The CEFR and DELF in the language classroom

If someone had told me that I were to become a French teacher when I was in high school, I would have laughed and told them there was no chance of that! Then Jackie Baleny taught me Gr. 11 and OAC Biology and Kinesiology and I was hooked. She is the reason I wanted to be a teacher. Still, the thought of being a French teacher was not what my goal was. I would frequently tell friends that I could never see myself as an ”À la carte” teacher – refering the monstrous flip chart carts that language teachers often wheel around. However, here I am, teaching French and having a great time of it!

What I love about French is seeing student progress, and watching them throughout the year as slowly their preconceived notions and attitudes toward learning French change from something of dread, to something they can tolerate and sometimes even enjoy. As I prepare my students to celebrate ”La fête de la Sainte Catherine” culminating in make ”la tire Ste Catherine” – which isn’t to be confused with ”la tire” we find at the sugar shack, I see them laughing, using the language and living the culture.

Still I struggle to make everything I do ”authentic” (I put it in quotes because I don’t think that authentic can only be found in French speaking regions). Students often leave the program in search of sciences, or humanities they will need in universities, or they just don’t get the same marks in French and in Grade 12 marks matter a lot!

So after doing some reading over the course of about a year now, I think I have found what I’ve been looking for. I think the Common European Framework of Reference for languages is going to change how students perceive the language and if I can manage to have my school become a test center for the DELF students will receive a certificate indicating their competency in the language which could make their university application much more attractive.

As I explore a variety of teaching techniques (constructivisme, differentiate instruction, experiential & cooperative learning) and technologies (twitter, diigo, understoodit, bitstrips, wix, voice thread, and more) I think this will be yet another tool, something to draw students back to language courses because we can get away from the idea of French learning being about grammar worksheets. This is apparently what the new curriculum is going to be focused on and I have to say it will be difficult to wait until 2014 to roll it out. Hopefully I can get my hands on it for September 2013!

CEFR & DELF explanation for a school board in Alberta

5 Replies to “The CEFR and DELF in the language classroom”

  1. Hi Derek,

    I’m missing the CEFR conference this Saturday at St. Mildred’s so that I don’t miss out on important face-to-face time at C21, but I have a feeling there will be more like this on the horizon – well before 2014! Plus, there are 3 people attending CEFR with whom we can converse afterwards… so let’s put this on our agenda to discuss on Saturday and online in the near future!

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