students in the classroom. The time of introduction and breadth of cultural teachings is heavily dependent on both the strand of French education, as well as on a teachers interest and ability to integrate culture into lessons.

One thing I have learned about teaching culture to a second language is that you have to make it fun. Many teachers simply assume that if they are teaching a bit of culture instead of grammar, that it is inherently fun, simply because it is not grammar. This is simply not true. The way cultural teaching is received by our students, especially in applied classes is solely dependent on the delivery. We must make sure that we appeal to all learning types when we deliver this material.

Many students also experience disenchantment in their language capabilities while learning a second language. This occurs because most of their time is spent hammering out grammatical concepts that are a requirement of the curriculum, rather than spending time focusing on real life applications of the language. Thus, they cannot conceptualize how the language could affect their lives. Many students learning a second language have a much better understanding of how to conjugate the verb 'to be' over how to ask for help, or how to engage in a simple conversation with someone from another country.

Learning about teaching solely through focus on curriculum expectations without taking time to explore practical links can drown even the top student in the sea of French curriculum. If we learn about teaching from our students instead of our curriculum documents, we will ultimately be better at motivating new language learners to embrace second language learning for the long haul.

Do not forget to check out the link in the resource box below. I've got a great free report that details my experiences so you can learn from them.

Tania is a High-School Teacher who Helps Other Teachers Make what they're Worth so they Can Teach because they Love it and Not because they Have To. "Want to Learn How You Can Leverage your Teaching Skills with the Power of the Internet to Meet and Exceed Your Teaching Income?" Go Here Now to Discover: http://www.OnlineMLMTeacher.com/report.html.


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