I recently attended a workshop on using Social Media for teaching French as a Foreign Language. As a reasonably Internet savvy person, I was already familiar with most of the tools presented, but the immense possibilities as well as the various experiments that have already been successfully put into practice left me amazed.
Conducted over a period of two days by the Alliance Française de Bombay in cooperation with the French Embassy in India, the workshop concentrated on using the new and exploding phenomenon of Social Networking sites as a teaching tool. I know of many teachers who are using Facebook to diffuse information to their students and there are quite a few who use Facebook groups to share articles with students. There are very few teachers who use a Social Networking site as a virtual classroom, an extension of the physical space in their institutes. The Alliance Française de Bombay is doing so with great success on their platform Mumbaikars in French. Using the platform to give instructions and point out useful and important sites, the teachers have been able to engage the students’ attention in order to produce texts on the web. This in turn have led to more meaningful and real interactions between the students as well as exchanges with other institutes, which put them directly in touch with students of French from other countries. A wide range of Web 2.0 tools, ranging from Slideshare to Twitter are being used by the teachers to encourage students to read, write and speak in French.
The workshop gave me several ideas for how to use Themeefy as a teacher of FLE.
- Scénarios: I was using Themeefy as a simple tool to curate interesting links for further reading, but it can even more powerful and effective to make a scénario for class. Let me explain in detail – a scénario is used to make students read various articles and see some videos. Once they have understood the content of the resources, the students are expected to complete a task. Usually presented in a linear format with a list of links to be consulted, followed some exercises and ending in an activity. With Themeefy, the scenario can be presented in a much more interesting manner. The various resources to be consulted can be including in the Themeefy magazine, followed with relevant exercises. The activity can be placed at the end of the magazine and students can flip through the magazine, reading, watching videos and procuring the necessary information and skills required for the final activity. The flippable and highly visual format would definitely make it more interesting for students and increase their interest and motivation for the task.
- Presentations : Students are usually expected to make presentations on various topics as they go up to higher levels. Our aim is to make students read in French and then talk to an audience about what they have learnt. Unfortunately, it’s usually an exercise in vain since most of the students resort to Wikipedia and Google translator. With Themeefy, I can ask the students to compile the best resources available on their topic and then present the various sites to their classmates. This would ensure that they visit French sites (and not simply Wikipedia) and spend more time surfing the Web for relevant information. The final activity of presenting the sites would mean that they have to read and summarize the content of the sites in their own words!
- Dossiers pédagogiques : Finally, I can also use Themeefy to collaborate and share my ideas with other professors. Since Themeefy allows users to discover and aggregate content from the Web, it is an excellent tool for teachers who are always on the hunt for new and interesting resources. Exchanging and keeping track of resources will become so much easier if I can simply consult a library of Themeefy magazines in which resources have already been clubbed together according to the topic!
Themeefy releases at the end of the month, just around the time the new session starts. I can’t wait for the new session so I can start putting to practice
some of all these ideas!