Last month, I had the fantastic opportunity of delivering a talk at The American Association of Teachers of French convention in Montreal and championing the trailblazing efforts of MFL colleagues from the UK about their use of new technologies to enhance language learning and improve continuing professional development. I firmly believe we are leading the way in this area and it was a pleasure to convey this message to like-minded colleagues across the pond.
As you can see, I chose to video my presentation as well as slidecast and podcast it this time. I hope I have catered to your preferred learning style and you find the information useful! All the links I refer to are included below as well as on this Posterous blog I set up so delegates could access the resources and download the PowerPoint immediately following the presentation if they wanted to.
I was delighted with the audience’s response both during and after the talk and I was made to feel very welcome. One kind soul left this comment which made the whole transatlantic trip worthwhile in itself!
“Your workshop alone was worth the whole conference! I received so many ideas, not just for my classroom, but also for my AATF chapter. Now if I could only invent a way to make more time......” (Robin Jacobi July 2011)
Here is the formal written feedback I received later too, once back in Blighty which in the main is equally positive. (Go fullscreen to read properly).
Another highlight of the convention was to meet twitter buddy Cristy Vogel face to face!
Cristy was the person who originally suggested I put in a proposal to speak at the convention and seeing her in person was awesome!
It was also wonderful to meet Catherine Ousselin, world languages consultant and teacher at Mount Vernon High who presented a wonderful 3 hour workshop on using web tools and apps in the languages classroom. Catherine can be seen introducing me at the start of the video and checking delegates knew where the Isle of Wight is!
Other technology based sessions I attended included one by Adam Steg on e-safety and the iPad, Germain Choffart on creating a fan page in Facebook and Jean-Pierre Berwald’s presentation on PowerPoint which I ‘sort of nicely hijacked’ with a quick explanation of triggers!
Before the conference started, I took the opportunity to go on a visit to the Eastern Townships or ‘Les cantons de l’est’ with other delegates from the conference. We visited the vineyard L’Orpailleur, tasted some of the wine and had a lovely lunch. Santé!
We also had a look in some of the antique shops in Dunham in the afternoon and stopped off for another food break before making our way back to the hotel.
On the evening of the first day of the conference, a group of us visited Château Ramezay, one of the only remaining 18th century buildings left in Old Montreal. As part of the entertainment, our two québécois guides re-enacted three different court scenes from the period and asked for ‘volunteers’ from the audience to take part.
Being one of the only males in the room, I was lucky enough to be ‘volunteered’ to play the role of bailiff l’huissier (a word I will never forget!) and to read from a script at designated moments. For comic effect however, the guides were deliberately speaking very quickly and using antiquated French on occasion making it difficult to follow the thread, leading to great confusion and hilarity! A very memorable moment! (Unfortunately no photo graphic evidence exists of said event).
Earlier in the week, I went to Quebec City too and reminisced about my first visit to la belle province in the early nineties when I was a language assistant, thanks to the British Council programme (long may it continue). Here is a short film I made of that blistering hot day including a québécois speciality Poutine! Hope you like it.
Check out too this tripline presentation which chronicles my every movement in a visually appealing way!
My pool partner is my former flatmate Stéphane who I’ve kept in contact with for all these years through Skype, Facebook and emails. We’ve also met up face to face a couple of times when I’ve had the chance to return to Montreal and St Jean sur Richelieu where he lives.
Attending a foreign language convention in another country was a fascinating experience in many ways. For example, I was surprised to hear many of the delegates speaking in French with each other around the hotel and during the excursions despite English being their mother tongue in the main. It was clear that this was one of the convention’s convention and although it took a little getting used to I found it really refreshing once I’d become accustomed to the idea!
Talking to some of the delegates, it seems in the US, that it is more common for language departments to be smaller compared to the UK and schools may only have one teacher offering a particular language in their faculty. Therefore, I presume for many, meeting other French teachers in this way was a great opportunity to practise. Please let me know if I’m talking rubbish!
Thank you to the AATF for accepting my proposal to speak and for welcoming me to their convention. I hope this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship, starting with Facebook!