Teaching a language is like watching through a kaleidoscope: you have the same pieces of coloured glass, but only your ability of ‘’playing’’ with it will create new images, good enough to capture your pupils’ attention and imagination.
The summer is here, with its flowers, strawberries, end of year reports, funny quizzes and well…different assessments.
According to Cambridge Dictionary, assessment means "the act of judging or deciding the amount, value, quality, or importance of something." I’d change this definition a bit, by adding "in an enjoyable and engaging way" at the end of it. It sounds better to me and definitely a bit more appealing for my pupils.
Having said this, a new project came to life at the end of this summer term: some important journalists from the famous news channel TV5 have heard about us and they stopped for one day in our school to get some interviews. We knew their questions would cover all the topics we have studied this year in French and we felt confident enough to give it a go.
Filming day was definitely a day to remember! There were loads of laughter, tones of smiles but also stage fright and a bit of stress and nervousness in front of the camera. We all realised that it is harder than we thought initially, as we all wanted to look and give our very best: best accent, best knowledge, best position. The journalists - some of the most confident pupils in the school - showed a professionalism hard to describe when talking actually about 9-10 years old children: they were so ever patient, asking their questions without using the prompter too much, helping the interviewee and smiling at that camera every single second.
TV5 -Action 1! Question-answer, question-answer. Stop! I’ve made a mistake, I know how to say it properly, I really know! It’s just the camera, it makes me feel a bit nervous! Can we please start again?
TV5- Action 2! TV5- Action 3! Question-answer, question- answer, question- silence….1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds…laughter. And laughter again. And again. Time for a 5 minutes break. Back to studio: Action! Question- answer, question- answer, smiles, the interview is over. ‘’C’est super! Bravo!’’
Next. TV5 Action 1! Action 2! I have a sneeze! Cut! Re-start. Action 3! Next! End of the day, au revoir TV5. Please come again, we had so much fun!
Any MFL teacher knows that learning a modern foreign language means repetition. Again, and again and again. The trick is to hide this repetition underneath different clothes all the time: a song, a game, a movie in the target language, a Skype conference with pupils from a different country, cooking some cakes or even doing some maths in the language you teach, these are all forms of repetition.
The interviews allowed us to review old topics and the fact that the pupils wanted to look good on the camera made them give their very best. Watching the videos later in our lessons will give us the opportunity to see our strengths or weaknesses, an opportunity to improve ourselves but also to be proud of what we have achieved this year.
But most of all, the TV5 project proved that we can learn enjoying every minute, having fun but making a great progress at the same time. A bientôt, TV 5! Et meci!
Florentina Popescu is a French teacher at J and C Academy in north-west London.