Teaching materials

What is here?
The materials consist of 6 modules designed for learners of English who know French. Each of module targets an area of similarity or difference between the two languages. Two units focus on grammar (adjective comparisons and possessive determiners his/her), one focuses on pronunciation (/h/), and three focus on vocabulary (word parts, homonyms, and cognates).

Who are the activities for?
The units have been developed for children in grade 6 (age 11-12), but teachers who have used them agree that, with slight adaptations, they would be appropriate for use with students in secondary school, as well as with intermediate-level adults.

Why raise cross-linguistic awareness?
The basic principle we kept in mind while developing the materials is that comparisons with an already-known language can be helpful as learners study a new language. This is especially true for French learners of English as the two languages have many features in common. For instance, a large proportion of the words are similar in form (cognates) and offer helpful clues to meaning, although learners may not always notice these ‘good friends’. Of course, there are also many differences between French and English, and some can be problematic, especially when the learner incorrectly assumes there is a similarity. We know that some learners silently compare languages in their heads; others do not realize that their first language (or another language they know) can be a valuable resource. The modules we provide here are designed to enable the teacher to make explicit comparisons between the learners’ L1, French, and their L2, English, in order to speed up learning.

How to use the materials?

The modules are designed to be used independently and need not be used in sequence. But in order for the learning to be effective, it is important do more than just one or two of the activities in a module. Each module introduces and practices a feature (major lesson) and provides follow-up activities for review and expansion later (mini-lessons). In our research, we found that consolidating learning in the follow-up activities was important.

Let us know what you think! We are interested in knowing how these activities worked for you and your ideas for improving them.

Joanna White jwhite [at] education.concordia.ca
Marlise Horst marlise [at] education.concordia.ca
Philippa Bell bell.philippa [at] uqam.ca