Published: Sept. 8, 2010

Learning French can require a lot of time and effort. For many students, proceeding to a higher level requires build on the knowledge that they have already acquired. Juliette Bourdier, a doctoral candidate at CU Boulder and Carmen Grace, a faculty member of French and Italian Department at CU, hope they can help solve this problem with the help of technology. Taking into consideration that some students need to learn in a combination of French and English, they have adopted  the ‘French Again’ program, with the help of an ASSETT Development Grant. “The French Again program is an online tutor designed to help students review the materials they need to in English, taking as much time as they need,” they explained.

The tools that are being used in this program are Hot Potatoes, Jing, Ning and Voicethread. According to Bourdier and Grace, French Again is organized into modules with 4 segments. The first segment requires students to note the grammatical point being used in a natural context by native speakers. The second segment explains the grammar and the third segment shows the difference between written and spoken versions of the grammar. Finally, the fourth segment allows students to practice and help in understanding grammar.

They said, “We will use Jing to record the video presentations that illustrates and explain each grammar point. Our students like it, and it is very simple for students and instructors to use.”

They see Voicethread as flexible software that helps students develop their spoken French. Students record an activity, and instructors recorded individualized feedback for each student. Bourdier and Grace believe that doing this prevents classroom embarrassment that can take place while giving students their phonetic feedback in front of their classmates.

Hot potatoes, used for segment 4, can be used to create a variety of practice exercise and online quizzes necessary for students to review their progress. And they used Ning as the best course management tool for this project. [Editor's note: Ning is no longer available as a free service]

The goal of using French Again is to help students review when and where they prefer, “For some students, textbook presentation and the instructor’s explanations are not sufficient to help them grasp important concepts.” They continued, “This program will assist students who want to see where their knowledge breaks down in order to build a bridge to a better understanding of the concept in question.”

French Again seems to be an effective tool to apply in teaching French. Because the students can review grammar at their own pace, students may control the rhythm of their daily activities and prevent the pressure of answering on the spot in a classroom. French Again can help build a safety net for students based on a better understanding of how grammar works and lots of extra practice and feedback.

Written By: Manaslu Bista, CU’11, ASSETT Reporter