Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Guided Inquiry Project: Using Music to Learn French- Part 2 (Research and Writing)

Bienvenue to part 2 of my mini-series on Guided Inquiry for FSL- this project was focused on music. I wanted to write these posts to show how I developed and lead an inquiry exercise in FSL class.  After I spoke at the Spring OMLTA conference about inquiry in FSL classes, and the concerns that many teachers have, I got a few questions about how I lead inquiry for students in their second language.  So I thought that posting exactly how I use inquiry would be useful to teachers who are interested in learning more, and wanted to peek as to how I have done them.

Before I taught French, I laugh enrichment for grade 4 students in 2010, and we completed a term-long inquiry for geography, language and math about creating an environmentally friendly community that resulted in creating a green roof at our school in downtown Toronto.  That was the first inquiry-based learning I lead.  Disclaimer: I do like this approach.  I think that project-based learning is a great strategy or method to get kids making connections and thinking different ways; its not the only thing we can do in FSL class but it is useful to get kids invested in their own language learning.


Alright, onto part 2- how to get the students to research and write in the target language during their inquiry.  I will outline some strategies for getting the student to research in French, manage the class, and guide students writing in preparation for the sharing stage of the inquiry.

After developing the criteria with the class, students break off and work on their own to research different songs.  They choose the songs on which they want to focus based on taste, the criteria and their abilities.  There is differentiation built into this activity, because students choose what they can handle in terms of comprehension.  As this is a guided inquiry, students are guided in where they look for their music.

For this, I had to do a little leg-work before my students took over.  I did an internet search for blog posts that suggested music and songs for helping people learn French.  There are many posts about using music; all the posts I found said that pop music was a great strategy for language learning.  What was not the same in each post, was which songs were the best for FSL learning.  Every blog post I found had a different list of songs and strategies.  This was great for purposes of our inquiry-- we were looking for the best song.  To help the students start their search, I printed lists of URLs and QR codes for students to search and read some blog posts, and listen to examples of songs.

Students were also able to visit my YouTube channel, where I have playlists of French music videos that we have listened to in class, or that I had found online.  Students also could look at my Twitter (available on my class blog) where I retweeted a new song everyday from Tweeter Étudier le français.

In a guided inquiry, the teacher should provide guidance in the focus of the study, as well as the resources used for study.  This is especially important in FSL as students are expected to research in French.  For this project, students looked at both English and French sources, but all the songs they listened to were French.  Some of the sites that students explored were:

Once students found a song that they wanted to focus on, they signed up for the song using a Google form.  Then all the song choices were organized onto a neat spreadsheet for me to refer to.

For students to organize their research, they were given a project booklet to guide their research and writing.  (Click the link for the document.) Here are the guiding questions students followed:

Students used this page to focus their writing in French.  Since they were going to share their information in conversation, they were not expected to write too much,  just a short presentation to give a little information to their audience, after which they would answer questions.


My next blog post in this series will look at how the students shared the information they wrote about their songs, as well as how I assessed their reports and presentations.  If you would like to find all the documents that I created for this activity,  click here.


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  3. Hi,
    I’m learning French and it’s not so easy for me. First I tried to learn by different self-studying books and websites. But it was difficult for me and I didn’t have any conversations. Than, my friends suggest me to find tutor so I take lessons on https://preply.com/en/skype/french-tutors. It’s a good source and I started to practice speaking. As additional sources I read books, watch videos, try to learn as much words as possible. But even now I’m looking for new opportunities to try something new in language learning.

    If you know some great ways you tried yourself, let me know, please.

  4. On my opinion the best way to learn any language is to have constant speaking practice. In such case the best way is to find a tutor and native speakers. I can advise https://preply.com/en/London-UK/french-tutors for searching native speaking tutors. I've learnt English using this website. All other methods you can use as aditional way to gain new knowledge and practice already completed material. But I'm looking for new methods to improve my skiils. Can you help me?