Inspired by Shelby County Schools' pre-unit on learning a language, I chose to kick off my brand-new French 7 curriculum by really digging into the WHY and HOW of language-learning. Most of my 7th graders had never studied a second language before (although several were bilingual), and I felt it was important to start off by transforming them into language-learning advocates, introducing them to ACTFL proficiency levels, and inculcating in them my daily routines.
While this may not be the flashiest way to open the year, I found that this unit created a strong foundation and common reference point for us to revisit throughout the year. Since I will teach all of these students again in French 8, it's also a twofer.
My overarching unit performance objective for the 7-day unit is "I can explain why and how to learn French" with 3 smaller objectives:
• I can persuade someone to learn French
• I can explain the rules, procedures, and expectations in our classroom
• I can describe how to increase my French proficiency
The unit template is here and my daily lesson plans are here. Most of the resources that I use are on my Pinterest page for this unit.
For our first Can-Do, "I can persuade someone to learn French," we watch this short, humorous, and powerful video to start thinking about why speaking different languages matters. Students read an article about the rise of French worldwide and list reasons to learn it. Then we dig into the positive effect of language-learning on the brain via a short video and infographic. At this point, I want students to see some French, so we try to decode the basics of an article about francophone students from 1Jour1Actu. This leads naturally into a discussion of cognates, which pairs well with this video about English words hidden in French. Students then practice identifying cognates by trying to read an article from 1Jour1Actu about summer camp, and highlighting cognates they can identify and/or guess. All student work for these documents is found in this packet.
For the second Can-Do, "I can explain the rules, procedures, and expectations in our classroom," we do a course expectations scavenger hunt (thank you Creative Language Class for this idea!), choose French names and find clock partners for the year, and start to learn greetings with this Adomania video (1/16, Bonjour). Thanks to Sarah Moghtader for sharing the clock partners document from her district of Brookline Public Schools.
The third Can-Do, "I can describe how to increase my French proficiency," is key to getting students to buy into this way of learning a language and can (and should!) be revisited throughout the year. I do a variation on this lesson from Creative Language Class, where students practice writing in English at our course target of Novice High. Armed with a clear understanding of the course goals, students are ready to set personal goals for the year. I use Shelby County's clever EPIC posters for this. They make a great hallway display, and a powerful reflection tool at the end of the school year:
Wishing everyone a wonderful start to the school year! I'd love to hear your ideas for starting off the year on the right foot.
Who's that dame?
Middle school French teacher obsessed with building students' proficiency via thematic units & authentic materials.