Je m’appelle Emily Greif, et je suis la maîtresse de français à SWS!
I’m Emily Greif, the French teacher at SWS!
Here’s a little about our language teaching philosophy here at SWS.
We are using “Comprehensible Input” (CI), a philosophy that holds that language acquisition can only take place if the target language input is comprehensible (understandable). Just as when speaking to a very young child, we simplify our language in order for the child to understand: we don’t switch languages. In teaching a foreign language, simplifying the language in order to be understood allows the teacher to stay in the target language. As necessary, quick verbal or written English translation will be present as learning supports.
The main focus is to provide as MUCH input as possible, with the understanding that it takes thousands of hours of language input before children produce language in their first language. Thus in subsequent language acquisition, there must be more focus on language input than output. Language will still be taught in context, with target structures and the most commonly used vocabulary highlighted. We’ll be continuing the storytelling focus, and this year the students’ choices for characters, setting, plot and more, will be incorporated. The students have delighted in sharing their hopes and dreams for French stories this year!
Already I’ve seen a big difference: the students are producing the language more confidently and naturally using CI: they are demonstrating their solid comprehension and understanding even if actual verbal production is slower to emerge. When it does emerge, it is joyful, in complete SWS-style.
What does this mean for what you do at home with your children?
If your child(ren) are asking for French at home, I recommend:
- watching the YouTube videos linked on this site
- searching for the French version YouTube video of any favorite story or fairy tale. For example, searching for “Little Red Riding Hood in French” brings up this video; your child(ren) would be able to follow along and learn new words, using the prior knowledge of the story in English.
- checking out French language books from the DC Public Library. Each children’s section has a good selection of French books, and children can search for familiar words as they peruse the books.
- watching favorite cartoons in French via the Nickelodeon kids French or Candada sites (merci à la famille Beeton for sharing this resource!)
- exploring a French language app – there are many available, if this appeals to your family. A French teacher in Canada put together this site, with her rankings of the most worthwhile apps.
And a thank you – MERCI! – to the SWS Community for supporting my teaching!
As we enter into this year’s Principal’s Priority campaign, I must share that the ability to offer this style of student-centered, meaningful and successful instruction is in large part thanks to funding from Friends of SWS. I was able to attend a 2-day workshop in New York this summer that allowed me to deepen my learning of Comprehensible Input, collaborate with fellow elementary language teachers and access resources, all benefits that go beyond the training that is offered through DCPS.
The French language books, magazines, videos, manipulatives, cultural craft supplies and more that strengthen our language classroom are helped made possible through Friends of SWS funding. I am hugely grateful for the support that Friends offers! It is a delight to teach the children of SWS and I’m eager to continue growing the program with them, and with you, their families. They are indeed global citizens, and becoming increasingly competent in this role each day.