Teaching combined French classes

Hi everyone!

My combined grade 11/12 French class was easy to teach today.  The grade 12 class has finally finished reading Fanny and they were ready to view the film version as reinforcement and review for the upcoming test on the play.  This meant that I had the period to focus on the grade 11 class.  The same will be the case tomorrow since the grade twelves will continue to watch the film.

If only each day of a combined class were so easy… The reality is that it’s not, but combined grade 11/12 Core French at my school is the norm.  I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and I’ve gotten advice from many others on how to approach it.  Here is a list of some of the ideas I’ve gotten over the years and hopefully, if you are in the same situation, these suggestions will come in handy:

1.  Start the class off as a group.

I start each and every one of my classes with a mise en train, and my combined class is no exception.  I try to find warm up activities that both classes can do.  The goal is to get them speaking to each other.  I want the grade elevens to be comfortable speaking in French in front of the grade twelves and for them to take risks.

2.  Use the same themes and modify them according to the grade level.

This is definitely easier said than done.  I try to find common ground, such as Fanny and L’homme qui plantait des arbres were both written by authors from the Provence region of France.  They are two different texts, but I do cultural activities related to Provence as a class before introducing the two texts.

3.  Class discussions.

Every Friday, have one student prepare an article summary and ask the class questions about the article.  They must ask questions that will generate a discussion.  Again, the goal is to have students in both grades comfortable with speaking in French.  This activity also incites spontaneous conversation practice, which is the goal of language learning.

4.  Tests

Try to schedule tests on the same day.  Again, this is easier said than done.  It’s difficult to teach one class if the other needs to concentrate on a test.

5.  Balance teaching time

I remember one teacher telling me that she felt that she was neglecting her grade 12 class because she spent so much time with the grade 11 class.  I try to balance the attention I give.  It helps to work with one group one day and then work with the other group the next day.  This may not always work out, but at least it keeps things somewhat balanced.

I’d love to hear if you have any ideas for juggling combined classes.

Thanks for stopping by!


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About Mme Martin

I am a high school French teacher in Ontario, Canada. I've been a teacher for the last 14 years and I love what I do. I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching by learning from my colleagues, reading, attending conferences and workshops. I also completed a Masters of Education degree, specializing in Second Language Acquisition. My goal is to increase students' oral fluency in French and I would like to share this journey with you in the hopes that you will find new ideas and be inspired to do the same. I will let you know what I try in my classes and what works and what doesn't. I hope you will find a wealth of ideas to use in your class.
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