Friday, March 29, 2019

French to Me


Seventh grade English. It was a Friday, so of course there weren't enough subs to go around. I was covering a math class for the rest of the day, but for fourth period, I ran across campus to cover this class.

As they were getting seated, I perused the lesson plans. I hurriedly passed things out because apparently they had a test, and we were late getting started.

(This is normal for covering an extra period. It takes security a while to get to the room to open the door. And then it takes me a bit to get up to speed while they settle in.)

I passed out the test. And they balked.

"It's in French..."

From what I could gather, they'd been studying how to figure out unfamiliar words using context clues. And by "gather", I mean that on the teacher's desk were papers indicating that they had been going over this concept for at least a couple days (if not longer).

Then, the instructions on the paper they had in front of them clearly stated that while the passage was in French, they should be able to figure out what information the questions were asking for.

(But nobody ever reads the directions, so...)

I mean, the first question asked how old the person in the passage was, and in the first sentence was the number 16. Come on! That's kinda obvious.

I read the instructions to them. I read the teacher's instructions to them. Then I focused on getting them silent as this was a test.

"But he speaks French."

The students pointed out a boy in the second row.

The area we live in, it's likely there are students who speak Spanish. There are various other languages that they may speak at home as well, considering the mix of ethnicities in the area. (Off the top of my head, I would not be surprised at Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, or Arabic. I know of one boy who speaks Russian.) While I would not expect French, it's not out of the question.

So, I did the only thing I could do. I turned to the boy.

"This will be really easy for you," I said.

And I made a note of this for the teacher.

As for the rest of them... It was a simple passage asking for simple information. And if they'd been studying context clues, it should not have been beyond them to figure out the questions which were in English.

But seventh graders react first and then think... Well, not second. Fifth or sixth, really.

Starting Monday, I'll be doing the A to Z Challenge. But you likely won't notice the difference.

18 comments:

  1. Thinking is probably last on their list.
    Curious how the boy who knew French did.

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  2. I get what they're trying to teach, but I don't see how this is a good idea. You can really screw yourself over if you're reading something in another language and trying to figure it out based on context.

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  3. Took a little french and don't recall any of it.
    Coffee is on

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  4. I'm glad we didn't do any assignments like this when I was in school. I would have been confused! Good luck with the challenge!

    betty

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  5. Just as well your instructions were in English!

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  6. Hi Liz - well I'd despair ... good luck - cheers Hilary

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  7. It's like the French have a different word for everything.

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  8. I totally get the concept. I have a feeling, once they settled in they were able to figure out the answers. It actually sounds like it would be a fun exercise. And it probably surprised some of them about how much they really knew.

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  9. I get it. I don’t speak French but I’m sure I could figure things out.

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    Replies
    1. Totally. The answers were pretty obvious.

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  10. Interesting exercise. I hope they figured it out. Be well! And have fun with the challenge. I'm grateful you reminded me of my April Camp NaNo prose challenge. The month flew by!

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  11. Oh, that seems a fun exercise. I do hope the kiddos enjoyed it once they settled in.

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    1. They might have if they weren't wound up by (1) Friday, (2) sub, and (3) just being squirrely 7th graders.

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  12. That sounds like a good test. Not surprised at the way kids reacted! Hope they later got around to doing it.

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  13. Ah, the intimidation of seeing a page full of a foreign language! I'd be nervous, too.

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    1. Although, I don't think you'd panic like they did.

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