Students Practice French “Extemporaire” with Video Discussions


One of the Language Department’s goals is to increase students’ opportunities to speaking and converse in their target language. To complement their in-class activities, French teacher Holly Woodson has students record themselves speaking improvisationally and post these brief recordings to class-wide discussion threads in Schoology. As opposed to more scripted assignments, in these “vlog (video blog) postings,” students practice speaking naturally about conversational topics.

…[T]he video we did was the first one where the entire thing was improvised. It surprised me that I was able to do the whole thing with virtually no preparation.

–10th Grade Student

In end-of-the-week reflective notes, students reported being challenged by the assignment, but also surprised at how much language they were able to use once they started speaking. In response to “Did you stretch/grow in your communication in French this week? How so?”, a 9th grader wrote:

I liked the vlog, where you didn’t have to script it or make it perfect. It really helped me just speak in French more, even if it wasn’t very well.

–9th Grade Student

Using discussion threads allows students to listen to each others’ recordings. Mme. Woodson talked about the level of understanding and respect that’s necessary in a class for students to do something that exposes their ongoing work and practice, rather than having polished, final products. Students enjoyed listening to each others’ recordings, and learned from their colleagues’ conversations as well.

I thought the back-to-school blog assignment was very interesting because I learned a lot about new vocabulary as well as a few words that have more than one meaning (i.e. chemise).

–10th Grade Student

School-wide, use of discussion threads allows U Prep students to comment upon, share and review each other’s work and collaborate on group activities. The use of video recording helps add one more layer of communication to these class activities, and helps the Language Department give students even more activities to practice speaking and conversing naturally in their target language.

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