Building Confidence or Inflating Egos?

My goal for this year’s action plan was to increase student confidence in speaking French, to avoid hearing “I can’t” and replace it with “I can”. On Thursday I introduced the CEFR to my Grade 4 students: they watched a short video explaining that the CEFR is a tool used across Canada, Europe and many other countries to be consistent with assessment of language skills and then they looked at the scale of language levels to decide which level they thought Grade 4 was currently at.

My assumption was that they would choose the lowest possible level, but to my surprise the majority of boys thought they were performing at a level B1 (which is more like Grade 10-12 core French)! I was shocked to hear them speaking so positively about the abilities they possess in their second language. Once I showed them a few examples of B1 speakers, they quickly agreed that maybe they weren’t quite at that level – but perhaps it’s not a bad thing that they are starting to really believe in themselves.

My next task is to get them more familiar with the “Can-Do Statements” so that they can use the language to self-assess and describe the work that they do in class, giving each activity and task a purpose to develop their skills. I guess I still have some work to do to help them accurately self-assess!

Photo by Titouan on Unsplash

  4 comments for “Building Confidence or Inflating Egos?

  1. February 24, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Salut Mackenzie,
    How have things been going in the last month with the CEFR? Anything working particularly well? I recently conducted a Harkness Discussion using one of the A2 oral production activities as a starting point. It worked quite well because I have a small group. Would love to hear what’s working in your classes because I want to use more can-do statements with my class.

    • February 26, 2019 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Sarah! I have to admit that I am not using the language of the Can-Do Statements enough in class since the boys did the work on identifying the statements and their own levels. I really should start displaying the specific Can-Do Statement that we are working on each class. I do, however, use a CEFR-inspired assessment each month (a book I purchased on the AIM website), which I find really beneficial because they’re all action-oriented tasks that use the familiar language and (and sometimes the characters) that they’ve studied in the AIM stories. After each assessment I’ve had them complete a self-reflection where they check off the Can-Do Statements they feel confident with, as well as their goals for improvement. I also plan on using the Can-Do Statements again when we enter in our next items into their portfolios. I want them to reflect on their abilities using the statements instead of “I chose this piece because I got a good mark”. Can’t wait to hear more about how the CEFR is inspiring your lessons! 🙂

  2. March 5, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I love reading how you’re using Can-Do statements with your students. This is something I’d like to build more into my practise in the future!

  3. March 28, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Such a good reminder that we are all much more capable then we think we are. Teachers and students alike! A good conversation about how to embrace risk-taking, is there a risk here anyway? What if you start speaking French and don’t know the right word to use, then what?

    What if in math the kids tried a problem and they got stuck – better then never starting in the first place.

    Great job Mackenzie!

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