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S.I.P. PROJECT SUBJECT-FRENCH CLASS---TRANSITION YEAR

LEVEL OF FRENCH---INTERMEDIATE
The students can speak and write about themselves, their families, their town, their hobbies, their school and their ambitions in detail. Most of the class would have taken honours French for Junior Cert. and they achieved a fairly high grade.
HOW WE ARE INTEGRATING I.T. INTO FRENCH:
The students are involved in a project called e-pals, which we accessed through the Internet. Basically, they e-mail French students on a regular basis and write to them in French. The French students, who are the same age as them, reply in both French and English. A variety of topics are discussed based on themselves and their daily lives and interests. They also discuss topical issues such as work experience and sporting events. The students are communicating very effectively as they have their own e-mail addresses and can check their mail anytime they are in the computer room, which is on average 2 periods every day. They also send over pictures as attachments using the digital camera and Outlook express.( Click here to view sample letter from an e-pal)

We use the Internet also to research aspects of French life and culture. Recently we used search engines to gather information on Itteville, a town near Paris, as we visited this town as part of our cultural exchange. The students were able to look up possible activities in the town that we could incorporate into our stay.( Click here to view a research questionnaire)

PowerPoint was used in the classroom as a means of presentation. I used it to present topics such as Christmas and dining in France, as a springboard for a discussion in French on these issues.(Click here to view sample presentation). The students will have to complete a publication and a PowerPoint presentation at the end of this term to present (Speaking French) a 5 min. synopsis of any area of their choice, for example they could present a postcard using Microsoft Publisher and the data projector to the others in the class as a means of revising suitable phrases, and it would also work to motivate the students interest in the language, if topics are presented in a different way.

Some classes were spent using the "Tell Me More" CD-ROM as a stimulus for student learning. We found this software very effective as it was aimed at intermediate level, which suited our students. The students were able to work on their pronunciation and they could not progress with the rest of the lesson until they pronounced everything correctly. These exercises also helped their accent and intonation. I found the software to be very in tune with contemporary issues and real-life situations -the students participated in controlled dialogues that reflect everyday situations such as speaking about daily routines etc. Above all, the students asked us to put on and use the software and looked forward to communicating using the speakers, probably because one is not embarrassed when talking to a piece of hardware, unlike when talking to a fellow pupil.


HOW OFTEN COMPUTERS ARE USED IN THE CLASSROOM
:
French is timetabled 3 times per week but it is only possible to use the computer once a week, as there are three transition year French teachers.

THE CLASSROOM:
I'm pleased with the general layout of the classroom as there are desks in the centre and therefore it makes it much easier to capture the student's attention as the data projector may be used to make sure they are "au fait" with both the information and the technology. Once they have had a mini-lesson they can proceed to work away on the computers.

PREPARATION:
To prepare for class I must firstly read through the e-pal replies and look at some of the topics covered by the French students. Often they ask my students questions, so I have to prepare some helpful vocabulary to present at the beginning of each class. When my students have written their letters I check each one for any grammatical or spelling errors. I must also make sure that both the Internet and the network of computers is up and running before I bring a class in there. Often I have to ask the I.T. coordinating teacher to assist,as it is impossible to predict whether things will be functioning or not.

CLASS MANAGEMENT:

Class management has been very tricky, as we could not organise an e-pal for every student, so only 50% of the class is involved in that programme. That means we must teach the other half of the class while the participants are on the computers. To make life easier, I ask the students who are not involved to type out short French paragraphs as it is good practice for both their I.T. skills and their French. It would be preferable to have a class whereby everyone participates in the same programme, as one spends a lot of time solving technical and grammatical errors on a one to one basis.

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