Class observation by: Elizabeth Voss, French Language Program Coordinator. Syracuse University.
12:45 – Valentin plays music as students enter the classroom
12:46 – Warm-up activity: tell a classmate about your weekend using past tenses.
- Instructor projects prompt on the board so that students will use the imperfect and different forms of the passé composé.
- Instructor circulates around the room to answer student questions.
12:50 – French verbal tenses overview: setting the stage for today’s lesson.
- Valentin projects a timeline on the board so that students can see how the different tenses work chronologically.
- Instructor gives parallel examples in the English language.
- Instructor explains the formation of the past perfect in French and then gives examples.
12:57 – Students take out a piece of paper and write two sentences in the plus-que-parfait.
- Prompted by examples, students respond to these questions: “Before coming to Syracuse University, what had you never done?” and “What had you done already?”
- Instructor passes out hand-outs illustrating the timeline for the plus-que-parfait so students can have a take-home copy.
- Students share some examples of what they had never done, or things they had already done.
- Instructor passes out a bingo / “find someone who…” sheet so that students can find people who had already or had never done certain activities.
- Students get up from their seats in order to find classmates and fill-up their bingo board. The instructor circulates around the room to answer questions and help with pronunciation.
1:15 – Students sit down and give examples of the sentences, sharing what their classmates had never done.
1:18 – Interview in groups of two.
- Students interview a partner as prompted by the instructor’s slide using new examples (“Before High School…”, “Before College…”, “Before SU Abroad…”, “Before turning 21…”); instructor encourages students to be curious.
1:24 – Students change partners and instructor changes the prompt slightly—this time, the interview has to be done using formal ways of talking to practice different levels of address in French.
- The instructor prompts the students to switch from “tu” to “vous” and circulates around the room to answer student questions.
- Students share their questions as a class.
1:30 – Activity based on the Cards Against Humanity game.
- Instructor hands out cards with different nouns, subjects and verbs and, prompted by a slide, students use the plus-que-parfait to create comical sentences; for example: Before his global fame, Beyoncé had never visited Paris.
- Instructor circulates around the class to help students and encourage them to use a verb that requires “aller” to practice different auxiliaries.
- Instructor invites students to share their answers as a group and writes a sample sentence on the board to underscore the agreement rules in the plus-que-parfait.
- Valentin begins the class with a structured speaking warm-up so that students get a chance to speak.
- Valentin reviews key principles (the passé composé et l’imparfait; how to ask questions) before introducing new grammar so that students are prepared.
- Instructor is organized and professional.
- Valentin organizes a speaking activity (Trouvez quelqu’un qui…) targeted to the experiences and interests of his students.
- Instructor gives students individual attention during communication activities. He does a good job helping them formulate questions and getting them to think about how to construct questions/sentences correctly.
- Instructor reviews difference in language registers by having students practice the plus-que-parfait using both the informal “tu” and the formal “vous.”
- Instructor engages students in a wide variety of communicative activities so that students practice and create with language.
- Don’t hesitate to invite student input when you give grammar explanations. In principle, they had already read the grammar lesson so they should be able to tell you basic ideas about the formation. You already do this when you ask students to translate sample sentences, so keep working in this way.
- Maybe photocopy the “Trouvez quelqu’un qui” with the plus-que-parfait hand-out so that you have one double-sided sheet instead of two separate sheets—this will save paper (and trees!).
- When the students share their answers from the Bingo with the class (or even the questions that they formulated), see if more students can share what they learned. This might happen naturally as students get more comfortable with each other and with French, but you will want to think about who is talking, not talking, and who needs more opportunities to speak.
- Don’t forget to keep an eye on your time so that you don’t run too long.
- It doesn’t hurt to put announcements on the board before the beginning of class—this way the students can see what is coming up without interrupting class to get details (i.e. the quiz coming up that students asked out at the end).