You’ve been asked to do a five-minute presentation to a group of schoolchildren on anything of your choice. What would you present?
This brings me back to the seven years that I taught French to pre-school, kindergarten, second, third and fourth grade children. I found that the key for me was to speak to the children as if French were as normal for them as it was for me. They accepted it as part of the Madame Nichols time in class and we had fun.
During my time with pre-school we all sat together for snack and I spoke in French giving them simple vocabulary words such as the colors of what they were eating. Orange for carrots and carotte for carrots, that was all that they needed, simple words and they had fun with it.
Kindergarten gave me more opportunities because they had more of an attention span. There we recited the days of the week, the months of the year and the weather was another subject that we talked about and had fun with in French. I also baked for them one day a week and we would use French vocabulary to describe the various tartes and gateaux that they would be eating. Moreover, each year I did a different play with them in French and we performed it in front of the whole school in the auditorium, complete with sets and costumes. We had performed The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Little Red Riding Hood. The children received standing ovations each and every time.
What I loved the most was getting to see all of the children throughout the seven years. The ones that I had started with in pre-school, I got to see all the way to fourth grade and the fact that they remembered the things that I had taught them was so gratifying to me. I absolutely loved it and the children.
In the upper grades, I not only used vocabulary to interest them but I also did math exercises to keep them amused. The children impressed me when they remembered how to count in French and then go on to do simple multiplication exercises in French.The carotte at the end of the stick was the funny story at the end of the lesson that I would tell them of all of my G rated adventures when I was younger.
Those seven years were fantastic and it gave me the healthiest respect for teachers everywhere, they are the true heroes of our society, going in everyday and engaging children of all different backgrounds. They are worthy of our full support and admiration.