Taking Paris by Classroom


Nanterre students being all hip and scholarly.

From American university to Paris university–it’s not a seamless transition. But it is exciting, and my new students have me all revved up to find new ways to make English relevant.

I’m working on a thematic curriculum for our 12 weeks together that will let us explore “Other Americas” through articles and novel excerpts. Some students I’ve talked to here see the U.S. as one big Hollywood Blvd; I’ll introduce them to issues and experiences related to Latino, LGBT, Black, Asian, and Native American communities. We’ll also talk about what it means to be disabled or mentally ill in the U.S.–and how these experiences compare to what they know from France. 

I’ve just posted a list of resources to jump-start English explorations outside the classroom. This list is geared toward adult English language learners, and it’s purpose is to help them discover authentic reading material in English that will make vocabulary-building natural. Here’s the English Artifact Weekly Assignment that goes with it, for those who are curious. Basically, each week, instead of assigning them a particular reading, I charge students with choosing their own English reading material and bringing back “proof” (their artifact) of the experience along with a reflection that will help them consolidate the learning. 

Bonus: students at different levels can find materials appropriate to their ability, thus avoiding frustration and boredom. And everyone gets to follow his or her interests. Yea for differentiation!

The idea for self-directed reading for language-learning came from following the blog Mis Musicuentos by a dynamic, motivated, and tired-of-the-status-quo Spanish teacher. Here‘s the post that got me thinking, “yeah, this would work for ELL learners of English, too.”


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