Making Allies of Students

This page provides ideas for involving students in promoting the French program.

Without a doubt, your very own students can be your most important allies for helping sustain the French program at your school!

In order for students to support their language program, you must offer them an excellent French program in which they can be successful.

In addition, you need to help them see what an important role French culture and language have played and continue to play throughout the world.

Finally, you should share with them experiences that people similar to them, “ordinary people,” have had because of their having studied/learned the French language. Students tied strongly to your program will provide a support network for you if French is threatened in your school.

Here are some strategies you can use:

  • Have students administer the Interview of Parent or Family Member By Student at the beginning of the year. You will learn about the parents’ experiences with and attitude toward foreign language in general but with French in particular, and encourage parents to become guest speakers in your classes regarding their French experiences.
  • Ask students in class to brainstorm within a timeframe in groups to list as many French words that are used in English as possible. Compare each group’s lists in a discussion and then pass out to students the Flyer: French Words In English document. Explain to the students that since more than 30% of English words come from the French language, learning French can come easier than learning many other world languages.
  • Have students in groups list as many celebrities as possible who speak French as a second language. Compare lists, then hand out the French-Speaking Celebrities document.
  • Encourage students to rent French films that they can watch alone or with their parents. Many films on DVD offer the option of listening to them in French while viewing the English subtitles or listening to the English soundtracks while viewing the French subtitles. Here’s a list to start with: Family French Films
  • Ask your present or former students to share with you in writing why they have chosen to study French, how they have benefited from having studied French, or what they plan on doing with French in their future. Share these in the classroom and with other classes. Finally compile these mini-testimonials into a flyer that you can distribute at 8th grade parent night. (See Testimonials)
  • Distribute to students at the end of the year a Year-End Letter to Parent And Student and questionnaire in which they and their parents react in writing to the activities that you have offered your students during the year. Remember to have them return the questionnaire because then you will be able to quote some of their reactions the following year in documents and flyers you create and distribute.
  • Brainstorm with your students reasons for studying French. Read and then discuss with them the brochure entitled Brochure–French, a Language Of Choice. Compare their reasons for studying French with the ones mentioned in the brochure. Use the three documents by Nadeau and Barlow to share additional reasons for studying French:

Modern Quebec–Cutting Edge Culture In French (Nadeau & Barlow);

Québec Aujourd’hui–A La Fine Pointe Du Monde Francophone (Nadeau & Barlow)

40 Surprising Facts About French (Nadeau & Barlow).

  • Distribute to students at 8th grade parent and student night, when counselors visit the junior high schools, the Spanish-language student letters in Spanish and in English. In these letters, native Spanish-language students are encouraged to become trilingual in order to make themselves more marketable.  They are also shown that French is easier to learn than many other languages because of the affinity of Spanish to French.

Letter To Student Encouraging Native Spanish-Speaking Student To Learn French (In English)

Letter To Student Encouraging Native Spanish-Speaking Student To Learn French (In Spanish)

  • Use the video “The World Speaks French: Video Stories” with the two documents developed to facilitate their use. The segments of one to five minutes are useful in discussing the reasons why French is important in people’s lives. Click here to see the video.

More documents you can use to involve students:

Keep students informed about activities planned for them:

Sample Calendar Activities

Monthly Newsletter

Pique students’ interest with this information:

Flyer: Francophonie World Regions

Where Is French An Official Language?

Presentation: Ten Reasons To Study French (Outline)

Identify opportunities for student recognition because of their French studies:

Letter–National French Contest Invitation

Letter for National French Honorary Society

Help them understand the advantages that the study of French brings:

French In Fashion (Steinhart)

Which Language Should I Study And Why? (Duvick)

The Study of Foreign Languages Is Not A Zero-Sum Game (Brockmann)