Three steps to getting the conversation going


A quick update on what I implemented from #cohort21 over the past year (I was a participant in 2015-2016). My action plan was based on getting students to communicate authentically. I implemented a 3-step structure for conversations, which became the routine start of almost every class:

  1. Students ask each other questions posted on a PowerPoint and note words they are lacking (but don’t look them up). We then review this as a class and use these words as the basis for the unit vocabulary. This is then pushed out to students.
  2. The following class, the same questions are posted with vocabulary words provided. Students practice asking and answering these questions. If there are any vocabulary words that are deemed important, but missed on the first round, then we add them at this point. I give feedback on their performance.
  3. Finally, the following class, the questions are posted, but only the key words so that the student asking the question has to think as well. No vocabulary words are provided at all in order to provide a feeling of authenticity. I assess the students on their interaction skills (listening and speaking).

The pairing for these conversations is based on several structures from: http:////

Some student comments:

I’ve noticed that sometimes when I’m talking, I just start talking and words come out of my mouth fluently as though I’m thinking in French and not thinking in English and translating to French as I speak. That moment was very encouraging for me, as it shows how far I’ve come in French this year and since when I started.

[I] learned more vocabulary to used in different daily conversations…

[I am most proud of] being able to comfortably have conversations in French thanks to conversational unit[.]

I’m looking forward to trying this again this year!

5 thoughts on “Three steps to getting the conversation going

  1. Hi Vivienne,

    What a great post – and it is great to hear from you, and see that you are continuing to shift your practice to the benefit of your students! I hope that you are having a great start to the year. We don’t have anyone from BVG attending this year, so if you want to bring someone who you think might be interested for next year to our final F2F, just let me know.

    Thanks, and stay in touch,

    1. Bonjour!

      Just to follow up on how I’ve since changed this for this year, I’ve now made this more student-run with current events presentations and discussions beginning every class. This goes back to a chat I had with @ddoucet during Cohort21 a couple of years ago. It frees me up to observe the students, allows them to build a wide variety of vocabulary and simulates a real-life situation.

      1. Bonjour Vivienne!

        Je viens juste d’aller à ma première F2F à Cohort21 cette semaine passée. Je suis vraiment intéresser d’apprendre en plus de votre 3 étapes pour commencer la conversation. Moi aussi, je veux que mes étudiants parlent plus en francais authentiquement. Est-ce que vous avez du temps?

        Merci bien,
        Priti Maheshwari

        1. Bonjour Priti,

          Je ne vous ai pas du tout oubliée! Je viens de déménager il y a quelques semaines et du coup j’ai passé un automne assez chargé.

          Pour les questions, je les trouve dans le guide du maître. Alors, pour l’unité qu’on fait maintenant avec mes 10e (Voyages 2), on pose les questions comme : Est-ce que toute expression de violence devrait automatiquement entraîner l’expulsion de l’école? Quels sont les avantages et les inconvénients d’être adolescent? Les élèves n’auront pas tout le vocabulaire nécessaire, donc on crée des listes ensemble des mots qu’ils devaient chercher lors de la discussion en partenaires. La classe suivante, on révise les questions avec le vocabulaire (avec traduction d’anglais si nécessaire). La class d’après, on se pose des questions avec une liste de vocabulaire, mais sans traduction.

          Un autre truc que j’ai découvert lors d’un atelier (qui n’était pas du tout pour les profs de français, mais qui marche très bien en classe) est le suivant :
          1. Diviser la classes en partenaires.
          2. Personne A parle pendant __ minute(s) au sujet de (leur sac-à-dos/leurs vacances etc.).
          3. Personne B peut seulement poser les questions «Pourquoi », ou « Parle-moi de… ».
          Par exemple :
          A : Voici mon sac-à-dos. Je l’ai acheté chez Roots.
          B : Pourquoi?
          A : Parce que j’aime ce magasin.
          B : Pourquoi?
          A: Parce que ma mère dit que c’est de la bonne qualité, et j’aime le style.
          B : Parle-moi de ta mère.
          A : Elle est grande et italienne. Elle aime le chocolat et les chiens.
          B. Parle-moi de tes origines italiennes…

          Faites-moi savoir ce que vous avez déjà essayé. J’ai toujours hâte d’essayer quelque chose de nouveau!


  2. Bonsoir Mme. Kraus!
    You’re so great! I only wish I could carve more time to build our network of French teachers within CISOntario. We have so many who have come through C21 and I think we’re all doing some great stuff. Our #CISDELF is only you, Mackenzie Neale and I really, but we’ve got to start somewhere!

    Maybe we can do a meet-up in the winter for former Alum and any teachers who would be interested?

    In what other ways are you getting them to speak? I have a new spreadsheet portfolio (similar to @ehitchcock‘s AP) that I am using and I am following the SE2R framework for feedback from Mark Barnes

    Would love to hear more about what you’re doing with your Ss to get at the cultural understanding and socio-linguistics. Should we start with a Hangout?

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