Le soleil, la lune et les étoiles: An example of using blogs to motivate the learning of French in Ireland

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: St. Michael’s, Loreto Secondary School, Navan (IE)

1. Profile of the initiative


1.1 Background


St Michael's is a secondary school for girls, taking pupils from the age of 12 to 18 years. The school is a Catholic school, part of a world wide network of Loreto schools founded some 450 years ago. The school in Navan was founded in 1833. Navan is a commuter town to the north west of Dublin.

Using ICT to help motivate the learning of French was the idea of a teacher of French and ICT in the school. She liaised with the ICT department about the viability of starting an educational French blog with fifth year students (16 years).

Blogging for social purposes was already so popular among students, blogging in French seemed like an excellent opportunity to exploit ICT to enhance the language learning experience of this year group.


1.2 Description of the initiative


As part of her regular teaching of French, the French teacher devotes one class period a week with her year 5 class (16 years) to the development of a website and the writing of blogs – in French. The girls are free to develop this to their taste but there is supervision by the teacher and technical help is available for the ICT department. The overall motif of the class homepage is “Le soleil, la lune et les étoiles”, which is taken into account by all the girls in choosing a piece of ClipArt for the link to their individual accounts.

The use of the blog presupposed a basic level of ICT skills on the part of both the students and teacher. Due to the popularity of social networking blog sites such as ‘bebo’ and ‘facebook’ however, navigating their way around the French blog proved very easy for the majority of students. For those encountering difficulties, the teacher or ICT teacher was always on hand to give assistance. Before long however, it was the girls rather than either of the teachers who emerged as the resident experts in the field.



1.3 Objectives of the initiative

1.4 Practical realisation

2. Assessment of Success

2.1 Success indicators

2.2 Success factors

2.3 Lessons to be learned


Owing to the ‘technology-based’ nature of this project, on-going development of the students’ ICT skills is essential.

While each individual student has their own personal blog account, the 29 girls in the class and the teacher as a whole share ownership of the class homepage. There is an onus on them all therefore to bear this in mind before putting ‘virtual’ pen to paper. Adopting an appropriate style and tone, and perhaps even more importantly, avoiding improper blog content, is of the utmost importance for sustaining the good reputation of the project. To a certain extent, therefore, this set-up mirrors the responsibilities undertaken by each employee when she/he enters the world of work, irrespective of the particular organisation to which she/he belongs.

2.4 Future plans

 

The teacher aims to include recordings of the girls speaking French on the blog in the coming term. This has prompted the students to redouble their efforts in terms of perfecting their French pronunciation and this provides an innovative way of preparing them for their Leaving Cert French oral exam.