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Changing Times in Teaching

This is my 42nd year of teaching, which means I started sometime back in the last century (also back in the last millennium)! I have seen many changes during those years — changes in methodologies, changes in technology, and changes in students. I hasten to add that I have changed a lot as a teacher.

I have tried to adapt and readjust to the times and to my students' needs and interests. Attending conferences related to language teaching has been helpful along the way. In early November I attended the annual conference of the South Carolina chapter of the AATF [1] in Columbia, SC, affiliated with the national AATF [2]. The SC AATF conferences are generally more helpful since everything is related to the teaching of French.

Many years I attend the SCFLTA [3] conference in February. This year's conference was especially good for several reasons. First of all the emphasis was on the use of technology that our students use routinely. We learned some ways to make use of it to draw our students into the material, using all sorts of innovative means. There was one workshop that pointed us to free materials that others have developed and made available. Why not use these freebies?! Who knew you can find all sorts of great things for French class on Pinterest [4]?!

Another reason that SCFLTA conference was special was the awarding of the Lifetime Achievement Award to my colleague Dr. Bruce Byers.

Here's a picture of him receiving his award.

Bruce Byers SCFLTA

I had learned beforehand that he would be receiving the award, and I was actually able to provide some of the information used in the citation that was read. He had no idea that he would be the honoree this year, and with his characteristic humility, he insisted that he did not deserve it. We all knew better.

This past Friday, in what was supposed to be our monthly Modern Language Department meeting, we had a surprise retirement party for the other two French teachers at BJ — Dr. Bruce Byers and Mme Jacqueline Eaves. Bruce was one of my French teachers my senior year at BJ, and Jackie and I were students in 17th Century French Lit together in the spring of 1971 — her senior year and my sophomore year. They've been my colleagues for 31 years, but we have known each other for almost 45 years! The end of this semester is going to be tough. I'm happy for them as they begin this new chapter in their lives, but I will miss them so much! However, sadness is often mingled with joy. I hate to lose my esteemed colleagues, but I am looking forward to having my former student Jeremy Patterson as my French-teaching colleague.

Here's a picture from the retirement party, as we sat and chatted after a meal of fondue, croissant sandwiches, salad, and crêpe cake. Oh-là-là!

Bruce Jackie Retirement 2015

The keynote speaker at the SCFLTA conference I mentioned above was Linda Zins-Adams — on Twitter she's @powerfrauusa [5]. She gave great illustrations and stories as she worked her way through a PowerPoint presentation that made use of some really good cartoons. I jotted down keywords so that I could try to find them later myself. I'm posting my favorites today for your enjoyment.

The first few illustrate some of the ways technology has changed student expectations.

No Icons Chalkboard

I can relate to that one. After using my iPad, I find myself wanting to use my laptop screen like a touch screen. (Yes, we have an old-fashioned laptop rather than one of those new ones with touch screens.)

Class Cell Phone

(That battle will be ongoing.)

Digital Natives Cursive

In my post Is Cursive Dying? [6] we had some good discussion about most students not writing in cursive any longer.

This next cartoon will be especially enjoyable for language teachers and students.

Subject Verb Agree Disagree

Using skills I learned in one of the workshops at the SCFLTA conference, I found several of those cartoons on Pinterest. 🙂

Now I'll end with two other language-related cartoons. My wife saw them on Facebook and snagged them for me.

Exchanging Vowels

ESL Class Cancelled


"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." — Benjamin Franklin


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