The year after I graduated college with my French and Spanish B.A., I taught French as a substitute teacher in a high school. After this experience, I immediately and loudly declared to anyone who would listen that I would never want to be a teacher. Over the next two years, as I worked on my M.A. and taught French as a teaching assistant, I began to realize that I had been hasty in my declaration. The more time I spent learning about teaching, the more rewarding I found every aspect of my position as a teaching assistant. I began to enjoy crafting lesson plans, developing assessments and rubrics, creating a positive and engaging classroom environment, and building relationships with my students.
Becoming a French professor has been my ultimate career goal since I finished my French M.A. in 2014. I love taking part in my students’ language journey and encouraging the development of their intercultural competence. While students learn and grow at different paces, I hope for each of my students to grow in (1) their knowledge of and ability to use the French language, (2) their understanding of French and francophone culture(s), and (3) their desire to continue learning French after the end of the course. My goal in my language classes is to guide my students in the development of their intercultural communicative competence and prepare them for multimodal interactions in a global world.
I have worked at three American universities over the past eight years, teaching introductory, intermediate, and elective French courses. I have assisted in curriculum development for elective and alternative courses (Biological Topics in French and French 6 for Global Studies), and have enjoyed assisting and leading extracurricular French programs, such as conversation or cinema clubs and a French Talent Night. I have collaborated with professors of diverse pedagogical approaches and orientations to language learning, and in doing so have learned how my own philosophy of language learning and education affects my teaching.
Philosophy of Education
How do I teach? Why?
Use of technology
I believe the ultimate goal of foreign or second language education is the cultivation of transnationally competent language students who are capable of culturally sensitive, multimodal communication in a new language and through a new culture. According to second language socialization research, “[l]earning, knowledge-construction, and socialization – that is, the development of the human mind and the socialized individual – are seen to be processes that are mutually engaged in by members in a community over time” (Duff, 2007, p. 312). Language learning is a life-long process; the language classroom serves as the first of many target language communities to which the learners may have access over time, and as such is instrumental in preparing them to engage with target language speakers in other environments throughout their lives. On a practical level, this means that language students need to learn, both in the written and oral modalities, how to interpret texts and discourses, how to coherently present their own ideas, and how to communicate effectively and appropriately in interpersonal interactions. My teaching facilitates this learning through the instructional methods I choose to implement and through the use of sequencing and scaffolding.
In my own classrooms, which are conducted entirely in the target language, my role is to facilitate the introduction of new material and to guide the small-group and classroom discussions, as well as to direct the students’ attention to mistakes they make in class. When new material is presented, I provide examples of the new items that allow the students to observe and hear the new material in an authentic–or in a simulated authentic–context. In addition to the verbal presentation of examples, I provide visual support through technology (e.g., PowerPoint, Prezi) in order to facilitate the visual learning style and to more easily make connections to the students’ previous knowledge through images while maintaining the use of the target language. Whenever possible, the examples are taken from publically available authentic materials, such as magazine articles, clips of conversations from films, social media interactions, etc. After completing the presentation of new material with the students, I ask the students questions that require them to both understand and apply the new material. These activities enhance the students’ interpretive language capabilities and prepare them for the decoding of progressively more advanced authentic materials, as well as allowing me the opportunity to assess their understanding. I then guide the students through a co-construction of the underlying principle of the new material and a discussion of any particularities (exceptions, related principles, etc.). My students also engage in scaffolded small- and large-group discussions during much of the class time, which allows them to practice the language in guided, simulated authentic face-to-face interactions as often as possible. Since students inevitably vary in level within each classroom, this type of collaborative learning allows them to use these differences to their advantage and to enhance their interpersonal communication abilities. These interactions also provide time for formative assessments, as I am able to monitor the discussions in each group and guide the students’ use of any new lexical or syntactic items.
Providing opportunities for students to make connections between their target language and the knowledge or interests they already have is key to maintaining their investment in the language and in the classroom language practices. Developing a rapport with the students results in knowledge of their interests, and therefore in the ability to personalize the course to increase student engagement and willingness to communicate. In introductory classes, this is straightforward, as the introductory material often covers interests and hobbies. In advanced classes, my students frequently complete brief surveys in the target language at the beginning of the course, so that I may assess their writing ability and begin to understand their interests and academic pursuits. The student survey responses guide the use of the presentation materials I use for the duration of the course. In this way, I begin to develop a rapport with my students from the beginning of the course, which both helps me to develop interesting materials, and helps my students to perceive me as approachable and invested in their academic development.
For summative assessments of written and oral language competence, my students complete traditional exams and compositions, digital projects, in-class presentations, and oral assessments, all adapted to their level and to the objectives of the course. Written assessments provide opportunities for the students to demonstrate their understanding of the new syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic systems of their target language. Quizzes and exams assess students’ metalinguistic knowledge within contextualized exercises. Written compositions allow students to explore the relationship between their own experiences and their new language. At the intermediate and advanced levels, these compositions provide opportunities for students to develop a more sophisticated writing style that they can apply across disciplines and studies. Team and solo digital projects take the form of short videos or slideshows with subtitles that are set to music and submitted digitally. This allows students to practice using what they have learned while imagining themselves in a real-world context, like crafting a promotional video for an apartment complex or writing a review for a study abroad program. Individual in-class presentations on topics related to cultural phenomena or current events are used to assess the presentational and interpersonal communication skills of intermediate and advanced students. These assessments may take the form of organic, simulated real-world conversations with a classmate. Students are encouraged to ask questions after the in-class presentations and during the conversations in order to give their peers the chance to demonstrate their unscripted communication capabilities. These presentations and oral assessments assess the students’ ability to communicate coherently, appropriately, and fluidly in the target language.
At UCSB, I helped develop and implement two courses, which was a tremendous opportunity for my own academic and professional growth. The first was the adaptation of a Global Studies version of French 6, which is the final intermediate course in the French series at UCSB. I evaluated the 16 literature and culture sections used in the standard French 6 course, and then either created new sections or adapted the current ones in order to make them more pertinent to Global Studies students. This involved finding authentic texts suited both to the students’ reading level and to the lexical and syntactic material of the chapter; creating an introduction to the author of the text; and crafting activities suited for introducing the material, for pre-reading, for comprehension, and for interpretation. I taught this course in Spring 2015 and Spring 2016. I developed the second course, Biological Topics in French, in conjunction with the French Language Program Coordinator and the Chair of the French and Italian Department, and taught it as the primary instructor in Fall 2017. The goal was to provide students studying French and the biological sciences with the discursive conventions necessary to communicate effectively with French-speaking professionals in their field. As I had no experience with and very little knowledge about the biological sciences, the development of this course was challenge; however, I was able to exploit my knowledge in other domains to accommodate for this. My experience as a Reading Instructor had given me tools for enhancing students’ strategic competence in reading, which I was then able to adapt to the French language classroom. My teaching experience and my Education and Applied Linguistics studies helped me think of creative ways to draw on the students’ background knowledge in the classroom. While it was a challenge to create authentic, approachable, and appropriate materials for these two courses, developing this course also allowed me the freedom to find and implement materials that would more effectively address the interests of my students.
Finally, throughout my graduate school career, I have had the opportunity to view differing teaching philosophies operationalized in and outside of the language classroom. The various approaches to curriculum design, classroom materials, classroom instruction and discussion, and assessment have allowed me to observe first-hand the connection between theory and practice and to develop ideas about the instruction of my own French courses based on the successes of my colleagues. Teaching introductory and intermediate French in conjunction with my coursework in French, Applied Linguistics, and Education has also given me a deeper appreciation for the pivotal role of teachers within the language classroom.
List of courses taught
- Course Design and Organization; Sample courses, sample syllabi
- Lesson Planning and Implementation; sample lesson plans
- steps to take before planning lesson (long-term/unit planning and individual lesson preparation)
- thoughts while planning lesson (activity by activity)
- thoughts during implementation (classroom engagement and management)
- Teaching effectiveness
- Assessments and student work
- student evaluations
- student questionnaires (esp. bio)
All Sample Syllabi
All Sample Lesson Plans – vocab, grammar, writing, reading, listening, speaking