The past month, I have worked with my French I students on a café unit. We made comparisons between French and American café and restaurant customs, looked at pictures online, previewed and then interpreted menus, and completed interpersonal activities to acquire vocabulary with many formative assessments along the way.
Today was the culminating activity, le Café d’Amour, as chosen by my students. They created the menu offerings and prices, and rotated through, playing the client, the server and the back of the house. This class varies immensely in their capabilities, more than any class I have taught in 7 years, and has quite a few behavioral issues. I was, needless to say, nervous how this would work being an unscripted interpersonal activity.
I was thrilled at how successful the activity was, all students using as much French as they were capable, being kind to each other, and smiling and enjoying the experience. My pleasure came from the fact that they had fun with the assessment, not simply because they were eating (something that all students enjoy..), but because they were using their French! They all succeeded according to my interpersonal rubric, and all the while hardly conscious of the fact they were being assessed.
This task was effective because they chose the menu, and had stake in the activity. It was also successful because we spent time comparing American and French cafés. When we were setting up the parameters of the activity, I found many of them saying, “Noooo..they don’t do that in France!” The final reason for the success of this activity was that it was appropriately scaffolded, something I will continue to reference and feel is one of the true secrets to achieving proficiency in a world language classroom!
My students were thrilled to be eating in class, and I was thrilled that they could eat, acquire and apply the language all at once!
Thanks for reading and bon appetit!!