Upper School French Class Engages with Native French Speakers

While international travel may have halted during the pandemic, conversations with people from around the world have continued in Upper School French teacher Jen Murphy’s French 4 class. Using a program called Talk Abroad, Upper School students have had the opportunity to converse with native French speakers from Canada, West Africa, Caribbean islands, and more. Students meet with their partner twice a semester for 15-minute conversations with a topic provided in advance. These conversations are then recorded and later transcribed as additional language practice.

Murphy noted that “this is a new method of speaking assessment, during which the students learn conversational words, phrases, and fillers, as well as hear varying accents from different French speaking areas.” World Language Department Chair Rob Nasatir has enjoyed watching this new program grow and seeing the students embrace the interactions. He added that the program “resonates with the MFS Strategic Plan as we move toward more global engagement and education.” 

Vani Hanamirian ’22 has enjoyed the opportunity to speak to her partner Camille throughout the year. She has “gained more confidence in [her] French” and has “learned that you don’t need to be perfect when speaking another language. You can make mistakes and work your way through them while making connections with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you learn.”

As the program progresses, Murphy would like to shift into 30-minute conversations with a focus on problem-solving to help students gain more cultural awareness and competency. 

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