Teaching Philosophy Statement
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” – Charlemagne
Learning another language opens doors and provides opportunities for connections and experiences that can enhance and change one’s life. Growing up in Québec, Canada, learning English allowed me to go to school in the United States and discover new ways of thinking and viewing the world. As a native French speaker, my classroom provides students the chance to be exposed to a different French accent and the chance to learn more about the province of Québec. My background allows me to share interesting facts about life in Québec and to provide examples of different language registers at work. In my life, I have taken courses in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and German and my own experience as a learner of languages has given me much insight into this complex yet gratifying process. As an instructor, I combine my prior experiences and my love for the French language into all of my lessons and I always strive to do better each class. I hope that all students in my class will benefit from learning French and experience the joys of immersion in a new culture.
The language classroom requires student and instructor effort, meaningful design, and collaboration. Effort is necessary on the part of the instructor and students. I expect that students in my class will put in the effort to study outside of regular class hours. Students need to put in the time and concentration necessary to complete assignments and prepare for class each and every day. Students are responsible for reviewing vocabulary and grammar that has been learned in class and for seeking extra practice when necessary. As the instructor, I am always available to help students individually during my office hours and can also answer specific questions before and after class. I aim to provide meaningful activities and assignments but expect students to try their best every day and to dedicate themselves to this process as much as I do.
One of my main priorities is to create a classroom atmosphere that encourages participation and promotes kindness over harshness. I wish for all of my students to feel safe in the language classroom and to feel encouraged to try their best. I will always motivate my students to speak the language regardless of possible errors in their utterances and teach them that it is okay to make mistakes. To do this, I create a classroom discourse community where speaking in the target language becomes part of classroom procedures. I speak to students in the target language before and after class whenever possible and try to mimic the type of conversations I wish for them to have with classmates. As the instructor, I understand that all students are different and that students come with different backgrounds and prior positive or negative classroom experiences. I will thus shift my lesson plans and methods (within certain limits of course) based on the individual needs and desires of my students. I want to understand why my students are taking a French language course and meet their needs. My lessons are designed with specific curricular goals in mind but I use texts, video clips, songs, and images that are targeted to the interests of my students.
A meaningfully designed course allows for a well-rounded and varied approach to language learning. I believe a course should be well-designed and that my teaching methods should be backed by research in language pedagogy and second language acquisition. I believe that a language is learned through comprehensible input and output. Students should receive input that is meaningful to them and should then create their own original utterances (outputs) that are productive and purposeful. I always strive to teach in contexts that are meaningful to my students. Thus, I aim to supplement textbook material with authentic texts that provide a more meaningful context in which to teach certain grammatical forms or certain vocabulary words. For example, instead of using a list of sentences to teach reflexive verbs, I would present students with an authentic article from France that naturally uses reflexive verbs. The language classroom should provide a place in which to listen to and produce utterances that would be helpful in the real-world.
I believe that a classroom should be primarily task-based and communicative. An example of a useful task in a French 1, first semester, classroom is to ask students to bring in their own personal schedules for the week and to form pairs and try to plan a time to grab a coffee with their peer. This type of information-gap activity naturally prompts students to create original utterances and requires that they respond to and understand utterances that they have not heard before. Tasks give students a chance to practice vocabulary and grammar in a meaningful context. The communicative approach, on the other hand, does not allow for a focus on writing, listening, culture, and other important aspects of learning a foreign language. Thus, I always supplement the communicative approach with the PACE model, multiliteracies approach, targeted listening, writing, and pronunciation practices, and culture through the IMAGE model for exploring cultural perspectives. This variety of methods and approaches allows me to provide students with a variety of activities that each target a particular aspect of the French language. I believe each of the aforementioned approaches are important and should be used in tandem to provide for a successful language classroom.
Overall, my goal is for students to leave my classroom ready for the next level of language study and able to formulate utterances that can be understood and useful in the real-world. I want my students to feel empowered to continue their study of the French language and to feel, and know, that they are capable of learning French. I recognize that the scholarship on language pedagogy is constantly evolving and I strive to adapt, learn, and change my methods to always make sure that my teaching style is supported by the latest research. It is my greatest honor to teach the French language and I am always overjoyed to watch my students grow as learners.