e-Learning French à la Mode!

French flag

Back in the old days, French lessons consisted of lots of dreary language drills and endless grammar exercises. Today, technology is transforming the language classroom, allowing the exciting possibility of real-time language exchange.

In a program called the Accelerated French-Australian Learning Program, high school students from Northside Christian College in Brisbane, Australia, and Collège du Sacré-Coeur in Normandy, France, are learning together and loving it. Facilitated by Drs Laurence Rossato and Alex Pudmenzky, the course aims to improve students’ speaking and listening, grammar and confidence.

e-Learning: One Press of a Button & Voilà!

Imagine the thrill of interacting with students and teachers on the other side of the planet in a language you are learning! Using Skype, Australian students can speak French with a teacher and peers—LIVE—in Normandy. French and Australian students practise vocabulary about Australian fauna and flora, the environment, pastimes, culture and more.

Now that sure beats a fusty French grammar worksheet with irregular verb conjugations!

The technology that makes all of this possible is Skype, a web service that allows users to communicate via a microphone and webcam over the Internet. In the classrooms in France and Australia, video images are projected onto screens so the students and teachers can interact.

In an initial lesson, the Aussie students introduce themselves and spell their names, using the French pronunciation of the alphabet. While this sounds simple, it can be a little tricky, especially because this may be the students’ first attempt at communicating in the target language with a native speaker. The tiny miscommunications and funny results have everyone laughing and enjoying the exchange.

Jacinta, a Year 10 Australian student, enjoyed the experience. “It was pretty cool to see how hard it is to speak fluently. I was really scared at first, but realised that the students in France have just as much difficulty as us learning to speak in another language.”

Not Such a Small World

The time zone difference means that students in Australia have their language class after school in the evening while their counterparts in France attend class before their school day starts. Looks like students on both sides of the globe are super keen!

Aussie Year 11 student Rachel relishes the experience. “I think this is a really good opportunity without having to travel to France, because the students come directly to us!”

e-Quipped will follow the progress of the e-learning language classes. Watch for updates and pics in coming weeks! This is technology-enhanced learning at its finest!

Don’t Try This at Home…

Feeling inspired by our students’ bold experiment? Finding a Skype partner in France might prove difficult, but thanks to technology–and some clever apps–there are easier options.

Why not try out the language learning app, Duolingo (Amazingly FREE for iOS and Android). Scientifically proven Duolingo is a fun and motivating way to learn (or brush up) your French!

The same app also teaches Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, and Polish!

I (Alison, your humble blogger) have tried out Duolingo’s Italian lessons. The verdict? It’s fun! Duolingo even emails me a friendly reminder to keep practising!

Leave a comment if you have a favourite language learning app or an experience of technology-enhanced linguistic exchange!