I’ve thought about what it is I want to accomplish, and at times, it seems insurmountable. For me, it’s getting my students to use their own abilities to communicate in French.
Their reality is much different than mine was at their age. With technology at their fingertips, students no longer have to spend time thumbing through massive dictionaries. It’s hard to believe I actually packed a not-so-Petit Robert into my suitcase for my studies abroad in France! The traditional green ‘Bescherelle’ has been replaced by any number of any websites, and/or merely typing in the verb into a Google search. SpellCheck quickly helps them identify all the difficult accents. These resources are a boon to students, and admittedly, I appreciate their handiness as well.
But what really, really, really gets me is the use of online translators – the blatant practice of using GoogleTranslate, the student’s expectation being that they should be able to write in English and then magically transform it into French with the touch of a button, and that these written words can be a jumping off point for oral work as well. And the technology is getting good! Years ago it was easier to spot the student who heavily relied on an online translator with its choppy nonsensical phrases. Yet today, with a 1:1 laptop program, who could possibly resist the insta-translator’s allure?
So…how might I get students to perform regularly in an authentic manner?
I have a very simple idea. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that I don’t do this (yet), because it seems so obvious. Each day, a student will be responsible for leading a discussion for the first five minutes of class. A warm-up if you will. Voilà – c’est tout.
Here are my immediate misgivings:
- How will I assess this?
- Will this become boring?
- Could I make this ‘count’ (i.e. assessment of learning), even though it wasn’t in my course outline?
- Why isn’t this in my course outline?
- Could I test students new vocabulary from this?
- Will my classes buy into this?
- Do the students need to have structures in place to make this work?
- When will I find the time?
I’ve given myself a deadline of trying this out a week today. I’m eager to see how it goes.
> Do you use student-led warm-ups in your classes? How so?