The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 12, 1999


French becomes a cultural and global experience

Nicole Baker, French teacher "extraordinaire," outlined the middle schools' instructional program for the school committee on February 1.

The sixth-grade students attend a French class three times a week and are introduced to the French-speaking world. They learn about the geography, how to pronounce words, and how to say the colors, numbers, and body parts. They sing, recite simple poems, participate in a Mardi Gras and cook crepes. One project they enjoy is called, "Qui suis-je?" (Who am I?) They provide a baby picture and write descriptions of themselves in French. The pictures are posted and the students have a great time trying to identify their classmates.

The seventh-grade curriculum reviews the sixth grade program and then adds grammar instruction and projects about France. One student wrote about the glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre in Paris. The information was received from a Carlisle resident whose company provided the engineering and structural supports for the entrance building.

Dialogues and skits are incorporated into the eighth-grade curriculum which includes increased instruction of the future and past verb tenses. The scope of learning about cultures and geography expands into projects about French-speaking areas, such as Africa, Haiti and Quebec. The program is further coordinated with other class disciplines as the students learn about the French during World War II, the Resistance and the Holocaust. The students draw maps and learn the history of Quebec City before they visit as a class in the spring. As Baker said, "The kids really love the projects and become very involved in them. They show off what they can do."

Every year, Baker meets to coordinate programs with the language departments at Concord-Carlisle High School and Concord middle schools. They are investigating pilot programs which could be added in the lower grades. "It is a complex question," Baker pointed out. "When a language program is expanded, will it replace something else? When should it start,? How often should it meet and what are the expectations and wishes of the community?" Baker concluded by saying it is very important to relate learning to experience and to recognize there are multiple ways of learning.

Superintendent Fox-Melanson thanked her for all her hard work and enthusiasm. Chair David Dockterman, thanking Baker, said, "Your enthusiasm is infectious and very apparent."

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito