Project Description: French I and II
At the French department at the University of Maryland, College Park, students had been graduating with a thorough theoretical understanding of French grammar but without stellar performative capabilities. As a graduate teaching assistant under the supervision of Dr. Mel Scullen, an expert in pedagogy of French as a second language and author of Chez Nous: Branché sur le monde francophone, I collaborated in the development of a curriculum whose goal was to achieve functional fluency in French for graduating students, in all four areas of language proficiency (speaking, listening, reading, writing).
Students are used to a traditional academic environment; they expect to delve deeply into grammar and theory. They may not expect the high level of practice conducted in active learning and most have no experience with a flipped model. Students having as a goal a certain level or grade may struggle with qualitative objectives of the communicative model. While students of the same level are grouped together, their motivations vary: Some are language majors, while others are simply looking to fulfill a credit requirement.
These courses moved learning objectives from mastery of grammar theory to success in applied practice. They adopted a hybrid and flipped format, where homework and reading was conducted online on Pearson’s My Language Lab prior to each course session. Course sessions were dedicated to assessing understanding of theory, and conducting increasingly complex applied practice. Additionally, the courses served as experiments for Dr. Scullen’s research on applied, flipped, active, and communicative teaching methods.
Sample Quiz Assessment
These quizzes were taken by students at the beginning of every flipped class session, to (1) recall previously learned material and/or (2) to gauge comprehension of theory learned at home.
Students answered the question using anonymous “clickers,” which recorded and tabulated student responses. The data collected from the clickers is displayed at the end of the quiz.
Approaching the quiz in this way allows for students to have a physical interaction with physical materials (holding the clicker, pushing the clicker button), to recall what they’ve learned without the pressure of grades or names, and to compare their answers to the rest of the class. The following guided review session is adapted by the teacher to the results of the quiz.